TWO ISRAELS? TWO KINGDOMS? TWO SECOND COMINGS? (EXCERPT OF IT IS TIME FOR A REFORMATION OF CHRISTIAN THINKING)
From: It Is Time for a Reformation of Christian Thinking
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The teaching that there are two different called-out peoples, one spiritual and one earthly, is not found in the writings of the Apostle Paul. Paul taught clearly that there is only one holy olive tree, Israel, and we Gentiles have been grafted on it. In the last days the Jews by race will be joined once again to the Olive Tree, the true Vine, the one true stock of Abraham, which is Christ. There will be one Body, one fold, one Shepherd, one Israel, one holy nation of kings and priests.
There are not two kingdoms, a spiritual Gentile kingdom and a natural Jewish kingdom. There is only one Kingdom of God, of Heaven. It is the Kingdom announced by the Hebrew Prophets.
Of all the errors of current Christian theology, one of the most weakening and misleading, in terms of the spiritual strength and diligence of the believers, is the teaching that there will be a special, secret coming of Christ prior to His actual, prophesied coming to establish His Kingdom on the earth, a secret coming whose purpose is to carry the Gentile elect to Heaven while the Jewish elect are left on the earth.
Table of Contents
TWO ISRAELS? TWO KINGDOMS? TWO SECOND COMINGS?
The scheme of biblical interpretation termed Dispensationalism chops into pieces God’s dealing with men. The truth is, the entire Scriptures, the Old Testament and the New Testament, are one seamless robe of Christ. Christianity is based solidly on all that has gone before. By no means is the Christian Era a special parenthesis in God’s dealings with mankind.
There are several aspects of the Dispensational model that are misleading, that prevent a coherent, straightforward interpretation of the Scriptures. One of the doctrines that proceeds from Dispensationalism maintains that during the great tribulation a special “Gentile Church” will be “raptured” into Heaven while the Jews preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a teaching more removed from, more destructive of the scriptural concept of the Kingdom of God.
Are there two Israels of God? Two kingdoms of God? Two bodies of Christ? Two wives of the Lamb? Are there two called-out peoples, one Gentile and one Jewish? If so, to which body do Paul and Peter belong—the Jewish body or the Gentile body?
If, as is taught commonly, a “Gentile Church” (are there no Jews in it?) is “raptured” into Paradise, and the Holy Spirit has left the earth and gone into Paradise with it, how are the physical Jews to preach the Kingdom of God? They cannot be born again without the Holy Spirit, and no one can see the Kingdom until he is born again.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
How, then, can the Jews preach salvation and a spiritual kingdom without the Holy Spirit?
Or are the Jews part of an earthly kingdom, an earthly bride, an earthly body? If they are they have no part in the four Gospel accounts; for John the Baptist and Christ came preaching one Kingdom—a Kingdom born in the hearts of men. This is the Kingdom of which Daniel spoke, the Kingdom that will rule the nations of the earth forever.
The one Kingdom of God is the new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Church, the Body of Christ—God in Christ in the saints reigning over the nations of the earth. It is the Kingdom of which Isaiah prophesied.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7)
The teaching of two different called-out peoples, one spiritual and one earthly, is not found in the writings of the Apostle Paul. Paul taught clearly and consistently that there is only one holy olive tree, Israel, and we Gentiles have been grafted on it.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
In the last days the Jews by race will be joined once again to the one true Olive Tree, the true Vine, the one true Stock of Abraham, which is Christ. Thus there will be one Body, one fold, one Shepherd, one Israel, one holy nation of kings and priests.
“and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. (Ezekiel 37:22)
“And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:16)
At one time we Gentiles were not part of Israel but now we have been made a part of the true Israel founded on the Apostles and Prophets.
that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)
Paul is stating here that at one time we Gentiles were not a part of Israel. The implication is we are now being added to Israel and to the covenant God has made with Israel. We are not a separate body of “Gentile Christians.”
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both [Jew and Gentile] one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, (Ephesians 2:14)
In Christ we Gentiles have been made one with the Jews.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, (Ephesians 2:19)
The “saints” (above) refers to the Jewish saints, for the first Christians were Jews. The original Body of Christ was made up of Jews. It was difficult for the early Christians to accept the fact that God desired to add Gentiles to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today we Gentiles may find it difficult to accept the fact that God desires to add Jews to the Church of the Lord Jesus. But the truth is, it is we Gentiles who have been added to the Jewish saints, to the Jewish Christians, to the household of God. It is not true that Jewish believers are added to a Gentile Church.
The doctrine of a special Gentile Church is not included in the thinking and teaching of the Apostle Paul—himself a Jew.
having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, (Ephesians 2:20)
Of which building is Christ the chief Cornerstone? He is the chief Cornerstone of the eternal Temple of God. Then who are the other stones of the Temple? The Jews who receive their Christ and we Gentiles who have been added to the one Body.
in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)
There is but one Temple of God, one habitation of God. It is the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem. Every person who belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ is part of the eternal Tabernacle of God.
In the last days the Tabernacle of God will descend from the new heaven and be established forever on the new earth. The nations of saved peoples will walk in the light of it.
“My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
“The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”’” (Ezekiel 37:27,28)
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God [the Church] is with men [the saved nations], and He will dwell with them, and they [the nations] shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)
We have stated that the Scriptures are one seamless robe of Christ. God’s work is one from Adam and Eve to the coming down to earth of the new Jerusalem. From time to time God has increased His demands on men and also has given the means (grace) by which His demands can be met. Each new era is based on and flows out as a fruit from the previous era. The program of development will continue until the new Jerusalem governs the nations of the earth.
The doctrine of the pre-tribulation ascension (“rapture”) of the believers in Christ came as a “revelation” in the last century. In order to give this doctrine respectability (according to our understanding of what took place) it was included as part of a system of biblical interpretation termed “Dispensationalism.” Dispensationalism is destructive of sound, defensible interpretation of the Scriptures and is one of the reasons for the spiritually impoverished condition of the Christian churches of our day.
Dispensationalism teaches that God, from time to time, changes His way of dealing with men. Our position is that God never changes nor does His eternal purpose vary. God always has desired that people please Him by faith, that they practice justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
History has been witnessing a progressive unfolding of God’s eternal plan in Christ, not a series of starts and stops, fits and jerks, due to God’s inability to understand human nature. Christ was crucified, and we were chosen in Him, from the creation of the world. In the mind of God, and therefore in reality, all has been finished from the beginning. The new Jerusalem has been completed already.
Dispensationalism teaches that God’s ways with the Christian Church are a special “mystery”; that God now is dealing with people differently from what has been true in the past. The God of the Hebrew Prophets no longer requires righteous, holy, obedient behavior—especially from Gentiles who profess belief in Christ. The Furnace of Israel has decided that people cannot obey His laws. Therefore He has issued a new covenant of “grace.” The new covenant of grace acts as an eternal amnesty for everyone who chooses to believe that God is willing to receive him into Paradise apart from a radical change in his personality and behavior. No new creation is necessary for entrance into the Kingdom of God.
Whether intentionally or not, Dispensationalism, as it is applied by numerous Christian teachers and preachers of our day, has given the impression that God does not require righteous living on the part of the Christian believers as He has of every previous generation of people.
It is said that Christians are exempt from the Kingdom principle of sowing and reaping. Belief in Christ is the Christian’s “ticket to Heaven.” As a result, the main business in life of the Christian is not to be growth in godly living but the persuasion of other people to accept the free ride to Paradise.
We are not implying that believers should not be sincerely interested in the salvation of the souls of men. We should be. However, the perpetual repetition of this obligation (that every believer is to persuade as many people as possible to accept the free ride to Paradise), in place of the feeding of God’s sheep, is not always of God but may come from a human desire to gain members. When they are not continually fed the Word of God the believers do not grow in Christ, in the ability to distinguish between good and evil and to choose the good and resist the evil.
The teaching that God does not require a change in how the converts are living, but is asking only that they make a profession of Christ and attend church as the condition for eternal residence in Paradise, is incorrect. We are blind guides when we leave people with the idea that such is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
One could study carefully the New Testament writings and never find the doctrine (except in passages lifted out of their contexts) that God does not require righteous and holy living on the part of the believers in Christ, that righteous and holy living is not a critical aspect of eternal life.
Dispensationalism teaches that there are two kingdoms—a spiritual kingdom of Christians (primarily Gentile), and a natural kingdom made up of those who are Jewish by race. The idea seems to be that the kingdom of Gentile Christians does not require righteous living while the natural kingdom is composed of Jews by physical birth who are obligated to keep the Law of Moses.
However there are not two kingdoms, a spiritual Gentile kingdom and a natural Jewish kingdom. There is only the one Kingdom of God.
The Hebrew Prophets revealed the coming of but one Kingdom. John the Baptist, Christ, and the Apostles preached only one Kingdom. There is no scriptural basis for the teaching of two kingdoms.
Matthew uses the expression, “the kingdom of heaven.” The other writers refer to the same kingdom as “the kingdom of God.” That only one kingdom is meant is demonstrated by the fact that the parables Matthew applies to the Kingdom of Heaven, such as the sowing of the grain of mustard seed, are applied by Mark and Luke to the Kingdom of God.
There only is one Kingdom of God, of Heaven. It is the Kingdom announced by the Hebrew Prophets. The Prophets did not speak to physical Israel but to us, Jews and Gentiles, who have received Christ (I Peter 1:12). The Lord Jesus Christ is the only true Seed of Abraham. Physical Israel never did and never will inherit the Messianic promises—the promises pertaining to the one Kingdom of God.
When God turns again to the physical people and land of Israel, as the Scriptures declare He will, the physical people will be born again of the Spirit of God and inherit the one Kingdom of God.
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. (Galatians 3:19)
The Christian salvation is not a special “dispensation” of Divine favor to the Gentiles. In fact, no Gentile can come under the new covenant until he or she, by being joined spiritually to Christ, becomes a member of “the house of Israel” (Hebrews 8:10).
There is no such thing as a Gentile church, a Gentile kingdom, a Gentile bride. Upon marrying Joseph, Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah the Egyptian, became an Israelite. Asenath did not retain her identity as a Gentile. If she had, Manasseh and Ephraim would have been considered half Israelite and half Egyptian.
We lose our identity as Gentiles the moment we become part of Christ. In fact, we become part of the only true Seed of Abraham. There is neither Jew nor Gentile in Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
When Christ came He came to the Jews. Salvation is of the Jews. The spiritual and only Kingdom of God, of Heaven, is of the Jews. Christ is the Son of David and will be crowned King on the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem.
Jesus Christ is Christ, the King of the Kingdom of Israel, which is the Kingdom of God. There is no other Kingdom of God, no other Kingdom of Heaven—at least not according to the Scriptures.
In order for a physical Jew to become part of the one Seed of Abraham and thus enter God’s Kingdom, he must be born again. There is no separate kingdom reserved for the Jew who has not been born again, who is not a part of the one Body of Christ, the one Kingdom of God, the one Vine, the one holy city, the one new Jerusalem, the one Wife of the Lamb. God’s elect are one—one true Olive Tree.
The writers of the New Testament were Jews, with the exception of Luke. The Scriptures, Old Testament and New, are Jewish. Christ was raised in a Jewish household. Upon Christ are based all the fulfillments of the promises of God for Christ is the only promised Seed of Abraham.
Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)
Will Christ, the Son of David, rule over a “Gentile Bride” in Heaven and an “Israelite Bride” on the earth in spite of all the Apostle Paul taught to the contrary? Given the convergence of the spiritual and physical realms in the Day of the Lord, given the fact that Heaven will come to earth in the new Jerusalem, how can anyone conceive of a future in which God has one kingdom in the spirit realm and another in the physical realm?
We Gentiles have become inflated with pride. We need to realize we have been grafted on the holy root of Israel. Indeed, we are not a special “spiritual kingdom” that is exempt from the laws of righteousness.
We have been added to Israel just as Asenath was added to Joseph. Now we no longer are Gentiles but an inseparable part of true Israel and heirs of the Messianic Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, the one true Kingdom that, according to the Prophets, is destined to rule the nations of the earth forever. This is the Kingdom from Heaven, the new Jerusalem.
If, as the Scripture teaches, the new Jerusalem is the Wife of the Lamb, the Christian Church, where is the so-called natural kingdom of Israel on the new earth? Why is it not described in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation?
The promises in the Book of Isaiah concerning the glorification of Zion and Israel are speaking of the Glory of Christ in an Israel that has been born again in Christ.
It is written that after the full number of Gentiles has been received into the true Israel, God will turn again to physical Israel. When God turns again to the Jews, which may be beginning already, they will finally be born again. They will become members of the Body of Christ, which is the Kingdom of God.
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27)
The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in Christ in the saints over the nations of saved peoples of the earth. The saints (holy ones) are the members of the Body of Christ, the one true Israel of God.
Two Second Comings?
The Christian churches of our day are not prospering spiritually and therefore are not able to effect the moral reformation of our national governments. The reason is, we of the churches are not obeying the written Word of God (Joshua 1:8). The believers are hearing “rapture, rapture, rapture, prosperity, faith, you can have everything you desire.” Since these are not scriptural emphases, the believers are not being fed the living Bread and the churches are dying spiritually.
Of all the errors of current Christian theology, one of the most weakening, in terms of the spiritual vigor of the believers, may be the teaching that there will be a special, secret coming of Christ prior to His actual, prophesied coming to establish His Kingdom on the earth.
It appears that the teaching of the secret “rapture” is a device intended to make the Christian redemption like the other religions of the world—an escape to Paradise in the spirit realm. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not an escape to Paradise in the spirit realm. It is the return of God and of Paradise to the earth and the removal of sin and death and the effects of sin and death from the saved peoples of the earth.
In the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spoke concerning His return to the earth. Nowhere in the New Testament writings is there a reference to Christ’s returns, or comings (plural). There is not one reference to two second comings. In Matthew, Jesus stated that His coming (singular) would not be a secret and that it would take place after the great tribulation (Matthew 24:29).
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29,30)
The return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth will coincide with the outpouring of God’s wrath on the ungodly.
and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,
in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (II Thessalonians 1:7,8)
This is the time when one will be taken and the other left.
“Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.
“Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. (Matthew 24:40,41)
Jesus’ second coming will be preceded by the universal signs mentioned by the Prophet Joel.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. (Joel 2:30,31)
The trumpet of the Lord will sound and Christ’s elect will be gathered together to Him.
“And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31)
Every eye shall behold Him, as stated in the Book of Revelation.
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
Revelation 1:7 is the corner stone of the Book of Revelation. It is not to be changed in any manner.
This is the one second coming of the Lord, the descent of Christ and His Body to the Mount of Olives as promised in Acts 1:11. Here is the “blessed hope” of the Christian Church, the hope of the godly until the nineteenth century.
In our day, a confusing and destructive idea has been introduced into Christian theology. Before the return of Christ to the earth, before the scriptural Day of Christ, Day of the Lord, there will be a special, secret appearing of Christ in order to withdraw the believers (in their immaturity) from the earth so they (the “Gentile part” of the Body of Christ) will not be required to suffer at the hands of Antichrist.
This in spite of the stern warning of the Scripture that careless, lukewarm believers will face an angry Christ.
This in spite of Jesus’ warning concerning the spirit of deception that is to challenge the elect. This in spite of Jesus’ statement that the wheat and the tares will come to maturity side by side.
This in spite of the fact that the history of the Christian Church has been one of suffering and persecution. This in spite of the fact that the wrath of God will fall the moment Christ summons His elect to Himself (following the type of Lot—Luke 17:29), not seven years later as is being taught.
This in spite of the fact that the Apostle Paul stated clearly that the Jews and Gentiles are one Body in Christ.
No doubt the current “faith-prosperity” doctrine, which is the voice of the False Prophet, is an offshoot of the unscriptural belief that God is not willing His saints should suffer.
The secret evacuation of the “Gentile Church” (the concept of a “Gentile Church” being an unscriptural doctrine of itself) is based on I Thessalonians 4:16-5:3 plus an assortment of fleshly assumptions (“God does not want His children to suffer”; there will be a special seven-year “awards ceremony” in which all believers, regardless of their sin and self-love, will hear “well done, good and faithful servant”; we are saved by “grace” alone whether or not we live a godly life; and all the rest of the satanic lies—lies calculated to leave the believers unprepared for the age of moral horrors that is at the door).
The truth is, I Thessalonians 4:16-5:3 fits exactly what Jesus prophesied in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew. The trumpet sounds. The elect are gathered to Christ. Sudden destruction falls on the ungodly. There is no difference whatever. The Greek term parousia is used in both passages for “coming.”
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore comfort one another with these words.
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.
For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. (I Thessalonians 4:16-5:3)
The description given of the Lord’s return, in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians, fits perfectly the scriptural (Old Testament and New Testament) prophecies of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth to establish His Kingdom. Christ will sit on the throne of David, His physical ancestor, in the city of Jerusalem.
Look carefully at these verses in First Thessalonians and you will see there is no suggestion that the saints on earth will disappear and return to Heaven with Christ at that time. There is no support for such an interpretation in the writings of the Hebrew Prophets or the new-covenant Apostles.
In this passage there is no indication that the purpose of the resurrection and ascension is to remove the saints from the deceptions of Antichrist or the dangers of the great tribulation.
The purpose of the words of Paul is to comfort the bereaved saints who believed that their deceased loved ones would not be present when the Kingdom of God came from Heaven. It is totally indefensible to use Paul’s “funeral sermon” as a basis for a special unscriptural disappearing of a Gentile segment of the Christian Church!
Revelation 3:10 often is used to teach that the saints will be withdrawn from the earth in order to escape tribulation:
Because you have kept [guarded] My command to persevere, I also will keep [guard] you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
The Greek language employed in Revelation 3:10 does not speak of a removal from the earth or even of a tribulation.
If we will guard the Word of Christ’s patience Christ will guard us from the hour of temptation (not tribulation)—a time when sin will be so widespread it will be nearly impossible to resist its enticing attraction.
John 17:15, written by the same author, uses the same Greek verb for “keep” (observe; guard). In this passage Jesus indicates that the Divine provision for keeping (guarding) us is not removal from the earth:
“I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep [guard] them from the evil one. (John 17:15)
It is true that Christ will receive us to Himself before the wrath of God falls on the ungodly. The wrath of God is not the same thing as tribulation. Indeed, God has appointed His beloved to tribulations great and small. But God has not appointed His saints to wrath.
strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (I Thessalonians 1:10)
There is no suggestion in I Thessalonians 4:16-5:3 that a secret appearing of Christ is being announced. As we have stated, the Greek term translated coming in I Thessalonians 4:15 is the same word (parousia) employed in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew and in the other principal descriptions of the Lord’s coming. The term is not, as some have taught, an indication that this is a special coming or appearing. The New Testament usage of the word will not support this assertion.
How could this be a secret coming?
The Lord shall descend from Heaven!
There shall be a shout! (This is a secret? Rather, this is the army of Christ shouting for the Battle of Armageddon!)
The warrior archangel shall utter his voice!
The trumpet of God shall sound!
This is a defiant attack on Antichrist, not a secret evacuation of the saints from the scene of the conflict!
(“Two Israels? Two Kingdoms? Two Second Comings?”, 4034-1)