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Category Archives: Eschatology (The Study of Last Things)

COMPARING COVENANT THEOLOGY & DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY

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An Overview of Covenant Theology: 

  • Covenant theology centers on one overall covenant known as the covenant of grace. Some have called it the covenant of redemption. This is defined by many as an eternal covenant  among the members of the Godhead including the following elements: (1) the Father chose a people to be His own; (2) The Son was designated, with his agreement, to the pay the penalty of their sin; and (3) the Holy Spirit was designated, with His agreement, to apply the work of the Son to this chosen people.
  • This covenant of grace is being worked out in history on earth through subordinate covenants, beginning with the covenant of works and culminating in the new covenant, which fulfills and completes God’s work of grace to man on earth. These covenants include the Adamic covenant, Noahic covenant, Abrahamic covenant, Mosaic covenant, Davidic covenant, and new covenant.
  • Covenant theology does not see each covenant as separate and distinct. Instead, each covenant builds on the previous ones, including aspects of the previous ones, including aspects of the previous covenants and culminating in the new covenant.

An Overview of Dispensational Theology:

  • Dispensational theology looks on the world and history of mankind as a household over which God is superintending the outworking of His will. This outworking of His purpose and will can be seen be noting the various periods or stages of different economies whereby God deals with His work and mankind in particular. These various stages or economies are called dispensations. Their number may include seven: innocence, conscience, human government, promise, law, grace, and kingdom.

God’s People in Covenant Theology:

  • God has one people, represented by the saints in the OT and the saints of the NT era.

God’s People in Dispensational Theology:

  • God has two peoples—Israel and the church. Israel is an earthly people, and the church is a heavenly people.

God’s Plan for His People in Covenant Theology:

  • God has one people—the church—for whom He has one plan, in all ages since Adam: to call out this people into one body, in both the Old and New Testament ages.

God’s Plan for His People Dispensational Theology:

  • God has two separate peoples—Israel and the church—and also has two separate plans for these two distinct peoples. He plans an earthly kingdom for Israel. This kingdom has been postponed until Christ’s coming in power since Israel rejected it at  Christ’s first coming. During the church age God is calling out a heavenly people. Dispensationalists disagree over whether the two peoples will remain distinct in the eternal state.

God’s Plan of Salvation in Covenant Theology:

  • God has one plan of salvation for all his people since the time of Adam. The plan is one of grace, being an outworking of the eternal covenant of grace, and comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

God’s Plan of Salvation in Dispensational Theology:

  • God has only one plan of salvation, though this has often been misunderstood because of inexactness in some dispensational writings. Some have wrongly taught or understood that OT believers were saved by works and sacrifices. However, most have believed that salvation has always been by grace through faith, but that the content of faith may vary until the full revelation of God in Christ.

Eternal Destiny for God’s People in Covenant Theology:

  • God has but one place for His people, since He has but one people, one plan for His people, and one plan of salvation. His people will be in His presence for eternity.

Eternal Destiny for God’s People in Dispensational Theology:

  • There is disagreement among dispensationalists regarding the future states of Israel and the church. Many believe that the church will sit with Christ on His throne in the New Jerusalem during the Millennium as He rules over the nations, while Israel will be the head of the nations of the earth.

The Birth of the Church in Covenant Theology:

  • The church existed prior to the NT era, including all the redeemed since Adam. Pentecost was not the beginning of the church but rather the empowering of the NT manifestation of God’s people.

The Birth of the Church in Dispensational Theology:

  • The church was born on the Day of Pentecost and did not exist in history until that time. The church, the body of Christ, is not found in the Old Testament, and saints are not part of the body of Christ.

The Purpose of Christ’s First Coming in Covenant Theology:

  • Christ came to die for our sins and to establish the New Israel, the NT manifestation of the church. This continuation of God’s plan placed the church under a new manifestation of the same covenant of grace. The kingdom that Jesus offered was the present, spiritual, and invisible kingdom.
  • Some covenantalists (especially postmillennialists) also see a physical aspect to the kingdom.

The Purpose of Christ’s First Coming in Dispensational Theology:

  • Christ came to establish the messianic kingdom. Some dispensationalists believe that this was to be an earthly kingdom in fulfillment of the OT promises to Israel. If the Jews had accepted Jesus’ offer, this earthly kingdom would have been established immediately. Other dispensationalists believe that Christ did establish the kingdom in some form, in which the church participates, but the earthly kingdom awaits the second coming of Christ to the earth. Christ always intended the cross before the crown.

The Fulfillment of the New Covenant in Covenant Theology:

  • The promises of the new covenant mentioned in Jeremiah 31:31ff (verses 31-34, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”) are fulfilled in the NT.

The Fulfillment of the New Covenant in Dispensational Theology:

  • Dispensationalists differ over whether only Israel is to participate in the new covenant, at a later time, or whether both the church and Israel participate jointly. Some dispensationalists believe there is one new covenant with two applications: one for Israel and one for the church. Others believe that there are two new covenants: one for Israel and another for the church

How The Millennium is Viewed in Covenant Theology:

  • Historically, covenant theology has been either amillennial, believing the kingdom to be present and spiritual, or postmillennial, believing the kingdom is being established on earth with Christ’s coming as the culmination. In recent years some covenant theologians have been premillennial, believing that there will be a future manifestation of God’s kingdom on earth (Historic Premillennialism). However, God’s dealings with Israel will be in connection with the church. Postmillennialists believe that the church is bringing the kingdom now, with Israel ultimately to be made a part of the church.

How The Millennium is Viewed in Dispensational Theology:

  • All dispensationalists are premillennialists, though not necessarily pretribulationalists. Premillennialists of this type believe that God will again turn to the nation of Israel, apart from His work with the church, and that there will be a 1,000-year period of Christ’s reign on David’s throne in accordance with and in fulfillment of the prophecies of the OT.

How The Second Coming is Viewed in Covenant Theology:

  • Christ’s coming will be to bring final judgment and the eternal state. Those who are premillennial assert that a millennial period will precede the judgment and eternal state. Postmillennialists believe that the kingdom is being established by the work of God’s people on the earth until the time when Christ will bring it to completion at His coming.

How The Second Coming is Viewed in Dispensational Theology:

  • Most dispensationalists believe the Rapture will occur first, then a tribulation period followed by the Second Coming of Christ with the saints and a 1,000-year reign of Christ, after which there will be a judgment and the eternal state.

*This chart represents traditional views and is based on the study of Richard P. Belcher, A Comparison of Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology (Columbia, SC: Richbarry Press, 1986).

 

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COVENANT, DISPENSATIONAL, & REVELATORY THEOLOGICAL SYSTEMS COMPARED

A CHART COMPARING DISPENSATIONAL & COVENANTAL SYSTEMS

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Pattern of History:

Covenant Theology: Covenant of Works with Adam; Covenant of Grace with Christ on behalf of the elect (some distinguish between the covenant of Redemption with Christ and the covenant of grace with the elect).

Classical Dispensationalism: Divided into dispensations (usually seven); e.g., (1) Innocence (pre-fall), (2) Conscience (Adam), (3) Human Government (Noah), (4) Promise (Abraham), (5) Law (Moses), (6) Grace (Christ’s First Coming), (7) Kingdom (Christ’s Second Coming).

Progressive Dispensationalism: Divided into dispensations, of which four are prominent: (1) Patriarchal (Promise); (2) Mosaic (Law); (3) Ecclesial (Church); (4) Zionic (Millennium, the New Heavens and New Earth).

Revelatory View: Revelation and election initiatives succeeded by human failure to respond appropriately. Periods of transition then lead to further initiatives.

God’s Purpose in History:

Covenant Theology: There is a unified redemptive purpose.

Classical Dispensationalism: There are two distinct purposes, one earthly (Israel), one heavenly (church).

Progressive Dispensationalism: To manifest His glory in a progressive redemption that covers every sphere of creation and every structure of human relationship.

Revelatory View: The objective of self-revelation is pursued culminating in the revelation of a plan of salvation, whereby the goal of relationship may be achieved. It is a unified purpose, but not soteric throughout.

View of Biblical Covenants:

Covenant Theology: They are different administrations of the Covenant of Grace. Temporal promises are conditional and applicable to the church.

Classical Dispensationalism: They mark of periods of time during which God’s specific demands of people differ. Temporal promises are unconditional and are applicable to ethnic Israel.

Progressive Dispensationalism: The biblical covenants of promise (Abrahamic, Davidic, and New) are made originally to His people, Israel. Believing gentiles are included through Christ, who is the means of blessing for all who believe. All covenants have an “already-not-yet” structure.

Revelatory View: There are revelatory initiatives facilitated through various types of election. Temporal promises are conditional but remain applicable to ethnic Israel. The covenant is characteristically redemptive; ultimately soteric; but essentially revelatory.

Relationship of the OT Law to the NT:

Covenant Theology: Acceptance of OT teaching required unless specifically abrogated  by the NT.

Classical Dispensationalism: OT prescriptions are not binding unless they are reaffirmed in the NT.

Progressive Dispensationalism: Individual aspects of the Law are assessed canonically on a case-by-case basis. Christ completes and fulfills the law.

Revelatory View: OT legal passages function within the covenant serving a revelatory purpose that continues to be relevant. The law of Christ has been superimposed on the law of Moses.

Relationship Between Israel and the Church:

Covenant Theology: The church is spiritual Israel, in continuity with true Israel of the OT.

Classical Dispensationalism: The church is the spiritual people of God, distinct from Israel, the physical people of God.

Progressive Dispensationalism: Church = the unified community that receives God’s spiritual blessings in Christ. Israel = the national and political community in the midst of nations that ultimately will be blessed fully by God. Ultimately united in redemption.

Revelatory View: The Church is the people of God defined soteriologically. Israel, previously the revelatory people of God, now may cross over and become a subset of the soteriological people of God (now that their revelatory function is complete) if they respond by faith to the plan of salvation.

Old Testament Prophecy:

Covenant Theology: Refers to God’s people, the church.

Classical Dispensationalism: Refers to ethnic Israel.

Progressive Dispensationalism: Fulness of blessing to be given to believing Israel (and those in the nations who believe) in the final dispensation.

Revelatory View: Refers to ethnic Israel but conditional upon their faithful response.

Church Age:

Covenant Theology: God’s redemptive purpose continued to unfold.

Classical Dispensationalism: There is a parenthesis between past and future manifestations of the kingdom.

Progressive Dispensationalism: From Pentecost to the rapture, a phase in the progressive outworking of God’s wholistic redemption. It is not a parenthesis in the kingdom program.

Revelatory View: The period begun when the people of God are defined soteriologically as a result of God’s plan of salvation being reveled.

*Chart adapted from John H. Walton. Covenant: God’s Purpose, God’s Plan. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994. John H. Walton has proposed the “Revelatory View.”

 

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Will Everyone Go To Heaven?

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Varieties of Universalism

(1) Universal Reconciliation (The View of some Barthians – followers of Karl Barth): Maintains that Christ’s death accomplished its purpose of reconciling all mankind to God. Whatever separation exists between man and the benefits of God’s grace is subjective in nature, existing only in man’s mind. Reconciliation is an accomplished fact.

(2) Universal Pardon (The View of C.H. Dodd): Maintains that God, being loving, will not hold unswervingly to the conditions he has laid down. Though threatening eternal punishment he will in the end relent and forgive everyone. God will treat all persons as if they had believed.

(3) Universal Restoration (The View of Origen): At some point in the future all things will be restored to their original and intended state. Full salvation may be preceded by cycles of reincarnation or by some purgatorial period at the beginning of the life hereafter.

(4) The Doctrine of a Second Chance: The work of Christ is sufficient to secure the salvation of the elect, but salvation is effectually secured by the means of faith (Romans 10:10-13, “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”). All people, even those who have heard and rejected, will be confronted with the claims of Christ in the life to come. Everyone given such an opportunity will of course accept it.

(5) Universal Temporal Blessings: The natural benefits of the world are also enjoyed by everyone. These benefits include sunshine, rain, good health, etc., and are a result of God’s common grace. These things are given from God because of his character.

Arguments For and Against Universalism

(1a. For) It is ridiculous to think that a living, all-powerful, and sovereign God could create a system whereby a portion of mankind (the epitome of his creation) would be condemned to everlasting punishment.

(1b. Against) God will not do anything that contradicts any of his attributes. hence in order to harmonize his perfect love and perfect justice, he devised the biblically explained system of redemption. We must accept the biblical record, not our own finite reasoning.

(2a. For) To condemn the unsaved to everlasting punishment as a result of a relatively short life span on earth is unjust.

(2b. Against) God is the final standard of justice, not man.

(3a. For) If an all-powerful sovereign God desires all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” and 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”), then surely all are saved.

(3b. Against) The Timothy and Peter passages in their context refer to all kinds of people and to “all” the elect in their contexts. Although God desires salvation for all mankind (specifically the elect) a person must respond to God’s offer of salvation and many do not (John 5:40, “yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” & Matthew 7:14, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

(4a. For) Christ’s death has acquitted all mankind of their condemnation before God, just as Adam brought the entire human race into sin (Romans 5:18, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” & 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”

(4b. Against) The context of both of these passages clearly shows that the benefits of Christ’s death are for those “in Christ,” just as the penalties of Adam’s sin are for those “in Adam.”

(5a. For) The theme of the New Testament is the of God’s sovereign love. If his love is sovereign, it must be completely victorious. To say that God’s love is not adequate to secure the salvation of all mankind in the end presumes a finite God.

(5b. Against) Agreed, God has infinite love, but he also has justice and holiness. He has already devised a plan consistent with all his infinite attributes. It is up to man to accept God’s plan, instead of devising his own plan and calling God unjust if he does not accept it.

(6a. For) Christ paid the penalty of sin on behalf of all mankind (Hebrews 2:9, “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”), and legally, if such as adequate substitution is made and accepted, it is unjust for the creditor to require the original payment also.

(6b. Against) The substitutionary death of Christ was sufficient for the salvation of all (efficient only for the elect); however, each person must believe in order for it to be effectual on his behalf (2 Corinthians 5:19-20, “that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”).

(7a. For) God’s all-encompassing attribute is love. His judgment is only a temporary measure to reform unrepentant persons, and hence is itself motivated by love. Ultimately all people will be reformed, whether in this life or in the after-life, and hence ultimately all will be saved.

(7b. Against) Scripture never refers to the abode of unbelievers after death as a place of reformation. It is always referred to as a place of destruction and punishment (Matthew 25:46, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” & John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”). The only reference to any encounter of Christ with unbelievers after their death is 1 Peter 3:19, and this passage is applicable only to unbelievers in Noah’s day.

(8a. For) Ultimately all mankind will believe, whether in this life or the hereafter (Philippians 2:10-11, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” & 1 Peter 3:19-20, “in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.”).

(8b. Against) Contextually both of these passages do not prove the point from the context. The words of Jesus indicate clearly that some go to eternal life and others go to eternal punishment. Matthew 7:21-23,“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ &  John 3:18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” & Matthew 25:46, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” In this passage from Matthew the word for eternal is aionos, meaning “relating to the final order of things which will not pass away.”

(9a. For) Many will not believe in this life, but the after-life offers a second chance.

(9b. Against) The constant scriptural references to “saving faith” clearly indicate that some will NOT believe (John 1:11-12, “[Jesus] He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,”;  & John 20:31, “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

(10a. For) Warnings of lostness are merely hypothetical and constitute one of the ways in which God secures the universal salvation of all mankind.

(10b. Against) Christ and the apostles were constantly warning people of God’s wrath and judgment on sin and urgently calling them to repentance. Hence, if universalism is true, Christ and the apostles were either ignorant or grossly deceptive. Other Scriptures points to the punishment of the non-elect (Romans 9:22, “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.” & 2 Thessalonians 1:9, “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” & Revelation 21:8, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Some of the material above adapted from H. Wayne House, Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.

 

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354 Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ

“Behold, I have come: in the volume of the scroll it is written of me” (Psalm 40:7).

“The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).

“…all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Jesus Christ, Luke 24:44).

“For if you believed Moses, you would have believed me: for he wrote of me.” (Jesus Christ, John 5:46).

“To Him give all the prophets witness” (Acts 10:43).

Scripture/ Prophecy/ Fulfillment

1. Gen. 3:15 – Seed of a woman (virgin birth)-  Gal. 4:4-5, Matt. 1:18

2. Gen. 3:15 – He will bruise Satan’s head – Heb. 2:14, 1 Jn 3:8

3. Gen. 3:15 – Christ’s heel would be bruised with nails on the cross – Matt. 27:35, Lk 24:39-40

4. Gen. 5:24 – The bodily ascension to heaven illustrated – Mark 16:19

5. Gen. 9:26, 27 – The God of Shem will be the Son of Shem – Luke 3:36

6. Gen. 12:3 – Seed of Abraham will bless all nations – Gal. 3:8, Acts 3:25, 26

7. Gen. 12:7 – The Promise made to Abraham’s Seed – Galatians 3:16

8. Gen. 14:18 – A priest after the order of Melchizedek – Hebrews 6:20

9. Gen. 14:18 – King of Peace and Righteousness – Hebrews 7:2

10. Gen. 14:18 – The Last Supper foreshadowed – Matthew 26:26-29

11. Gen. 17:19 – Seed of Isaac (Gen. 21:12) – Romans 9:7

12. Gen. 22:8 – The Lamb of God promised – John 1:29

13. Gen. 22:18 – As Isaac’s seed, will bless all nations – Galatians 3:16

14. Gen. 26:2-5 – The Seed of Isaac promised as the Redeemer – Hebrews 11:18

15. Gen. 28:12 –  The Bridge to heaven – John 1:51

16. Gen. 28:14 – The Seed of Jacob – Luke 3:34

17. Gen. 49:10 – The time of His coming – Luke 2:1-7; Galatians 4:4

18. Gen. 49:10 – The Seed of Judah – Luke 3:33

19. Gen. 49:10 – Called Shiloh or One Sent – John 17:3

20. Gen. 49:10 – Messiah to come before Judah lost identity – John 11:47-52

21. Gen. 49:10 – Unto Him shall the obedience of the people be – John 10:16

22. Ex. 3:13-15 – The Great “I AM” – John 4:26, 8:58

23. Ex. 12:3-6 – The Lamb presented to Israel 4 days before Passover – Mark 11:7-11

24. Ex. 12:5 – A Lamb without blemish – Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19

25. Ex. 12:13 – The blood of the Lamb saves from wrath – Romans 5:8

26. Ex. 12:21-27 – Christ is our Passover – 1 Corinthians 5:7

27. Ex. 12:46 – Not a bone of the Lamb to be broken – John 19:31-36

28. Ex. 15:2 – His exaltation predicted as Yeshua – Acts 7:55, 56

29. Ex. 15:11 – His Character-Holiness – Luke 1:35; Acts 4:27

30. Ex. 17:6 – The Spiritual Rock of Israel – 1 Corinthians 10:4

31. Ex. 33:19 – His Character-Merciful – Luke 1:72

32. Lev. 1:2-9 – His sacrifice a sweet smelling savor unto God – Eph. 5:2

33. Lev. 14:11 – The leper cleansed-Sign to priesthood – Luke 5:12-14; Acts 6:7

34. Lev. 16:15-17 – Prefigures Christ’s once-for-all death – Hebrews 9:7-14

35. Lev. 16:27 – Suffering outside the Camp – Matthew 27:33; Heb. 13:11, 12

36. Lev. 17:11 – The Blood-the life of the flesh – Matthew 26:28; Mark 10:45

37. Lev. 17:11 – It is the blood that makes atonement – Rom. 3:23-24; 1John 1:7

38. Lev. 23:36-37 – The Drink-offering: “If any man thirst”-  John 7:37

39. Num. 9:12 – Not a bone of Him broken – John 19:31-36

40. Num. 21:9 – The serpent on a pole-Christ lifted up – John 3:14-18, 12:32

41. Num. 24:17 –  Time: “I shall see him, but not now.”-  John 1:14; Galatians 4:4

42. Deut. 18:15 – “This is of a truth that prophet.” – John 6:14

43. Deut. 18:15-16 – “Had ye believed Moses, ye would believe me.” – John 5:45-47

44. Deut. 18:18 – Sent by the Father to speak His word – John 8:28, 29

45. Deut. 18:19 – Whoever will not hear must bear his sin – Acts 3:22-23

46. Deut. 21:23 – Cursed is he that hangs on a tree – Galatians 3:10-13

47. Joshua 5:14-15 – The Captain of our salvation – Hebrews 2:10

48. Ruth 4:4-10 – Christ, our kinsman, has redeemed us – Ephesians 1:3-7

49. 1 Sam. 2:35 – A Faithful Priest – Heb. 2:17, 3:1-3, 6, 7:24-25

50. 1 Sam. 2:10 – Shall be an anointed King to the Lord – Mt. 28:18, John 12:15

51. 2 Sam. 7:12 – David’s Seed – Matthew 1:1

52. 2 Sam. 7:13 – His Kingdom is everlasting – 2 Peter 1:11

53. 2 Sam. 7:14a – The Son of God – Luke 1:32, Romans 1:3-4

54. 2 Sam. 7:16 –  David’s house established forever – Luke 3:31; Rev. 22:16

55. 2 Ki. 2:11 – The bodily ascension to heaven illustrated – Luke 24:51

56. 1 Chr. 17:11 – David’s Seed – Matthew 1:1, 9:27

57. 1 Chr. 17:12-13 – To reign on David’s throne forever – Luke 1:32, 33

58. 1 Chr. 17:13 – “I will be His Father, He…my Son.” – Hebrews 1:5

59. Job 9:32-33 – Mediator between man and God – 1 Timothy 2:5

60. Job 19:23-27 – The Resurrection predicted – John 5:24-29

61. Psa. 2:1-3 – The enmity of kings foreordained – Acts 4:25-28

62. Psa. 2:2 – To own the title, Anointed (Christ) – Jn. 1:41, Acts 2:36

63. Psa. 2:6 – His Character-Holiness – John 8:46; Revelation 3:7

64. Psa. 2:6 – To own the title King – Matthew 2:2

65. Psa. 2:7 – Declared the Beloved Son – Matthew 3:17, Romans 1:4

66. Psa. 2:7, 8 The Crucifixion and Resurrection intimated Acts 13:29-33

67. Psa. 2:8, 9 – Rule the nations with a rod of iron – Rev. 2:27, 12:5, 19:15

68. Psa. 2:12 – Life comes through faith in Him – John 20:31

69. Psa. 8:2 – The mouths of babes perfect His praise – Matthew 21:16

70. Psa. 8:5, 6 – His humiliation and exaltation – Hebrews 2:5-9

71. Psa. 9:7-10 – Judge the world in righteousness – Acts 17:31

72. Psa. 16:10 – Was not to see corruption – Acts 2:31, 13:35

73. Psa. 16:9-11 – Was to arise from the dead – John 20:9

74. Psa. 17:15 – The resurrection predicted – Luke 24:6

75. Psa. 18:2-3 – The horn of salvation – Luke 1:69-71

76. Psa. 22:1 – Forsaken because of sins of others – 2 Corinthians 5:21

77. Psa. 22:1 – “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46

78. Psa. 22:2 – Darkness upon Calvary for three hours – Matthew 27:45

79. Psa. 22:7 – They shoot out the lip and shake the head – Matthew 27:39-44

80. Psa. 22:8 – “He trusted in God, let Him deliver Him” – Matthew 27:43

81. Psa. 22:9-10 – Born the Savior – Luke 2:7

82. Psa. 22:12-13 – They seek His death – John 19:6

83. Psa. 22:14 – His blood poured out when they pierced His side – John 19:34

84. Psa. 22:14, 15 – Suffered agony on Calvary – Mark 15:34-37

85. Psa. 22:15 – He thirsted – John 19:28

86. Psa. 22:16 – They pierced His hands and His feet – John 19:34, 37; 20:27

87. Psa. 22:17, 18 – Stripped Him before the stares of men – Luke 23:34, 35

88. Psa. 22:18 – They parted His garments – John 19:23, 24

89. Psa. 22:20, 21 – He committed Himself to God – Luke 23:46

90. Psa. 22:20, 21 – Satanic power bruising the Redeemer’s heel – Hebrews 2:14

91. Psa. 22:22 – His Resurrection declared – John 20:17

92. Psa. 22:27-28 – He shall be the governor of the nations – Col. 1:16

93. Psa. 22:31 – “It is finished” – John 19:30, Heb. 10:10, 12, 14, 18

94. Psa. 23:1 – “I am the Good Shepherd” – John 10:11, 1 Peter 2:25

95. Psa. 24:3 – His exaltation predicted – Acts 1:11; Philippians 2:9

96. Psa. 30:3 – His resurrection predicted – Acts 2:32

97. Psa. 31:5 – “Into thy hands I commit my spirit” – Luke 23:46

98. Psa. 31:11 – His acquaintances fled from Him – Mark 14:50

99. Psa. 31:13 – They took counsel to put Him to death – Mt. 27:1, John 11:53

100. Psa. 31:14, 15 – “He trusted in God, let Him deliver him” – Matthew 27:43

101. Psa. 34:20 – Not a bone of Him broken – John 19:31-36

102. Psa. 35:11 – False witnesses rose up against Him – Matthew 26:59

103. Psa. 35:19 – He was hated without a cause – John 15:25

104. Psa. 38:11 – His friends stood afar off – Luke 23:49

105. Psa. 38:12 – Enemies try to entangle Him by craft – Mark 14:1, Mt. 22:15

106. Psa. 38:12-13 – Silent before His accusers – Matthew 27:12-14

107. Psa. 38:20 – He went about doing good – Acts 10:38

108. Psa. 40:2-5 – The joy of His resurrection predicted – John 20:20

109. Psa. 40:6-8 – His delight-the will of the Father – John 4:34, Heb. 10:5-10

110. Psa. 40:9 – He was to preach the Righteousness in Israel – Matt. 4:17

111. Psa. 40:14 – Confronted by adversaries in the Garden – John 18:4-6

112. Psa. 41:9 – Betrayed by a familiar friend – John 13:18

113. Psa. 45:2 – Words of Grace come from His lips – John 1:17, Luke 4:22

114. Psa. 45:6 – To own the title, God or Elohim – Hebrews 1:8

115. Psa. 45:7 – A special anointing by the Holy Spirit – Mt. 3:16; Heb. 1:9

116. Psa. 45:7, 8 – Called the Christ (Messiah or Anointed) – Luke 2:11

117. Psa. 45:17 – His name remembered forever – Eph. 1:20-21, Heb. 1:8

118. Psa. 55:12-14 – Betrayed by a friend, not an enemy – John 13:18

119. Psa. 55:15 – Unrepentant death of the Betrayer – Matt. 27:3-5; Acts 1:16-19

120. Psa. 68:18 – To give gifts to men – Ephesians 4:7-16

121. Psa. 68:18 – Ascended into Heaven – Luke 24:51

122. Psa. 69:4 – Hated without a cause – John 15:25

123. Psa. 69:8 – A stranger to own brethren – John 1:11, 7:5

124. Psa. 69:9 – Zealous for the Lord’s House – John 2:17

125. Psa. 69:14-20 – Messiah’s anguish of soul before crucifixion -Matthew 26:36-45

126. Psa. 69:20 – “My soul is exceeding sorrowful.” – Matthew 26:38

127. Psa. 69:21 – Given vinegar in thirst – Matthew 27:34

128. Psa. 69:26 – The Savior given and smitten by God – John 17:4; 18:11

129. Psa. 72:10, 11 – Great persons were to visit Him – Matthew 2:1-11

130. Psa. 72:16 -The corn of wheat to fall into the Ground –  John 12:24-25

131. Psa. 72:17 – Belief on His name will produce offspring – John 1:12, 13

132. Psa. 72:17 – All nations shall be blessed by Him – Galatians 3:8

133. Psa. 72:17 – All nations shall call Him blessed – John 12:13, Rev. 5:8-12

134. Psa. 78:1-2 – He would teach in parables – Matthew 13:34-35

135. Psa. 78:2b – To speak the Wisdom of God with authority – Matt. 7:29

136. Psa. 80:17 – The Man of God’s right hand – Mark 14:61-62

137. Psa. 88 – The Suffering and Reproach of Calvary – Matthew 27:26-50

138. Psa. 88:8 – They stood afar off and watched – Luke 23:49

139. Psa. 89:27 – Firstborn – Colossians 1:15, 18

140. Psa. 89:27 – Emmanuel to be higher than earthly kings – Luke 1:32, 33

141. Psa. 89:35-37 – David’s Seed, throne, kingdom endure forever – Luke 1:32, 33

142. Psa. 89:36-37 – His character-Faithfulness – Revelation 1:5, 19:11

143. Psa. 90:2 – He is from everlasting – (Micah 5:2) John 1:1

144. Psa. 91:11, 12 – Identified as Messianic; used to tempt Christ – Luke 4:10, 11

145. Psa. 97:9 – His exaltation predicted – Acts 1:11; Ephesians 1:20

146. Psa. 100:5 – His character-Goodness – Matthew 19:16, 17

147. Psa. 102:1-11 – The Suffering and Reproach of Calvary – John 19:16-30

148. Psa. 102:25-27 – Messiah is the Preexistent Son – Hebrews 1:10-12

149. Psa. 109:25 – Ridiculed – Matthew 27:39

150. Psa. 110:1 – Son of David – Matthew 22:42-43

151. Psa. 110:1 – To ascend to the right-hand of the Father – Mark 16:19

152. Psa. 110:1 – David’s son called Lord – Matthew 22:44, 45

153. Psa. 110:4 – A priest after Melchizedek’s order – Hebrews 6:20

154. Psa. 112:4 – His character-Compassionate, Gracious, et al – Matt. 9:36

155. Psa. 118:17, 18 – Messiah’s Resurrection assured – Luke 24:5-7; 1Cor. 15:20

156. Psa. 118:22, 23 – The rejected stone is Head of the corner – Matt. 21:42, 43

157. Psa. 118:26a – The Blessed One presented to Israel – Matthew 21:9

158. Psa. 118:26b – To come while Temple standing – Matthew 21:12-15

159. Psa. 132:11 – The Seed of David (the fruit of His Body) – Luke 1:32, Act 2:30

160. Psa. 129:3 – He was scourged – Matthew 27:26

161. Psa. 138:1-6 – The supremacy of David’s Seed amazes kings – Matt. 2:2-6

162. Psa. 147:3, 6 – The earthly ministry of Christ described – Luke 4:18

163. Prov. 1:23 – He will send the Spirit of God – John 16:7

164. Prov. 8:23 – Foreordained from everlasting – Rev. 13:8, 1Peter 1:19-20

165. Song. 5:16 – The altogether lovely One – John 1:17

166. Isa. 2:3 – He shall teach all nations – John 4:25

167. Isa. 2:4 – He shall judge among the nations – John 5:22

168. Isa. 6:1 – When Isaiah saw His glory – John 12:40-41

169. Isa. 6:8 – The One Sent by God – John 12:38-45

170. Isa. 6:9-10 – Parables fall on deaf ears – Matthew 13:13-15

171. Isa. 6:9-12 – Blinded to Christ and deaf to His words – Acts 28:23-29

172. Isa. 7:14 – To be born of a virgin – Luke 1:35

173. Isa. 7:14 – To be Emmanuel-God with us – Matthew 1:18-23, 1Tim. 3:16

174. Isa. 8:8 – Called Emmanuel – Matthew 28:20

175. Isa. 8:14 – A stone of stumbling, a Rock of offense – 1 Peter 2:8

176. Isa. 9:1, 2 – His ministry to begin in Galilee – Matthew 4:12-17

177. Isa. 9:6 – A child born-Humanity – Luke 1:31

178. Isa. 9:6 – A Son given-Deity – Luke 1:32, John 1:14, 1Tim. 3:16

179. Isa. 9:6 – Declared to be the Son of God with power – Romans 1:3, 4

180. Isa. 9:6 – The Wonderful One, Peleh – Luke 4:22

181. Isa. 9:6 – The Counsellor, Yaatz – Matthew 13:54

182. Isa. 9:6 – The Mighty God, El Gibor – 1 Cor. 1:24, Titus 2:3

183. Isa. 9:6 – The Everlasting Father, Avi Adth – John 8:58, 10:30

184. Isa. 9:6 – The Prince of Peace, Sar Shalom – John 16:33

185. Isa. 9:7 – To establish an everlasting kingdom – Luke 1:32-33

186. Isa. 9:7 – His Character-Just – John 5:30

187. Isa. 9:7 – No end to his Government, Throne, and Peace – Luke 1:32-33

188. Isa. 11:1 – Called a Nazarene-the Branch, Netzer – Matthew 2:23

189. Isa. 11:1 – A rod out of Jesse-Son of Jesse – Luke 3:23, 32

190. Isa. 11:2 – Anointed One by the Spirit – Matthew 3:16, 17, Acts 10:38

191. Isa. 11:2 – His Character-Wisdom, Knowledge, et al – Colossians 2:3

192. Isa. 11:3 – He would know their thoughts – Luke 6:8, John 2:25

193. Isa. 11:4 – Judge in righteousness – Acts 17:31

194. Isa. 11:4 – Judges with the sword of His mouth – Rev. 2:16, 19:11, 15

195. Isa. 11:5 – Character: Righteous & Faithful – Rev. 19:11

196. Isa. 11:10 – The Gentiles seek Him – John 12:18-21

197. Isa. 12:2 – Called Jesus-Yeshua – Matthew 1:21

198. Isa. 22:22 – The One given all authority to govern – Revelation 3:7

199. Isa. 25:8 – The Resurrection predicted – 1 Corinthians 15:54

200. Isa. 26:19 – His power of Resurrection predicted – Matthew 27:50-54

201. Isa. 28:16 – The Messiah is the precious corner stone – Acts 4:11, 12

202. Isa. 28:16 – The Sure Foundation – 1 Corinthians 3:11, Mt. 16:18

203. Isa. 29:13 – He indicated hypocritical obedience to His Word – Matt. 15:7-9

204. Isa. 29:14 – The wise are confounded by the Word – 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

205. Isa. 32:2 – A Refuge-A man shall be a hiding place – Matthew 23:37

206. Isa. 35:4 – He will come and save you  -Matthew 1:21

207. Isa. 35:5-6 – To have a ministry of miracles – Matthew 11:2-6

208. Isa. 40:3, 4 – Preceded by forerunner – John 1:23

209. Isa. 40:9 – “Behold your God.” – John 1:36; 19:14

210. Isa. 40:10 – He will come to reward – Revelation 22:12

211. Isa. 40:11 – A shepherd-compassionate life-giver – John 10:10-18

212. Isa. 42:1-4 – The Servant-as a faithful, patient redeemer – Matthew 12:18-21

213. Isa. 42:2 – Meek and lowly – Matthew 11:28-30

214. Isa. 42:3 – He brings hope for the hopeless – John 4

215. Isa. 42:4 – The nations shall wait on His teachings – John 12:20-26

216. Isa. 42:6 – The Light (salvation) of the Gentiles -Luke 2:32

217. Isa. 42:1, 6 – His is a worldwide compassion – Matthew 28:19, 20

218. Isa. 42:7 – Blind eyes opened -John 9:25-38

219. Isa. 43:11 – He is the only Savior – Acts 4:12

220. Isa. 44:3 – He will send the Spirit of God – John 16:7, 13

221. Isa. 45:21-25 – He is Lord and Saviour – Philippians 3:20, Titus 2:13

222. Isa. 45:23 – He will be the Judge – John 5:22; Romans 14:11

223. Isa. 46:9, 10 – Declares things not yet done – John 13:19

224. Isa. 48:12 – The First and the Last John 1:30, – Revelation 1:8, 17

225. Isa. 48:16, 17 – He came as a Teacher – John 3:2

226. Isa. 49:1 – Called from the womb-His humanity – Matthew 1:18

227. Isa. 49:5 – A Servant from the womb – Luke 1:31, Philippians 2:7

228. Isa. 49:6 – He will restore Israel – Acts 3:19-21, 15:16-17

229. Isa. 49:6 – He is Salvation for Israel – Luke 2:29-32

230. Isa. 49:6 – He is the Light of the Gentiles – John 8:12, Acts 13:47

231. Isa. 49:6 – He is Salvation unto the ends of the earth – Acts 15:7-18

232. Isa. 49:7 – He is despised of the Nation – John 1:11, 8:48-49, 19:14-15

233. Isa. 50:3 – Heaven is clothed in black at His humiliation – Luke 23:44, 45

234. Isa. 50:4 – He is a learned counselor for the weary – Matthew 7:29, 11:28, 29

235. Isa. 50:5 – The Servant bound willingly to obedience – Matthew 26:39

236. Isa. 50:6a – “I gave my back to the smiters.” – Matthew 27:26

237. Isa. 50:6b – He was smitten on the cheeks – Matthew 26:67

238. Isa. 50:6c – He was spat upon – Matthew 27:30

239. Isa. 52:7 – Published good tidings upon mountains  – Matt. 5:12,15:29, 28:16

240. Isa. 52:13 The Servant exalted Acts 1:8-11; Eph. 1:19-22, Php. 2:5-9

241. Isa. 52:14 The Servant shockingly abused Luke 18:31-34; Mt. 26:67, 68

242. Isa. 52:15n – Nations startled by message of the Servant – LK 18:31-34; Mt. 26:68

243. Isa. 52:15 – His blood shed sprinkles nations – Hebrews 9:13-14, Rev. 1:5

244. Isa. 53:1 – His people would not believe Him – John 12:37-38

245. Isa. 53:2 – Appearance of an ordinary man – Philippians 2:6-8

246. Isa. 53:3a – Despised – Luke 4:28-29

247. Isa. 53:3b – Rejected – Matthew 27:21-23

248. Isa. 53:3c – Great sorrow and grief – Matt. 26:37-38, Luke 19:41, Heb. 4:15

249. Isa. 53:3d – Men hide from being associated with Him – Mark 14:50-52

250. Isa. 53:4a – He would have a healing ministry – Matthew 8:16-17

251. Isa. 53:4b – Thought to be cursed by God – Matthew 26:66, 27:41-43

252. Isa. 53:5a – Bears penalty for mankind’s iniquities – 2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 2:9

253. Isa. 53:5b – His sacrifice provides peace between man and God – Col. 1:20

254. Isa. 53:5c – His sacrifice would heal man of sin – 1 Peter 2:24

255. Isa. 53:6a – He would be the sin-bearer for all mankind – 1 John 2:2, 4:10

256. Isa. 53:6b – God’s will that He bear sin for all mankind – Galatians 1:4

257. Isa. 53:7a – Oppressed and afflicted – Matthew 27:27-31

258. Isa. 53:7b – Silent before his accusers – Matthew 27:12-14

259. Isa. 53:7c – Sacrificial lamb – John 1:29, 1 Peter 1:18-19

260. Isa. 53:8a – Confined and persecuted – Matthew 26:47-27:31

261. Isa. 53:8b – He would be judged – John 18:13-22

262. Isa. 53:8c – Killed – Matthew 27:35

263. Isa. 53:8d – Dies for the sins of the world – 1 John 2:2

264. Isa. 53:9a – Buried in a rich man’s grave – Matthew 27:57

265. Isa. 53:9b – Innocent and had done no violence – Luke 23:41, John 18:38

266. Isa. 53:9c – No deceit in his mouth – 1 Peter 2:22

267. Isa. 53:10a – God’s will that He die for mankind – John 18:11

268. Isa. 53:10b – An offering for sin – Matthew 20:28, Galatians 3:13

269. Isa. 53:10c – Resurrected and live forever – Romans 6:9

270. Isa. 53:10d – He would prosper – John 17:1-5

271. Isa. 53:11a – God fully satisfied with His suffering – John 12:27

272. Isa. 53:11b – God’s servant would justify man – Romans 5:8-9, 18-19

273. Isa. 53:11c – The sin-bearer for all mankind – Hebrews 9:28

274. Isa. 53:12a – Exalted by God because of his sacrifice – Matthew 28:18

275. Isa. 53:12b – He would give up his life to save mankind – Luke 23:46

276. Isa. 53:12c – Numbered with the transgressors – Mark 15:27-28

277. Isa. 53:12d – Sin-bearer for all mankind – 1 Peter 2:24

278. Isa. 53:12e – Intercede to God in behalf of mankind – Luke 23:34, Rom. 8:34

279. Isa. 55:3 – Resurrected by God – Acts 13:34

280. Isa. 55:4a – A witness – John 18:37

281. Isa. 55:4b – He is a leader and commander – Hebrews 2:10

282. Isa. 55:5 – God would glorify Him – Acts 3:13

283. Isa. 59:16a – Intercessor between man and God – Matthew 10:32

284. Isa. 59:16b – He would come to provide salvation – John 6:40

285. Isa. 59:20 – He would come to Zion as their Redeemer – Luke 2:38

286. Isa. 60:1-3 – He would be a light to the Gentiles – Acts 26:23

287. Isa. 61:1a – The Spirit of God upon him – Matthew 3:16-17

288. Isa. 61:1b – The Messiah would preach the good news – Luke 4:16-21

289. Isa. 61:1c – Provide freedom from the bondage of sin – John 8:31-36

290. Isa. 61:1-2a – Proclaim a period of grace – Galatians 4:4-5

291. Jer. 23:5-6 – Descendant of David – Luke 3:23-31

292. Jer. 23:5-6 – The Messiah would be both God and Man – Jn 13:13, 1 Ti 3:16

293. Jer. 31:22 – Born of a virgin – Matthew 1:18-20

294. Jer. 31:31 – The Messiah would be the new covenant – Matthew 26:28

295. Jer. 33:14-15 – Descendant of David – Luke 3:23-31

296. Eze.34:23-24 – Descendant of David – Matthew 1:1

297. Eze.37:24-25 – Descendant of David – Luke 1:31-33

298. Dan. 2:44-45 – The Stone that shall break the kingdoms – Matthew 21:44

299. Dan. 7:13-14a – He would ascend into heaven -Acts 1:9-11

300. Dan. 7:13-14b – Highly exalted – Ephesians 1:20-22

301. Dan. 7:13-14c – His dominion would be everlasting – Luke 1:31-33

302. Dan. 9:24a – To make an end to sins – Galatians 1:3-5

303. Dan. 9:24a – To make reconciliation for iniquity – Rom. 5:10, 2 Cor. 5:18-21

304. Dan. 9:24b – He would be holy – Luke 1:35

305. Dan. 9:25 – His announcement-  John 12:12-13

306. Dan. 9:26a – Cut off -Matthew 16:21, 21:38-39

307. Dan. 9:26b – Die for the sins of the world -Hebrews 2:9

308. Dan. 9:26c – Killed before the destruction of the temple – Matthew 27:50-51

309. Dan. 10:5-6 – Messiah in a glorified state – Revelation 1:13-16

310. Hos. 11:1 – He would be called out of Egypt – Matthew 2:15

311. Hos. 13:14 – He would defeat death – 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

312. Joel 2:32 – Offer salvation to all mankind – Romans 10:9-13

313. Jonah 1:17 – Death and resurrection of Christ – Matthew 12:40, 16:4

314. Mic. 5:2a – Born in Bethlehem – Matthew 2:1-6

315. Mic. 5:2b – Ruler in Israel – Luke 1:33

316. Mic. 5:2c – From everlasting – John 8:58

317. Hag. 2:6-9 – He would visit the second Temple – Luke 2:27-32

318. Hag. 2:23 – Descendant of Zerubbabel – Luke 2:27-32

319. Zech. 3:8 – God’s servant – John 17:4

320. Zech. 6:12-13 – Priest and King – Hebrews 8:1

321. Zech. 9:9a – Greeted with rejoicing in Jerusalem – Matthew 21:8-10

322. Zech. 9:9b – Beheld as King – John 12:12-13

323. Zech. 9:9c -The Messiah would be just – John 5:30

324. Zech. 9:9d – The Messiah would bring salvation – Luke 19:10

325. Zech. 9:9e – The Messiah would be humble – Matthew 11:29

326. Zech. 9:9f – Presented to Jerusalem riding on a donkey – Matthew 21:6-9

327. Zech. 10:4 – The cornerstone – Ephesians 2:20

328. Zech. 11:4-6a – At His coming, Israel to have unfit leaders – Matthew 23:1-4

329. Zech. 11:4-6b – Rejection causes God to remove His protection – Luke 19:41-44

330. Zech. 11:4-6c – Rejected in favor of another king – John 19:13-15

331. Zech. 11:7 – Ministry to “poor,” the believing remnant – Matthew 9:35-36

332. Zech. 11:8a – Unbelief forces Messiah to reject them – Matthew 23:33

333. Zech. 11:8b – Despised – Matthew 27:20

334. Zech. 11:9 – Stops ministering to those who rejected Him – Matthew 13:10-11

335. Zech. 11:10-11a – Rejection causes God to remove protection – Luke 19:41-44

336. Zech. 11:10-11b – The Messiah would be God – John 14:7

337. Zech. 11:12-13a – Betrayed for thirty pieces of silver – Matthew 26:14-15

338. Zech. 11:12-13b – Rejected – Matthew 26:14-15

339. Zech. 11:12-13c – Thirty pieces of silver cast in the house of the Lord – Matt. 27:3-5

340. Zech. 11:12-13d – The Messiah would be God  – John 12:45

341. Zech. 12:10a – The Messiah’s body would be pierced – John 19:34-37

342. Zech. 12:10b – The Messiah would be both God and man – John 10:30

343. Zech. 12:10c – The Messiah would be rejected  – John 1:11

344. Zech. 13:7a  – God’s will He die for mankind – John 18:11

345. Zech. 13:7b – A violent death – Mark 14:27

346. Zech. 13:7c – Both God and man – John 14:9

347. Zech. 13:7d – Israel scattered as a result of rejecting Him – Matthew 26:31-56

348. Zech. 14:4  – He would return to the Mt. of Olives  – Acts 1:11-12

349. Mal. 3:1a- Messenger to prepare the way for Messiah – Mark 1:1-8

350. Mal. 3:1b – Sudden appearance at the temple – Mark 11:15-16

351. Mal. 3:1c – Messenger of the new covenant – Luke 4:43

352. Mal. 3:6 – The God who changes not – Hebrews 13:8

353. Mal. 4:5 – Forerunner in spirit of Elijah – Mt. 3:1-3, 11:10-14, 17:11-13

354. Mal. 4:6 – Forerunner would turn many to righteousness – Luke 1:16-17

 

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What’s Christmas REALLY all About?

Why God Became Man

Jesus titles of picture

By Dr. Lehman Strauss

The Incarnation of Jesus Christ

The word incarnation does not occur in the Bible. It is derived from the Latin in and caro (flesh), meaning clothed in flesh, the act of assuming flesh. Its only use in theology is in reference to that gracious, voluntary act of the Son of God in which He assumed a human body. In Christian doctrine the Incarnation, briefly stated, is that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became a man. It is one of the greatest events to occur in the history of the universe. It is without parallel.

The Apostle Paul wrote, ”And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh . . . “ (I Timothy 3:16). Confessedly, by common consent the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is outside the range of human natural comprehension and apprehension. It can be made known only by Divine revelation in the Holy Scriptures, and to those only who are illumined by the Holy Spirit. It is a truth of the greatest magnitude that God in the Person of His Son should identify Himself completely with the human race. And yet He did, for reasons He set forth clearly in His Word.

Before we examine those reasons, it would be well at the outset to distinguish between the Incarnation and the Virgin Birth of our Lord, two truths sometimes confused by students of Scripture. The Incarnation of the Son of God is the fact of God becoming Man; the Virgin Birth is the method by which God the Son became Man.

These two truths, while distinct and different, are closely related to each other and stand in support of each other. If Jesus Christ was not virgin born, then He was not God in the flesh and was therefore only a man possessing the same sinful nature that every fallen child of Adam possesses. The fact of the Incarnation lies in the ever-existing One putting aside His eternal glory to become a man. The method of the Incarnation is the manner by which He chose to come, namely, the miraculous conception in the womb of a virgin.

A noteworthy passage pertinent to the Divine purpose in the Incarnation is recorded in the Gospel according to John– ”And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory. the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth’‘ (John 1 :14).

Cerinthus, a representative of the system which arose in the early church under the name of Docetism, claimed that our Lord had only an apparent human body. But the statement, ”the Word became flesh,” indicates that He had a real body.

John 1:14 cannot be fully appreciated apart from verse one: ”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh.” He who was one with the Father from all eternity became Man, taking upon Him a human body. He ”was with God” (vs. 1); He ”became flesh (vs. 14). He “was with God”’ (vs. 1); He ”dwelt among us” (vs. 14). From the infinite position of eternal Godhood to the finite limitations of manhood! Unthinkable but true!

Paul gives another significant passage on the Incarnation in his Galatian Epistle: ”But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4, 5). In these verses Paul establishes the fact of the Incarnation– “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman.”

God sending His Son presupposes that God had a Son. Christ was the Son in His eternal relationship with the Father, not because He was born of Mary. Since a son shares the nature of his father, so our Lord shares the Godhead coequally with His Father. Yes, “God sent forth His Son,” from His throne on high, from His position of heavenly glory. God did not send one forth who, in His birth, became His Son, but He sent One who, through all eternity, was His Son. Centuries before Christ was born, the Prophet Isaiah wrote of Him, ”For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given . . . ” (Isaiah 9:6). The Son was given in eternity past before we knew Him. His human birth was merely the method of coming to us.

Again, Paul records the following noteworthy statement in the Epistle to the Philippians: ”Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

Before His Incarnation Jesus Christ was ‘in the form of God” (vs. 6). From the beginning He had the nature of God, He existed (or subsisted) as God, and that essential Deity which He once was could never cease to be. If He seems Divine, it is only because He is Divine. He is God.

He ”thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (vs. 6). The eternal Son did not consider it a thing to be seized unlawfully to be equal with the Father. Equality with God was not something He retained by force or by farce. He possessed it in eternity past and no power could take it from Him. But in the Incarnation He laid aside, not His possession of Deity, but His position in and expression of the heavenly glory.

One of the purposes of the Philippian epistle was to check the rising tide of dissension and strife growing out of Christians thinking more highly of themselves than they ought to think. Being a general letter, it exposes no false doctrines but does enunciate our Lord Jesus Christ as the believer’s pattern in humiliation, self-denial, and loving service for others. This is evident in the seven downward steps of the Saviour’s renunciation of Himself.

(1) ”He made Himself of no reputation.” God emptied Himself! He did not lose His Deity when He became Man, for God is immutable and therefore cannot cease to be God. He always was God the Son; He continued to be God the Son in His earthly sojourn as Man; He is God the Son in heaven today as He will remain throughout eternity. He is ”Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

(2) ”He took upon Him the form of a servant.” His was a voluntary act of amazing grace, the almighty Sovereign stooping to become earth’s lowly Servant. Instead of expressing Himself as one deserving to be served, He revealed Himself as one desiring to serve others. He did not boast His eternal glory and right to be ministered to, but instead evinced His humility and desire to minister. ”The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

(3) “He was made in the likeness of men.” This phrase expresses the full reality of His humanity. He participated in the same flesh and blood as man (Hebrews 2:14). Although He entered into a new state of being, His becoming Man did not exclude His possession of Deity, for He was and is today a Person who is both God and Man, Divine and human, perfect in His Deity and perfect in His humanity.

(4) ”And being found in fashion as a man.” When He came into the world, Christ associated with His contemporaries and did not hold Himself aloof. Thus He manifested to all that He was a real Man. One obvious distinction marked our Lord’s humanity; His perfection and sinlessness. As a Man He was made under the law, yet He never violated the law. As a Man He was tempted in all three points in which we are tempted (I John 2:16), yet His temptation was apart from any thought, word, or act of sin.

(5) “He humbled Himself.” The world has never witnessed a more genuine act of self-humbling. So completely did our Lord humble Himself that He surrendered His will to the will of His Father in heaven. His desire was to do the will of the Father, therefore He could testify, “I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29). It was humiliation for the eternal Son of God to become flesh in a stable, and then to dwell in a humble home in subjection to a human parent. God was ”sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin” (Romans 8:30). Only eternity will reveal the depth of meaning for Him and for us found in those words, “He humbled Himself.”

(6) “He became obedient unto death.” Remarkable indeed! Here the God-man dies. Did He die as God, or did He die as Man? He died as the God-Man. The first Adam’s obedience would have been unto life, but because he disobeyed unto death, the last Adam must now obey unto death in order that He might deliver the first Adam’s posterity ”out of death into life” (John 5:24R.V.). ”For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). To subject Himself to the cruel death of a criminal on the cross was a necessary part of God’s plan of salvation for men, and to such a death our Lord voluntarily submitted. Implicit obedience!

(7) ” . . . even the death of the cross.” Our Lord died as no other person died or ever will die. Other men had died on crosses, but this Man, the eternal Son of God, voluntarily and willingly died the kind of death meted out to criminals, even the death upon a cross. His own countrymen considered crucifixion the worst kind of disgrace. In their law it was written, “For he that is hanged is accursed of God” (Deuteronomy 21:23; cf. Galatians 3:13). Not only did our Lord die, but He died bearing the burden of the worst of criminals and the guiltiest of sinners. Down He came from heaven’s glory to earth’s sin and shame through His Incarnation.

The purposes underlying this phenomenal occurrence can be summed up in seven points.

(1) HE CAME TO REVEAL GOD TO MAN

The Incarnation of the Son of God unites earth to heaven. God’s greatest revelation of Himself to man is in Jesus Christ. Revelation is the disclosure of truth previously unknown. Before the coming of the Son of God to earth many varied forms of revelation existed. Belief in the existence of God is innate. Since man is a rational, moral being, his very nature provides him with intuitive knowledge. As the mind of a child begins to unfold, it instinctively and intuitively recognizes a Being above and beyond the world that he experiences.

Man is so constituted that he recognizes the fact and the power of God by the things that are made. Many of the ancient philosophers marveled at the starry heavens above them and the moral law about them. We live in a world of order and harmony conducive to our happiness and well being, and we, too, recognize a revelation of God in nature.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19, 20). Men may hinder or suppress the truth by their unrighteous living, but there is that which may be known of God which ”is manifest in them.” The existence and power of God are discernible to us all by the things we observe in the external world. Those only who have abnormal, distorted, or biased minds can possibly deny God’s existence.

Job realized that the nature of God in its different characteristics and qualities was not all revealed to man, yet he knew, as all men know, that the omnipotence and unchangeableness of God are exhibited in creation (Job 6:10; 23:12). The savage and the scientist can know two things about God; He is a Being and He is supreme. These are the two things God has been pleased to reveal about Himself.

Do not plead innocence for the man who does not possess a copy of God’s Word. All men have a Bible bound with the covers of the day and the night whose print is the stars and the planets. What is knowable about God has been displayed openly, and any man who suppresses the truth does it “without excuse.” Nature reveals the supernatural, and creation reveals the Creator. Read Psalm 19:1-6 and you will see that the heavens are personified to proclaim the glory of their Creator. Day and night pass on their testimonies giving clear evidence of the existence of the One who made them.

There are other evidences of primeval revelations of God to man, such as to Adam (Genesis 3:8) and to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 26:3-5). The writer to the Hebrews quotes the Son speaking to the Father, in which reference is made to an early primitive and temporary revelation through a book which God allowed to pass out of existence (Hebrews 10:5-7). Doubtless there were other books which likewise have passed out of existence, as the Book of Enoch of which Jude made mention (Jude 14).

We know, further, that God often revealed Himself in dreams as when He spoke to Jacob (Genesis 28), to the patriarch Joseph (Genesis 37), to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2-4), to Joseph (Matthew 1:20), and to others. Through Moses and the prophets God revealed Himself (Exodus 3:4 and chapter 20). Over thirty-five authors, writing over a period of fifteen hundred years, wrote consistently and coherently, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, of one historically accurate plan of salvation. The Bible in its entirety is a progressive revelation of God.

But of all the amazing revelations of almighty God, none was set forth more clearly and fully than God’s final revelation of Himself in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Since God is an infinite Being, no man could understand Him fully save the Son who is One in equality with the Father. Jesus said, ”. . . neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27). Here, then, is one reason for the Incarnation—to reveal God to man. The fact of God’s existence may be seen through test tubes and laboratory experiments, detected through microscope and telescope, and stated in the discussions of the seminar. But the glorious attributes of a loving God manifested in behalf of sinners can be found in no place or person apart from Jesus Christ.

Philip said to the Lord Jesus, ‘‘Lord, shew us the Father . . . ” and our Lord answered, ”. . . He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father . . . “ (John 14:8, 9). When the Word became flesh He brought to man an adequate revelation of God. Whatever the ancient seers and saints knew about God before Jesus came, we have a more adequate revelation. Since God remains an abstraction until we see Him in terms of personality, so the Son became Incarnate that we might see and know God. ‘‘No man hath seen God at anytime; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him’‘ (John 1:1,8,9).

The dictionary definition of the word ”light” means nothing to a blind man, but one glimpse of a glowworm would be worth more for the understanding of light than all the definitions in the world. One glimpse of Jesus Christ will bring God closer to the human mind and heart than all the theological definitions of Him. No man could perceive the grace of God until the almighty Sovereign of the universe stooped to the level of His own creatures, suffering cruel treatment and dying the death of shame for them. No man understood fully the patience and longsuffering of the Father until Jesus Christ who, when He was reviled, reviled not again, and when He suffered, threatened not (I Peter 2:23). No man can comprehend just how perfect and holy God is until He comes face to face with the sinless Son of God. God has revealed Himself anew to the intelligence of man through the Incarnation.

(2) HE CAME TO REVEAL MAN TO HIMSELF

Through His Incarnation Jesus Christ reveals man to himself. He shows us what we are and what we may become. As we study the purposes of God in Christ, the fact impresses us that man is grossly ignorant of his real self, and that the mission of the Son’s coming included a plan that would enable man to see and know himself as God sees and knows him. We are not the least bit impressed with man’s vain philosophical views of himself, but rather with the accurate historical account of man as it is recorded in the Bible.

The primary fact that man needs to know about himself is his origin. Men are divided in their theories concerning this. We are not strangers to the evolutionary idea which attempts to explain man’s place in the earth. In 1871 Darwin published his book, The Descent of Man, but he said very little that had not been said before. The idea of evolution might be here to stay, but not because Darwin said so. Evolution was taught by Roman and Greek philosophers and even by ancient Egyptians. But the evolutionary idea that man must swallow his pride and be content with the fact that he has oozed from the slime along with the snails is contrary to the revelation in Scripture.

The Bible teaches clearly that the human race had its origin by the immediate creation of God (Genesis 1:26, 27) and that man is the grand consummation of all creation. We are forced to accept this view as against the theory of evolution because of the immeasurable gulf which separates man, even in his barest savage condition, from the nearest order of creation below him. Moreover, history corroborates Scripture in that man was destined to rule over all other animal life. God took special care in the creation of man, for “God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27). Actually it was not the body of man that was created, for the body was merely ”formed” of those elements necessary for man’s body and which were created long before man (Genesis 1:1). What was new in man’s creation was a form of life which only God and man possess (Genesis 2:7). Created in the image and likeness of God, man differs from every other form of animal. Man, in his lowest estate, seeks an object of worship and has been known to bow before gods that he cannot see, but animals never!

However, man did not retain God’s image and likeness. When God placed our first parents in Eden He set before them one simple restriction, namely, not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for, said God, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Genesis 3 is a record of the fall of man. He disobeyed God and immediately the life-cord was severed. Adam died both physically and spiritually. Physical death began to do its work, and the grave for Adam was but a matter of time. Then, too, his spirit was separated from God, so that he was dead spiritually while alive physically.

Now all men, from Adam down, are born into this world spiritually dead in sin, possessing a sin-nature capable of every trespass against God (Ephesians 2:1). The sin-nature of Adam and the guilt of his sin were imputed to the whole human race, so that Adam’s corrupted nature is of necessity a part of all his posterity. The highest self in man is altogether unprofitable to God. All men are not equally corrupt in word and deed, but all are equally dead, and unless the function of death is brought to a halt, it will destroy not only the body but also the soul in hell. Because of the solidarity of the human race, sin and death have passed upon all men (Romans 5:12). When Adam defaced the Divine image and lost the Divine likeness, he begat sons ”in his own likeness, after his image” (Genesis 5:3). Yes, “by man came death” and ”in Adam all die” (I Corinthians 15:21, 22).

While all of this is clearly stated in the Bible, man still thinks of himself more highly than he ought to think. There were many who had no Scriptures at all in Christ’s day, and they needed this revelation. In order that man should see himself, not in the light of his own goodness, but beside the perfect standard of God’s holy Son, the Son of God became Incarnate. Our Lord said, ”If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin” (John 15:22).

Responsibility increases with knowledge, and so Christ’s coming showed man how far short he came of God’s standard of a righteous man. The Lord Jesus said, “If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin . . . “ (John 15:24). Our Lord did not mean by this statement that man would have been without sin if He had not come. There had been sin all along, as God’s dealings with the human race through its four thousand years of earlier history prove. But the coming of Christ to the earth revealed the heart of man in cruel hatred for Divine holiness. The Son of God Incarnate was sinless in every respect, yet man, Jew and Gentile alike, crucified Him. Alongside Christ’s perfect life and works, man can see the sin and guilt of his own heart.

When man sinned against the Son of God, he sinned against the clearest possible light, “the Light of the world” (John 8:12). He came unto His own and His own received Him not (John 1:11), and then Gentiles joined hands with ”His own” to put Him to death. How sinful is the heart of man? Look at that spectacle on Calvary’s hill and you will see human hearts and hands at their worst.

Time has not improved human nature. Today men still trample under food the precious blood of Christ, and if our blessed Lord were to appear in person today as He did nineteen centuries ago, the world would crucify him again. The world, having seen the light, has turned from the light, for “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Romans 1:18 to 3:20 enunciates the most searching and conclusive arraignment of the human race found anywhere, and the birth and death of Jesus Christ attest to the truth of this awful indictment.

(3) He Came to Redeem Man

The Apostle Paul states clearly the purpose of the Incarnation in the following words– ”But when the fulness of the was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law” (Galatians 4:4, 5). The Old Testament contains the accurate record of some four thousand years of sin, human failure, and consequent Divine judgment. The one bright hope was the coming of the promised Seed, the Redeemer (Genesis 3:15). With each succeeding revelation from God, the promise grew clearer and the hope brighter. The prophets spoke of the Messiah who would come to deliver the people from their sins. Perhaps the classic prophecy is Isaiah 53. Since the people needed a deliverer from the guilt and penalty of sin, the intent of the Incarnation was to provide that Deliverer. Moreover, all of history and prophecy moved toward that goal even as all subsequent movements have proceeded from it.

Jesus Christ is man’s Redeemer, his Saviour. This truth is implied in His name. Said the angel, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS (meaning Saviour), for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). At His birth the angel testified again, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Even the Lord Jesus Himself voiced emphatically the purpose of His Incarnation when He said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

The awful state of the world of mankind necessitated the coming of the Redeemer since there could be no hope of deliverance apart from Him. The character of God, which is righteousness, absolute and uncompromising, demands that every sin be dealt with. While God is merciful, gracious, and slow to anger, forgiving iniquities and transgressions, ”that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:7)., While God is love, God is also holy and righteous, so holy that He is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and [canst] not look on iniquity” (Habakkuk 1:13). His righteousness demands that every sin must be dealt with impartially. In order to be true to Himself, God had to deal with the problem of sin. In order to deal justly and, at the same time, mercifully, someone had to suffer the death penalty for the sin of the world.

In the Person of Jesus Christ God solved the problem of the eternal well-being of the sinner. He sent His Son to die as the sinner’s perfect Substitute, and thereby redeemed the sinner. Man was lost to God and heaven, and God’s purpose in redemption could be realized only through the Incarnate Son of God, for the Son of God Incarnate is the connecting link bringing together God and sinful man. The sinner’s relation to Jesus Christ is vital. Christ became a man “that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9). The Word, who is the eternal Son of God, became flesh and was obliged to be made in the likeness of man in order to redeem him.

Christ defined the purpose of His Incarnation and earthly ministry when He said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17). There is no implication in these words that there is a sinful class of men who need repentance and another righteous class who do not. Nor is there a suggestion that there are “righteous ones,” for in Romans 3:10 it is said, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”

Consider the conditions under which Christ stated this purpose. Scribes and Pharisees were upbraiding Him because He had gone into the house of Levi to eat with publicans and sinners (Mark 2:14-16). His critics exalted themselves above sinners, priding themselves in an unpossessed righteousness which thereby excluded them from any realization or acknowledgement of their own sin.

In Levi’s house, however, there were those who recognized their sinful state. It was for this reason that the Lord Jesus went to that group, namely, to bring salvation to them. Physicians go into sick rooms, not because of the pleasantness of disease and suffering, but because of a desire to relieve and cure the sick. So sinners are the special objects of the Saviour’s love and power. He came into the world to save sinners.

Although all men are unrighteous, those scribes and Pharisees called themselves ”righteous,” for they were possessed of self-righteousness that is as “filthy rags” in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6). Therefore, as they went about seeking to establish their own righteousness, they failed to see the purpose of His coming. Hence they never heeded the Saviour’s call to salvation. Their kind seldom do!

Had there been righteousness in the human heart, there would have been no need for the Incarnation of the Son of God. And only in the self-righteous heart of the religious, moral man, satisfied with himself, do we find the careless indifference to the Gospel of redemption. When a man assumes a righteousness all his own, he is outside the reach of the Great Physician. The man who excludes his own need of Christ misses the purpose of the Saviour’s coming and will not be saved. Each of us must say with the Apostle Paul, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (I Timothy 1:15).

(4) HE CAME TO RESTRAIN SATAN

The purpose of the Incarnation is further revealed in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Three verses, linked together, assert that the coming of Jesus Christ was to destroy the devil. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man . . . Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same [flesh and blood]; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:9, 14,15).

In these three verses in Hebrews, we are reminded that the subject of death is dealt with in each of them, and the fact of the Incarnation is substantiated in the clause, “who was made a little lower than the angels.” Furthermore, the purpose of the Incarnation appears in the words, “that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” From this verse, as well as verse 14, it is evident that the eternal Son became flesh in order to die.

Christ’s crucifixion by wicked hands was “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). Our Lord Jesus Christ testified, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus Christ willed to die, not a sudden and unexpected death but a lingering, anticipated death that He would taste every day of His earthly sojourn. He became man to suffer death.

But why should it be so? We considered the purpose of the Incarnation relative to the sin question. Referring to the matter of death, the Word affirms that the Son of God became incarnate that “through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Of all the works of Satan, among the worst is that of destroying life. Our Lord testified, “He was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). Satan is the spoiler of humanity, his malignant purpose being to bring both physical and spiritual death to mankind.

God placed our first parents in the Garden of Eden and surrounded them with every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. Two of these trees are mentioned; ”the tree of life . . . and the tree of knowledge of good and evil” Genesis 2:9). Eating the fruit of the latter tree would bring sin and death, for, said God, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Satan knew this, therefore we are not surprised when we read that it was of the fruit of this very tree of death that he enticed Eve to eat. He chose the tree of death because he is a murderer. He knew that the death sentence was already pronounced upon all who would eat of it. He delighted in the fall of Adam and Eve, for he knew that physical and spiritual death had struck.

But thanks be to God for the Incarnation of His Son. By the coming of Jesus Christ into the world, through His death and resurrection, He wrested from Satan the power of death. Death no more holds its lethal grip upon the believer. Although death has held sinners in bondage ever since the severing of the life-cord between God and man, the appearing of the Lord Jesus has broken its grip. “According to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began . . . the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (II Timothy 1:9-10).

Before sin was indulged in and death struck, the inclusive salvation plan provided death’s abolition. Since the death and resurrection of our Lord dealt comprehensively with sin, it of necessity affected death. The coming of the Saviour rendered death harmless, and the “sting” of it is gone (I Corinthians 15:55). Oh, the blessedness of an accomplished redemption! How wonderful to know Him who said, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18). Death once held man in the vise of hopeless doom, but now Satan is defeated.

The shadow of the cross hung over the manger in Bethlehem, assuring the world that the Seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). As Adam yielded himself to Satan, Satan held him in death; but by His dying, Christ entered into our death and wrested from Satan that power which he held over us. At Calvary Satan was brought to naught, and now “death is swallowed up in victory. . . Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:54, 57). “The prince of this world is judged” (John 16:1 1). The Seed of the woman traversed the realms of death but was not captured by the enemy. Instead, He conquered the enemy. Thank God the Saviour came.

(5) HE CAME TO RESCUE THE WHOLE CREATION

The Incarnation of the eternal Son is part of the divine plan. That plan comprehends a goal, and God assures the accomplishment of it. Though the salvation of man was God’s chief concern, His plan was never limited to the world of mankind. It is written of the eternal Son, who was with God and who is God, that “all things were made by Him” (John 1:3). Paul writes, ”For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth” (Colossians 1:28). Man was higher than all other created beings in the earth, and other creatures were subject to him. However, after the fall this condition changed. Now if man is to have dominion over the beasts, he must first capture them at the risk of his own life, and then imprison them until they are tamed. All of this resulted from the fall.

But the question is, Will God restore again to man the dominion which he lost through the fall? The prophet said, ”The wolf also shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cocatrice’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6-9). Indeed, it appears that the prophet here is looking beyond to a time of rescue and restoration of the earth and all of its creatures.

The cruelty of beasts was not the order before sin entered. Such discord among God’s creatures has sprung from the sinfulness of man and is a necessary part of the curse. To remove this curse and rescue God’s creation is one of the purposes of the Incarnation. When Christ comes back to reign and “the government shall be upon His shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6), then the sons of God will be manifested and will share with Him in a restored creation. If it were not so, then all of animated nature would remain spoiled by Satan. But God has said, “In that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground” (Hosea 2:18). Yes, God will “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him” (Ephesians 1:10). At that day our blessed Lord will “reconcile all things unto Himself’ (Colossians 1:20).

Many Christians fail to see that this redemptive work, wrought through the Incarnation of the Son of God, is wider than the salvation of human beings and that it affects the whole creation. The Apostle Paul writes, “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:19-23). Here we are told that the deliverance of the whole creation will be revealed at the manifestation of the sons of God.

All creation lies in hope (expectancy) of a rescue from present corruption and of deliverance to that place God gave it in the beginning. Nature is now under the curse of sin, groaning and travailing in pain. It is not what it was at first. Nor is it now what it will be when the incarnate Son returns to “put all things in subjection under His feet” (see Hebrews 2:5-9). Before Adam sinned, no savage beasts, no desert wastes, no thorns and thistles existed; but when he fell, all creation fell with him. Now that the Son of God has come and purchased redemption by His death at Calvary, the whole creation must be rescued from the curse, and restored to its original state.

(6) HE CAME TO RESTORE ISRAEL

Any reader of the Old Testament cannot escape the clear teaching that the Messiah was promised to Israel. Of this the prophets spoke and wrote. The Jew had great advantages. “Unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). Theirs was “the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises” (Romans 9:4). None can deny that from the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1) to the Babylonian captivity under Nebuchadnezzar (606 B.C.), authority in the earth and divine representation was vested in the Jew. It is common information that since the overthrow of Jerusalem and the transfer of dominion in the earth to the Gentiles, Israel, as a nation, has not held authority in the earth.

When Jesus Christ, the Word, “was made flesh,” “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:11, 14). ”His citizens hated Him, and sent a message after Him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). In blind unbelief the children of Abraham, refusing to recognize or receive Him, drove Him from their midst and crucified Him. After His resurrection and ascension He revealed to the apostles this mystery. No longer did Israel have priority on the truth, but the message was to be spread abroad to every creature and, during the present dispensation of grace, God would visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name (Acts 15:14).

When Christ came the first time He traversed Palestine proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). He opened the door into the kingdom, but only the regenerated could enter. Were the people ready to receive the kingdom, the King would establish it. However, the offer of the kingdom met with an ever-increasing opposition, and our Lord withdrew the offer for that time. He said to the Jews, ”Therefore say I unto you, The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). There was no mistaking what the Lord Jesus meant, for the chief priests and Pharisees “perceived that He spake of them” (vs. 45).

Israel is still set aside, but only temporarily. The Apostle Paul writes, ”I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid . . . God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew . . . For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:1,2,25).

Anti-Semitism, raging throughout the world today, might lead one to question the future restoration of the Jew. Yet we know that both national restoration and national regeneration for the Jew are a definite part of the plan of God. Israel is not beyond recovery; she is not irretrievably lost. By her fall the whole world was blessed with the message of salvation. A national tragedy resulted in an international triumph. ”And so all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 10:26). The Jew lives in a dark present with a bright future before him. When our Lord said in Matthew 21:43, that “the kingdom shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof,” He was not referring to any Gentile nation but to regenerated Israel.

God gave Palestine to the Jews unconditionally as a possession and a dwelling place (Genesis 12: 1-3). He wants them there. That the Jews would be scattered is plainly taught in the Word of God, but coupled with such teaching are the assertions that they will also be regathered. Study Hosea 3:4,5 and see plainly the scattering and the gathering with the period between. (See also Ezekiel 36: 19,24). The Word became flesh and tabernacled among them once (John 1:14). That same holy One, the incarnate Christ, will come again to tabernacle with Israel. Study, for example, such passages as Isaiah 12:1-6Joel 2:26, 27Zephaniah 3:14-17Zechariah 8:3-8. Already modern inventions have revolutionized Palestine and its surrounding territory. This fact, coupled with the thought of the vast area granted by God to Abraham (Genesis 15: 18), will assure any interested person that there is ample room in the Holy Land to hold all Jews.

While the Jews continue to return to the Land, all signs point to the return of the incarnate Son, the One who is both human and Divine, and the One in whom God’s purposes for Israel are to be fulfilled. According to prophecy, the incarnate One, Immanuel, the virgin’s Son, is to occupy David’s throne. ”For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6, 7). Let us rejoice to see that day approaching.

(7) HE CAME TO REIGN

When the Incarnation had been announced, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:1,2). They were wise men indeed, for they were followers of the truth of God. When the Old Testament prophets wrote of Messiah’s offices, they included that of King. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation: lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). David wrote of Christ and His kingdom when he recorded the words of God, “Yet have I set My king upon My holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6). Our Lord is not only Prophet, and Priest, but also Potentate.

In studying the purposes of the Incarnation we are forced to the scriptural observation that the eternal Son became Man in order that He might be King of the earth. Paul wrote that “God hath highly exalted Him” (Philippians 2:9). We dare not limit the exaltation of Christ as some try to do. We acquiesce with those who teach that the steps in Christ’s exaltation were His resurrection, ascension, and His sitting at the right hand of God. But such teaching does not go far enough. Study carefully Philippians 2:5-11, and you will see that the steps in our Lord’s humiliation were temporary steps leading to a permanent exaltation, culminating with the bowing of every knee and the confessing of every tongue in heaven and in earth, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The incarnate Son is to appear in His resurrection body and is to sit on the throne of His glory. Jesus Himself spoke of the day “when the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him; then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory” (Matthew 25:31). John writes, ”Every eye shall see Him” (Revelation 1:7). The prophetic utterance spoken by God to David in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 concerning David’s seed having an everlasting throne and kingdom, has a double fulfillment. Primarily it referred to Solomon’s temple. Ultimately and finally it speaks of Christ’s earthly reign as Zechariah 6:12 shows. The day must come when all things will be subjected unto Him (I Corinthians 15:28).

The Psalmist spoke of His throne as an enduring throne (Psalm 89:4, 29, 36). God promises that this earthly throne and kingdom are to continue forever, and that the One to occupy it shall be David’s seed, his rightful Son (I Chronicles 17:11). The genealogies in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 will support the relationship of Jesus Christ to David. During our Lord’s earthly ministry, those who sought His help called Him “the son of David” (see Matthew 9:27Mark 10:47Luke 18:38).

Christ’s kingdom is literal, therefore it cannot be realized apart from the Incarnation. Such a kingdom men have been trying to establish for centuries, but nations are farther from realizing it today than ever before. A perfect kingdom demands a perfect King. At the end of the conflict of the ages, Jesus Christ, the God-Man will return to earth to establish His righteous kingdom which will never be destroyed. His kingdom of glory, and His throne in the midst, was God’s first promise through the mouth of the angel Gabriel to Mary, and it links together the Incarnation and reign of the Son of God, ”And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).

When the King comes, then will His perfect will be done in earth as it is in heaven. This is a blessed truth not without history or hope. The day will surely come when all men will see the revelation of the glory of holiness and joy in the earth. But His reign awaits His return to carry away His Bride, the Church. Everything has been deferred until He gathers her unto Himself. It may be at any moment that the last soul will be added to the Church, and then He will come.

This meditation in no wise exhausts the divine purposes of the Incarnation. Others have written at greater length and, doubtless, we could do likewise. But one thing more must be said. The supreme purpose in the eternal Son’s coming into the world was to glorify the Father. In His great intercessory prayer, Jesus said, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4). God had been glorified in creation, in the remarkable deliverances of His people, and in the exercise of His power over His enemies, but at no time had He been glorified like this. God could never have been glorified if the Son would have failed in His earthly mission in the smallest degree. But the Lord Jesus could say, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” Nothing was left undone, and in everything He did, the Son had the Father’s glory in view. He glorified the Father; His earthly mission was complete.

And now to all of us who have been redeemed by His precious blood, the Apostle Paul writes: “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:20).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Lehman Strauss taught Old Testament history for eight years at Philadelphia Bible Institute, and served as pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church, Bristol, Pennsylvania, from 1939 to 1957. He was pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church (Highland Park, Michigan) until the end of 1963 when he resigned to devote full time to an itinerant Bible conference and evangelistic ministry both in the States and abroad. Dr. Strauss was residing in Florida and writing his 19th book at age 86 when the Lord called him home in June 1997. His written materials are used by permission…article originally appeared @ https://bible.org/article/why-god-became-man

 

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Is There Any Biblical Evidence for the Rapture?

Biblical Evidences for a Pretribulational Rapture

imagesby Mike Vlach
President of Theological Studies.org www.theologicalstudies.org

Introductory matters concerning the Rapture

Interest in the Rapture: A 1994 survey by U.S. News and World Report found that 61 percent of Americans believe that Jesus Christ will return to earth, and 44 percent believe in the rapture of the church. (Jeffery L. Sheler, “The Christmas Covenant,” U.S. News and World Report, December 19, 1994, pp. 62, 64)

Where do we get the term “Rapture”? The term “rapture” is not found in the Bible, so where does the word come from? The term “rapture” comes from the Latin translation of the Greek word translated “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Charles Ryrie explains, “The Greek word from which we take the term ‘rapture’ appears in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, translated ‘caught up.’ The Latin translation of this verse used the word rapturo. The Greek word it translates is harpazo, which means to snatch or take away. Elsewhere it is used to describe how the Spirit caught up Philip near Gaza and brought him to Caesarea (Acts 8:39) and to describe Paul’s experience of being caught up into the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2-4). Thus there can be no doubt that the word is used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 to indicate the actual removal of people from earth to heaven.” (Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 462)

Passages referring to the Rapture There are three primary texts which refer to the Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 and John 14:1-3.

Components of the Rapture 

The return of Christ “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout. . .” (1 Thess. 4:16). “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself” (John 14:3)

A resurrection of dead church saints “The dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16). “The dead will be raised imperishable” (1 Cor. 15:52).

A translation of living believers “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up” (1 Thess. 4:17).

A glorious reunion “We. . . shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17). “I will come. . . that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).

A giving of glorified bodies “We shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:52-53). “We eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Philippians 3:20-21).

Speed of Rapture “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52).

The timing of the Rapture in relation to the Tribulation period

The debate “In the nineteenth century, teaching concerning the Rapture of the church began to be widely disseminated. This raised such questions as whether the second coming of Christ involves several stages, the relation of those stages to the Tribulation period, and the distinctiveness of the church from Israel in God’s program. In the twentieth century one of the most debated questions in eschatology concerns the time of the Rapture.” (Ryrie, p. 478)

The various views Amillennialists and Postmillennialists regard the coming of Christ as a single event to be followed by a general resurrection and judgment. Within Premillennialism, though, five main views have been promoted concerning the timing of the Rapture:

Pretribulationism teaches that the Rapture of the church will occur before the seven-year Tribulation period begins. Supporters of this view include John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, Dwight Pentecost, Alva J. McClain, John Feinberg, and Paul Feinberg.

Midtribulationsim teaches that the Rapture of the church will occur at the midpoint of the seven years of Tribulation; that is, after three and one half years have elapsed. Supporters of this view include Oliver Buswell and Gleason Archer.

The Pre-wrath rapture view teaches that all Christians will be taken in the Rapture approximately three-fourths of the way through the Tribulation period. Supporters of this view include Marvin Rosenthal and Robert Van Kampen.

Posttribulationism teaches that the Rapture and Second Coming are facets of a single event which will occur at the end of the Tribulation period. Thus, the church will be on earth during the seven years Tribulation period. Supporters of this view include George Ladd, Robert Gundry and Douglas Moo.

The Partial rapture view teaches that only the “spiritual” Christians who are watching and waiting for the Lord’s return will be taken in the Rapture. Then during the seven years of Tribulation other Church Age saints who were not prepared for the initial Rapture will be raptured at various intervals. This view originated with Robert Govett in 1835 and was also taught by J. A. Seiss and G.H. Lang.

Why is this issue of the timing of the Rapture important?

The study of the Rapture is important because we want to know the whole counsel of God.

The Christian’s expectation The Rapture issue is important because it deals with the nature of the Christian’s hope and expectation. Are Christians to expect Christ’s return at any moment? Or, are we expecting to go through a time of worldwide tribulation?

A Biblical defense of Pretribulationism

Of these five views why is Pretribulationism to be preferred? The following are biblical evidences for a Pretribulational Rapture:

The pillars of Pretribulationism 

The foundation of Pretribulationism has four elements:

(1) Consistent literal interpretation: The literal method of interpretation attempts to explain the original sense of the writer according to the normal usages of words and language. The literal method interprets all of the Bible in a normal and plain way, all the time understanding that the Bible, at times, uses symbols, figures of speech and types.

(2) Distinction between Israel and the Church: The more one recognizes the biblical distinction between Israel and the church, the clearer one will be able to see God’s distinct plan for each group. According to Thomas Ice, “If Israel and the church are not distinguished, then there is no basis for seeing a future for Israel or for the church as a new and unique people of God. If Israel and the church are merged into a single program, then the Old Testament promises for Israel will never be fulfilled and are usually seen by replacement theologians as spiritually fulfilled by the church. The merging of Israel’s destiny into the church not only makes into one what the Scriptures understand as two, but it also removes a need for future restoration of God’s original elect people in order to fulfill literally His promise that they will one day be the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13).

The more that believers see a distinct plan for Israel and a distinct plan for the church, the more they realize that when the New Testament speaks to the church it is describing a separate destiny and hope for her. The church becomes more distinct in the plan of God. Israel’s future includes the seven-year tribulation, and then shortly before Christ’s return to Jerusalem she will be converted to Jesus as her Messiah. . . . On the other hand, the distinct hope for the church is Christ’s any-moment return.

Thus, a distinction between Israel and the church, as taught in the Bible, provides a basis of support for the pretribulational rapture. Those who merge the two programs cannot logically support the biblical arguments for pretribulationism.” (Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy, The Truth About The Rapture, pp. 25-26)

(3) Futurism: Pretribulationism takes a futuristic interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 and the book of Revelation. Daniel 9:24-27 gives the seven-year chronological framework of the Tribulation while Revelation 6-18 details the judgments that make up this period. Futurism sees prophecy as being fulfilled in the future, namely with the Tribulation period, the Second Coming of Christ to earth, and the Millennial Kingdom. Futurism is opposed to preterism, which sees prophecy as already being fulfilled in the past, predominately in A.D. 70. Futurism is also opposed to historicism which sees prophecy being fulfilled in the current Church Age.

(4) Premillennialism: At the end of the seven year Tribulation period, Jesus Christ will return to earth in power and glory to set up an earthly Kingdom from Jerusalem that will last for a literal one thousand years (see Rev. 20:1-6).

Proper methodology for addressing the rapture issue 

What is the proper method for addressing this issue of the timing of the Rapture?

Examine the Rapture and Second Coming passages:

Go first to the portions of Scripture that speak directly about the Rapture and the return of the Lord to earth.

Study John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 for the Rapture.

Examine Zechariah 14:1-21; Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27; and Revelation 19 for the Second Coming to earth.

Examine implications of conclusions Proper methodology does not stop with an examination of the primary texts addressing an issue. As John Feinberg says, “While one should begin with passages that speak directly about the doctrine under consideration, one must also pay attention to the implications of the doctrine. This is especially important if, as in the case of the rapture, the passages about the rapture and return of the Lord do not determine the question of the rapture’s timing in relation to the time of the Tribulation. . . . Implications and relations of doctrines to one another are crucial. If one’s position on a given theological issue is correct, it will fit with other known theological and biblical truths rather than contradict them. (John S. Feinberg, “Arguing for the Rapture: Who Must Prove What and How” in, When the Trumpet Sounds, Thomas Ice and Timothy eds. p. 191)

Putting it all together “The key point to remember is that proper theological methodology dare not allow us to ignore either the rapture and parousia passages or the doctrines that have implications for one’s views on the rapture and second advent. Although study should begin with passages that speak directly to the topic at hand, both are equally important. It is surely no victory to uphold one’s views on the timing of the rapture at the expense of denying what God’s Word says, for example, about the relation of the church to God’s judgmental wrath.” (John Feinberg, p. 192)

Biblical evidence for Pretribulationism 

The Bible does not explicitly tells us the timing of the Rapture. Thus, no one verse tells us that the Rapture will be pretribulational (or midtribulational or posttribulational for that matter). Does this mean that the doctrine of pretribulationism is unbiblical? Not necessarily. Many important biblical doctrines are not given to us directly in one verse. Some doctrines are based on a harmonization of multiple passages. For example, no one verse explains the doctrine of the Trinity or that Jesus Christ is the God-man. Yet a harmonization of passages shows these doctrines to be biblical. Likewise a harmonization of biblical texts shows the pretribulational rapture view to be biblical. The following are the biblical evidences:

God has promised the Church deliverance from divine wrath (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; Rev. 3:10) God made a special promise to the church that it will be delivered from the future, tribulational wrath of God. It is best to take this deliverance as a physical removal (Rapture)from this time of divine wrath.

1 Thess. 1:9-10 The Thessalonians were wait[ing] for His Son from heaven. . . that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. Why does this wrath refer to the Tribulation? First, the context of 1 and 2 Thessalonians deals with the Day of the Lord and the judgment of God that precedes the coming of Christ. Second, the text states that it is a future wrath (“wrath to come”). Third, it is a wrath one can be rescued from by the return of Christ. Thus, The wrath referred to then is the wrath of the Tribulation period and not God’s eternal wrath in general.

1 Thess. 5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Why does this wrath refer to the Tribulation? The immediate context is the wrath of the Day of the Lord (5:1-8). Plus, this must be the same wrath as 1 Thess. 1:10.

The whole seven year Tribulation period is a time of God’s divine wrath so the protection promised must be for the whole seven years. Some have tried to say that divine wrath does not characterize the whole seven year Tribulation period. They say that the early judgments (the seals) of the tribulation are the wrath of man and Satan. The following points, however, show that the whole Tribulation period is a time of divine wrath.

Jesus is the One who directly opens all the Tribulation judgments including the seal judgments which begin the Tribulation period. In Revelation 4 and 5 Jesus is the One found worthy to open the seals which He begins to open in 6:1. The opening of the seals by Christ indicates that the seal judgments are divine wrath.

The seal judgments which open the Tribulation are consistent with divine wrath “The judgments of these four seals include the sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts, frequently used in Scripture as the expressions of divine wrath. Indeed, they are all included and named when God calls His ‘four severe judgments upon Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague’ (Ezek. 14:21).” (Gerald B. Stanton, “A Review of the Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church, Bibliotecha Sacra, vol. 148 #589, January 1991) Plus, plagues such as pestilence and wild beasts can hardly be caused by man.

As early as the sixth seal, unbelievers declare that God’s wrath “has come” (Rev. 6:16-17). Unbelievers recognize that all six seals that have happened so far are the direct wrath of God. Robert L. Thomas says “The verb elthen (‘has come’) is aorist indicative, referring to a previous arrival of the wrath, not something that is about to take place. Men see the arrival of this day at least as early as the cosmic upheavals that characterize the sixth seal (6:12-14), but upon reflection they probably recognize it was already in effect with the death of one-fourth of the population (6:7-8), the worldwide famine (6:5-6), and the global warfare (6:3-4). The rapid sequence of all these events could not escape public notice, but the light of their true explanation does not dawn upon human consciousness until the severe phenomena of the sixth seal arrive.” (Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7, pp. 457-58)

Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth. Here is a promise to the Church of preservation outside of the time of Tribulation. Thus, believers are not only promised deliverance from divine wrath but from the time period (“hour”) of divine wrath. This rules out the possibility of the Church being on earth during the Tribulation. As Ryrie says, “It is impossible to conceive of being in the location where something is happening and being exempt from the time of the happening.”

Differences between Rapture passages and Second Coming passages indicate that the two are different events happening at different times.

The central passages dealing with the Rapture are John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

The central passages dealing with the Second Coming to earth are Zechariah 14:1- 21; Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27 and Revelation 19. A careful examination of these texts will show that there is enough reason to conclude that the Rapture and the Second Coming to earth are not the same event:

(1) The Second Coming is preceded by signs but the Rapture is presented as imminent with no signs preceding it. “In passages that deal with the Second Advent there are signs or events that lead up to and signal the return of Jesus Christ (e.g., Matt. 24:4-28; Rev. 19:11-21). In each of these passages of Scripture there is the careful and extensive itemizing of details that should alert believers in that day that the Second Advent is about to occur. . . . On the other hand, there is no mention of any signs or events that precede the Rapture of the church in any of the Rapture passages. The point seems to be that the believer prior to this event is to look, not for some sign, but the Lord from heaven. If the Rapture was a part of the complex of events that make up the Second Advent, and not distinct from it, then we would expect that there would be a mention of signs or events in at least one passage.” (See Paul D. Feinberg, “The Case For The Pretribulation Rapture Position,” in Gleason Archer, Paul Feinberg, Douglas Moo, The Rapture: Pre-, Mid-, or Post Tribulational? p. 80)

(2) The Rapture is presented as a coming in blessing while the Second Coming is a coming for judgment. “In the clear Rapture passages, the Lord’s coming is presented as a coming in blessing for the saints. Nothing is said about His coming for judgment. On the other hand, passages about the second advent speak of the Lord’s coming in judgment upon His enemies (Rev. 19:11ff; Joel 3:12-16; Zech. 14:3-5).” (John Feinberg, p. 198). “In each of the Rapture passages there is no mention of trial before the event. Rather, there is the bare promise of Christ’s return for His own.” (Paul Feinberg, p. 81)

(3) Second Coming passages are in the context of the setting up of the Kingdom while the Rapture passages make no mention of the Kingdom. “Second advent passages are invariably followed by talk of setting up the kingdom after the Lord’s return (e.g., Matt. 24:31; 25:31ff; Zech. 14; Joel 3; Rev. 19-20). So, the second advent is preparatory to the establishment of the millennial kingdom. On the other hand, clear rapture passages give no hint that after the rapture the Lord establishes the kingdom.” (John Feinberg, p. 198)

(4) Glorified bodies at the Rapture: “It is very clear from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51ff that at the rapture those gathered to the Lord will be glorified. On the other hand, second advent passages say nothing about anyone (living or dead) receiving a glorified body.” (John Feinberg, p. 198) “Nowhere in the texts that deal with the Second Advent is there the teaching about the translation of living saints.” (Paul Feinberg, p. 82)

(5) No mention of meeting in the air in Second Coming passages: Nowhere in the Second Coming passages is a meeting in the air mentioned.

(6) Differences in timing of resurrections “There seems to be an inconsistency between the time of the resurrection at the Rapture and at the Second Coming. In the central Rapture passage dealing with this issue, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the time of the resurrection of dead saints in clearly stated to be during the descent of Christ of to the earth. Those raptured, living and dead saints, will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Contrast that information with what is found in Revelation 19-20. There, the order seems to be: the descent of Christ, the slaying of His enemies, the casting of the Beast and the False Prophet into the lake of fire, the binding of Satan, and then the resurrection of the saints. It seems as though the resurrection of the dead will be during the descent at the Rapture, but after the descent at the Second Coming.” (Paul Feinberg, p. 84)

(7) Differences in destiny at time of comings: “There seems to be an inconsistency between the destination of those who are raptured in the Rapture and the destination of those who participate in the Second Coming. In the posttribulation understanding of the events that surround the Second Coming, the church will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and will immediately accompany Him on His continued descent to the earth. Compare that with John 14:3. In the Rapture the Lord is going to come and take those raptured to be with Him. The clear implication is that the raptured saints will be taken to heaven, not earth. If this is so, then the destination of those caught up in the Rapture will be heaven. According to the Second Coming passages, however, the saints involved are headed for the earth.” (Paul Feinberg, p. 84)

(8) The role of the angels in the comings: At the Second Coming, the angels are the ones who will gather the elect (Matt. 24:31). At the Rapture Jesus is the direct agent of the gathering (1 Thess. 4:16).

(9) The “mystery” nature of the Rapture: “Paul speaks of the Rapture as a ‘mystery’ (1 Cor. 15:51-54), that is, a truth not revealed until it was disclosed by the apostles (Col. 1:26). Thus the Rapture is said to be a newly revealed mystery, making it a separate event. The Second Coming on the other hand, was predicted in the Old Testament (Dan. 12:1-3; Zech. 12:10; 14:4). (Thomas Ice in “The Biblical Basis for the Pretribulational Rapture,” in Basic Theology Applied, p. 269) 

(10) No mention of the Church in Revelation 4-18: Revelation 4-18 gives the most detailed account of the seven year Tribulation period. If the Church were to be in the Tribulation period, surely one would expect at least one reference to the Church in this time period. The Church, however, which is referred to nineteen times in the first three chapters of Revelation, is suddenly silent and never referred to in chapters 4-18. “It is remarkable and totally unexpected that John would shift from detailed instructions for the Church to absolute silence about the Church for the subsequent 15 chapters if, in fact, the Church continued into the tribulation.” (Richard L. Mayhue, Snatched Before the Storm, p. 8)

(11) Pretribulationism best explains the presence of nonglorified saints who will enter the Millennial Kingdom. The Bible indicates that living unbelievers will be removed from the earth and judged at the end of the Tribulation. Yet the Bible also teaches that children will be born during the Millennium and that people will be capable of sin (Isa. 65:20 and Rev. 20:7-10). How can this be? The pretribulational view allows for people to be saved after the Rapture and during the Tribulation who will then enter the Millennial Kingdom in nonglorified bodies. As John Feinberg says, “According to pretribulationism, after the rapture the Tribulation begins. The gospel is preached throughout the Tribulation and there are some who believe. Though many who believe are killed (e.g., Revelation 13:7, 15), not all believers are killed during the Tribulation. Those who live through the Tribulation go into the kingdom in natural bodies. In addition, some people accept the Lord when he returns at the end of the Tribulation (e.g., Zech. 12:10). Many of these people do not die at that point, and there is no evidence that they are given a glorified body when they receive Christ. These people are also available to go into the kingdom in natural bodies. For a pretrib position, there are seven years to get people saved prior to the kingdom, and some of those can go into the kingdom in natural bodies. . . . The position that is really in trouble with respect to this issue is the posttribulation rapture view. If everyone who goes at the rapture is glorified, and if the rapture occurs at the end of the Tribulation, who is left to enter the kingdom in natural bodies? All believers will have been raptured and glorified by that time.” (Italics mine) (John Feinberg, p. 201)

The nature and purpose of the Tribulation excludes the Church from being part of it. 

(12) Nature of Tribulation centers on Israel: According to Daniel 9:24-27, the “seventy weeks” prophecy including the final “one week” (seven years) is for Israel (“your people”). Jeremiah 30:7 refers to the Tribulation period as a time of “Jacob’s distress.” “While the church will experience tribulation in general during the present age (John 16:33), she is never mentioned as participating in Israel’s time of trouble, which includes the great tribulation, the day of the Lord, and the wrath of God.” (Ice and Demy, The Truth About The Rapture, p. 36)

Purpose #1: Preparation of Israel “The Bible teaches that the Tribulation is a time of preparation for Israel’s restoration and conversion (Deuteronomy 4:29, 30; Jeremiah 30:3-11; Zechariah 12:10).” (Ice and Demy, p. 36)

Purpose #2: Judgment for an unbelieving world Revelation 3:10 refers to the Tribulation period as “the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.” The second major purpose of the Tribulation, then, is to test the unbelieving world. “Those who dwell upon the earth” refers to those who are unbelievers on earth during the period described in Revelation 4-19. (Thomas Edgar, “An Exegesis of Rapture Passages,” in Issues in Dispensationalism, p. 216)

(13) The nature of the Church: If the nature of the Tribulation is Jewish and the purpose of the Tribulation is to bring Israel to belief and to judge the unbelieving world, what purpose does the church have in relation to this period? As shown already, the church is promised deliverance from this time of wrath (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; Rev. 3:10).

(14) The expectation of the Church is the imminent coming of Christ not the Tribulation period. “Passages such as 1 Corinthians 1:7; Titus 2:13 and Philippians 3:20 are applicable at this point. The believer is pictured as eagerly waiting and earnestly expecting the Savior. Watching for signs is entirely foreign to these passages. It never occurs. Not even once. Furthermore, not only is the believer to look for the any-moment return of the Lord, but he is to direct his life in the light of it (cf. Rom. 13:11-14; James 5:7-8; 1 John 3:1-3). If, on the other hand, there are specific prophesied signs, in reality we would not be looking for the Savior at any moment but instead should be watching for the revelation of the man of sin, the Great Tribulation, etc. There would be at least a seven-year preparation period.” (Earl D. Radmacher, “The Imminent Return of the Lord,” in Issues in Dispensationalism, pp. 264-65). “It is incongruous then that the Scriptures would be silent on such a traumatic change for the Church. If posttribulationism were true, one would expect the epistles to teach the fact of the Church in the tribulation, the purpose of the Church in the tribulation, and the conduct of the Church in the tribulation.” (Mayhue, p. 9)

(15) The Thessalonian’s expectation: That Paul had taught a Pretribulational Rapture can be inferred from 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3. In this passage, Paul notes that the Thessalonians had been “shaken” and “disturbed” because they had been led to think that they were presently in the Day of the Lord (i.e. the Tribulation period). The fact that they were disturbed is significant. If Paul had taught a posttribulational rapture, the Thessalonians would have had no reason to be disturbed since they would be expecting signs and persecution before the coming of the Lord. Thus, they could joyously look to the soon coming of the Lord after the Tribulation. However, the fact that the Thessalonians were shook up indicates that they did not expect to be in the Day of the Lord. A fair inference is that, in line with Paul’s previous teaching, the Thessalonians expected to be raptured prior to the Day of the Lord.

Concluding thoughts The purpose of this work has been to present a positive, biblical case for the pretribulational rapture position. The judgmental and Jewish nature of the Tribulation seems to exclude the Church who is promised deliverance from this time of wrath. The differences between Rapture and Second Coming passages, though not convincing to all, seem weighty enough to make it very possible that the two are different events happening at different times. If this be the case, this view harmonizes well with the fact that the Church is nowhere to be found in the very detailed Tribulation section of Revelation 4-19. This view also harmonizes well with the fact that there must be a time period allowed for people to be saved and then enter the Millennial Kingdom in nonglorified bodies.

 

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John Piper and The Rapture

JOHN PIPER AND THE RAPTURE

Rapture 1

(Tom’s Perspectives posted originally at http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-JohnPiperandTheRaptu.pdf)

by Thomas Ice

A new movie version of Tim LaHaye’s and Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind novel is scheduled for release in movie theaters on October 2014. This version features Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage cast in the role of pilot Rayford Steele. The announcement of this movie release has lead to a number of articles critical of the pretribulational rapture. Morgan Lee produced a piece primarily quoting William Craig,[1] a Philosophy professor at historically pretribulational Talbot School of Theology in Southern California. Another article appeared a week later: “Nine Reasons Why John Piper Disagrees with Nicolas Cage’s ‘Left Behind’ Movie’s View of Rapture.” [2] Apparently a number of folks within the Evangelical community are concerned that the new movie may have a great impact upon the thinking of the Christian community, so they are trying to get a head start on bashing the biblical basis for our blessed hope.

PIED PIPER

Retired pastor and author John Piper has a large following, especially among younger Evangelicals. While he is premillennial, he is decidedly anti-pre-trib and not a supporter of the modern state of Israel. According to Noske, Piper recently tweeted his nine reasons against pretribulationism. Even though space is limited, I will attempt to evaluate those reasons. [3]

1. “To meet” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 means to meet and accompany back to earth, thus, cannot be pretribulational. The Greek word for “to meet” does NOT mean what Piper says. Piper’s view was developed in the 1930s and more recent scholarship has disproved his speculation. [4] “To meet” does not imply any direction on the basis of the word itself. Instead, spatial direction is indicated by the context of a passage.

2. 2 Thessalonians 1:5–7 refers to the second coming. I agree this passage refers to the second coming and not the rapture. Perhaps there are some pretribulationists who see the rapture in this passage but I have never meet one. Many of Piper’s objections, such as this one, are based upon a false understanding of what pretribulationists actually believe. He is chasing after windmills.

3. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 Piper equates the “gathering together to Him” and “the day of the Lord” as referring to the same event, the second coming. I disagree! They are separate items. The phrase “gathering together to Him” and “to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17) are identical concepts. Both refer to the rapture as a separate event from that of the “day of the Lord.” The “day of the Lord” is used in the Old and New Testaments to primarily refer to the seven-year tribulation period and is not at all a synonym for the second coming. The phrase “great and terrible day of the Lord” is a reference to the second coming (Isa. 13:9; Joel 2:31; Zeph. 1:14–16; Mal. 4:1, 5). If Piper is correct concerning his view on this matter, then it would mean that the man of sin (the antichrist) would come after the second coming, which does not make sense within anyone’s viewpoint.

Piper says further support for his view is that “gathering” is also used in Matthew 24:31, which is clearly a posttribulational event. He claims it is the same word as in 2 Thessalonians 2. Actually, both are from the same root but are not the same word. One is a noun (2 Thess. 2) and the other is a verb (Matt. 24). The contexts of the two passages are very different, just like the rapture and the second coming are also very different events.

4. If Paul intended to teach pretribulationism then why did he not just come out and say that in 2 Thessalonians 2:3? I have been arguing in a number of articles [5] over the years that the Greek word often translated “falling away” or “apostasy” is best translated “departure.” Since the context supports the idea of a spatial or physical departure in 2:3, then Paul is saying exactly what Piper suggests. Paul tells them that they are not in the day of the Lord or the tribulation since the departure of the church, which is the rapture, has not taken place. The false teachers in 2 Thessalonians are teaching posttribulationism and Paul corrects them with pretribulationism.

5. Piper says no pre-trib rapture is found in Matthew 24 or Mark 13 or Luke 21. I totally agree that the rapture is not found anywhere in the Olivet Discourse. That Discourse provides Jesus’ outline of the seven-year tribulation period leading up to the second coming with no mention of the rapture. The rapture of the Church is not revealed by Christ until the night before He was crucified. The Upper Room Discourse (John 13–16) contains Christ’s introduction to Church Age truth that He expands upon in the Epistles. It makes sense that the new revelation about the rapture was introduced to His disciples shortly before His death and resurrection (John 14:1–3). [6]

6. Piper notes the New Testament teaches saints will be protected by God during the tribulation by the seal of God (Rev. 9:4). How is this an argument against pretribulationism since all holding to a pre-trib position believe that there will be saints who will be protected during the tribulation? Those saints in the tribulation are never called the church, instead they are the hundreds of millions who will be saved after the rapture of the church during the tribulation (Rev. 7:9–17). Many will be martyred (Rev. 6:9–11) and many will make it through the perils of that time and will enter into the millennial kingdom in their mortal bodies. So it means all will not be protected during the tribulation as Piper intimates. Revelation 9:4 speaks specifically of the five month torture of the demonic locusts (Rev. 9:1–11).

7. Next, he speaks of the command to “watch” as admonished by our Lord in Matthew 25:1– 13 when speaking of the parable of the ten virgins. Matthew 25 is a parable to Israel about watching for the second coming, not the rapture. The rapture is never found in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24—25). Instead, the church, in relation to the rapture is “waiting” for His Son from heaven . . . Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10). Since the rapture is signless, unlike the second coming, there are no signs to watch for, thus, the church is charged with waiting for her Bridegroom (1 Cor. 1:7; Phil. 3:20; 1 Thess. 1:10; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 1:13; Jude 21).

8. Piper cites Revelation 3:10 and pronounces it as the strongest passage for pre-trib, then says it means to be preserved through the tribulation. Piper cites Galatians 1:4 and John 17:15 in an attempt to support his misguided notion that “kept from the hour” in Revelation 3:10 really means preservation instead of its normal meaning of kept from the time and place of the tribulation. [7] First, Galatians 1:4 does not employ the Greek phrase “tereo ek” used in Revelation 3:10, therefore, the Galatians passage is not a factor to help one understand the meaning of 3:10. Next, the only other time tereo ek is used in the Greek New Testament is John 17:15 where it speaks of God the Father keeping believers from the evil one. I am sure Piper would agree Christ’s prayer has been answered since all genuine believers are protected from Satan. In the same way, all church age believers will be kept out of the time of the tribulation via the rapture before that seven-year event.

9. His final reason is “New Testament moral incentive is . . . that we should love the appearing of the Lord so that we want to be pure as the Lord is pure.” [8] This is hardly an argument against pretribulationism since we believe most mentions of the rapture in New Testament Epistles are accompanied with a moral imperative applied to the present. Piper cites 1 John 3:1–3 as an example. Pretribulationists believe this passage is an example of multiple references to moral purity in the present in light of a future event. This verse and many others refer to the rapture and admonishes believers to “purify oneself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).

CONCLUSION

Evangelical leaders like John Piper appear to be on a crusade against the New Testament teaching of the pre-trib rapture doctrine as introduced by Jesus Himself in the Upper Room Discourse and expounded upon and applied in the Epistles by the Apostles, especially in Paul’s letters. In fact, Paul calls the rapture a believer’s “Blessed Hope” (Titus 2:13). Since the early 1970s in North America, God has used the teaching of pretribulationism as a key factor in seeing millions of people come to faith in Christ. Opposition to pretribulationism in the 70s came from liberals and unbelievers. Now, in 2014 many Evangelical leaders lead the way warning of the supposed dangers of preaching such a message. As a new movie is about to be released featuring the pre-trib rapture, believers should be praying that God will use it as a catalyst to proclaim the gospel to an unbelieving world so our Lord will use it to see an influx of unbelievers getting saved, similar to the early 70s. Maranatha!

ENDNOTES

[1] Morgan Lee, “No, Christians Should Not Believe in ‘Left Behind’s’ Rapture Theology, Says Prominent Christian Philosopher,” The Christian Post, July 30, 2014; http://www.christianpost.com.

[2] Lauren Leigh Noske, “Nine Reasons Why John Piper Disagrees with Nicolas Cage’s ‘Left Behind’ Movie’s View of Rapture,” The Gospel Herald, August 6, 2014; http://www.gospelherald.com.

[3] I am also drawing from Piper’s “Definitions and Observations Concerning the Second Coming of Christ,” Desiring God Ministry, August 30, 1987; http://www.desiringgod.org

[4] See the following: Kevin Zuber, “1 Thessalonians 4:17 and the meaning of ‘to meet’”, http://www.pre- trib.org/articles/view/1-thessalonians-417-and-meaning-of-to-meet-meeting-dignitary-or-retrieving- bride. Thomas Ice, “The Meeting in the Sky,” http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice- TheMeetingintheSky.pdf. Michael R. Crosby, “Hellenistic Formal Receptions and Paul’s use of APANTSIS in 1 Thessalonians 4:17,” Bulletin for Biblical Research Vol. 4, 1994, pp. 15-34.

[5] See Thomas Ice, “Is the Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3?” http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice- TheRapturein2Thessal.pdf. Thomas Ice, “The ‘Departure’ in 2 Thessalonians 2:3” http://www.pre- trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-TheDeparturein2Thess.pdf.

[6] See Thomas Ice, “The Rapture and John 14” http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice- TheRaptureandJohn14.pdf.

[7]  See Thomas Ice, “Kept from the Hour” http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-KeptFromTheHour.pdf.

[8]  Piper, “Definitions and Observations.”

 

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