Is There a “Place of Safety” for the Church?–Part Three (Resources & Notes)

[Note:  The day-for-a-year principle is an erroneous methodology for biblical interpretation and the evidence of this is found in its application to Scripture.  In two places in Scripture we find that God speaks through the prophets—Moses and Ezekiel—and confirms the length of punishment that he has designated for the peoples of Israel.  In doing so, God applied a day-for-a-year in regard to determining the length of the punishment, and therefore the application for the day-for-a-year was established only by God respective to two specific events pertaining to the people of Israel and recorded for us in Scripture.

The “day-for-a-year principle” is much different as it is an idea lifted from Scripture, which assumes that what God chose to do and the method of his determination for Israel’s punishment is a blueprint that can be used by a church to interpret biblical prophecy.  Therefore, in using this formulated blueprint to apply to biblical prophecy a church or denomination assumes to itself the authority of its use and the method of its application to selected prophecies in the Bible.

Thus, the church assumes an unsubstantiated and self-acquired authority to apply a day-for-a-year principle—even though arbitrary and inconsistent—to aspects of prophecy in order to determine an interpretation that they believe speaks the real meaning of a prophecy, which means the conclusion of the interpretation was a contrivance of the method applied to the prophecy.  Making the interpretation of a prophecy to be artificial because the methodology formulated the outcome of the interpretation, and therefore this methodology and blueprint cannot be sanctioned by Scripture, nor by the prophets and the apostles, nor by Jesus, and certainly not by God.

Those who assume the use of the “day-for-a-year principle” ought to consider that they do not have the authority to determine the validity of such a principle as they are assuming a prerogative outside the example of God.]

[Note:  John’s prophecy regarding the woman who flees into the wilderness may also be reasonably understood to apply to the peoples of Israel in a more localized or regional context in that what happens to the larger representative national grouping of the extant scattered commonwealth may be said to apply to a singular nation, and so what happens similarly to Judah happens to Israel, and what happens similarly to Israel happens to Judah.

In this regard, when we compare the three and one-half year period of when the symbolic “woman” is in the wilderness with the prophecy of the three and one-half years associated with the two witness, we can reasonably conclude that the two prophecies are related not only in time, but also in terms of location.  For it is reasonable to associate the city of Jerusalem as representative of the ancient capital of the commonwealth, and the modern-day religious center of Judaism, as well as Christianity, with the symbolic “woman” of John’s prophecy.  Adding that as these two prophecies are clearly related to Daniel’s prophecy, and Jesus’s comments regarding the “abomination” that makes desolate, we can see how such a scenario could play out more specifically in the Middle East for the peoples who are in the region of Palestine.]

[Note:  In Matthew 1:19 we see that Joseph was called the “husband” of Mary, and in this regard some claim that this means that he was a husband before he was actually married according to ancient custom.  Here we have the Greek word anēr, which can mean “male,” or “husband,” or “betrothed.”  The difficulty in using this text as evidence that Joseph was only betrothed at the time Mary was discovered to be pregnant is challenged by Matthew’s use of the term in the broadest sense as he was writing about this event after the fact of Mary’s pregnancy.]

[Note:  In Luke 1:13 we see that Elisabeth, who was the wife (Gk. gune, “woman,” or “wife,” or “betrothed”) of Zacharias, was told she would have a child.]

[Note:  Jeremiah 3:14 states:  “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married [Hb. bâ‛al, “master,”] unto you:  and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” (See also, Isaiah 54:5.)]

[Note:  Paul wrote: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.  He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery:  but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Eph. 5:22-33).

This text is often cited as proof that Paul was explaining that a “woman” in prophecy is interpreted to mean the “church” in regard to the vision given to John.  In examining what Paul said we can make the following conclusions:  1) The context is “submission” in regard to matters of the husband/wife relationship.  Meaning that in the marriage relationship “love” is at the center of the relationship, and this expression of love is made analogous to how Jesus loved those who would be called—the church—showing that he was willing to give his life for others.  2) Importantly, Paul speaks of Jesus’ work regarding the church by stating that Jesus “presents it to himself,” but he does not state that this church is his bride. Paul also noted a “great mystery” concerning Christ and the church, but places this statement in the context that a husband must love his wife even as he loves himself, and a wife must respect her husband.  Paul does not speak of Christ marrying the church of God.]

[Note:  The Apostle John wrote:  “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia:  for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.  Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him:  for the marriage [Gk, gamos, “marriage banquet,” or “matrimony”] of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white:  for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.  And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage [Gk, gamos, “marriage banquet,” or “matrimony”] supper [Gk. deipnon, “formal meal”] of the Lamb.  And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.  And I fell at his feet to worship him.  And he said unto me, See thou do it not:  I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus:  worship God:  for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:6-10).

This verse is commonly cited to claim that Christ will marry the church, but this is not the subject that was being addressed by the voice that came to John.

We notice that there are important distinctions to be made in these verses:  1) we have a “marriage” in general being announced and a “marriage supper,” and in regard to the marriage supper it tells us that there will be those “called” to this banquet because they are blessed, and 2) the “wife” is said to be adorned in fine linen, and this linen is the “righteousness of the saints,” with the distinction being that the “wife” and her adornment and two different things, and therefore the saints are associated with the adornment of the wife, but they are not associated directly with the wife.]

[Note:  The wife of Jesus is clearly described in the book of Revelation.  For John wrote:  “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.  And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:9-10).

Thus, it is the “great city” that is the “holy Jerusalem” that descends out of heaven from God, which makes for some additional distinctions:  1) the wife of Jesus is understood to be the New Jerusalem, and 2) this bride descends out of heaven from God, and is not representative of the resurrected from the earth, and 3) this city is given actual dimensions and it also has a Temple wherein God and Jesus will reside, and 4) the only ones who can enter this city are those “written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27).

This raises the issue of who is “written in the Lamb’s book of life,” because if they are those changed at the coming of Jesus, and those changed later in the plan of God, then those who were called and chosen are not the same as the “bride” because they are not the same as the New Jerusalem.]

[Note:  In the writings of Matthew we find that in the context of the “called and chosen” Jesus spoke a parable about the kingdom of God:  “And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.  Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner:  my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready:  come unto the marriage.  But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:  And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth:  and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.  Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.  So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good:  and the wedding was furnished with guests.  And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:  And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?  And he was speechless.  Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  For many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt. 22:1-14).

In this parable we find that the church is made analogous to the guests who are summoned to a wedding of the king’s son, and we also find that these guests are not without qualification in their attendance.]

[Note:  What is stated in Scripture is that the actual city is the bride of Jesus, and therefore the context is one of analogy and official ceremony, and not a matter of analogy to human marriage between a husband and wife.  Therefore it is not the church that is made analogous to the “great city,” but rather the “great city” is made analogous to a “bride” and wife of Jesus.]

[Note:  Paul tells us that the body of Christ is made complete in Christ (Colossians 2.10).]

[Note:  “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:  for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev. 21:1-3).

Undoubtedly we see that the “new Jerusalem” comes down “from God out of heaven” prepared “as a bride adorned for her husband.” Therefore, the church itself is not made analogous to the “bride,” because the “new Jerusalem” is made analogous to the bride.  Scripture states that the city is arrayed “as a bride” and we also note that the presence of God and Jesus are in this city, which is understood by the terms “God” and the “Tabernacle of God.”]

[Note:  Abraham looked for a city “whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).]

[Note:  John the Baptist referred to himself as a “friend of the bridegroom” (Jn. 3:29).]

[Note:  Another text cited to claim that Paul confirmed that the “woman” of Revelation represents the church is found in Corinthians.  For Paul stated:  “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy:  for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.  But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.  Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?  I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service” (II Cor. 11:1-8).

We notice carefully that Paul is again speaking of his own work and is making a defense of his work against those spreading another gospel, and in this case he is making a defense for his teaching regarding Jesus, and he is not making the church analogous to the “woman” of John’s vision.  In this case, Paul—who analogized himself as a “father” to his congregations—is using this analogy to explain his efforts in presenting those whom he worked with as a “chaste virgin,” but Paul also said that Jesus presents them to himself, but the New Jerusalem is stated to be presented from heaven by God (I Thes. 2:11). Therefore, it ought to be considered that the authority to espouse the church to Jesus is only done by analogy, because the Apostle Paul did not have such an actual authority to espouse the New Jerusalem to Jesus, which is something that is done by God the Father.]

[Note:  In the Septuagint (LXX) the term ekklesiais used synonymously with a sunagoge, which may suggest that the early church who used the LXX may have considered the concept of the “church” as being synonymous with the term “synagogue.” “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations [LXX reads: ‘gatherings of the nations [ethnos]’], that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger:  for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy” (Zep. 3:8).]

[Note:  Consideration must be given to the issue of when the “lamb’s wife” descends out of heaven from God, and how the church of God is to be defined at that time in the future.  Therefore, an examination of Revelation 21:1-4 requires an explanation of the timeframe for when the bride is presented to Jesus adorned with the righteousness of the saints, because this has bearing on how we explain the nature of the “church” and how it is defined in the context of a coming New Jerusalem at a certain time in the future.]

[Note:  Who are the “Saints” mentioned in the prophecies of the Apostle John?  Often it is thought that these “saints” are the church of God, and by some arguments it is assumed that they are the “bride of Christ.”  For we read in Revelation 19:8: “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white:  for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints [Gk., hagios, ‘holy,’ or ‘ceremonially consecrated’].”  Making for a distinction in the “saints,” and the “bride,” and to this Paul adds that in regard to the church, they are the ones “called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7).  To this the Apostle Paul makes a distinction when he writes:  “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (I Cor. 1:2).  This means that the church represents the called, and the called have within them the converted or sanctified in Christ, but both are called to be saints.  Therefore, a “saint” is in simple terms a final product for those being called, who must first be sanctified—by the holy spirit—making them the children of God.  It is the “saints” more specifically that are associated with an inheritance (Eph. 1:18).

This distinction is taken further when Paul stated:  “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christwhich are at Colosse:  Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Col 1:2).  These are said to be “partakers of the inheritance” (Col. 1:12).  (See also Acts 9:41.)

To this we add the Apostle John’s words who wrote:  “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12).  It is the “saints” who are said to “keep the commandments of God,” which is a statement akin to what was written about the “remnant of her seed” in the prophecy pertaining to the symbolic woman who flees into a wilderness.  Noting also that Jesus is to be the king of the saints (Rev. 15:3).  For we also see that in the future there will be the “camp of the saints” in the location of the city of Jerusalem (Rev. 20:9).

Bringing us then to a prophecy of Daniel who wrote:  “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (Dan. 7:21-22).

These “saints” of Daniel’s prophecy are also “holy” and “consecrated,” but we also see that in the end it is they who by God’s judgment are the ones who will possess the kingdom, which is again in the context of inheritance.

Allowing us to draw some conclusions.  That Paul seemed to be using the term “saints” in a general sense at times, but at the same time and in the same context he could well be referring to those who were baptized and had received the holy spirit.  Nonetheless, it is the called who are to become “saints” and by all indications this would first require the receiving of the holy spirit, which makes them inheritors of the kingdom.

This allows us then to more specifically define the term “saints” because they are associated with “heirs” and “inheritors” of an estate.  Therefore, “saints” are then heirs now and inheritors later of the kingdom of God.]   

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