The wedding supper

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The Creation Concept

Guide to Revelation II

The wedding supper of the Lamb

The angel standing in the sun

All the fowls were filled with their flesh

Coming in the clouds of heaven

A great spoil

The white horse

Is the thousand years already past?

The thousand years is not literal

Could the thousand years precede the day of the Lord?

The great noise

The Church is judged now

A living sacrifice

The twelve tribes of Israel identifies the Church

Armies of Gog!

Isaiah 60 and Revelation 21 Compared

The wedding supper of the Lamb

Many commentators say there are two suppers depicted in Revelation 19. For example, H. A. Ironside titled a chapter on Rev. 19:6-21, "The Two Suppers."
http://rarebooks.dts.edu/viewbook.aspx?bookid=1481

These authors see "the supper of the great God" of verse 17 as something quite different to "the marriage supper of the Lamb" in verse 9. The devouring of the flesh of men by birds, that is depicted in the latter part of the chapter, is seen as a gruesome judgment of the wicked.

The birds are taken to be vultures. The scriptures interpret the sword of the Spirit as the word of God, and so "the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth" can be none other than the words of Christ.

But Gregory K. Beale saw the sword as wielding literal slaughter of God's enemies, and he argued against the idea that it could lead to their conversion and redemption.  

The book of Revelation: a commentary on the Greek text
By Gregory K. Beale
http://books.google.ca/books?id=HjKUiljUwcUC

p. 968
The actual judgment occurs in two parts. First, the beast and false prophet are captured and destroyed (v 20), then their followers are executed (v 21).

p. 971
Some have viewed Rev. 19:11-21 as a depiction of Christ converting the nations throughout the course of history, with a secondary emphasis on figurative judgment. But this is incompatible with the consistent emphasis on judgment throughout the section (argued above) and the climactic nature of the judgment described as occurring at the end of world history ... For example, to say that the "killing" of the Antichrist's followers "by the sword proceeding from his [Christ's] mouth (19:21) refers to their conversion is to reverse the meaning of 19:11-19, of the punitive OT allusions therein, and especially of the Ps. 2:9 and Isa. 11:4 pictures, both in their original contexts and, above all, in their prior use in Rev. 1:16 and 2:12, 14 (cf. also Isa. 49:2).

A. C. Gaebelein viewed the "supper" as a feast for literal birds. 

REVELATION
by Arno Clement Gaebelein
http://bartimaeus.us/pub_dom/revelation_gaebelein.html

Verses 17-21. And what a sublime vision comes next! An angel is beheld by the Seer standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he summons the birds that fly in mid-heaven to gather themselves to the great supper of God to eat the flesh of the slain. The birds of prey are summoned in anticipation of the battle of Armageddon which is then imminent. And now the hour of judgment has come. An angel, standing in the sun, the place of supreme authority, gives the invitation to the birds of prey to be ready for the feast which a holy and righteous God will have for them. The day of wrath has come. The slain of the Lord shall be many (Isaiah 66:16).

Charles D. Alexander commented on the literal interpretation of the birds as vultures in his commentary. 

Revelation Spiritually Understood Part 23
Total Victory Of Christ
Revelation 19
by Charles D. Alexander
http://www.allbygrace.com/alexrev047-23.html

THE FABLE OF THE VULTURES

"And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;

That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great."

The fantasies woven around this 'battle' by theorists both inside and outside the evangelical testimony, have recently been brought to the last degree of absurdity by a pamphlet emanating we believe from Canada, telling us that there has recently appeared in the valley of Megiddo in Palestine '"a new breed of vultures, a breed never seen before, multiplying at three times the normal rate," in supposed fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophecy that ravenous birds of prey will assemble to devour the carcasses of the slain in the great battle. The pamphleteer informs us that these birds are buzzards, and the buzzard (he says) usually lays only one egg at a time, whereas these apocalyptic buzzards are laying four, so there will be enough birds to take care of the vast number of corpses slain in the great battle.

On account of this phenomenal rate of increase of the buzzard or vulture population, the writer naturally forecasts that the great battle must soon take place. He should be warned. Maybe it has already begun!

How trivial are these wild guesses compared with the solemn and sober meaning of prophecy. Had the writer of this pamphlet only looked into the preceding chapter he would have found feathered fowl enough to expose the folly of his guesses. He would have read these words in chapter 18 verse 2: "Babylon the great is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird". There the unclean birds are synonymous with devils and evil spirits.

Yet another figurative use of birds denoting something very much more sinister than feathered fowl is found in our Lord's parable of the sower (Matthew 13) where we read of the 'wayside' hearers who received not the word which was preached, and so the fowls came and devoured the seed. These fowls, the Lord explains as follows, "When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart". By what principle therefore does our Canadian friend conclude that the birds of Revelation 19 are vultures? He also overlooks the plain statement of the verse that not one variety of predatory birds assembles for the feast on the battlefield, but "all the fowls which fly in the midst of heaven".

In several prophecies, the birds are symbolic of spirits; the examples cited by Alexander are malevolent, but there are also benevolent ones.

All the fowls were filled with their flesh

Isaiah 60 is a prophecy about the resurrection. It describes those saints who are raised up to immortality at the coming of Christ. This begins a time when the whole earth becomes converted! Isaiah wrote:

Isaiah 60:1-8
1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
4 Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.
5 Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
6 The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.
7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory.
8 Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?

People from all over the earth will then seek God. Notice in verse 8, Isaiah compares the glorified saints to a flock of doves. Now they can fly! The spirit of God that John the Baptist saw coming down upon Jesus was like a dove.

John 1:32-33
And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Spirit.

David wrote about our future "rest" as like being able to fly like a dove.

Psalm 55:6
And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.

David also remarked on the presence of birds within the temple, and in the altars there. He wrote:

Psalm 84:1-3
How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.

Jesus compared his followers to sparrows when he said, "ye are of more value than many sparrows." [Matthew 10:31]

Scholars recognize that Isaiah 60 corresponds to Revelation 21, a chapter which describes the holy city, the glorified church. For details see: Isaiah 60 hidden in Revelation 21

The prophecy of the wedding feast in Revelation 19 alludes to Isaiah 60:8. Consider who it is that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Revelation 19:7-9
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
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.
9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

The ones called to the marriage supper of the Lamb are those who are blessed. Who are they?

Revelation 19:17-18
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

They are the birds! All the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven are invited! And so the birds in this prophecy represent the ones who are blessed! This is clearly a metaphor, as most birds are not carnivorous. Devouring the flesh of men and horses offered up as a sacrifice, and slaying men with the sword that proceeds from the mouth of Christ, are also metaphors. Taken literally, men and horses are unclean, and so are unfit for sacrifices. But horses represent people who lack understanding! [Psalm 32:9]

Revelation 19:21
And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

If the saints who are raised up are represented by birds, how are they filled with the flesh of men? I suggest this comes about when the heavenly Jerusalem becomes their spiritual mother. The people of the earth, who yield themselves as living sacrifices to God, are the unborn children of the holy city, which is called the "mother of us all." [Galatians 4:26] That is when the saints will judge the world. [1 Corinthians 6:2] John wrote:

Revelation 21:24-25
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

Another indication that the church will be the spiritual mother of many nations is seen in the order of the names of the tribes in Revelation 7:4-8. The last two names mentioned are Joseph and Benjamin. The interpretation of these names provided in Genesis suggests a prophecy: "The LORD shall add more children to me, by the son of His right hand." The names of all of the 12 tribes in the order used by John forms a Psalm, that applies to the church, like this:

I will praise the LORD, (Judah)
Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction, (Reuben)
He has granted me good fortune, (Gad)
Happy am I, (Asher)
With great wrestlings have I wrestled, (Naphtali)
But God will make me forget all my toil, (Manasseh)
The LORD hath heard me, (Simeon)
He has joined Himself to me, (Levi)
He has purchased me, (Issachar)
He will dwell with me always, (Zebulun)
The LORD shall add more children to me, (Joseph)
By the son of His right hand. (Benjamin)

The angel standing in the sun

Revelation 19:17
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;

The phrase "fly in the midst of heaven" in the above verse is also used in the description of the angel preaching the everlasting gospel to the people of the earth, in Revelation 14:6-7. The message of the angel to those who dwell on the earth is that the hour of God's judgment has come. It is time for men to worship God the creator of all, who also provides fountains of living waters.

The message of the angel standing in the sun is meant for "the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven," which I suggest represents the saints. The message is, "gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God." This is a message about unity amongst the saints. They are the ones invited to the great supper, the marriage feast of the Lamb.

Jesus spoke of a marriage feast, in the parable related in Matthew 22:1-13. Jesus teaches us in this parable that the saints need to possess the proper garments, and those who don't, will miss out. Instead of joining the first group in Revelation 7, they will probably be among the second group, who endure great tribulation.

Consider the symbolic meaning associated with the angel standing in the sun of Revelation 14:6-7. The sun is associated with Jesus in Matthew 17:2, "his face did shine as the sun;" and in Revelation 1:16, "his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." Jesus is called the light of the world [John 8:12; 9:5]. John said he is the light "which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." [John 1:9] Paul described his vision of Jesus on the way to Damascus as "a great light." [Acts 22:6]

The spiritual light of the gospel is contrasted with darkness in many scriptures.

John 1:5
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Peter called prophecy "a light that shineth in a dark place," 2 Peter 1:19.

The light of truth increases for the saints, Proverbs 4:18.

The gospel is prophecy, and a light. It is represented by the sun. The sun and moon were appointed as signs at the creation, Genesis 1:15-16. The gospel is the great light Jesus brought. It was foretold by Isaiah, [Isaiah 9:2] quoted in Matthew 4:16, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."

The saints "shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" when the tares are separated from the wheat and destroyed, Matthew 13:43.

Paul spoke of the gospel as a light four times in the following four verses:

2 Corinthians 4:3-6
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Also see Ephesians 5:8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:5.

The church is the woman clothed with the sun in the prophecy of Revelation 12.

Revelation 12:1
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

These scriptures associate the sun with the gospel and so they show the message of the angel standing in the sun has to do with the gospel. The message is directed to those who are blessed, who are "called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb." [Revelation 19:9] They are represented by birds, not every kind of bird, but the ones which "fly in the midst of heaven" like the angel which brings the gospel to the world in Revelation 14:6-7.

Jesus said,

Luke 21:36
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

The ones who are sealed in Revelation 7:4-8 are included among the 144,000 of the tribes of Israel. What is the seal? Paul tells us that those who are sealed "depart from iniquity," 2 Timothy 2:19.

Coming in the clouds of heaven

Those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19 are the birds which "fly in the midst of heaven." Does this refer to the region of the clouds? In Isaiah 60:8, the birds are identified with a cloud. These birds evidently represent the saints, and the ones called to the marriage supper are blessed. Clouds may also represent the saints in scripture. Isaiah wrote:

Isaiah 60:8
Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?

In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus said the Son of man would be seen coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Matthew 24:30
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Coming in the clouds alludes to Daniel 7:13, where Daniel wrote of his vision in which "one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven."

Jesus referred to this prophecy when he was examined by the high priest.

Matthew 26:63-64
But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Did the high priest see that power? Did he see Jesus "come in the clouds of heaven"? On the day of Pentecost, Jesus sent his Holy Spirit, which demonstrated his power by great miracles, through the disciples. And the "clouds" he referred to must have been the saints who spoke the words of God, that are preserved for us in the NT, as Isaiah compared the word of God to "rain."

Isaiah 55:10-11
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

The apostles spoke the word of God in the early church, and so they were like "clouds" bringing rain, representing God's word. In contrast, false teachers were called "clouds without water." [Jude 1:12] Peter described them as "clouds that are carried with a tempest."

2 Peter 2:17
These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

There are dark clouds, and bright ones. The prophet Zechariah spoke of bright clouds bringing showers. These showers are metaphors that refer to the words of God!  

Zechariah 10:1
Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.

The prophet Joel also spoke of different periods in which the church receives rain, which represents the holy Spirit.

Joel 2:23
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.

Rain implies clouds!

The author of hebrews, after reviewing all the saints of the Old Testament  who were examples of faith, refers to them a cloud of witnesses..

Hebrews 12:1-2
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great
a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The two witnesses in Revelation 11 have the power to shut heaven, so it does not rain, and the power to turn waters to blood. I suggest the power to shut heaven refers to the fact that no new scripture has been given, since the time of the apostles. And many of the gifts the early church possessed seem to have ceased. Their ministry is a symbolic 1,260 days, representing the entire church age. The waters turning to blood refers to the aversion many people have towards the gospel, and the word of God, and especially prophecy. Because of misinterpretations, the life-giving message of the Bible seems to most as unpalatable as blood!

When the two witnesses are revived, they hear a great voice from heaven saying "Come up hither." And they ascend up to heaven in a cloud, which represents the saints, who begin to understand the prophecies of scripture. [Revelation 11:12]

Jesus reveals himself through his church, which is the light of the world. All eyes will see it eventually.

Revelation 1:7
Behold, he cometh with
clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

A great spoil

The armies of Gog and Magog described in Ezekiel 38 seek to "take a spoil" away from God's people.

Ezekiel 38:10-14
10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:
11 And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,
12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.
13 Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?
14 Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?

The "land of unwalled villages" is not the land of Palestine today, as there is a prominent wall there, called the Israeli-West Bank Separation Barrier, or the Apartheid Wall by its detractors. This wall is over 700 km long, and where it passes through villages, it consists of concrete sections up to 8 m. high, with sniper towers, and appears much like the wall surrounding a concentration camp or prison.

Eslewhere, it consists of a fence with coils of barbed wire, access roads, and trenches, and it is patrolled by Israeli soldiers equipped with modern weapons, many of whom are recent immigrants from Russia, whose emigration was supported financially by contributions from American churches and Zionist organizations.

The wall thwarts the claims of the popular American dispensationalist prophecy "experts" who interpret Ezekiel's prophecy in chapter 38 as describing an invasion of the modern Jewish state by a consortium of nations including Russia, Iran, Syria, Lybia, and Turkey.

Dispensationalist John F. Walvoord (1910-2002) of Dallas Theological Seminary interpreted the prophecy of Ezekiel as a military attack upon the modern Jewish state. Walvoord's web site boasts, "He is considered perhaps the world's foremost interpreter of biblical prophecy." 
http://www.walvoord.com/author_bio.php?author_id=1

Walvoord wrote in chapter 10 of "The Nations in Prophecy":

Ezekiel's prophecy obviously could not have been fulfilled prior to 1945, for the nation Israel was not regathered to their ancient land. Until our generation, Israel's situation did not correspond to that which is described in Ezekiel's passage. Ezekiel's prophecy of twenty-five hundred years ago seems to have anticipated the return of Israel to their ancient land as a prelude to the climax of this present age.

Another important aspect of the prophecy is found in verse eleven where it states that the people of Israel will be dwelling "securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates." It was customary in ancient times, whenever a city prospered, to build a wall around it. One can go to ancient lands and see the ruins of walls around most important cities. They would, at least, have a fortress with a wall around it to which they could retire if the houses themselves were scattered and a wall about the houses was impracticable. In other words, it was customary to build walls about cities. In our modern day, this custom has been discontinued for the obvious reason that a wall is no protection against modern warfare.

If one goes to Israel today, though one can see many fabulous cities being built and marvelous developments taking place, one will not find a single new city with a wall built around it. They are cities without walls. How did Ezekiel know that at a future time the war situation would be such that cities would be built without walls? Of course, the answer is a simple one. He was guided by the inspiration of God, and it was not a matter of his own wisdom. But in this scene he is describing a modern situation, something that could not and would not be true back in the days of old, before Christ. This detail is very important because un-walled villages point to Israel's situation today.

Events since Walvoord's death show that his interpretation of Ezekiel's prophecy was false. Interpreters of Bible prophecy who promote flawed interpretations seek to "take a spoil" by selling their books to gullible Christians. But these invading hordes of Gog and Magog take away much more than merely material things. They also deceive Christians, by depriving them of their promised inheritance, that they have by faith in Christ.

For example, many dispensationalists deny that Christians are the true Israel of God, and the holy city, and by this doctrine, they make most Bible prophecies incomprehensible. They also destroy the unity of the church, dividing the saints into thousands of cults, and sects, and denominations. They move the temple of God from its foundation, which is the apostles and prophets. [Ephesians 2:20]

Some even deny our Christian calling as the bride of the Lamb, and say the wedding described in Revelation 19 is not for us.

Some deny that the New Covenant is for the saints of this age, but say it was for Jewish believers!

An example of this is Adlai Loudy's God's Eonian Purpose, Chapter 7. Rightly Dividing the Word. Loudy wrote:

Our allotment is in heaven "among the celestials, in Christ Jesus" (Eph.2:6) and comes through "the evangel of which Paul became the dispenser" (Eph.3:7), and has no relation, whatever, to Israel and their promise covenants for the earth and the earthly kingdom.

The "new covenant" is prophetically promised to Israel in Jeremiah 31:31-34, and is reaffirmed in Hebrews 8:6-12. It is not in effect today, and will not become effective until the "church which is the body of Christ" with a heavenly destiny, is completed and called to be with the Lord, and Israel has gone through "the great tribulation" spoken of by the Hebrew prophets as "the time of Jacob's trouble," and Christ, their Rescuer, has arrived out of Zion and brought them deliverance.

http://www.gtft.org/Library/loudy/GodsEonianPurpose/GodsEonianPurpose07.htm

Loudy's doctrine divides the "spoil" or the inheritance of the saints, on the basis of race. It is errors such as this, that Christ will fight against with the sword of his mouth!

In chapter 20, The New Heavens and Earth, Loudy wrote:

Dire loss has been suffered by believers through the widespread error of preachers and teachers going to this portion of God's Word to comfort the bereaved concerning the destiny of all the redeemed. Not one word is said here concerning the new heavens and the allotment of transcendent glory for the ecclesia which is the body of Christ, among the celestials. And let me emphasize the fact again, that the holy city, new Jerusalem, is not heaven itself, for we are explicitly told that it comes down from God out of heaven. Furthermore, if we will heed what is written, and not persist in reading into the Scriptures human traditions, the city is exclusively for the sons of Israel.

According to Loudy and other ultradispensationalists, the saints of Jewish ancestry have an earthly kingdom, while the ecclesia is up in heaven, "among the celestials." He wrote:

In the celestial phase of the kingdom, the ecclesia which is the body of Christ will make known to "the sovereignties and the authorities among the celestials, the multifarious wisdom of God, in accord with the purpose of the eons which He makes in Christ Jesus, our Lord" (Eph. 3:10, 11), while Israel, then "the wife of the Lambkin," in the terrestrial kingdom on the new earth, will be schooling the nations in all the ways and wisdom of God.

http://www.gtft.org/Library/loudy/GodsEonianPurpose/GodsEonianPurpose20.htm

In the message to the church at Thyatira, Jesus gives both celestial and terrestrial promises to those who overcome.

Revelation 2:26-27
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star.

Loudy's doctrine seems to contradict these promises. His words contribute to the fuel, that the saints burn up for seven years in Ezekiel's prophecy.

Zechariah also described the invading armies, under the label "all nations."

Zechariah 14:1-3
1 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

Zechariah depicts the nations of the world coming against Jerusalem, which John identified as the church, the "camp of the saints" and the "beloved city" in Revelation 20:8-9. John combined the prophecies of Zechariah 14 and Ezekiel 38-39, and applied them to the church. He interpreted those prophecies for our benefit. As Paul said, the enemies of the saints are not flesh and blood, but spiritual. [Ephesians 6:12]

Ezekiel said the armies of Gog and Magog will come up against the prophets of Israel. [Ezekiel 38:17]

John said in Revelation 20:9 they "compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city." Obviously, this beloved city refers to the Church, the bride of the Lamb, not the Jewish nation in Palestine. Paul in Ephesians 2:20 says the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. The armies of Gog and Magog who come against prophets of Israel pictures a spiritual invasion, because the invaders misinterpret the words of the prophets and apostles.  

The dominance of the forces of Gog and Magog over the church contributes to, and explains, the church's spiritual decline, and downtrodden, desolate condition. The judgments described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 depict the judgments of God upon the representatives of antichrist.

In Zechariah's prophecy, "all nations" implies the invaders are spiritually Gentiles. Paul identified the saints with the circumcision, the people of the covenant, when he wrote, "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." [Philippians 3:3] It follows that those who are not genuine Christians are spiritually Gentiles. They are said to "tread under foot" the holy city, which represents the believers. [Luke 21:24, Revelation 11:2]

"The city shall be taken" indicates the church is dominated by them. "The houses rifled" shows the invaders take away the things that are precious to a Christian, such as our promised rewards. "The women ravished" suggests people are seduced by false teachings. [2 Corinthians 11:3] "Half of the city shall go forth into captivity" suggests many are taken captive by systems of interpretation, creeds, membership in sects and denominations, etc.

The apostle Peter said that prophets (which includes Ezekiel and Zechariah) ministered not to themselves, or to the Jews, but "unto us," meaning the saints. He said they wrote about the gospel, ("they prophesied of the grace that should come unto you") and they wrote "by the spirit of Christ that was in them." According to the insight given to the apostle Peter, Ezekiel and Zechariah wrote for the benefit of believers, about the church, and about the present age, not the Jews who lived in 70 AD, or Jews in a future 7 year tribulation. [1 Peter 1:9-12]

The white horse

In Revelation 19, John describes Christ as leading the armies of heaven, riding upon a white horse. He alludes to Zechariah 10:3, which also describes Christ riding upon a horse. Zechariah wrote:

Zechariah 10:3
Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.

John adds the detail that his horse is a white one, as John reinterprets the house of Judah as the church, by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that was given to him. Probably, John perceived that the horse depicted in Zechariah's prophecy does not represent the Jews after the flesh, but the saints, those who are the bride of the Lamb, who is clothed in "fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." [Revelation 19:8]

John identified the rider as Jesus, who is also the bridegroom.

Revelation 19:11
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

The horse in Zechariah's prophecy, as interpreted by John, represents the saints, under the figure of the house of Judah. It does not refer to unbelieving Jews.

John changes the scene somewhat by moving it into heaven, and by giving all the saints their own white horses to ride, each having white garments like the bride of the Lamb, in whose marriage they all participate.

In Zechariah, the Lord's "flock" is identified with the house of Judah. Jesus called himself the good shepherd, who gave his life for his sheep.

John 10:11
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

The prophecy of the woman in heaven in Revelation 12 also describes spiritual warfare.

Revelation 12:7-11
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

In the spiritual warfare described here, the struggle is between angels. The armies of Michael war against those of the dragon. But the struggle also involves the saints. It is the saints who overcome the "accuser of our brethren by the blood of the Lamb." The prophecy in chapter 12:7-11 complements the one in chapter 19.

The invitation to the marriage supper in Revelation 19 is directed to the birds that fly in the midst of heaven.

Revelation 19:17-18
Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

The armies who fight against Christ and his army are slain by the sword that proceeds from his mouth, which refers to spiritual conquest. The false prophet and the beast are thown into a lake of fire.

The birds are filled with the flesh of the men that remained; I understand this to represent not the vengeance of God suggested by the grotesque scene of birds feasting on corpses, but the saints, represented by all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, becoming the spiritual mother of many, as the people of the entire world repent and seek God, and come into the church.

Is the thousand years already past?

The apostle Peter refers to "a thousand years" in his second epistle, in a discussion of the significance of prophecy. Peter's discussion of prophecy is introduced at the end of chapter 1. Chapter 2 warns about the false teachers. Then, Peter exhorts us to "be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour." (2 Peter 3:2) He then introduces the phrase "a thousand years."

2 Peter 3:8
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

This statement precedes his comments on "the day of the Lord" in the following verses. It suggests that a day in prophecy can refer to a period as long as a thousand years. Conversely, Peter suggests the phrase "a thousand years" may refer to a "day."

2 Peter 3:8 dispells any suggestion that "the day of the Lord" refers to a literal day. In fact, the "day of the Lord" must span many centuries. The demise of the old geocentric cosmology in the eighteenth century fulfills Peter's prophecy that "the heavens shall pass away with great noise," in 2 Peter 3:10.

There must be a reason why Peter tells his readers that a thousand years is "as one day." Where is the phrase "a thousand years" mentioned in prophecy? It is mentioned 6 times in Revelation 20!  Thus, Peter's reference to "a thousand years" is related to the prophecy of Revelation 20.

In Psalm 90:4, "a thousand years" is likened to "yesterday when it is past," and "a watch in the night." This may be the basis for Peter suggesting that a thousand years can represent a day. Taken literally, "yesterday" refers to a single day, but in this verse the Psalmist compared it to a thousand years. This verse also suggests that the "thousand years" refers to a period that is already past, and a time of darkness, rather than light.

Jesus referred to his ministry on earth as "day," and the time of the Church that followed his ascent to heaven, as "night."

John 9:4
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

Jesus advised his disciples in all ages of the Church to "watch," and to be ready for him.

Luke 12:35-40
Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

So the ideas of an extended "night" and a "watch" are both symbols of the age of the church. In the scriptures, a "day" consists of an evening and a morning, in that order. Peter also referred to the dark "night" of the church age, to be followed by dawn, when he introduced the subject of prophecy in this second epistle.

2 Peter 1:19
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

Peter's 2nd epistle is considered inauthentic by many scholars because the writings of the earliest church fathers that have come down to us do not mention it. But there may be a reason why some of those church fathers would have ignored this epistle; it explains some of the principles for understanding prophecy, and the second chapter foretold the coming of false teachers. Perhaps the church fathers who ignored Peter's second epistle were some of those false teachers Peter warned about!

The thousand years is not literal

Dispensationalists tend to miss the significance of the words of the apostle Peter, who warns us that "a thousand years" in prophecy has another meaning besides a literal "thousand years."

Peter's epistles give no support for the idea of a literal thousand-year earthly kingdom, where Jews are the master-race.

In the OT the word "thousand" is often used in a figurative way. Several scriptures speak of "a thousand generations," picturing a very long time, of indefinite duration.

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Do God's love and mercy end after the thousand generations? Of course not! This is not meant literally.

1 Chronicles 16:15
Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;

Psalm 105:8
He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.

In this case, "a thousand generations" must be synonymous with "for ever."

Similarly, the Psalmist speaks of "the cattle upon a thousand hills." The context shows that all cattle are meant.

Psalm 50:10-11
For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.

In the same epistle in which he discussed the meaning of "a thousand years," Peter tells us of the need to interpret prophecy.

2 Peter 1:20
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

The meaning of any symbol used in scripture has to be supported in scripture itself. We can't simply make up "private" interpretations. And obviously, there is no merit in taking prophecies literally, that were meant to be interpreted.

Dispensationalists, it seems, dismiss Peter's discussion of the symbolism of "a thousand years." There are only two chapters in the NT where "a thousand years" is even mentioned; one is the 2nd epistle of Peter, chapter 3, and the other is  Revelation 20. Dispensationalists believe in a literal earthly millennium, based upon a literal interpretation of the thousand years of Revelation 20. But if that is not the "thousand years" that Peter alluded to in his 2nd epistle, what was he referring to?

In 2 Peter, there is no evidence at all of an earthly kingdom, in which the Jews are exulted over the nations of the earth.

Eusebius (c. A.D. 260-340), in his Ecclesiastical History, wrote of a person named Papias (c. A.D. 70-155) who viewed the thousand years as a literal millennium:

Papias... says that there will be a millennium after the resurrection of the dead, when the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this earth. I suppose that he got these notions by a perverse reading of the apostolic accounts, not realizing that they had spoken mystically and symbolically. For he was a man of very little intelligence, as is clear from his books. But he is responsible for the fact that so many Christian writers after him held the same opinion, relying on his antiquity, for instance Irenaeus and whoever else appears to have held the same views.

The apostle Peter does not tell his readers to look forward to such an earthly millennium, but to a new heavens and a new earth.

2 Peter 3:10-13
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Peter makes no mention of an earthly millennial kingdom. For Peter, the reign of Christ as king had already begun, when he was raised up to the throne of God. (Acts 2:30-36)

Could the thousand years precede the day of the Lord?

The thousand years in Rev. 20 has to be interpreted, like all prophecy. Peter's comment in 2 Peter 3:8 destroys literalism; the meaning of the phrase "a thousand years" can be determined from a study of other scriptures, such as Psalm 90:4, "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night."

Here we notice (1) it refers to a period already past; and (2) it is as a "watch in the night," a time of darkness, which is how Peter characterizes the age of the Church, (2 Peter 1:19). Many other scriptures describe the day of the Lord as a time of darkness and gloom. (Isaiah 13:10, Joel 2:2, Amos 5:18, Zechariah 14:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:2)

In the same context as the thousand years, Peter discusses the day of the Lord. The "thousand years" is mentioned before the "day of the Lord." Why do Dispensationalists say the day of the Lord comes before the "thousand years," when Peter lists them in the reverse order? Their theory is contrary to what Peter wrote.

In his 2nd epistle, the apostle Peter admonishes Christians to take heed to prophecy, (2 Peter 1:19) which he says is like "a light that shineth in a dark place." Chapter 2 warns about false teachers. 2 Peter 3:1-2 again reminds us to "be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles."

Peter says many scoffers will come in the last days. (2 Peter 3:3) He says men were "willingly ignorant" about the creation of the heavens and the earth; and that "the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water," and about the destruction of the ancient world by a flood: "Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished." (2 Peter 3:5-6)

Peter emphasizes the coming judgment, verse 8. Then he says, "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night..."  (2 Peter 3:8-10)

Given the context, there is little doubt that Peter wants his readers to consider the phrase "a thousand years" as symbolic, and a figure, not necessarily a literal period of a thousand years. Since it is mentioned before the "day of the Lord," it is reasonable for us to conclude that it precedes the time called "the day of the Lord."

Now, Peter tells us the day of the Lord will arrive "like a thief." When a thief enters a house, he usually does it quietly, when the owners are away, or asleep, and he leaves again with his loot, undetected. Only in the morning, is the theft discovered. That is how it is with the day of the Lord. Paul also said that the day of the Lord comes "as a thief in the night."

1 Thessalonians 5:2
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

The great noise

Peter said that in the day of the Lord, "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Peter 3:10)

There is no air in space, so there is no sound up there either. So, what is the "noise"? The "great noise" is the commotion that arose as a result of the scientific revolution.

After the scientific revolution, the Bible was discredited because of corruptions that had been introduced in the 2nd century BC that adapted its cosmology to that of the hellenistic Greeks. This may be what Peter refers to in verse 5 when he says men are "willingly ignorant."

The scientific revolution occurred in the "day of the Lord," and because some of the scholars of the Roman Catholic Church supported the old geocentric cosmology, and criticized Galileo for advocating the Copernican view, the Church was later discredited, and ridiculed by the scholars of the enlightenment. The "great noise" of skepticism and atheism has continued unabated ever since, and so fulfills Peter's prophecy.

The "great noise" includes the controversy over the truth of the scriptures, that the "enlightenment" philosophers supposed were discredited, because they supposed that the scriptures supported the idea of a rigid heaven revolving around the earth, carrying the stars! They failed to understand that the cosmology of the scriptures had been corrupted in the 2nd century BC, in the reign of Antiochus IV, who initiated the revision of the OT to make it support the hellenistic Greek cosmology with its rigid heaven. That is when the 'raqia' or 'firmament' of Genesis 1 was identified with "Heaven." There were many other changes, in Genesis 1 and other parts of scripture, so that the word "firmament" occurs 9 times in the first chapter of Genesis, in the KJV. It is overloaded with the word "firmament." So much so, it could be called the "firmament" chapter!

The corruption of the cosmology of the scriptures in the 2nd century BC was aided and supported by hellenized Jews who admired the geocentric cosmology of the Greeks. They modified the creation account in Genesis 1, by adding the statement "and God called the firmament Heaven," so identifying the firmament with heaven. Before, the 'raqia' referred to the rocky crust of the earth that was "standing out of the water and in the water," as Peter described it.

The scholars failed to recognize these corruptions. Many of them rejected their faith in God, and abandoned Christianity. They became "scoffers," and so fulfilled Peter's prophecy in 2 Peter 3:3.

Peter's prophecy about the heavens passing away pictures the demise of the old geocentric cosmology. The planetary spheres, and the rigid heavenly firmament that were supposed to revolve around the earth every day, carrying the stars, became obsolete. The entire geocentric cosmology was abandoned, and the diurnal rotation was assigned to the earth instead of the heavens. The scientific revolution fulfills Peter's prophecy.

The Church is judged now

Revelation 20:3 says the nations would be deceived no more, till the thousand years were fulfilled, suggesting that for a time, deception of the nations was restrained. Peter said "a thousand years" can represent a "day," and a "day" can represent "a thousand years." (2 Peter 3:8)

In the Psalms, David compared "a thousand years" to "yesterday," and "a watch in the night." This is likely quite relevant to the interpretation  we should apply to Revelation 20. Notice that the Psalm refers to a period that was already past, not a future period of time.

Psalm 90:4
For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

Jesus compared the church age, when his followers were looking for his coming, to a "watch in the night," implied when he warned his disciples to "watch."

Matthew 24:42
Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

Perhaps John referred to the ministry of Jesus and the apostolic age that followed, when he spoke of "a thousand years" during which Satan was bound. There has certainly been much deception of the nations, since the time of the apostles.

The "judgment" in Revelation 20:4 may refer to the judgment of the Church, mentioned by Peter.

1 Peter 4:17
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

The "thrones" in Revelation 20:4 may be the thrones that Jesus said would be occupied by the apostles.

Matthew 19:28
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

In the New Testament, the "judgments" of the apostles are recorded. They identified the Church with "the twelve tribes of Israel," for example in Rev. 7:1-8, and James 1:1.

When Peter discussed the false teachers in the Church in 2 Peter 2, he emphasized that they were in a judgment, when he said "whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not."

2 Peter 2:3
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

In Rev. 12:1 the woman in heaven, who represents the Church, wears a crown of 12 stars, which very likely represent the 12 apostles.

Jesus identified the Church with Israel of God, when he chose 12 disciples. No one could ignore the correspondence of the number 12 with the number of the tribes of Israel.

Paul said that believers sit together "in heavenly places." The thrones of Revelation 20:4 need not be literal, visible ones.

Ephesians 2:6
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Paul said believers have been "translated" into Christ's kingdom:

Colossians 1:12-14
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Jesus said his 12 disciples would judge the "twelve tribes of Israel."

Matthew 19:28
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Revelation 20:4 mentions "thrones" and "judgment" which seems to show a connection with Christ's words in Matthew 19:28.

Revelation 20:4
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

In Revelation 20, the ones who "live and reign with Christ" are those who are beheaded for the witness of Jesus. It is not people who are dressed in fine clothes, who sit on literal thrones. They "live" and "reign with Christ" because they are faithful, and overcome evil.

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) said, "The tyrant dies and his rule ends, the martyr dies and his rule begins."

Merle D'Aubigné's "Martyrs of the reformation" says,

The times of the Reformation abound in martyrs; and we might well ask whether primitive Christianity, which came to an end when the reign of Constantine began, had so great a number of them as the renovated Christianity of the sixteenth century; especially if we take into account the different lengths of the periods. The impulse which led the martyrs of the Netherlands, of France, England, Hungary, Italy, Spain and other lands, to give up their lives calmly, and even joyfully, proceeded from the depth of their convictions, the holy and sovereign voice of conscience, enlightened, purified and strengthened by the word of God. In the souls of these lowly heroes there was a secret and mighty testimony to the truth of the gospel, which vividly manifested to them its grandeur, impelled them to sacrifice all for its sake, and gave them courage to obey, although it cost them not only goods and worldly greatness, but also the good opinion, the affection, and esteem even, of those whom they most tenderly loved. Obedience, indeed, was not always instantaneous. Sometimes there were hindrances, conflicts, hesitation and delay. There were also some weak consciences which were overcome. But wherever the conscience was sound, it acquired in the midst of difficulties more and more force, and when once its voice was heard the victory was won. It must be understood that we do not mean here a conscience which a man has made for himself: that of which we speak was the highest expression of truth, justice and the divine will, and it was found to be the same in all regions. The souls of these martyrs were exempt from all prejudices, pure as a cloudless sky. They were conscientious men ; and here-in we have the complete explanation of the grand phenomenon presented to us in the Reformation. Here was a force sufficient to break through stubborn bonds, to surmount passionate opposition, to brave torture and to go to the stake. No concessions were to be made, no agreement with error. The noble martyrs of the first centuries and of the sixteenth were the select spirits and the glory of the human race.

Daniel distinguished between the "wise" who "turn many to righteousness" on the one hand and the wicked on the other in Daniel 12:2. He said "none of the wicked shall understand." (Daniel 12:10)

A living sacrifice

Why does John only include those who are beheaded in the first resurrection, in his prophecy in Revelation 20:4?

Revelation 20:4
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Most Christians do not get beheaded, do they? So, will the ones who died of old age, or some other natural cause, get to reign with Christ too? And what about all the martyrs who died by being burned at the stake, but were not beheaded?

The ones who reign with Christ don't worship the beast, and don't worship his image, and do not receive his mark in their foreheads or in their hands, and they get "beheaded" for the witness of Jesus and for his word. Could the "beheading" that John wrote of here be symbolic? Why should it be a literal beheading? All the other things he mentions, about the mark of the beast, and the image of the beast, are obviously mysterious, and symbolic. So, the beheading is likely symbolic too. What could a "beheading" represent?

In Leviticus 1, sacrifices of cattle, and animals of the herd or the flock, or even of pigeons, were beheaded. The head was separated from the body and burned in the fire. Paul wrote that believers should offer themselves as a "living sacrifice."

Romans 12:1
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

So perhaps John was alluding to this. A "sacrifice" involves a "beheading." Paul also wrote that Christians should "mortify" their earthly members.

Colossians 3:4-6
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

He said we need have our minds "renewed."

Ephesians 4:23-25
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

So, could John have referred to our minds being "renewed," when he said those in the first resurrection are "beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God."?

This first resurrection also alludes to Paul's teachings about the meaning of baptism.

Romans 6:4
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

This is what the first resurrection is about!

And the thousand years? Peter explained it.

2 Peter 3:8
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

And David also:

Psalm 90:4
For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

Our Christian life is "reigning with Christ," and is like a "watch in the night."

The promise to those who are in the first resurrection is they will not have to suffer the "second death."

The twelve tribes of Israel identifies the Church

According to Psalm 147, God's word was given only to Israel.

Psalm 147:19-20
He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.
He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.

The scriptures of the NT were not given to those who were Jews after the flesh, but to the Church. Many of the epistles of Paul, for example, were addressed to churches in Gentile lands, consisting of both Jewish and Gentile converts, who had become one in Christ. OTOH, the Jews after the flesh never accepted the NT as holy scripture. This shows the Church is the true Israel.

Jesus said, in John 4:22, "salvation is of the Jews," showing that those who are in his kingdom are "Jews" spiritually.

The Church is called his bride, and so becomes "one" with Christ, who was a Jew.  Paul says in Ephesians 5:30 "we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." If we are of his bones and flesh, how can the Church not be Israel?

The Church is called "the mother of us all," (Galatians 4:26). How could believers not be Israel, if we are her children?

Jesus said his ministry was to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24) Paul showed that the Gentile believers have been "made nigh" to the commonwealth of Israel by the blood of Christ. Thus they inherit all the promises given to Israel, through Christ. (Ephesians 2:11-13)

Denying the Church is the Israel of God deprives Christians of the promises they are entitled to. Those who teach this have the spiritual status of uncircumcised Gentiles. Or else, what does circumcision mean? It distinguishes between Jew and Gentile. Paul called the Church "the circumcision."

Philippians 3:3
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

"The twelve tribes of Israel" is a name that Jesus and the apostles applied to the Church in the NT. There were no longer twelve tribes in a literal sense, as the northern tribes of Israel were taken captive by the Assyrians centuries before, and had become lost to history.

James addressed his epistle to "the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad", but his epistle was meant for the whole Church. (James 1:1)

John identifies the Church with the 12 tribes of the children of Israel in Revelation 7.

Revelation 7:3-4
Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

Jesus said, "when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matthew 19:28)

Peter said Jesus was "raised up" to sit on a throne; he sat down "at God's right hand." See Acts 2:29-36. When was Jesus raised up? Peter said it was when he ascended to the throne of God; Jesus has been raised up to honor, "being by the right hand of God exalted." (Acts 2:33) So at that time, the apostles became the chief ministers of the Church, and sat on their 12 thrones, judging "the 12 tribes of the children of Israel," which refers to the Church of God. They still rule today, through their writings in the NT.

One of the problems with Dispensationalist claims about a future literal restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel, is that the Jewish people do not consist of 12 separate tribes, as ancient Israel did, but over the centuries the Jews have become mixed by intermarriage with Gentile races such as the Khazars, who were apparently of Tartar-Mongol descent, and who converted to Judaism in the eighth or ninth century AD.

"It is likely that the Khazar nation was made up of tribes from various ethnic backgrounds, as steppe nations traditionally absorbed those they conquered."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khazars

The Khazars are known to have intermarried with the Semitic Jews.

REMARKABLY, the Khazars, a people of Turkic origin, converted to the Jewish religion sometime in the 9th century, beginning with the royal house and spreading gradually among the general populace. Judaism is now known to have been more widespread among the Khazar inhabitants of the Khazar kingdom than was previously thought. In 1999, Russian archaeologists announced that they had successfully reconstructed a Khazarian vessel from the Don River region, revealing 4 inscriptions of the word "Israel" in Hebrew lettering. It is now the accepted opinion among most scholars in the field that the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism was widespread, and not limited merely to the royal house and nobility. Ibn al-Faqih, in fact, wrote "All of the Khazars are Jews." Christian of Stavelot wrote in 864 that "all of them profess the Jewish faith in its entirety.
http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Maps/Story800.html

Are the Dispensationalist scholars completely ignorant of the reports of extensive racial mixing that occurred between the Khazars and Semitic Jews? In view of that, how can there literally be 12 separate Jewish tribes in the future? How do they become "unmixed"? It seems like a very tall story indeed!

John 9:39-41
And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

Armies of Gog!

Promoters of Dispensationalism, deny they are part of the "Israel of God." All false teachers are enemies and invaders in Israel's land, who are foretold in the prophecies of Joel, Ezekiel 38, and Zechariah 14. The armies of Gog, described in Ezekiel 38, include horses, which represent those who lack understanding.

Psalm 32:9
Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

Horses have riders, and the invaders have humans, such as J. N. Darby and C. I. Schofield, or their theory of Dispensationalism, as their riders. They look for a carnal, temporal fulfillment of Bible prophecy, alien to the gospel of Christ, which they impose on the scriptures. They seek to make captives of the believers, and snare them in their false doctrines, which is a major factor in the formation of thousands of cults, and sects, and denominations, where Christians are scattered.

Jeremiah 5:8
They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour's wife.

The armies of Gog seek to "take a spoil," Ezekiel says (Ezekiel 38:12). Dispensationalists deprive the people of God of their promises, which they want to apply to the unbelieving Jews! They fulfill the prophecy of Peter, who said false teachers would come, and "through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you." (2 Peter 2:3)

Ezekiel also says they come against the "prophets of Israel." (Ezekiel 38:17) They misinterpret the prophets, and obscure and garble the message of the prophets intended for the Church!

Isaiah 60 and Revelation 21 Compared

Isaiah 60

Revelation 21

Isaiah 60:1
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

Revelation 21:3
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.

Isaiah 60:2
the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

Revelation 21:11
Having the glory of God:

Isaiah 60:3
And the Gentiles shall come to thy light,

Revelation 21:24
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it:

Isaiah 60:5
the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee

Revelation 21:1
there was no more sea.

Isaiah 60:5, 7
the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee ... I will glorify the house of my glory.

Revelation 21:26
And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

Isaiah 60:6
they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.

Revelation 21:21
the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

Isaiah 60:11
Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night;

Revelation 21:25
And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day:

Isaiah 60:12
the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.

Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Isaiah 60:14
they shall call thee; The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

Revelation 21:10
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem,

Isaiah 60:16
thou shalt know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.

Revelation 21:6
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Isaiah 60:18
Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders;

Revelation 21:27
And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Isaiah 60:18
thou shalt call thy walls Salvation ...

Revelation 21:24
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it:

Isaiah 60:18
and thy gates Praise.

Revelation 21:12, 21
And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel ... And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl:

Isaiah 60:19
The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee:

Revelation 21:23
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it:

Isaiah 60:20
Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself:

Revelation 21:25
there shall be no night there.

Isaiah 60:20
the LORD shall be thine everlasting light,

Revelation 21:23
the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

Isaiah 60:20
the days of thy mourning shall be ended.

Revelation 21:4
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:

Isaiah 60:21
Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever

Revelation 21:27
And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.


Copyright © 2010 by Douglas E. Cox
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