The Big Picture

The Big Picture

12 October 2011

It is a woeful and pathetic sight, watching so called seers scratching about in the dust of today's headlines, in search of prophetic evidence concerning the 2nd Coming. Ironically their futile and delusional toil is exercised in the immense shadows of the greatest signs pointing to His Parousia, that God has ever, and will ever give to the Church and history.

It defies any kind of intelligence to actually believe and hold to the view that God will delay alerting His People to this Age-ending and Age-beginning event, until the very "last" minute. How shattering that it may yet be recorded of the Last Generations,

"We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long." (Ps 74.9)

The following signs and witnesses have already been supplied by Heaven, that these are indeed the last of the Last Days, and the end of the End Times:

(1) The Reformation.

The Church was permitted to lie largely undisturbed by change, from the time of its 4th C unholy "marriage" to the State (under the Roman Emperor Constantine), until the 16th C. In every one of those intervening centuries, there were present in God's House men and women of outstanding faith, holiness and learning, through whom the Lord profoundly impacted society with the Gospel. (E.g. Bruno of Cologne and Francis of Assisi.)

Nevertheless, its antique "furniture" appeared immovable and slowly lost its original shape and definition beneath mounting layers of the "dust" of religious dogma, tradition and culture. Then during the 1500s in Europe, God hurled into our dozing midst successive thunderbolts and whirlwinds...Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, et al! In a certain sense, it seemed as if all that could move was shifted; all that could change, was altered. And this Reformation of what had been deformed over a period of close to a millennium and a half, continued on through the 17th to the 20th C...and persists today. (1)

This "restoration" (or recovery) of what has been "lost", is itself the fulfillment of a singularly vital, prophetic key to the Return of the Lord Jesus, to be Israel's Messiah and the whole world's Redeemer-King.

"That he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive (retain) until the time for establishing (the complete restoration of) all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old." (Ac 3.20-21)

The human mind recoils from such a perspective on the passage of time; that God would begin to prepare for His Return centuries beforehand. But this quite negative reaction uncovers our own self-centredness (that time should somehow or other orbit and fit us?), and sinfulness (our minds and "clocks" are simply not in agreement with Him?).

"Thou has made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing in thy sight. Surely every man stands as a mere breath." (Ps 39.5)

"For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night." (Ps 90.4)

"But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (2 Pe 3.8)

Did not the Lord indicate His strategy for salvation at the very dawn of history? (Ge 3.15) Did He not speak of the Baptist (Isa 40) and promise our Saviour "wounded for our transgressions" (Isa 53), at least 700 years before their days?

(2) The "miracle" of St. Agnes.

The climax and conclusion of this (Church/salvation) Age will be the exaltation and establishment of the Lord upon His Throne on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Therefore, it ought to come as no surprise at all, that the days immediately before The Day, concern His government and our government of His Church becoming more and more "at one" and in agreement...along the lines of Mary and Simeon's ecstatic prophecies:

"The Lord has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree." (Lk 1.52)

"Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel." (Lk 2.34)

Throughout every generation and in all Christian denominations (yes...even today's most avant-garde movements!) men and women have invariably fashioned "thrones" of some kind or other, to exalt themselves. Historically, the most unfortunate and glaring of these has been the Roman Catholic Church's Pope...especially in all of his pre-Vatican II pomp and "glory".

In 1855, in the Church of St. Agnes in Rome, the then Pope (decked out in all of his finery and "crowned" upon this throne) received the homage (they lined up to kiss his toe!) of a group of student priests. The floor where they were all gathered gave way completely, plunging the whole assembly 20 feet down into the catacombs below. Thankfully, no one was killed...none were even injured. Thus Catholics today call the event the "miracle of St. Agnes". I call it a monumental sign of the times, indicating that the time of the signs is well and truly underway.

(3) Zionism.

By the early 1800s in western Europe, Judaism generally considered a policy of assimilation the best way to ensure the survival of its race, religion and culture. And so (for example) English Jews set out to be more English than the noblest and most venerable aristocrats. But then, quite suddenly and as if from nowhere, appeared "a dapper Viennese assimilated and highly sophisticated journalist", shocked to the core by the horrors of institutional anti-Semitism and turned into "the fiery prophet of political Zionism"! (2)

Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) "convened" the First Zionist Congress (with representatives from 16 countries) on the 29th of August, 1897. His conviction that "Palestine is the only land where our people can come to rest", and further congresses proved to be the "detonator" for the "exploding" into existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East in 1948.

(4) The Unspeakable.

Tragically the term "Holocaust" (lit. "burnt offering") has been debased by over- and inaccurate-employment...being attached to other tragic events, which can in no way be compared to the destruction of 67 percent of God's Jewish People in those countries of Europe "directly or indirectly under Nazi control". In Poland, the Baltic States, Germany and Austria the number of the Beloved slain was 90 percent. In Slovakia, Greece and Holland...70 percent. In the Ukraine, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Romania and Norway...50 percent.

The statistics ought to be mind-numbing. Tragically, perhaps the most sinister form of Holocaust-denial today is that very numbness...which can so easily lead to a sense of unreality and consequent shoulder-shrugging detachment and indifference.

I do not resile nor shrink from the view that Israel could never "hope to escape the carnage of Jewish history, being at one and the same time the object of satan's jealous hatred and rage at their belovedness, and left uncovered and hedgeless (through their unbelief) since Calvary and the destruction of Herod's Temple." (3)

There can be no doubt that "the Jews are God's beloved People" and that "they are living under the most severe discipline and chastening" unto their complete salvation. (3) But an all too often neglected part of Israel's history is that satan invariable lashes out at them immediately before a great redemptive act on God's part towards them. E.g. Pharaoh's policy of infanticide before the Exodus. Haman's genocidal plans prior to the return from Exile. Herod's paranoid killings at the time of Messiah's birth. The Holocaust, which anticipates the day when "all Israel will be saved". (Ro 11.26)

The Holocaust must be understood by the Church at many different levels; neglect of it being a most significant sign of the Parousia will prove a critical and mortal error. (4)

(5) A Jewish State.

In November of 1947, the UN General Assembly endorsed the creation of a Jewish state in The Land (33 votes to 13...10 countries abstained). In May of the following year, Israel declared its independence. The Arab League's secretary-general immediately announced a war "of extermination and a momentous massacre"!

This witness is especially noteworthy, because the event laid the foundation and prepared the way for:

(6) A Restored Jerusalem.

In 1967 (on June the 7th) Israel's military forces took control of the whole of the city of Jerusalem, while withstanding simultaneous assault by Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Egypt (undergirded by the Soviet Union). A senior Israeli army officer (Colonel Motta Gur) later wrote (first-hand) of this event, "What started as a strictly military operation ended as something else entirely. Suddenly we were fighting as if in a trance. We understood at that moment that our objective was no longer to occupy this or that strategic position, but to liberate history itself."

Fourteen years later, the incomparable British, Evangelical scholar, Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) indicated his belief that Luke 21.24 was "one of the most significant prophetic verses" concerning "the last times".

Pointing out that the verse reads, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled", the 'Doctor' declared, "It seems to me that that took place in 1967...the year that the Jews occupied all of Jerusalem...something crucially important (took place) that had not occurred in 2000 years." (5)

But it is not the conquest which is the sign, but the presence...of God's Beloved, dwelling throughout the whole of the City, especially assuming guardianship of the Old and the Temple Mount. The ongoing existence of a Jewish Community in Jerusalem (albeit a remnant) is utterly essential, so far as key prophecy goes, concerning the return of The King.

"O Jerusalem, will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' " (Mt 23.37-39)

"And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against (Jerusalem)...And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced...In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and impurity...Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives." (Zec 12,13,14)

The Messianic "father", David Baron (1855-1926, England) has most succinctly prophesied the "tri-chotomy" of the mystery of Israel, during her (and our) "one-minute-to-midnight" divine appointment.

"It is clear that there is a time of purging by fiery judgement awaiting Israel after the return to their land, which will immediately precede their national conversion and the revelation to them of the Messiah, whom as a nation, they have so long rejected."

God's ancient People must be in His ancient City to be simultaneously the target of the wrath of satan and the nations, and the recipients of the severest correction of the Father, and the most dramatic spiritual revival and national deliverance Heaven has ever sent and earth ever seen.

You will by now have observed that four of the six signs identified here, concern Israel. This is not the result of some theological or emotional bias. It is simply being Scriptural. At the centre of that supremely prophetic book of the Bible (Revelation and chapter 12), Israel appears as "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (verses 1-2), and is described as a "great" (mega) sign.

We know that this "woman" is Israel, because of Joseph's dream that "the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down" to him. His father Jacob (Israel) instantly interpreted this night vision, "Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?" (6) They did!

From time immemorial, the lights of the heavens have been the crucial pointers for navigation for the human night and by day; by land and by sea. As it has been in the natural, so it now is in the spiritual realm. Any Believer or Church undertaking a traverse of the uncharted and stormy ocean of the Last Days, will get lost if they don't refer to the "sun, moon and stars". Any who (at this late hour) have failed to already take their bearings from Israel, will in the future peer "sightless" into the sky during the Last Hour because:

"The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining." (Joel 3.15)

"The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven." (Mt 24.29) (7)

In other words, the time has come when God says to the "seers" scrabbling about in search of some "prophetic" bauble or doodad to "light" their way..."You've got your signs! Now run and take action in their light...or choose to blunder about in the darkness!"

"Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it." (Am 8.11-12)

"Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without divination. The sun shall go down upon the prophets, and the day shall be black over them; the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God." (Mic 3.6-7)

(1) Calvin's "heir", Karl Barth (20th C), has gone so far as to say, "If the Church were not being reformed; if it were not essential for the Church to live in renewal...then it would not be a Church at all."

(2) "Wanderings" by Chaim Potok (Fawcett Crest, NY, 1978)

(3) "A Great Sign" by Peter Robertson (Revivalstreams, Auckland, 2009)

(4) "Let the churches of the Gentiles beware at this late hour of the world's history...of yielding to unbelief in the promises of God, and inadvertently revealing apathy on the subject of Israel's conversion. By such neglect we shall commit a perilous mistake and incur the displeasure of God." (Dr. Alexander Somerville, Scottish Presbyterian divine,1813-89)

(5) "Chosen by God" by Christopher Catherwood (Crossways Books, Illinois, 1986)

(6) Genesis 37.

(7) These and other portions of the Bible (E.g. Rev 6.12 & 8.12) indicate that Israel's prophetic "light" is significantly "muted" during her final Passion (consisting of both persecution and chastisement), which immediately precedes her national awakening and Resurrection. In fact this "dimming" is itself the penultimate sign of our Lord's Return; the salvation of "all Israel" being the ultimate.