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The End of the Church Age – chapter 8

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The End of the Church Age… and After


Chapter 8.     More on the Great Tribulation


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Chapter 8.

More on the Great Tribulation

 

A Famine of Hearing the Word of God

 

We have learned that in God’s predetermined plan for the world, we finally have come to the time that God calls the time of Great Tribulation. It is when the work of the corporate external church is finished. It is no longer being used of God to do the work that it had been assigned to do as its principle endeavor. That work was to evangelize the world. For more than 1950 years, even though the churches and congregations have had many imperfections and doctrinal failures, God has used them as a divine organism, as a God-blessed institution to spread the Gospel to every area of the world.

   

But now the time has come when the church age has ended. The time has come for others to complete the task of world evangelization. And simultaneously, with the end of the church age, God has brought His judgment upon the churches. For more than 1950 years, God tolerated the wrong doctrines even as He tolerated the high places of Old Testament Israel. But now God has loosed Satan, and through Satan’s deceptions, churches all over the world have become apostate, following the desires of men rather than those of God. Satan has been allowed to marshal his forces to surround Jerusalem and destroy it. We will learn that in this setting, the terms “Jerusalem” and “Judea” can refer only to the corporate external church.

   

But now, the question once more must be raised: If a church earnestly tries to remove all of its wrong doctrines (that is, all of its spiritual high places), and if it still has true believers within it, why can’t it continue as a viable God-blessed congregation?

 

The primary purpose of the church is to evangelize.

   

One answer to this question has to do with the nature and purpose of the church. The primary purpose of the church was to evangelize. The preaching was to be such that, first of all, those who attended the church, including the children, might hear the true Gospel and that God would bless the Word in the lives of those who heard it. In this manner, a great many who were a part of

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that church might become saved. Additionally, the church was to send out missionaries both locally, in their own cities, and also into all the world. As this was faithfully done, God’s program was to bless these activities so that His elect could become saved. 

 

But then we read Amos 8:11:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.

The Book of Amos is speaking of the very time in which we are now living. And this verse is very pertinent to this time. God is speaking of a famine that is to come. It is not a famine of bread and water. Spiritually, bread identifies with Jesus who is the bread of life. Water has to do with the true Gospel. Thus, God is declaring this is not a time when there is a famine of the declaration of the true Gospel. That is, in the churches that exist today, there may be pastors who faithfully bring the true Gospel to their congregations. There may be missionaries, sent out by these faithful churches, who are still faithfully bringing the Gospel to the lost of the world.

 

However, it is the next phrase that is so ominous, a famine “of hearing the words of the LORD.” Why is that so ominous? We must remember that there are two very important ingredients in God’s plan of saving the elect. First of all, they must be under the hearing of the Word of God. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 8:17).

 

Secondly, God must apply that faithful Word to the hearts of those He plans to save, just as God opened the heart of Lydia (Acts 16:14). So, if God is going to save someone, He must give that person spiritual ears to hear the spoken Word of God.

 

Jesus, for example, the perfect preacher declared the Gospel for three and a half years, and yet, at the end of His ministry, there were only 120 believes in Jerusalem and a little more than 500 in Galilee. And many of these individuals were already saved before Christ began to preach. Jesus tells us why this was so in Matthew 13:13 and 14:

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive.

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For three and a half years, there had been the most faithful preaching possible, but God was not applying that Word to the hearts of those who were hearing it. But when Peter preached one sermon at Pentecost, about 3,000 were saved. Obviously, it is not the faithful preaching alone that God uses as the means to save people. It also requires that the Holy Spirit apply that Word to the hearts of those God plans to save.
 

The Holy Spirit Is Taken from the Midst

   

The Bible approaches this question from a different vantage point in II Thessalonians 2:3-12. There God speaks of the time when the man of sin will take his seat in the temple of God and will be worshipped as God. The man of sin is Satan. He is called a man because he is typified by the king of Babylon. Isaiah 14 prophesies that the king of Babylon who is also called Lucifer would desire to be like the most High (Isaiah 14:14). It also declares that he wants to sit, or reign, upon the mount of the congregation (Isaiah 14:13).

   

This desire of Satan (Lucifer) is being fulfilled during the time of the Great Tribulation even as II Thessalonians declares that the man of sin would sit (reign) in the temple of God.

 

Returning to II Thessalonians 2, we read this warning in verse 7:

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

The word “letteth” is an old English word that would be better translated “restraineth.” The word “way” in the phrase “taken out of the way” is altogether incorrect. It is a Greek word that is found many, many times in the Bible but never, except here, is it translated as “way.” It is most commonly translated “midst.”

   

Many Bible scholars have correctly seen that the “he” who now restraineth must be the Holy Spirit. And “the mystery of iniquity doth already work” tells us there has always been sin or iniquity in the temple (the New Testament churches). But this mystery of iniquity has been restrained by God binding Satan (Revelation 20:2).

   

However, the time was to come when the one who restrains, who can be none other than the Holy Spirit, would be taken out of the midst. The question is, from which midst is the Holy Spirit removed in order to allow Satan to rule in the churches and congregations?

   

Obviously, the only possibility is that the Holy Spirit would be taken from the midst of the temple.

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          In Matthew 18:20, the Bible declares:

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

This verse is anticipating the season of the church age when God would be present in the midst of the believers, however small in number they might be. In John Chapter 14, verse 17, Jesus is anticipating this condition during the church age by declaring:

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive , because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

In this verse, Jesus is anticipating Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would be poured out in the midst of the believers.

   

We must remember that the Holy Spirit is always present within the life of the true believer. Romans 8:9 informs us that if we do not have the Spirit, we are none of His. Throughout history a characteristic of every true believer is that at the moment of salvation, he became indwelt by the Holy Spirit. However, in John 14:17, Jesus is referring to the situation that existed during His ministry. While the true believers were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit was not in them in the sense of being in their midst to save. We know this to be true because earlier in our study, we learned that very few people became saved during the time of Christ’s ministry. John 14:17 declares that He will be in you, that is, when the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was in the midst of the believers in order to save others.

   

In I Corinthians Chapter 3, the Bible discusses the building of the temple. Within it are gold, silver, and precious stones (those who are true believers). But also within it are wood, hay, and stubble (those who believe they are saved but they are not saved).

   

In I Corinthians 3:16, God speaks of the temple being made of many individuals, and we read there:

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

    The word “ye” in this word is plural. That is, the temple consists of many individuals who together are the temple. The verse continues by declaring “the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” Again, the word “you” is a plural word,

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indicating, therefore, that the Spirit of God indwelt the congregations as they were being used of God to evangelize. 

   

As we learned earlier, when Jesus preached, very few became saved. During the time Jesus preached, the Holy Spirit was not in the midst of the believers to apply the Word to the unsaved. But at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out, and about 3,000 were saved, and ever since then, in the New Testament era, people are saved as the Gospel is sent out.

   
However, II Thessalonians Chapter 2 indicates that there will be a time when the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the midst. We must understand then that the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the temple. That is, He will remove Himself from the congregations and denominations that had become a part of the temple of God.
 

We must understand then that the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the temple.

   

The presence of the Holy Spirit was to guide the work of the church. More importantly, He was there to apply the Word of God, as it was faithfully preached, to the hearts of those whom God had elected to salvation.

 

The Holy Spirit Restrains Satan

   

But the question must be asked: Why does God speak of someone (the Holy Spirit) who restrains being taken out of the midst? We can find our answer if we look at the parable of the sower. Remember, the seed is the Word of God. The seed fell by the wayside and the fowls of the air devoured it (Luke 8:5). Jesus explains the meaning of this in Luke 8:12:

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

When Satan has taken his seat (become the ruler) in the temple (the churches and congregations), and the Holy Spirit is no longer in the midst of the congregations, there is no longer anyone to restrain Satan from taking the Word of God, however faithfully it is preached, out of the listeners’ hearts. Therefore, if the Holy Spirit is no longer working in the church, it means no one can become saved as a result of the preaching in that church. This is so because God is no

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longer present to apply the Word to the hearts of the unsaved. Effectively, the candlestick has been removed, and that is why the believers are commanded to come out of Judea and Jerusalem. This is so even though there may be plenty of spiritual bread and water, that is, faithful preaching. 

    

Now we can understand more plainly verse 19 of Matthew 24, where we read:

And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

The terrible truth is that children born into that congregation may be under the hearing of good preaching, but if the Holy Spirit is not in the midst of that congregation, they will not become saved there. That family has a serious problem that can be remedied only by leaving the congregation. We can now understand the sad statements recorded in Lamentations Chapter 2, verses 11 and 12, where we read:

Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers’ bosom.

These sorrowful words are part of a lament that the Holy Spirit spoke through Jeremiah as Judah was experiencing the judgment of God following the death of King Josiah in 609 B.C.

 

Where is corn and wine?” Corn and wine are words pointing to the Gospel. Jesus is the bread of life. He has provided His blood (the wine) for our salvation. But now there is no corn and wine, no salvation possible in the churches. This is because there is a famine of hearing the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is no longer working in the congregations.

   

The true Gospel may be faithfully preached. Those who are saved may believe they experience blessings, but what about the infants and the children. If the Holy Spirit is not applying the Word of God and giving these children spiritual ears, they will remain spiritually dead. How awful this is. This is a frightening truth that parents must face. If they truly love their children and are praying for their salvation, they must consider this problem very seriously.

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Jeremiah is Speaking about the Churches of Our Day

   

The Book of Jeremiah has been in the Bible for more than 2,000 years. However, most pastors and Bible teachers have paid little or no attention to this book. This is a result of the very negative character of most of the book. It is also a result of the fact that much of it was difficult to understand. This was caused by the fact that it, like many other parts of the Bible, teaches truth concerning the very end of time. We have learned that there are parts of the Bible that have been sealed up until the end of time. That is, God would not give true believers a clear understanding of the Gospel message contained in these passages until we were very near the end of the world.

   

This is the situation that prevails with the Book of Jeremiah. We will discover that almost the entire book is pointing to the time of the Great Tribulation of our day. True, it records the experiences of Judah at the time it was destroyed by Babylon in 587 B.C., but we will discover that the destruction of Judah was given as an example or as an illustration of what the church can expect during the Great Tribulation of our day.

   

There are at least three proofs in the Book of Jeremiah that its focus is primarily on our day.

 

The First Proof

    

The first of these proofs is in the language of Jeremiah Chapter 2, verse 2. There we read:

Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.

This verse is speaking of a Jerusalem that was in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. We know that ancient Israel was in the wilderness for 40 years immediately after they left Egypt. This verse emphasizes that while they were in the wilderness, there was some very fine spiritual conduct in evidence and which God remembers. “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals.” The word “youth” certainly can apply to Israel in the wilderness. That was the time they were first formed as a congregation. The same is true of the word “espousals.” It is a word that identifies with the beginning of a marriage. The Bible clearly teaches that God became spiritually married to ancient Israel.

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But what about the words “kindness” and “love”? Does the Bible teach anywhere that these attributes were ever in view when Israel was in the wilderness? The Hebrew word translated “kindness” is also frequently translated in the Bible as “mercy,” “goodness,” and “loving kindness.” Does the Bible speak anywhere of the mercy, the goodness, the kindness, or the loving kindness of Israel when they were in the wilderness? This is a word that must identify with true believers. The fact is that throughout the Bible, it is a word that most often is attributed to God Himself.

   

Search as we might, we cannot find anywhere in the Bible where this word is associated with Israel in the wilderness. Instead, we read about Israel complaining and rebelling against God. Hebrews 3:17-19 sums up the spiritual condition of Israel in the wilderness. We read there:

But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

In Numbers 14:29 and 30, God assures us that this included virtually the whole nation. These verses tell us:

Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

Thus, we wonder about the phrase recorded in Jeremiah 2:2, “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth.” It surely does not appear to apply to Israel during their forty years in the wilderness.

    

The same problem applies to the phrase, “the love of thine espousals.” Nowhere do we find the concept of Israel’s love for God in connection with their forty year wilderness sojourn.

 

The Churches Are Jerusalem

 

How then are we to understand Jeremiah 2:2? What other Jerusalem was there to which Jeremiah was to cry? What other Jerusalem identifies with

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the wilderness? There is a Biblical answer to these questions. Remember we learned earlier that the churches and congregations of our day are called Jerusalem. Remember they are composed of true believers, who are called the Jerusalem above in Galatians 4, and in I Corinthians 3 they are called gold, silver, and precious stones. These churches also have within them the Jerusalem which now is, and it is in bondage with her children (Galatians 4:25). These are the individuals in the churches who are still in bondage to sin. They identify with the wood, hay, and stubble of I Corinthians 3. 

   

This Jerusalem had its beginning at the beginning of the church age. This is the Jerusalem that identifies with the woman of Revelation 12 who dwelt in the wilderness (Revelation 12:6 and 14).

   

However, if the churches that existed throughout the church age are the Jerusalem that is in view in Jeremiah Chapter 2, verse 2, can the other statements in this verse properly relate, “the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals”?

   

The fact is, these statements agree perfectly with the Jerusalem that is identified with the church age. When was the church age in its youth? And what was its spiritual condition at its beginning? We know the church age began immediately after the resurrection of Christ. As we look at the seven churches of Revelation 2 and Revelation 3, we see their spiritual condition when the church age was still in its youth. Revelation 2, verses 2 and 3:

I know they works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

Revelation 2:4 informs us that there was love for God in the early church. We read there:

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

In Revelation 2, verses 9 and 19, and in Revelation 3, verses 8 and 10, are more statements that indicate the faithfulness of the early church.

Revelation 2:9: I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.  

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Revelation 2:19: I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

 

Revelation 3:8: I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

 

Revelations 3:10: Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Can we say however that they were espoused, that is, were married to Christ? They were not married to Him as a corporate external representation of the kingdom of God. But within the church there were believers and unbelievers, the Jerusalem above and the Jerusalem which now is. The true believers are the bride of Christ. They are espoused to Christ. They could identify with kindness and love.

   

This youthful church had not yet been sown as Jeremiah 2:3 indicates. It was just taking form, and it had not yet gone into all the world to sow the seeds of the Gospel.

   
Thus, we must come to the inescapable conclusion that the Book of Jeremiah is addressed to the church age and its end. Jeremiah 2:2 has no possibility of identifying with ancient Israel in the wilderness.
 

A Second Proof

   

God gives us additional proofs that the Book of Jeremiah is focused mainly on the churches and congregations at the end of the church age. In Jeremiah 3, verse 3, we read:

Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.

The key words in this verse are the words “latter rain.” In this study of the end of the church age, repeatedly we have seen that the words “latter rain” focus on the final spiritual season of sending the Gospel into the word. Thus, when this verse indicates that there has been no latter rain, it can have in view only the spiritual drought of hearing the Word of God that came immediately

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when Satan was loosed at the end of the church age and the latter rain had not yet begun. Remember, the latter rain is the final sending out of the Gospel into the world during the last part of the Great Tribulation. Thus, by the language of Jeremiah 3:3, we are again assured that the Book of Jeremiah primarily has in view the end of the church age.

 

A Third Proof

   

There is another very important truth that we must now examine that we can learn from a study of this 70-year tribulation of the nation of Judah. This truth is that the Bible clearly shows that this 70-year period is identified with the end of the world. Thus, this is a third proof that the Book of Jeremiah is focused, first of all, on the Great Tribulation of our day.

   

Chapter 25 of Jeremiah shows us this truth. As we examine Jeremiah 25, we will find that the timing and cause of the judgment at the end of the world are tightly tied to God’s judgment on the churches and congregations that had been commissioned to bring the Gospel to the world. In Jeremiah 25:3-7, God gives the warning and sets the stage for what is going to follow:

From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened. And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear. They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever: And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt. Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.

Having given the warning, God then declares what is to happen. Jeremiah 25:8-9 says: 

Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words, Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of

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Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.

Please notice the character of this warning. Because of Judah’s refusal to obey God’s commandments, not only is God going to bring the king of Babylon against Judah, but He is going to bring him against all the nations round about. Later in Jeremiah Chapter 25, we will learn that all the nations included all the nations in the entire world.

   

The second truth we learn from these verses is that this judgment is to result in total and perpetual, that is, everlasting destruction. The term “perpetual” or “everlasting” destruction identifies with the end of the world and the lake of fire.

Then verse 10 states:

Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle.

The phrases, “the voice of mirth [joy],” “the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom,” and “the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle,” all identify with the true Gospel. Historically, these phrases identify with the land of Judah and Jerusalem, which had been entirely destroyed. However, as we have learned, near the end of time, the terms “Judah” and “Jerusalem” represent the external evidence of the kingdom of God as it is found in the churches and congregation. In them there is the famine of hearing the Word of God because the Holy Spirit is no longer in their midst.

   

Continuing with Jeremiah 25, the prophecy of this chapter relates to the 70 years we are presently studying, and we read in verses 11-13:  

And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations. And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is 

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written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations.

In these verses, we learn that the king of Babylon will reign over all of the nations for the entire 70 years, but at the end of the 70 years, judgment will come upon Babylon. And again, we are taught that this judgment is to come upon “all the nations.”

   

In Jeremiah 25, verses 15-17, God reiterates that judgment is to come upon all the nations. God says in verses 15-17:

For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them. Then took I the cup at the LORD’S hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me:

Please note the phrase “all the nations.” This is a very important and outstanding truth. This is so because the final execution of God’s judgment upon all of the nations is at the end of the world. Therefore, we can be sure that Jeremiah 25 is particularly looking to the time of the end of the world.

 

The End of the World

   

To say it a bit differently, the language of Jeremiah appears to be speaking about the 70 years from 609 B.C. to 539 B.C., but in actuality, it is speaking about the end of the world. As it speaks about the end of the world, it uses the experiences of Judah, Jerusalem, and Babylon to assist us in understanding God’s program for the end of the world.

   

As we continue to study Jeremiah Chapter 25, we see that the judgment that God has in view begins with His judgment on Jerusalem and Judah. Verse 18 prophecies:  

To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day;

We will find that verses 18 through 26 detail God’s plan for the final execution of His judgment, but it begins with judgment upon Jerusalem and Judah. Earlier we learned that the only entity that can identify with Jerusalem 

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and Judah are the churches and congregations of our day, which are the external, corporate representation of the kingdom of God. Therefore, Jeremiah 25:18 is giving the same truth that we find in I Peter 4:17, where we read, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.”

   

Thus, we are being assured that when judgment falls on the churches and congregations, this judgment is going to transition into the final judgment on the whole world.

   

Jeremiah 25:18 goes on to say that Jerusalem and Judah will become a desolation and a curse. This matches the language of II Thessalonians 2 where God indicates that the man of sin (Satan) will take his seat (he will rule) in the temple (the churches and congregations). At the same time, II Thessalonians 2 teaches that He who restrains (the Holy Spirit restrains sin), will be taken out of the midst. That is, within the churches, God the Holy Spirit will no longer be applying the Word of God to the lives of those who are present. There will be a famine of hearing the Word of God.

 

All Nations Must Drink of the Wrath of God

   

Jeremiah 25 then lists a great many nations of the world of Jeremiah’s day as illustrative of all the nations of the world that will exist at the end of time. This is clearly seen by the precise language of verse 26:

And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.

No one can argue with the phrase, “and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth.” Without question, this is a reference to the wrath of God when Christ comes at the end of the world.

   

This verse concludes with the statement, “and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.” Sheshach is another name for Babylon. We have learned that the king of Babylon typified Satan whom God loosed near the end of time to prepare the churches and the world for Judgment Day.On the last day of the earth’s existence, Satan will be destroyed by the lake of fire along with the unsaved

   

The certainty of this judgment is emphasized by the language of Jeremiah 25:27, where we read:

Therefore thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Drink ye, and be drunken, and spue,  

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and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you.

This is the language of damnation.

 

Judgment Begins at God’s House

    

As we continue to examine Jeremiah 25, we read two very significant verses. They are verses 28 and 29:

And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ye shall certainly drink. For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of hosts.

In these verses, God is giving His rationale as to why judgment has begun with the house of God. He is declaring that in His perfect justice, He will bring judgment upon the city which is called by His name. The city that is called by His name are the churches and congregations that for over 1950 years were the external representation of the kingdom of God on this earth. This is where the Christians were found. “Christian” is a word that signifies “of the family of Christ.” This is the entity that is called the holy place. This is the divine institution wherein God the Holy Spirit was present. This was the holy organism that God used to evangelize the world.

 

This is the holy organism that God used to evangelize the world.

 

From man’s point of view, it might appear that this is the last place where God’s judgment would fall. After all, in the churches that feature Jesus Christ as the Savior, most people are fine examples of decent morality who claim that they trust in Christ and are ready to obey Christ.

   

But God is demonstrating the perfection of His holy integrity and His perfect justice. We, of course, can see this in the atonement when Jesus was punished in absolutely equal measure, according to what was demanded by God’s justice. what would have been experienced by all those He came to save. Now again, God is demonstrating His perfect justice as He shows in His

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perfect righteousness that no one can escape the perfect justice of God. Even those who have identified so closely with the kingdom of God that they are called “Christians,” and those who have appeared to live very righteously before God, if they are not saved, then they are still under the wrath of God. Even the divine organism, the external church, of which they are members, cannot escape the awful wrath of God.

   

God in His perfect righteousness demonstrates His perfect integrity by beginning His judgment upon the house of God. Thereby He shows His perfect justice as He follows up with the execution of his judgment upon the whole world.

   

We thus have learned that the 70-year period spoken of in the Bible was a literal period that focused on the nation of Israel and Jerusalem. However, this judgment on Jerusalem was a definite picture or representation of God’s judgment on the churches and congregations during the Great Tribulation that immediately precedes the end of the world.

   

In another sense, Jeremiah Chapter 25 and the 70 years are focused entirely and only on our day. This is so because in the year 539 B.C., which was the end of the 70 years, all of the world did not come into judgment. Therefore, when we find any references in the Bible to this 70-year period, we can know that the primary focus, and at times the only focus, is upon the Great Tribulation period of our day.

   

We have carefully examined three proofs that show that the Book of Jeremiah is intimately involved with our day. In the process of setting forth these proofs, we have also learned why God brings about the final judgment of the world by beginning with the churches and congregations of our day. Throughout this study, we will learn much more about the judgment.

   

It might be noted that the Book of Jeremiah is so intensely involved with our day that a verse by verse study of many of its chapters would almost bring about the conclusion that it is today’s newspaper. We have already seen a suggestion of this as we outlined the three proofs that the Book of Jeremiah identifies with the churches and congregations of our day.

 

God Instructs Us to Look in the Book of Daniel

 

The Bible gives further proof of the teaching regarding the Great Tribulation and its awful impact upon the end time churches and congregations. It is set forth in Matthew 24:15-16, where God declares:

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso 

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readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains.

These verses unquestionably are concerned with the Great Tribulation that we have been discussing at length. Verse 21 assures us that this is so, for there we read:

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

However, in verse 15, God takes us into the Book of Daniel. Matthew 24, verse 15, declares:

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

By this verse God is instructing us to go into the Book of Daniel to learn more about the Great Tribulation period. In the Book of Daniel, we find further proof that the Great Tribulation is at the end of time. This is taught by Daniel 12, verses 8-10, where we read:

And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

We will also discover that the Book of Daniel points to other prophecies of the Great Tribulation that are recorded in the Old Testament.
 

The Abomination of Desolation

 
When we turn to the Book of Daniel, we must find the verses that relate to Matthew 24:15. The key phrases are “abomination of desolation” and “standing in the holy place.” Two verses in the Book of Daniel identify with these phrases. The first is Daniel 11:31, where we read:

And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.

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Daniel 11:31 is prophesying concerning a time when the sanctuary of strength would be polluted, and the daily would be taken away, replaced by the abomination of desolation. We know that the sanctuary of strength must be where God is worshipped. It is here that the daily sacrifices and the daily candlesticks were being utilized in service to God. The only place that can be in view is the temple. But according to this verse, at some future date the worship of God would be replaced by the abomination of desolation.

   

Matthew 24:15 instructs us that this dreadful event must identify with the Great Tribulation that comes just before the end of the world. We will learn that Daniel 12 gives further proof that this is at the end of the world.

   

But why does the Bible tell us to look at the Book of Daniel concerning the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place? We have just concluded that the holy place must be the same entity as the sanctuary of strength where the daily sacrifices and daily lamp stands were burning. Thus, we can know that the holy place is the temple because, as we have already learned, that is where the true believers were ordinarily found. That is where the Holy Spirit was present.

   

Near the end of time, the temple that God speaks of is the corporate external body of believers as they are found in churches and congregations. While churches do not offer daily sacrifices, they should have a daily or continual candlestick giving the light of the Gospel to the world. They, without question, are the only holy place that can be in view. It is the local church that had been given the Bible together with the commission to send the Gospel into the whole world. But from Daniel 11:31, we know that the daily will be taken away when the abomination of desolation is set up. This information agrees with what we have learned concerning the fact that during the Great Tribulation, the Holy Spirit will no longer be in the midst. That is, the candlestick will be removed from the churches and congregations. Moreover, Satan will be reigning in the churches, and he is the very essence of desolation.

   

A second reference in the Book of Daniel that speaks of the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place is Daniel 12:11, where we read:

And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. 

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When we look at this reference to the abomination of desolation recorded in the Book of Daniel, we know that there is much more we can learn about the Great Tribulation. First of all, in this verse, there is a time reference. The time reference is 1290 days. What time could this be?

 

Daniel’s Prophesies Were Not to be Understood Until Near the End of Time

   

To begin with, there are conclusions to which we can quickly come. The first is that an understanding of the time that is in view was not to be understood until near the end of time. We can know this is true because of the context in which Daniel 12:11 is placed. Verses 8 to 10 record:

And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

God has a timetable for revealing and giving understanding of Bible truth.

God has a timetable for revealing and giving understanding of Bible truth. All that mankind is to learn from God prior to the end of the world is recorded in the Bible.

 

However, we cannot understand the meaning of the Biblical account unless God opens our spiritual eyes. For example, Jesus told the disciples He would be killed and He would rise again, but they did not understand this until after Jesus had risen from the dead (Luke 19:31-34).

   

The same principle is true concerning the end-time events. Daniel 12:8 to 10 is disclosing to us that the nature of the end-time events will not be understood until the world is very close to the end. This is the time our knowledge of the end-time events should be greatly increased.

 

A Day Equals a Year

   

The second conclusion we can come to in our desire to understand Daniel 12:11 is that the 1290 days cannot be literal days. A careful search of

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the Bible does not reveal any time period between two events, nor the duration of an event, that equals 1290 literal days. We will learn that the 1290 days is referring to 1290 years. However, we must justify the conclusion that the word “day” is a veiled reference to a period of a year. Several examples of this substitution can be found in the Bible. 

   

In Ezekiel 4 the prophet Ezekiel is commanded to take certain actions for periods of days which represent years. For example, verse 6 records:

And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.

In Numbers 14:34 God is utilizing the same substitution of a day for a year as He declares to Israel:

After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.

In Revelation 11 we read of the two witnesses being dead for three and a half days (Revelation 11, verses 9 and 11). This period is the same period spoken of in Revelation 11:2 where God indicates the holy city would be trodden under foot 42 months. Forty-two months equals three and a half years. The three and a half days are the same period of time as the 42 months (three and a half years). Thus, again God is equating a day with a year.

   

Moreover, when we look in the Bible for events associated with the idea of 1290 years, we learn that we are correct in substituting the word “year” for the word “day.”

   
By God’s mercy, at this time in history, when we are so near the end of the world, we have been given precise understanding concerning the calendar of history. (The reader is invited to contact Family Radio and request the book Adam When? which details the Bible’s calendar of history.) Without a very accurate calendar, no one would be able to understand the 1290 days (years) spoken of in Daniel 12:10.
 

Two Significant Historical Events are Separated by 1290 Years

   

A search of the Biblical calendar of earth’s history reveals that there are two historical events, both identified with the Great Tribulation, that are exactly 1290 years apart.

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The first event is that of Jacob and his family being directed by God to go into Egypt to escape the seven-year famine that was “over all the face of the earth” (Genesis 41:56). This event is spoken of as great affliction in Acts 7:11. In the original Greek language of the New Testament of the Bible, the word that is translated “affliction” in English is the identical word translated “tribulation” in Matthew 24:27. Acts 7:11 declares:

Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction [Great Tribulation]: and our fathers found no sustenance.

Note the fact that the experience of Jacob in leaving the land of Canaan to go into Egypt is called great tribulation. Thus, God is unquestionably paralleling Jacob’s experience to the end time Great Tribulation.

   

The time of Jacob’s very traumatic event was the year 1877 B.C. If this event occurred at the beginning of a period of 1290 years, what event was exactly 1290 years after that? The year 1877 B.C. minus 1290 (or 1290 years later), brings us to the year 587 B.C.

   

This first event, which took place in 1877 B.C., is called great tribulation. It was a dramatic historical portrait of the Great Tribulation of Matthew 24. We have also learned that a dramatic historical event that occurred in 587 B.C. is altogether parallel to the Great Tribulation of our day.

   

The year 587 B.C. was the precise year that Jerusalem and the temple were entirely destroyed by the Babylonians and the remnant was commanded to go as captives into Babylon. The wicked nation of Babylon, headed up by the king of Babylon, became the ruler of Jerusalem and all of Judea. Because the temple was destroyed, there was no longer a holy of holies. Jerusalem had become occupied by the abomination of desolation. Therefore, we are certain that these two events must identify with the prophecy of Daniel 12:11.

   

But Matthew 24:15-21, in which God gives us the signpost to go to the Book of Daniel, is speaking of a Great Tribulation that will occur as a last worldwide event before the end of the world. Is there a 1290-year relationship between the Great Tribulations of 1877 B.C. and 587 B.C. and the Great Tribulation spoken of in Matthew 24?

 

One Third, Two Thirds

   

Indeed, there is a relationship! We can see this when we examine a principle God uses in bringing us Biblical truth. That is the principle of a one-third, two-thirds relationship. This is seen, for example, in Zechariah 13 wherein

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God symbolically divides the peoples of the world into two fractions. The saved of the world are identified with the fraction one-third. The unsaved of the world are identified with the fraction two-thirds.

   

In Zechariah 13:8-9 we read:

And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

Another illustration relates three important events by these same fractions. In I Kings 6:1 we read:

And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.

Israel going out of the land of Egypt represents God’s salvation plan. God declares, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2). That is like, “I am Jehovah who has saved you.” This physical representation of salvation occurred 430 years after the time Jacob went into the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:40-41). It was the year 1447 B.C.

   

According to I Kings 6:1, it was exactly 480 years later, that is, 480 years after 1447 B.C., the year 967 B.C., when Solomon began to build the temple. We have learned that the temple of the Old Testament was a representation of the New Testament congregations and churches. It was also a representation of Christ Himself. Remember, He told the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).

   

When did Jesus, the spiritual temple, come to this earth to be the temple? While we do not have absolute proof that Jesus was born in the year 7 B.C., all of the circumstantial evidence points to 7 B.C. as the year of His birth. And 7 B.C. is exactly 960 years after Solomon’s temple foundation was laid in 967 B.C. Thus, the total period from the going out of Egypt in 1447 B.C. to the birth of Christ in 7 B.C. is 1440 years. The 480-year period is one-third of this 1440 years. The 960 years is two-thirds of this 1440 years.

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One Third, Two Thirds Brings Us to the Great Tribulation

   

When we carefully examine the great tribulations of the Bible in the light of this one-third, two-thirds principle, we discover that A.D. 1994 fits perfectly into God’s plan. The year 1994 is 2 times 1290 years after the year 587 B.C., which was the year that God brought about the total destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

   

Let us look for a moment at the arithmetic.

   

We must add 587 to 1994 and subtract 1 because there is no year 0 in going from B.C. years to A.D. years. Thus, 587 + 1994 – 1 = 2580 years = 2 x 1290 years.

   

Thus, the entire period from the Great Tribulation Jacob experienced in 1877 B.C. to A.D. 1994 is 1877 + 1994 – 1 = 3870 years. The 1290 years from 1877 B.C. to 587 B.C. is one-third of this 3870 years. The 2580 years from 587 B.C. to A.D. 1994 is two-thirds of this 3870 years.

   

The fact that in the year 1994 there already existed great evidence that the time of the Great Tribulation was here convinces us that we have correctly applied this one-third, two-thirds principle. It might be noted that this same one-third, two-thirds principle is seen beginning with the great tribulation of 1877 B.C. when Jacob and his family went into Egypt. Precisely 430 years after Jacob went into Egypt, that tribulation period came to an end. That took place when Israel went out of Egypt in 1447 B.C. Exactly 860 years later (2 times 430), Israel again was in great tribulation when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 587 B.C.

   

The year 1877 B.C. was the official year that Israel (Jacob and family) left the land of Canaan to go into the wicked world of Egypt. But it was also the year when they came under the care and protection of Joseph who was able to supply them with sufficient food. It was the year that ended the first phase of the seven-year famine.

   

The year 587 B.C. was the official year that Jerusalem was destroyed, which ended the first phase of the 70-year tribulation of those days.

   

In parallel fashion then we could conclude that 1994 was the official end of the church age, which ended the first phase of the Great Tribulation. This first phase was typified by the symbolic 42 months of Revelation 11:2, when the holy city was trodden under foot, and the symbolic three and a half days that the two witnesses lay dead in the streets (Revelation 11:9), and the likely literal period of 2300 days of Daniel 8:13-14, when the sanctuary and host were trodden under foot. It would then indicate that it ended the half hour of silence from heaven spoken of in Revelation 8:1. Therefore, it also would be the official year of the beginning of the season of the latter rain.

   

This information concerning the one-third, two-thirds principle thus

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further assists us in seeing the parallels that exist between the two historical great tribulations (1877 B.C. and 587 B.C.), and the Great Tribulation of our day.

   

Many lessons can be learned by examining these two great historical events that should help us to understand the present tribulation time and how we as believers are to relate to it. Therefore, as we continue this study, we will examine some of the more important lessons God is teaching us.

 

The Preterit Position

   

Before we continue our study, we should look at the contention of those who insist that the teaching of Matthew 24 concerning the destruction of the temple was completely fulfilled in A.D. 70. In that year, the Roman Titus completely destroyed Jerusalem. Their contention is, therefore, that we are not to look at Matthew 24 or any other chapters of a similar nature to assist us with an understanding of the events in the church or in the world near the end of time. This is theologically called the preterit position. Preterit simply means that which has already happened. The preterit position was held by many theologians in years gone by.

   

When we look at Matthew 24 carefully, we know that the preterit position is not possible. Let us see why this is so. Matthew 24:1-2 declares:

And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 

While it is true that the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, it is not true that not one stone was left upon another. The present Western Wall together with the temple foundation still exist today. These structures were an essential part of the temple buildings.

   

Secondly, in Matthew 24, verse 3, Jesus points us to the time of the fulfillment of this prophecy as He records a question from the disciples. We read there:

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 

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Definitely, this verse points us to the end of time for the fulfillment of this prophecy.

   

Moreover, verse 15 calls our attention to the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet. When we follow this signpost, it points to the end of time, as we will learn in this study.

   

Furthermore, verse 21 speaks of a great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of this world. Then verses 29 and 30 tell us that the Great Tribulation will be followed immediately by the return of Christ.

   

Thus, we must understand that the so-called preterit position has no Biblical validity of any kind. We must understand that the whole chapter is discussing the Great Tribulation and the end of the world.


SOURCE: http://www.familyradio.com/graphical/literature/church/new/churchage_08.html


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The divine testimony concerning man is, that he is a sinner. God bears witness against him, not for him; and testifies that "there is none righteous, no, not one"; that there is "none that doeth good"; none "that understandeth"; none that even seeks after God, and, still more, none that loves Him (Psa. 14:1-3; Rom. 3:10-12). God speaks of man kindly, but severely; as one yearning over a lost child, yet as one who will make no terms with sin, and will "by no means clear the guilty." <continued>

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