Having established in the previous chapter the differences in Scripture between Christ’s appearing to the world (the Day of the Lord) and His coming for the church (the rapture), we will move on to say a few things concerning the timing of the event. For many believers this is the issue – when? Believers do not question whether I Thessalonians 4:13-18 is inspired Scripture. None of us would say it isn’t. And so the passage must be explained. This is where we like to argue about the timing of the event. What we must realize in this discussion is that our mistakes and misunderstandings serve to rob all significance and privilege associated with the church in the event itself.
Having read this far in the book, the reader should be fairly clear on the timing already. In the previous chapter, when Christ appears to the world, the church appears with Him in His glory (Col. 3:4). The only plausible explanation is that the church is already with Him in the glory of God in order to appear with Him to the world.
There is coming a period of time on the earth of great trouble and turmoil. It will be a time of the greatest manifestations of evil and corruption. It will be unprecedented hardship and suffering. And it will be a time when the judgment and wrath of God will be poured out on an unbelieving world. We refer to this period of time as the coming tribulation. The world around the believer is simply ripening to this time. The Scriptures speak of a period of tribulation. If we pay close attention we will understand the character of this time.
“Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.”
“At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Everyone who is found written in the book.”
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”
The Character of the Coming Tribulation
- First, it is a time of great trouble as the world has never seen before, not since there have been nations formed on the face of the earth. The trouble and devastation is so extreme that if God did not shorten the time of it, all flesh would be lost – physical life. The passage from Matthew 24 tells us the time was shortened for the elect’s sake – this is the Jewish remnant in the end.
- Second, it is decidedly a Jewish time of reckoning. It is specifically called Jacob’s trouble. For the most part it is about Daniel’s people, which is literally Israel. Daniel was in captivity with his people. All the prophecies and visions given to Daniel only concerned the things that would befall his people – the Jews.
- Third, as a people, Israel will be delivered through the trouble. The third passage above, from Matthew 24, uses the word ‘tribulation’ and identifies how Israel is saved as a nation – an elect Jewish remnant. Matthew 24:2 refers directly to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. Much of the rest of Matthew 24 is Jesus referring to the time of Jacob’s trouble and He is giving instructions directly to the elect Jewish remnant in the end. This part of Jesus’ prophetic statements deal only with Jerusalem, Judea, and the temple. All of Matthew 24 is localized and very Jewish in language and character. There should be no doubt that the events spoken of here all center on Jerusalem and Judea.
“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
The Prophetic Earth – the expansive territories of the Four World Dynasties
In a general way the tribulation will be experienced worldwide. However, there should be no doubt that the concentration of events is in what I call the prophetic earth – the masses of land included in the four Gentile dynasties. The fourth beast of Daniel’s vision (Dan. 7:7) was the Roman Empire in the time of Christ. It is this same Roman beast that is resurrected out of the bottomless pit in the period of the tribulation (Rev. 17:8, 13:1-8, 11:7). This beast has the characteristics of the three empires that preceded it (Rev. 13:1-2), but is the perfection of apostate evil (seven heads), that is given Satan’s direct authority, power, and throne on the earth.
The True Church is kept out of the Hour of Trial
The passage also shows that the true church will be kept out of this period of tribulation. A better translation would be ‘you have kept the word of My patience.’ Christ is presently waiting at the right hand of God. He has been waiting from the time He sat down, having accomplished our eternal redemption, till His enemies are made His footstool (Heb. 10:12-14). As believers we enter into His patience by waiting with Him and as He waits. He will not take His inheritance without His fellow-heirs with Him. The rapture of the body of Christ will occur before the coming hour of testing the entire world – the tribulation. Philadelphia, to whom these words were addressed, represents the true church in the end (Rev. 3:11-12).
You might object that Thyatira is told she will be thrown into great tribulation (Rev. 2:22), thinking this is the church as well. It is true that Thyatira, as a whole, will still be on the earth during the tribulation and under judgment. But please look at who He is speaking to. Does Thyatira represent the true church? The Lord’s words describe her. For the most part she is Jezebel, a false prophetess teaching and beguiling His true servants. Her sexual immorality is her union with the world. Her eating things sacrificed to idols, is the idolatry and abominations she practices. She births her own children in her false doctrines and corruption, teaching the depths of Satan (Rev. 2:20-24). Jesus will cast her into a sickbed of judgment and into the tribulation. Does that sound like something He would do to His own body (Eph. 5:29)? Does this sound like the true wheat, the true church? No, it sounds like the main features and teachings of Roman Catholicism – her pretenses, her superstitions, her worldliness and idolatry.
The Candlesticks – the responsibility of the Spoiled Crop in the Field
In Revelation 2, 3, the Son of Man is judging the candlesticks (Rev. 1:12-13). These candlesticks are not the body of Christ. The candlesticks (the light from the candlestick) represent the responsibility of the spoiled crop of wheat and tares in the field of the world (Matt. 13:24-30, 37-39). The spoiled crop is all of professing Christianity together. If we fail to see the candlestick as the corporate responsibility of the crop, or fail to see the spoiled crop as wheat and tares mixed together, then we will not properly understand the things He is saying and judging.
This vision of the Son of Man walking among the candlesticks is on the earth. John’s next vision in Revelation 4 takes him into heaven. The responsibility of man on earth is always subject to judgment from God because it is man’s work, it is man building. Here Jesus is judging the responsibility of the church world as a corporate entity, as professing Christianity progresses through time. All the details describing the Son of Man in this vision are details depicting His right to judge the works of man on the earth (Rev. 1:12-16).
Further, God does not and will not judge His own work (this is a Biblical principle worth remembering). The body of Christ is His own workmanship created in Christ, and it was the Son of Man alone who planted the wheat (Matt. 13:37). However, Christ is standing among the candlesticks judging the responsibility of the spoiled crop. The responsibility is the works of man as he has built on the earth (I Cor. 3:9-17). It is the works of all there is that names the name of Jesus Christ corporately.
If we look closely at the parable of the wheat and tares (Matt. 13:24-30) and its interpretation (Matt. 13:37-43) we may learn certain important realities. In the Son of Man’s ‘time of harvest’ the wheat is removed from the field (world) and into His barn (taken to heaven – Matt. 13:30). This is the rapture of the true church – only the wheat being removed from the world. The field is left behind unchanged – this is the world of unbelieving Jews and Gentiles. The spoiled crop of wheat and tares mixed together – professing Christianity – existed for a long time as a separate corporate entity in the field of the world. The judgment of the field is not dealt with in this particular parable. What is dealt with is the judgment of the tares of professing Christianity – they had been bundled together and left behind in the field ‘to be burned’ at their given time of judgment (Matt. 13:30). This judgment is made certain in the interpretation (Matt. 13:40).
The true church will not be on the earth during the tribulation. When Christ is manifested to the world at the end of the tribulation, His bride will be with Him. For the church to appear in glory with Him, we would have to have been previously glorified. This reality is further established in many other Scriptures. In Revelation 19, John’s vision shows more details concerning the great and terrible day of the Lord – again it is Christ’s appearing to the world.
The details of the Day of the Lord
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. (12) His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. (13) He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. (14) And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. (15) Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (16) And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS
(17)“Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, (18) that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”
This is His appearing in glory to the world, and it is obvious He will be executing judgment on the world as the Son of Man (Rev. 1:7, Matt. 24:30, Dan. 7:13, Mark 14:62). The title ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’ is reference to the Son of Man title. His name being ‘The Word of God’ is who He was and is eternally – the Son of God (v. 13 above). This depicts Jesus Christ, the Son of God as the Son of Man.
The Armies of Heaven with the Son of Man
This passage shows other realities as well. The appearing of Christ continues the wrath of God being poured out on the world. He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of God (v. 15 above). It also shows that the armies of heaven come with Him, clothed in fine linen, white and clean (v. 14 above). Who are these? The use of the word ‘white’ may not completely distinguish the church, but I believe the word ‘clean’ does.
“These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”
Those with the Son of Man at His appearing are His body, His bride, the church. These are the chosen by Him and called (Rom. 8:29-30, 9:22-24, Eph. 1:4-6, John 15:19, Rev. 17:14). Jude and Zechariah also tell us similar things:
“Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, (15) to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
“Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee As you fled from the earthquake In the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the Lord my God will come, And all the saints with You.”
It is fairly clear that the church is with Christ when He appears, not on the earth experiencing the wrath of God along with the world. If we go to the passage quoted above from Revelation 19, we should notice what takes place previous to the Son of Man coming on the white horse. In Revelation 19:5-9 we have the marriage supper of the Lamb preceding His appearing to the world (Eph. 5:25-32). “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright…” The description of the church at the wedding feast matches that of the armies of heaven that follow Him on white horses (Rev. 19:14). It is obvious His bride, the church, is in heaven with Him in His Father’s glory before He comes forth for judgment of the world.
General Biblical Principles help to properly explain Doctrine
The church world fails to understand general biblical principles that explain the counsels and plan of God. This leads to much error in teaching and doctrine. Here is an example of one biblical principle, if understood, bringing clarity to much of our teaching.
“…and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
This explains the position of the believer/church in contrast to all that is positioned with the world and of the world. The principle established is that Jesus is not of the world and is apart from the world. The believer/church is the same. We have no relationship with the world and are apart from it. The understanding of this principle and position establishes many spiritual truths we should be teaching. By this principle we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth, not connected here, and just passing through. By this principle we are constantly on a walk that eventually will take us out of this world. By this principle our walk is a following of Jesus out of this world, so that we may be where He is (John 12:25-26, 13:33-14:4). By this same principle, the Jews, as part of the world, simply cannot follow Him or end up where He is (John 7:33-34, 8:21).
“And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
Here the Lord’s words make the principle and difference in position quite clear. The believer/church is united to Christ and in His position. The exact same things said of Him can be said of us. We are from above, Israel is from beneath. The Jews are of this world, but the believer/church is not of this world. Therefore, by this established biblical principle as it relates to the church, it becomes inconceivable that we would teach the church will be on the earth during the tribulation when the wrath of God is being poured out on the world. This is not a proper understanding of the principle or the position. The true church is not of the world and its calling is above, not beneath. Israel is of this world and their calling is beneath. Israel cannot possibly go where the Lord had gone. But of the believer He says, “…you will follow Me afterward.” (John 13:36)
After the Foundations of the World – part of the World
The proper understanding of this principle is vital because the principle itself is found over and over again in Scripture. All things revealed after the foundations of the world are simply part of the world by relationship. Therefore Israel is part of the world even though they were chosen and separated by God from the Gentiles. Their religion, given to the nation at Mt. Sinai to separate them from all the false religions of the Gentiles, is God’s one religion of the earth – Judaism. The character of prophecy is God’s dealings with the earth, His government of the earth, and promises and judgment of His earthly calling (Israel). The understandings of these ideas and this biblical principle are never compromised through all of Scripture.
The church, as apart from the world, will not be judged with the world. The body of Christ will not be on the earth during the coming tribulation – this would be the confounding of this biblical principle. Our calling is heavenly. It is not of the earth or of this world. Before God turns to judge the world, He will catch away the true church into the heavens.
The Biblical link between Judgment, Condemnation, and Wrath
In the Scriptures there is an obvious link between the three words – judgment, condemnation, and wrath. It is as if there is a string linking them together, so that you cannot have one without the others. All three have a negative biblical outcome.
· As for judgment, God will judge the world (Rom. 2:2-5, 3:5-6, Rev. 14:7). All men will be judged according to their works (Rev. 20:12-15, Rom. 2:5-6). This is a guaranteed bad outcome. With the rejection of Christ the correct Biblical understanding is that God has already judged the world (John 12:31).
· As for condemnation – “…through one man’s offence, judgment came to all men resulting in condemnation…” (Rom. 5:16, 18) “…but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)
· As for wrath – Romans 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” In physical birth, all men by nature are children of wrath (Eph. 2:3).
The Believer/Church’s relationship to Judgment, Condemnation, and Wrath
If we look at the believer/church in view of these three biblical words we get a completely different story. As believers, what we should already understand and have settled in our hearts is that Jesus bore our sins (I Pet. 2:24). He was made to be sin for us (II Cor. 5:21). On the cross Jesus was judged by God and condemned (John 3:14). He experienced the pouring out of God’s wrath on Himself, innocently. This was the cup that He struggled with in His own will to drink (Matt. 26:38-44). Christ did this all for us. So what we find when we search the Scriptures concerning these three words associated with the believer, it is quite different than the position of the unbelieving world.
- For judgment: John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
- For condemnation: Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
- For wrath: 1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
There is a practical effect that the blessed hope of the true believer/church has now in light of the three words above and the proper understanding of our biblical relationship to them. This practical effect is this – instead of looking at the future with fear and anxiety concerning God’s condemnation and wrath, the whole character and expectation of Christ’s return for us is changed. For the believer/church we will not experience God’s judgment and fiery indignation, nor will the true church go through the coming tribulation as if we are Jacob in the midst of Jacob’s trouble. The spirit and character of our waiting for Christ, His coming for us, and our gathering to Him, is one entirely removed from judgment, condemnation, and wrath. It is one of joy and peace, as well as excited anticipation and hope.
Jesus bore the judgment, condemnation, and wrath of God that was for us. He was delivered up because of our offences. He did this on the cross. He then was raised for our justification (Rom. 4:24-25). “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:1-2) We have no need of judgment in order for Jesus to come and take us to our Father’s house. There is no judgment that stands between the believer and his entrance into the glory of God.
The Mystery of Christ
The biblical principles established by God in His ways and counsels are vital understandings that are maintained in the unfolding of His plan. Jesus and the believer apart from the world is just one principle. Another important revealed truth is the mystery of Christ.
“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began.”
“…how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),”
“…the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
The mystery is given specifically to Paul by direct revelation from Christ. This would mean in face to face communication with Christ in glory (II Cor. 12:1-4). The gospel He preached came in the exact same way, by seeing and speaking to Christ in glory (Gal. 1:11-12). That is the reason his gospel is called the gospel of the glory of Christ (II Cor. 4:4, I Tim. 1:11-12).
The mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory. That is, for the believer individually, Christ lives in you and you live in Him, united by the Spirit. There is a living Christ in the believer (Gal. 2:20). He is our life (Col. 3:3-4). But the mystery is also that individual believers are united together by the Spirit into one body, and that this body is in union with the Head in glory, Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:19-23). The mystery is the fact of the existence of the body of Christ (Eph. 2:11-22). The mystery is all the doctrine concerning the existence of this mystical body. It includes all the teaching and instruction for His body, along with its proper calling and Christian hopes.
According to Romans 16:25 above, the revelation of the mystery was hidden from the time the world began. Its revelation was through Paul by the Spirit, after the Holy Spirit was sent (Eph. 3:2-5). This is when the revelation of the mystery was made known, and the instruments by which it was accomplished. To whom was it made known? – His saints (Col. 1:26). Yet it existed before the world in the counsels of God. It was simply kept hidden in God. If it preceded the world being created, then the mystery and all it contains has no relationship with the world. This shows the importance of understanding Biblical principles.
A Christ in Glory
The mystery of Christ was given only to Paul. It was not Peter’s or John’s responsibility. These two never teach one truth concerning the corporate body of Christ. The mystery was a personal dispensation or stewardship given to Paul alone (Eph. 3:8-11, Col. 1:24-27). It was his responsibility. For its building up on the earth by the hands of men, Paul alone, as a wise master builder, laid its solid foundation (I Cor. 3:10-11). Other ministers would build on this foundation that he placed for the building. All of these truths are dependent on a Christ in glory.
If you say the church is found in the Old Testament along with its teachings and doctrine, you would be arguing contrary to God and His Word. The Spirit says it was kept secret from the beginning of the world (Rom. 16:25). There are only non-descript types and shadows hinting at the church. Shadows are not real and do not produce doctrine. The revelation of the mystery was after Jesus Christ was exalted in glory and the Spirit sent down to reveal it. Before that, it was hidden from the prophets and prophecy by God. If the mystery cannot be found in the Old Testament, then certainly its instructions and doctrine cannot be found there!
The Church World does not possess Sound Doctrine
If you apply to the church the teachings and instructions of Israel, you will quickly enter into error and unsound doctrine. You will be guilty of giving the church a different character and calling than that given by God. You will rob from the church its privilege and proper hopes. You will be Judaizing the Christian faith, joining it to the religion of the earth (Gal. 4:3, 9-11). You will do this by exalting man and diminishing the sovereign work of God, robbing glory from Him and giving man a reason to boast. You will not be turning the believer’s attention to the midnight cry of His returning for the church to catch us away, but rather, it will all be about what man can build and accomplish on the earth. You will be guilty of helping the professing church say as Laodicea, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” (Rev. 3:17) You will teach that the church endures the wrath of God in the tribulation right alongside the world. The denial of the mystery is a failure in spiritual understanding and doctrine, with only corrupt leaven as it fruit.
“…he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”
The coming tribulation has the character of being the judgment of the world. God is the one who will judge and bring wrath. He is the holy and righteous God and He will judge the world according to His own nature and character.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,”
“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,”
“But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?”
The Believer/Church not appointed for Wrath
But the principle of the believer/church is that it is apart from the world. It is that Christ bore our sins, and the wrath of God that was due to us was upon Him.
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
The true believer/church is not appointed for wrath by God. This is a sound biblical thought, and also a promise from God in His word (I Thess. 5:9).
I Thess. 1:10
“…and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
This ‘wrath to come’ could be seen as the coming tribulation, which will certainly be the wrath of God poured out on this evil and unbelieving world. Also coming is a final condemnation and wrath from God for the wicked after the white throne judgment. This is the lake of fire. Before this however, for the wicked and unbelieving, it is appointed for man once to die, after that the judgment – this is incarceration in Hades. At the white throne judgment Hades gives up its wicked dead to final judgment, which is the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). However a thousand years before this, the coming tribulation on the earth is the wrath of God in executing judgment on the living world.
Israel and the Earth – both linked together and delivered by Judgment
There is a principle in Scripture and prophecy that Israel is connected to the earth. There is a legitimate thought that both the earth and Israel have a similarity in their separate salvations – both are delivered through judgment. The earth through the tribulation will endure the wrath of God. The earth is the battle zone between the devil who is kicked out of the heavens and down to the earth, apostate man wanting to rule and reign independently from God over the earth, and God who is the rightful God of the earth, having created it.
Israel, by the Jewish remnant, will be delivered through judgment and restored in the Promised Land. Everything about Israel is earthy – their religion, their calling, the seal of the remnant, their promises – all connect them to the earth. When the Jewish remnant is seen with the Lamb on Mt. Zion (Rev. 14:1-4) they are described as the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. In principle, both Israel with the earthly calling, and the earth itself, will be delivered through judgment (Jer. 30:7). The coming tribulation is mainly a Jewish judgment. It is spoken of as Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7). It is a time of trouble like none other seen on the face of the earth. It is on Daniel’s people (Dan. 12:1), the Jews. The coming tribulation is God’s dealings with the earth, and all that is connected and associated with it.
“…in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, (3) among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
(4) “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (5) even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”
In Adam, by natural birth, we are all children of wrath. We are all sons of disobedience. We can see in the Scriptures that it is on the sons of disobedience that the wrath of God will be poured out. But it is obvious from the above passage that the position of the believer/church is no longer being sons of disobedience. We are no longer children of wrath. We are delivered ‘from’ the wrath to come, not ‘out of’ the wrath to come. We are now the children of God, the sons of obedience.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,
Sons of disobedience or sons of God? What is the position of the believer and true church?
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
There is no doubt that the appearing or manifestation of Christ to the world brings an end to the tribulation period. Also there should be no doubt that the church comes with Him in His glory at this time, and that the church appears or is manifested with Him to the world. Further, in the next chapter, we will understand how His appearing brings an end to this present age, and the Son of Man sitting on His throne of glory in Jerusalem is the start of the next.
Chapter 12: Endnotes
 Mathew’s gospel is the Messianic and Jewish gospel. It is different in its character and flavor than the other two synoptic gospels. In Matthew, Christ is presented from the outset as the accomplishment of promises and prophecies to the nation of Israel. Therefore you see the frequent use of the phrase, ‘that it might be fulfilled what was written by the prophets’. (Matt. 1:22) However, unique to Matthew’s gospel is all the teaching concerning ‘the kingdom of heaven’ that was at hand. This makes his gospel, in a sense, the dispensational gospel. If we hold the idea of a Jewish dispensation, then it is shown in Matthew as suspended and set aside, while something different was about to be brought forth – the kingdom of heaven and the part of God’s counsels dealing with heavenly things. The kingdom of heaven is always at hand in Matthew, for it does not exist until the Son of Man was raised and glorified, and went away back to heaven. The existence of the kingdom of heaven and all its teachings (Matt. 13:51-52) are solely related to the title of the Son of Man. None of its teachings or its understandings are related to the title of Messiah.
Messiah is a title from out of prophecy, and is strictly for Israel. It has many prophetic promises attached to the title, according to the prophetic writings and law, which are inseparable from it: throne of David, twelve tribes of Israel restored in the Promised Land stretching in expanse from the Nile to the Euphrates rivers, and all Gentile rule cast off. Israel, as restored, will prosper and multiply in the land under their Messiah and Prince, and they will become the greatest nation on the face of the earth during the millennium. All these promises and more are for Israel, on the earth, and according to ‘known’ prophecy. Also the Jews, their leaders, and the Lord’s own disciples, properly and correctly understood that when Messiah came to Israel, He would remain forever – again according to the writings in the law and prophets (John 12:34).
Some people say that His suffering, crucifixion, and death were clearly associated with the Messiah title, and done so in Jewish prophecy. If this is true it sets up some peculiar thoughts in my mind. Not only am I thinking that every human being on the face of the earth at that time totally misunderstood the purpose of the coming of Messiah to Israel, including His own disciples, but also another strange thought – if Israel’s leaders and people would have properly understood prophecy, then they all should have been looking for their Messiah for the purpose of putting Him to death and therefore fulfilling the prophecies. This conclusion is borderline absurdity. Yet this is the logical reasoning of anyone’s mind who believes that His death is connected with the Messiah title of prophecy.
Jesus always associates His death, resurrection, and exaltation to the right hand of God with His title as the Son of Man. This title is the second Adam, the last Man, and by Psalm 8 is related and connected to the first Adam. The Son of Man is the antitype of the first Adam, and is the heavenly Man in comparison to the earthly man (I Cor. 15:47). However, Messiah is the son of David according to prophecy and coming in the flesh; very Jewish in character and blessings. If His death was connected to the title of Messiah as some say, then Israel did right by putting their Messiah to death. Again an absurd thought, but the logical conclusion to the aforementioned belief.
What wasn’t found as revealed in known prophecy? What was hidden from the prophets? What was new revelation in Matthew’s gospel? Instead of the kingdom of God in Israel with Emmanuel physically present as their Messiah (what was known), it is ‘the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ and the Son of Man going away (what was not known). Also hidden from prophecy and the prophets is the spoiled crop of wheat and tares in the field of the world (Matt. 13:24-30). Why are these things hidden from prophecy? There are a number of Biblical reasons why, but one that is easiest to see is that all three have a direct connection to the church (the body of Christ), which is definitely hidden from prophecy (Eph. 3:1-6). The church does not exist until the Son of Man went away and was glorified (Eph. 1:18-23). The spoiled crop in the world includes the body of Christ – the wheat. And all the heavenly parts of the term ‘kingdom of heaven’ involve only the true church. In Matthew then, the transition from the prophetic title of Messiah to that of the Son of Man is seen in the differences between the kingdom of God present in Israel and the coming kingdom of heaven.
The Jewish character of Matthew’s gospel is readily seen in the entire twenty-fourth chapter containing the Lord’s prophetic statements – the subject is Judea, Jerusalem, and the temple. This parallels Daniel’s 70 week prophecy found in Daniel 9:24-27, which also is about Judea, Jerusalem, the temple, and the Jews found there. Both of these prophecies are very similar to each other, localized in their scope, and barely hint at Gentile involvement. Both passages are truly about Jacob’s trouble – the last three and a half years of the tribulation.
When compared to John’s gospel the differences are even more striking and profound. John’s gospel is more the believer’s gospel because the world and Israel are set aside in the very first chapter (John 1:5, 10-11). Israel is spoken to by Christ as part of the world and set aside through the entire gospel. Then there are His long discourses spoken to His disciples when they are away from the people (John 13-17). The disciples represent all believers. There are other characteristics of John’s gospel: the manifestation in the flesh of the Son sent down from heaven, who reveals the Father. This is also decidedly Christian truth and revelation, and not Jewish.
 Paul’s apostleship was not from any man or group of men (i.e. the other apostles). He conclusively establishes this in the first verse of the book of Galatians, effectively telling us the viewpoint from which he writes this specific epistle that combats the Judaizing leaven that corrupts Christianity.
“Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead),”
The false teaching of apostolic succession and its accompanying heresies of infallibility and church authority are debunked in this one verse of the apostle’s pithy greeting to the Galatians.
 The church doesn’t exist until Jesus Christ was exalted to the right hand of God (Eph. 1:20-23). When this occurred the Holy Spirit was sent down to gather the body. Believers were not given the Holy Spirit until after Jesus was glorified (John 7:39). The Spirit dwelling in the believer is what makes him a son of God (Eph. 1:13, Gal. 3:26, 4:6-7, Rom. 8:14-17). By this same Spirit the corporate body was formed (I Cor. 12:12-13) – by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.