“Sign of thy Coming…” Mt.24:3

“What shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

This was a private discourse which the apostles asked Jesus and the answer he gave we shall take as a guide for us well. In order to study  more than what any Bible scholars and teachers may have spoken on the topic of eschatology the official and only true version is from the Son of man who is the Word made flesh.

Here we shall consider the verses 3-42. This is divided into two sections.

First Section: Signs  (vs.3-35)

He prefaces with a warning,’ Take heed that no man deceive you.’ From verse.5 till verse 10 is one account of the signs. This we may consider as placed in parenthesis since Jesus repeats more or less the same adding some more details which we can apply as injunction for the church as well as for Israel in particular. Of the latter is the parable of the fig tree and it ends in a categorical statement: ‘Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away, but my words shall not pass away (vs.34)’. This has been fulfilled under the Roman occupation of the city of Jerusalem and razing of the temple.

On the other hand the symbol of the carcase (vs.28) applies to martyrs and saints of the church who shall be gathered (Re.6:9)At the opening of the fifth seal the dead both from the nation of Israel and the Church those  shall be sealed and gathered. This carcase therefore a collective term for the dead from the Great Tribulation and prior (who were killed from Abel onwards)

As with the narrative mode the Spirit uses in other passages we are to infer the narrative telescoped from the specific into general events. The verses 5-6 are repeated in (vs.23-24) In the following verse the Spirit prefaces thus: “Behold I have told you before..(vs.25) From vs.5 till vs14 the Spirit introduces the divine Will and the vs.25 onwards it is set down from the standpoint of Jesus Christ.

benny

 

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A Gentile King’s Dream- (Dan.2:31-35)

Here we have a clue what is the Spirit trying to inform us with regard to future events. We shall consider it as a guide to the book of Revelation. However by making him forget the dream God had specifically given should we not ask why? God wanted to teach him a needful lesson.  God is the maker of heaven and earth and kingdoms of the earth are mere chaff.  Compare the case of Joseph. .  Joseph in the Egyptian prison informs fellow prisoners:” Do not interpretations belong to God?(Ge.40:8)” The dreams of the chief butler and the baker were not for themselves but for the Pharaoh. God used it to accomplish his purpose concerning Joseph. The chief butler remembered Joseph and tells the Pharaoh (Ge.41:12-13) In a similar vein the beneficiary of the Kings dream are children of God. God knows what is in the darkness. We are the children upon whom the ends of the world are come and we need to be vigilant. ‘And the light dwelleth with him (vs.22)’ This light in us is shed by the Spirit (2 Co.4:4) and it is ‘the light of knowledge of the glory of God…’

Let us now consider the history of nations without God and what  signifies the image. Gold, silver brass and iron are characteristics of the four nations. These do come in another guise in the visions of Daniel. This only roughly relates to history in its basic form. The Spirit by a dream condenses history to its basic elements so it is in God’s Time and not to interpreted literally. In order to understand the passage  where iron and clay are mentioned we are told ‘they shall mingle with the seed of men’ One can interpret it as royalty marrying commoner as in the case of recent news from Japan. Quality of iron is to sharpen iron. Hate only creates more hate. Greed of man is to marry God and mammon. Nations who preach brotherhood of man shall deprive one’s brother with greed. In the age of one percenters what else to expect when this has become way of life among the citizens?  The will to defraud your brother is in the blood. The nations  like ‘The kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken’ show the societal divide.

The stone strikes the image upon the foot reveals that end times are already in flux. Nothing of the gentile nations shall remain .

These narratives from the Father and the Son is reset in God’s Time so we are all living parallel lives in which we are being pressed into ‘the kingdom which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people (vs.44).’

(To be continued)

benny

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Seventy Weeks (Dan.9:24)

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and thy holy city…”

Firstly the weeks are not intended literally. Here we have a prophecy, which however has a great bearing upon our understanding of the book of revelation. Eschatology of the end times is to prepare us and not for guesswork as to the identities of the Beast or Babylon. . In order to understand the book it we would do well to learn how the Spirit leads us to the truth. It is not by fixing dates; nor by following the tracks of the four beasts nor by the kings who should arise from these (Dan.8:19-20). These belong to history and we can only assume the Spirit was supplying clues of the immediate future. Narrative structure of the Spirit consistently adopt ‘two in one’ format where the future events are written lengthwise and across and folded many times into a small book such as we find in the Chapter 5 of the book of Revelation. It is similar as the flying roll (Zech. 5:1-3). It is however the curse and judgment that is ongoing. From this we are told specific judgement are written across or lengthwise.vs.3 ”

“…A book written within and on the back side, sealed…(Re.5:1)” from these we may gather only what is on the backside can be read and not the passages folded over. Since the opening of seals have corresponding consequences we can be certain what is concealed are mysteries that shall be opened only when the appropriate time for revelation arrives. This is exactly what we read here, “…In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished… ” This being the case who shall make it known despite the divine injunction? “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” It is significant to note that as with the human aspect of the Son of man he would not want to intrude into what was privy only to God the Father.

Having said this as a preface let us familiarize with the narrative form often adopted by the Spirit. For example we see the Creation chronicle of God beginning from the first chapter till the third verse of the following chapter. It runs for six days and on the seventh he rested. As with days so are the weeks.

With the opening chapter in the book of Genesis the Spirit in one sentence encapsulates Creative Will of the Lord God. It is past perfect. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Thereafter the Spirit provides the creative calendar wherein each day covers piecemeal what the first sentence entailed. Piecemeal in the sense creative will operates through many agencies and in presenting the creation of creatures it is evident that the supportive system of vegetation the land the sea are all flowing into one another. Thus with passing of each ‘day’ of creation, the background events are absorbing and responding to the power and wisdom of the creative Mind. With great economy of words we are only told of major creative events. Similarly while presenting the future of Israel,- it is certainly set against the history of gentile nations, we see it doubling for the church as well. Messiah the Prince has opposite number the anti-Christ. From whichever position you take you shall have your candidate except that God does not validate it. Candidacy of Antiochus Epiphanes perhaps helps those who want to make a case for the Maccabean revolt of 167-164 BC; For us Christians we would place death on the cross in the midst of the seventieth week. Subsequent desolation we can place in AD 70 when Titus Vespasianus destroyed Jerusalem. Such exercise is not to our profit as being found diligent and looking for the new earth and new heavens where the righteousness dwells.

Let us enumerate the various events that ought to happen before the Most Holy One is anointed.(Dan.9:24)”.

  1. “…to finish the transgression…”
  2. “…and to make up the end of sins…”
  3. “… and to make reconciliation for iniquity,…”
  4. “…and to bring in everlasting righteousness…”
  5. “…and to seal up the vision and prophecy, …”

The last event informs us that the vision and prophecy are events that extend to the period of of seventy weeks.

(This is an excerpt from the current work in progress- benny)

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Numbers and their significance in the Bible

(This is an excerpt from my book Marginalia, a Concise Guide to the Bible- amended)

Numbers:

In Bible numbers have many uses. We see it used for rhetorical purposes. ’For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof…(Am.1: 4).This is not what we shall discuss here. Nor are we seeking any mystical system that owes to the School of Pythagoras.

Then what are numbers for? The Holy Spirit communicating with man uses mathematical concept that he can well understand. These in the Spiritual parlance are often used as symbols. We shall see the Spirit tagging ministry and fulfillment of deeds wrought through human agencies  with corresponding numbers.

Miracle of multiplying loaves:

When we examine the miracle of Jesus feeding the multitude we find that the fragments that remained were twelve baskets full (Mt.14:20).This seemingly minor detail is repeated in all the four gospels.(Jn.6:13;Lk.9:17). In the gospel of St. Mark we read the fragments of the fishes were also part of these 12 baskets (Mk.6:43). One may wonder if frugality of saving food items that are noted for their perishability is so significant to find mention in synoptic gospels? This has however a deep spiritual significance. Our free will offerings are precious in the Lord’s sight. Testimony of the Son of man in feeding the multitude was a testimony noted in heaven as well!

In the twelve stones that Joshua placed in the River Jordan where the feet of the priests bearing the ark stood, also the Holy Spirit places similar emphasis. It is an everlasting memorial. Our service to the Lord nothing of it shall be lost and death cannot dispel its sweet savour (Ro.12:1).

The numbers are used to represent specific groups. These groups also carry theological significance.

Jesus chose twelve disciples who were to spread the gospel about the kingdom of heaven among the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Later we read that he went to preach in their cities as well(Mt.11:1). Even after Judas betrayed him and forfeited his place among them we read that a substitute was found by so the number twelve remained intact. The number 12 designates the Son. ( In brackets I shall give what is to be taken with caution:  One is  God 1+2: 3 trinity and 12 the Son as reconciliation principle.)

It is the designated number for God the Son on the earth. The number is as significant as the Almighty God is symbolized by One. (Ac.1:29). Also interesting to note is the fact all the disciples gathered in the upper room on that occasion were twelve tens,-one hundred and twenty. Ministry of Jesus as the Son of man represented kingdom of heaven. He was sent by his Father for a specific purpose (Jn.3:16). His father represented the Kingdom of God into which his own kingdom must be subsumed at a later date.

Multiples of twelve bear a theological tag on the earth as well as in the City of God. Such groups of 12 in multiples of ten designate the City of God. It is not difficult to understand the significance of an hundred forty and four thousand that stood with the Lamb on the mount of Sion (Re.14:1). They were redeemed from the earth for the Kingdom of God. The symbolism of the mount, lamb and number adds to our understanding. In the new earth and the new heaven we have the city of God and the scale is given as “according to the measure of a man, that is of the angel Re.21:17” Needless to say the man is like angels in resurrection Mt.22:30)

The number 4 is the tag that connects divine intervention over the history of nations. In the Book of Zechariah we have a sign of 4 carpenters who were sent ‘to fray them (the horns)…to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it(Zech.1:21).’ In another place an angel from the Lord reveals four chariots to the prophet, who asks him what do they represent. They are four spirits of the heavens that stand before the Lord of hosts. “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts… he(the Branch) shall build the temple of the Lord(Zech.6:12-13). We get a telescoping view of the nations of the world being pressed into the temple-building to which Jesus Christ is the head(Zech.6:15). The number signifies cardinal directions which are echoed in the heavenly host that serve the Lord God(Re.4:2-3). Also noteworthy are the four beasts that are placed there to praise the Lord God Almighty without ceasing.

Thus we may conclude the number 4 speak of heavenly agencies who either stand as a memorial before the Lord or as enforcers of the God of hosts.

This number also refers to the manner the tribes camped during their wanderings in the wilderness. In the book of Numbers thy were to pitch their tents in their designated places about the tribe of Levi (Nu.2:17). Again we see the number 4 applied to angels who stood on the corners of the earth.(Re.7:1) The beasts and the elders are tagged by the number to indicate sovereignty of God over the earth and the fullness thereof. They are memorial unto God representing man and the creatures of the earth.

In the Book of Apocalypse we read of the 24 elders which are 6 groups of 4 each and their roles are different from the twelve apostles or the tribes of Israel.

Let us turn our attention from apostles to another group of seventy. The same number we first read as the elders upon whom God distributed some of the spirit resting on Moses (Nu.11:24)

In the gospel of St. Luke we read that Jesus appointed as a second wave seventy other disciples whom he sent two by two and their message was specific: the Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.(Lu.10:1,9).

Perfect Atonement

On one occasion Jesus fed a crowd of four thousand. We read of that what was remaining filled seven baskets( Mt.15:32-38; Mk.8:1-9).An interesting point to note is that the number of baskets same as the number of loaves offered to Jesus. In his rebuke of his disciples for their lack of understanding (Mk.8:16-21) we may infer that there is more to it than simple telling of a miracle. Seven is perfection associated with God. And he (God) rested on the seventh day from all his work… (Ge.2: 2). The seven in this case symbolizes his broken body on the cross, the perfect atonement he could offer us.

The Children of Israel sojourned in the wilderness for 40 years before reaching their Promised Land. Between Resurrection of Jesus and his ascension was 40 days. The number 40 indicates a certain period in which part of God’s Will shall be rounded off. Purpose for which sojourn of the Israelites in the desert of Sinai necessitated 40 years are different from the reason our Lord Saviour remained on the earth. As discussed elsewhere apart from stray appearances the resurrected Jesus had one last ministry and that was in his spiritual body.

When Moses as commanded of God stretched his hand towards heaven there was ‘a thick darkness in the land of Egypt for three days.’(Ex.10: 22).’ When Moses asked leave from Pharaoh so that the children of Israel could offer sacrifices to the Lord in the wilderness, it was for three days. (Ex.8: 27)

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Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk.15:11-32)

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is an illustration of God’s long-suffering nature. He gives sinners a long rope upon which some hang themselves while some, like the younger son in the parable came to realize, just the right time to find way home. Consider God as the father and here we are talking of a share the son could claim as his. God allows his material blessings for each according to his ability. The same we find while God distributed manna from His storehouse. ‘…every man according to his eating (Ex.16:18).’ Compare this with the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus(Lk.16:19-31) and we shall see what is the significance of material wealth.

Wealth is a blessing indeed. But without God such blessings can turn contrary. The son realized without the Father his lot was suddenly thrown into misery. The younger son having to satisfy with hunger with husks is one of the most pathetic scenes one could conjure up! But God in mercy uses it to open his eyes.  What did it bring to mind? “He remembered of his patiently awaiting father and decided that it was to his parental solicitude he ought to appeal. Yes he had made a dent in the material wealth created by his sire. But love that overlooked all faults of the son was yet untried. The parable reveals the son was warmly received by the father. He puts on the best robe on the son who came back from the dead.  His righteousness is what God the Father offers to every sinner who repents.

Not so lucky was the dives who wined and dined on a grand scale never minding the sign of God had set right at the gate. Lazarus was indeed a sign for the dives as the husks of grain were for the boy.

Wealth indeed is a blessing from the Lord. But we need consider our roles. God as the maker of heaven and the earth has the right to call to account how his gifts have been put to use by every one of us. No man has come with the right to enjoy wealth not belonging to him and not having to justify his actions. We need not consider how wealth is created and how man tries to hold on to privileges and wealth by stealth that over the years has become a precedent. But before God  no such man made laws, of the nation can save anyone who has proved to be bad stewards. At best we are his stewards as the many parables of Jesus Christ illustrate.

God always sets signs and symbols on the material objects that man often fails to acknowledge. Rock from which the children of Israel drank was not merely rock but holds a spiritual side. Manna similarly from heaven signified something much more than the article themselves. In these two parables we can see the Spirit relying on the husks and the beggar to teach the persons concerned something profound.

Death is the last stop before hell for those who felt no conscience prick about spending wealth with such impudence and boast over what they were not entitled to use solely for their own enjoyment. The rich man  did not bring wealth at birth and neither did he care if the wealth of others passing through his hands entitled him to carry blessings as well beyond the land of the living. When we are given gifts we need accept where they are from and set before us a warning: our accountability to God and our fellowmen shall confront us one day..

Internal evidence suggests both were Jews and observed the commandments of Moses. What the younger son wasted was material aspects of his (Father’s) living. Diaspora of Jews scattered the nation of Israel to four corners of the earth and in one such places the younger son being cast into dire straits joined to a citizen who tended the swine. It was in such a circumstance he awoke himself to the spiritual aspects of his father. Love of God is one such quality material wealth throws up.

Before we move on we need consider an aspect of spiritual life not often dwelt upon. The Prodigal Son among the swine delineates how tenuous our connection in the world is and being tempted all about us. The son had to eat whatever came in hand in order to satisfy hunger. ‘Being unequalled yoked’ with ungodly in the world how often we see children of God is constrained to live like every other in order to be as one among them. Certain cultural baggage that a believer carries around is unnecessary and often a drag on his spiritual life. There was a coarsening aspect wealth brings on people that the five brothers of the dives would not have listened to him had he gone to warn them of what agony awaited them. “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead (Lk.16:31). If wealth has deadened the soul what awaits man?

benny

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Spiritual Bodies-an excerpt

Spiritual Bodies

Christ Jesus in glory is a representation that is to be revealed in us.

When we are in Christ we consider we are dead to the world so sin shall have no dominion over us. Baptism by water symbolizes such a death. Dead to the world but alive to God. There is a day when our physical body must be dissolved but it signals we are alive in spiritual bodies. Being alive to God is what our inner man ought to indicate for us. For example consider this verse. ‘Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day’.

In short our inner man represents Christ in glory. Once dead  our spiritual bodies reveal a far exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Christ and Church, the Bride in the parlance of the Spirit is a symbol for that close-knit association existing between God and believers redeemed from the earth

We need consider even while we have our being that we have Christ in glory as a symbol.

How shall we make sense of a spiritual body?

Gideon was diffident and he did not consider himself of heroic mould to deliver Israel from their oppressors (Jud.6:15). Even after the angel of the Lord showed indeed he found had favour with the Lord he pressed for a sign. “…If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand…Behold I will put a fleece of wool in the floor.” On the first night the test was to leave the dew only on a fleece of wool he spread on the floor. Next morning he found God had done exactly as he had said. He was the chosen one. But Gideon persists in testing God second night also. This time it was to keep the fleecy dry while the dew was everywhere around it. ‘And God did so that night (Jud.6:40)

This inversion explains what happens to our inner man. A physical being holds indwelling experience of the Spirit like the dew on the fleece. Upon dissolution of our bodies it is our inner man that becomes our spiritual body with soul as its personality.

8.

The Holy Spirit in organizing the narrative of the divine Will and how it was fulfilled by the Son often uses symbols that have their specific context also carrying a general context when such symbolism is sustained. Let us examine two examples in order to understand the spiritual bodies as intended in the divine Plan.

After the waters subsided Noah sends a dove, which returns since she could not find any rest for the sole of her foot. Second time she returns with an olive leaf. What does the dove represent? The dove descended and rested upon Jesus at the baptism: the word of God designates thus in the relevant passage as a symbol for the Spirit. Coming back to Noah we read that the olive leaf she had in her mouth was ‘pluckt off’. Considering the passages in the epistle to the Romans we know the hint of olive tree connects with the nation of Israel ‘And if the branches be broken off…(Ro.11:17). It also happily explains the circumstance why the dove could find no rest for the sole of her foot. Outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the divine Plan was to be fulfilled after the ascension of Jesus Christ. So the symbol of the dove relates in particular to Noah as well as ties to the Son of man. The Holy Spirit finds use for such symbols to tie the several narrative threads to the Son. Let us consider next instance. Before the Amalekites and Midianites God arranges a dream for the benefit of Gideon. A cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian and overturned it (Jud.7:13-14) In similar vein ‘a stone was cut out without hands which smote the image upon his feet (Dan.2:34-35) carry symbols tying to the Son. Whereas the barley cake was intended for Gideon, the other was the endtimes.

From Daniel’s interpretation we can understand the image proceeds from particular to the general and the purport of the dream indicates God establishing his rule over all nations at the end times.

Symbolism in the lexicon of the Spirit is to glorify the Son so that multi-layered Narrative content reconciles Time Scale and persons as anti-types to Jesus Christ as the Type.

St Paul inverts the standard practice of grafting while he is comparing Israel with the Gentiles; he has a purpose and the Spirit in accepting it as appropriate allows us to see inversion as a mode of exegesis. Firstly let us consider the passage. “…And, thou being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakes of the root…(Ro.11:17)” to extract the significance of the will of God. Grafting is associated with joining a branch from a cultivated tree to another. By grafting wild olive branch to the good stock of the olive tree signifying Israel St Paul’ s argument is that the alien stock can be just as easily broken off if the Gentiles proved to be faithless.

By the same token the spiritual body is the physical body of a believer turned inside out.

At death the soul that invisible aspect, quintessence of a physical being changes place with the inner man bearing spiritual aspects of his former self. The sign, which the Lord gave Gideon with a fleece of wool illustrates inversion.

9.

Mode of inversion

“So the last shall be first, and the first, last…(Mt.20:16).” Here is mode of inversion at its classic sense. This quote is part of sentence which itself ought to supply its importance. “…For many be called, but few be chosen.” Two ideas are balanced upon the fulcrum of grace. Grace- it is the single most vital component of a believer regardless of the ministry to which he is called either as a layman or as an elder, as a labourer or as an overseer. The world is the vineyard of the Lord into which each of us can only work while it is day. “ The night cometh, when no man can work (Jn.9:4).”

When you consider a child of God it is child-like trust and nothing of his pedigree or skills that matters to God. His own righteousness is like filthy garments but the blood of Jesus has made him reveal righteousness of God instead. Mode of inversion assures it.

Mode of inversion renders his weakness his strength. We see the mode of inversion: whosoever despises a child of God is in fact belittling the one who chose him (Lk.9:46-48) Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?…(Ro.14:4). God had already found Saul an effective material despite of his zeal to persecute the church. When the Lord appeared in a vision to Ananias in Damascus and wanted him to seek out Saul, he was not sure considering that there were bad reports concerning him. But God had trust in him and not his past. It is thus God presses his servants to be effective witnesses so his Name and not let their own views settle the issue. (excerpt from a book on the making)

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Representational Typology

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised (1 Co.15:16).”

 

Principle of Similitude is the tool of the Spirit to translate the deep things of God in a language we can understand. Thus the body God prepared before the worlds began is compared to a temple. By the indwelling of the Spirit each of us believe we are the temple of God. Thus the tabernacle of the wilderness or the temple of Solomon where the glory of God filled hold comparison. Such similitude compares spiritual things with spiritual (1 Co.2:13)

The role of the Spirit is also to give an order to distinguish the people of God and those who are not. Thus when the Son of man serves as a type it shall throw up so many antitypes that bear relation to Him. Christ is the head of the Church. Consequently each member of the Body which is the Church, is a believer redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

We see two groups of people those who are the children of disobedience and Children of light or Obedience.

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all that have sinned (Ro.5:12).” The Adam episode in the creation account is for our edification. Adam is a type for all those belong to one group. He represents Children of Disobedience since death became the rule as a result of sin.

“ ….For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall be all made alive (1 Co.15:21-22)”

Here St Paul speaks of an order. Representational typology sets apart believers from children of wrath, as goats and sheep at the end times. “…The Lord knoweth them that are his (2 Ti.2:19).”

benny

 

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