Posts Tagged ‘society’

THE TIME OF THE ABOMINATION SPOKEN BY DANIEL

 

Note to the reader: this article was posted recently, but given the chaotic political events of the past few weeks and a forthcoming event in the heavens, it deserves to be repeated and thoroughly digested because of its uniqueness. The posting does engage in date-setting, not with respect to the day or the hour, but only, as Scripturally-encouraged, the year, and perhaps secondarily the season. It may or may not represent truth; like its many predecessor attempts, it could well turn out to be a false alarm; if that turns out to be the case, I’ll be relieved and happy to continue pursuing the joys of a normal life. As a matter of fact, this will be the last posting for about three weeks, not because I’ll be going into hiding, but simply because my wife Carolyn and I will be vacationing.

An effort to understand where we are in time with respect to Jesus’ second advent is considered to be improper in some Christian circles. After all, Jesus Himself declared in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) that “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Pastors for centuries have used those words to justify their neglect of prophecy despite the fact that at least a fourth of the Bible is devoted to prophecy, and that in Matthew 24 and elsewhere, including Revelation, Jesus Himself provided us with some very detailed prophecies of end-time events. Moreover, Jesus also chastised the Pharisees regarding their indifference toward prophecies relating to their own times, saying in Matthew 16 “When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather; for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and overcast. O you hypocrites, you can discern the face of the sky; but can you not discern the signs of the times?”

The bottom line is that although we may not have access to the specific day or hour of the end of the age, we are encouraged – no – commanded – to understand that approximate time, perhaps even to the year and month. Paul seconds this perception in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6:

“But of the times and seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as travails a woman with child, and they shall not escape.

“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all children of light, and children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober-minded.”

Courageous Christian scholars like Hal Lindsey have taken those words to be marching orders, developing a view of end-time events and timing that is now accepted throughout the Christian community as standard. In that view, derived chiefly from Daniel 7 and 9, Matthew 24 and Revelation, the world will endure a seven-year Tribulation Period, the latter three and a half years of which will be the terrible Great Tribulation of widespread suffering and enormous destruction. A prime cause of this pain will be a general descent into ungodliness and rejection of God which will support the rise of a one-world government, including an economic system in which anybody who wishes to conduct a normal life will be required to worship the dark leader to come by accepting an electronic implant. In the light of Daniel 9:26, the world leader will have Roman roots. Christians will escape the brunt of this awful period through the pre-Tribulation Rapture, where they will meet Jesus Christ in the air.

More recently, Irvin Baxter has challenged some of these assumptions. Among these differences, Baxter views the Rapture as occurring at the end of the Tribulation, rather than at the beginning. Because the actual destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple was carried out by local Arab conscripts under the Roman leadership, Baxter interprets Daniel 9:26 as allowing for an antichrist out of the Mideast. Baxter may well have the edge on Lindsey (and a great many others) on both of these points.

Lindsey and Baxter agree on a seven-year Tribulation, in the midst of which the antichrist commits the Abomination of Desolation in the Jerusalem temple. For that reason, they hold to the expectation, as do virtually all other prophetic scholars, that a third temple will be built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in order that an abomination may be committed against it.

The seven-year Tribulation and its midpoint deserve further clarification. The source of the generally-accepted view on how the Tribulation as its associated events fits into Bible eschatology is Daniel 9:27, in which the antichrist will confirm the covenant (interpreted as a peace treaty) with many for one week (of years); in the middle of the week he stops the temple sacrifice and initiates the Abomination of Desolation. Jesus Himself referred to this abomination in Matthew 24:15:

“When you, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whosoever reads, let him understand), . . .”

There is a problem with the standard interpretation of this passage, and it is far from trivial. Since the beginning of the Christian era, the temple of God has been considered to be the Church, with its members indwelt by the Holy Spirit as did the Shekinah Glory indwell the Tabernacle in the wilderness and Solomon’s Temple. Moreover, and of more immediate import to the present discussion, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock also occupy space on the Temple Mount. This occupation for a very long time has excluded the possibility of rebuilding the Jewish Temple on that site. The Islamic presence there, having taken place after Jesus spoke of Daniel in Matthew 24, is itself an abomination that attempts to glorify Islam over the God of Scripture, a situation which is as monstrous as imaginable to the followers of the Hebrew God. I find it difficult to understand why such an important event would have been overlooked by Bible scholars and not have been spoken of in Scripture.

After some reflection on this state of affairs, I have arrived at the rather obvious conclusion that this event was indeed spoken of in Scripture, being the very Abomination of Desolation noted by both Daniel and Jesus. The relevant account is Daniel 9:27:

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

If indeed the mosque and the dome are the abominations, history records the start of their construction as 687 A.D. and their completion as 705/6 A.D. If indeed this construction represents the abomination of desolation, one of these dates would be an appropriate midpoint of the week spoken of by Daniel 9:27. The span of time involved would appear to be considerably longer than the present understanding of seven years. This assessment is confirmed in Daniel 12:11:

“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.”

The temple was first destroyed by Nebudchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 B.C., an event that was foremost in Daniel’s mind. There is a precedent in Ezekiel 4:4 and 5 for assigning a day for a year. Another precedent, borne out in the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9:26 regarding the timing of Jesus’ first advent, is that a prophetic year consists of 360 days.

Given this information, the 1290-year interval between the destruction of the temple in 586 B.C. and the abomination of desolation can be calculated in terms of actual time. Applying a conversion of prophetic to actual years to the 1290 figure results in 1272 actual years. Adding that to the time of the temple’s destruction in 586 B.C. one arrives at a date of 687 A.D. As noted above, this is precisely the date that construction, or the “setting up” began on the mosque and the dome. Whether or not it represents the midpoint of the week will be ascertained below.

That particular week begins with a different event, the confirmation of a covenant, commonly understood as the antichrist’s signing of a peace treaty with Israel. The duration of this “week” can be found in Revelation 11:1 and 2:

“And there was given me a reed like a rod; and the angel stood, saying, Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship in it. But the court, which is outside the temple, leave out, and measure it not, for it is given to the gentiles, and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty two months.”

If the gentiles here are taken as the followers of Islam and the court outside the temple refers to that area occupied by the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, a time duration of forty two months would apply from the time that these structures were completed rather than begun, as then the Islamic structures would be in use. The projects were completed in 705/6 A.D.

A prophetic month has a duration of thirty days. Just as Daniel’s “weeks” were intended to represent “sevens” of years, so also may the “months” in this passage represent “thirties” of years. In that interpretation, forty two months is equivalent to 1260 years, which would be the midpoint of a 2520-year duration. (As a side point, it is interesting to note that 2520 years is equivalent to 360 weeks of years, or a prophetic year of weeks.) Looking backward 1260 prophetic years, or 1242 actual years according to the ratio of 360 to 365.25, from this “midpoint” of 705 A.D., one arrives at the date of 537 B.C. Is this date significant with respect to the confirmation of a covenant with Israel?

Yes, emphatically so. As described in the Book of Ezra, the Persian King Cyrus, as specifically foretold by the prophet Isaiah (Is 44:28) long before Cyrus’ birth, assumed control over Babylon seventy years after her captivity precisely as predicted by Jeremiah (Jer 25:12). Cyrus issued a decree permitting Israelites to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. Wikipedia and other sources place the subsequent Israelites’ return in confirmation of the decree, or covenant, at 537 B.C. Some Internet sources place the decree itself at that date.

Looking forward from this midpoint of 705/6 A.D., the corresponding interpretation of this passage in Revelation regarding the latter half of the “week” is that the Temple Mount is given to the gentiles for a duration of 1260 prophetic years, or 1242 actual years, from their completion in 705/6 A.D.

This leads to the year 1948 A.D., the year that Israel resumed as a nation. It would take another nineteen years for Israel to recapture the Temple Mount, but, like God’s promise to Caleb regarding the possession of Hebron, when Israel became a nation again, she clearly possessed God’s promise that the Temple Mount belonged to her as well.

In Daniel 12:12 another duration is listed, this one being considerably more optimistic:

“Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the thousand three hundred and thirty five days.”

This duration is usually taken to include the 1290-day period noted in the previous verse. This interpretation is not necessary – it is just as likely that it refers to an entirely separate duration, consecutive rather than an extension. Assuming that to be the case, also assuming that the “days” represent prophetic years, a conversion from prophetic to actual results in the number 1316, which, when added to the completion date of the mosque and dome, results in the year 2021 A.D. Given the blessed nature of this date, it is possible that it represents the end of the Tribulation period, which would be the time of Jesus’ second advent.

But there’s other information to consider. Many prophecies have two fulfillments, one being of a long duration and the other being of a shorter time period. It is possible that this prophecy is one of them, wherein besides the long-term fulfillment noted above, the more common interpretation of a shorter, seven-year period at the very end will also come into play.

Suppose, in that context, the year 2021 A.D. does indeed represent the end of the seven-year Tribulation. The Great Tribulation, then, would begin three and a half years before that, or in the middle of 2017 to early-to-mid 2018. Interestingly, this would also be around the seventieth anniversary of Israel’s nationhood in 1948, and around the fiftieth anniversary of the 1967 War in which Israel took back the Temple Mount. This anniversary could be immediately subsequent to a Jubilee Year for Israel, as there is a Jubilee after every forty-nine years, and the reclamation of the Temple Mount in 1967 would have been an excellent occasion for a Jubilee year.

It’s quite possible, almost probable, that the speculation made here will, like its numerous predecessors, fail to be fulfilled. But we do know one thing: it won’t take long to find out.

THE TEN PERIODS OF SMYRNA’S PERSECUTION

 

In Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 Jesus dictated messages to John regarding seven Churches located in what is now Turkey. At the time John was in exile on the Island of Patmos, having been banished there by the Roman emperor Domitian for placing his Christian belief above the worship of the emperor. John’s vision occurred toward the end of the first century, before John was released at Domitian’s death in A.D. 96.

These Churches are, in the sequence that Jesus presented them, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. The messages generally followed the same seven elements: Church name, the name Jesus chose for Himself in addressing them, a commendation, a concern over a matter that needed correction, an exhortation, a promise to the overcomer, and a closing statement. The closing statement was identical for all seven Churches: He that hath an ear, listen. Two Churches were singled out for having no commendation: Sardis and Laodicea; another two Churches were singled out for having no concern: Smyrna and Philadelphia.

These seven Churches are variously identified as seven Churches representative of Christianity at the time that Jesus delivered the message, as well as Churches that typified the prevailing character of the Church over seven sequential eras of Christianity, and Churches representative of Christianity over the entire Christian era from the first Pentecost to the Second Coming of Christ. In actuality, the views are not mutually exclusive; they all have some validity. Corresponding to the sequential view, Christian theologians have associated an identification and time period for each Church, as follows:

Ephesus: Apostolic, first through fourth centuries

Smyrna: Persecuted, first through fourth centuries

Pergamos: Heretical, first through fourth centuries

Thyratira: Post-Constantine, fifth through ninth centuries

Sardis: Medieval, tenth through sixteenth centuries

Philadelphia: Missionary, sixteenth through nineteenth centuries

Laodicea: End-Time, twentieth century to the return of Jesus Christ to earth

The specific message given to Smyrna is presented in Revelation 2:8-11:

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These things say the first and the last, who was dead, and is alive. I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of them who say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things that you shall suffer. Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried, and you shall have tribulation ten days; be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches: He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.”

Over the years many Christians have wondered what Jesus meant by the ten days of persecution. I favor the opinion given by John Foxe in Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World. During the time interval ranging from A.D. 64 under the reign of Nero to A.D. 313 under Diocletian, Foxe in Chapters 1 and 2 of his work identified ten separate periods when persecution was particularly violent and widespread, typically a result of the Christian refusal to worship the Roman emperor as god. During these and subsequent persecutions, Christians remained nonviolent, holding fast to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, particularly His Word in Matthew 5:43-48 regarding the treatment of enemies:

“You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy; but I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you. That you may be the children of your Father, who is in heaven; for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love them who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors the same? And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? Do not even the heathen so? Be you, therefore, perfect, even as your Father, who is in heaven, is perfect.”

In fact, as a rule Christians under persecution have, in the spirit of Titus 3:1, generally attempted to follow the dictates of the governments of which they have been subjects. It only has been under a direct conflict of loyalty between God and the government that Christians have practiced civil disobedience. An example of that is given in Acts 5:26-29:

“Then went the captain with the officers, and brought [the apostles] without violence; for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council; and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we strictly command you that you should not teach in [Jesus Christ’s] name? And, behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered, and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Persecution typically is not unexpected in the Christian community, except, perhaps, in those Churches having the Laodicean character. Jesus Himself gave Christians plenty of warning about it, typical examples being given in Matthew 5:10-12 and John 15:18-20:

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.”

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of this world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”

It is an interesting fact that the persecution of the early Christians didn’t harm the Church in the least, but rather helped it grow. It strengthened those Christians who held fast in its wake and in the scattering of those who fled, it served to propagate the Gospel to lands that otherwise would not have known of Jesus Christ and the salvation that He offered.

A summary of Foxe’s take on the ten “days” of Smyrna’s persecution is presented in the table below.

PERIOD DATES PERSECUTOR COMMENT

1 54-68 Nero Peter and Paul killed

2 95-96 Domitian John Exiled to Patmos

3 104-117 Trajan

4 161-180 Marcus Aurelius Polycarp martyred

5 200-211 Septimus Severus

6 235-237 Maximus

7 249-251 Decius

8 257-260 Valerian

9 270-275 Aurelian

10 303-313 Diocletian worst persecution

After Diocletian’s persecution, Constantine became Emperor of Rome and legitimized Christianity, which led to growing complacence thereafter, a condition that continued to worsen until the Reformation, of which Martin Luther played a major part. The persecutions that occurred during the Middle Ages were largely associated with the Catholic Inquisition. Modern persecutions are primarily the result of the Muslim hatred toward Christians and the attempt of morally weak governments to maintain an uneasy peace between themselves and the Muslim communities within their borders.

AND HE DID THAT WHICH WAS EVIL . . .

 

When Israel was torn from Judah after Solomon’s reign, its leadership failed to follow God, giving rise to a familiar litany regarding its kings, as is exemplified in 2 Kings 13:2a:

“And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

This litany is frequently accompanied by the mention of King Jeroboam of Israel as being a prominent example of evildoing. What did Jeroboam do to so thoroughly offend God? According to 1 Kings 12 and 13, he made two golden calves, reminiscent of what Aaron did to evoke the wrath of God when Moses remained in communication with God on Mount Sinai; he also set up altars for the worship of these abominations in two cities of Israel. In Exodus 22:20, God made plain His displeasure with that practice:

“He that sacrificeth to any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.”

Moreover, he set up as priests people of poor character, unqualified for that office, and who were actively and deliberately disobedient to God.

This accusation of God against the leaders of Israel sounds strangely familiar. We now have a man sitting in the office of the president of the United States who refuses to personally participate in a national day of prayer, who has removed all evidence of our Judeo-Christian God from the venues that he selects to speak to the American public, who celebrates, the Muslim feast of Ramadan at the White House to the exclusion of similar Jewish and Christian observances, who grants sanctuary to Muslim refugees from the Mideast to the exclusion of persecuted Christian refugees from that area, and, in general, exhibits at best a cold indifference and, behind the scenes, a teeth-gnashing hostility against our Christian God.

This hostility is evidenced by the individuals of poor character whom he has selected to oversee his interests in matters of government related to the public worship of God: Mikey Weinstein, who, as overseer of chaplains in our armed forces, has prohibited at the threat of court-martial mention by a chaplain of the name of Jesus Christ; Loretta Lynch, who as United States Attorney General has promoted laws regarding the gay and transsexual agendas in opposition to the Word of God, and the punishment of Christians who attempt to hold fast to their faith in response to these new and obscene laws; the White House staff and advisors, who actively work to marginalize Christians; and Hillary Clinton, who as Secretary of State has supported, through her work and example, the undermining of the nobility so closely associated with the Jewish and Christian faiths.

It wouldn’t surprise me if God has already written Obama’s epitaph:

“And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

IS THERE NOW NO REMEDY?

 

The Scriptural Books of Kings and Chronicles are filled with account after bleak account of Israeli kings who had led their people away from God into depravity and the worship of false gods. Time after time, God would send the wayward nations of Israel and Judah signals to show His displeasure with their behavior. These wake-up chastisements were often severe, but never so bad that their way of life was irrevocably gone. Knowing that they were loved by God, the people, from the king on down, assumed that their lives would continue in the stability they had come to take for granted.

Even after their northern neighbor Israel was sacked and its people carried off into distant locations, the people of Judah, with intervals of Godly behavior, continued their descent into perdition.

Until the time finally came, as noted in 2 Chronicles 36:9-17, that there was no remedy.

“Jehoichin was eight years old when he began o reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem; and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. And when the year was ended, King Nebudchadnezzar brought him to Babylon, with the precious vessels of the house of the Lord, and made Zedekiah, his brother, king over Judah and Jerusalem. Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah, the prophet, speaking from the mouth of the Lord. And he also rebelled against King Nebudchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God; but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the Lord God of Israel. Moreover,all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after allthe abominations of the nations, and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up early and sending, because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place.

“But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy.

“Therefore, he brought upon them the king of the Chaldeans, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him who stooped for age; he gave all into his hand.

“And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. And they burned the house of God, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all it precious vessels. And those who had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon, where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths; for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to full threescore and ten years.”

How far do you think our country has traveled down that same path? Political correctness has trumped the commandments of our God to the point where failing to heed the strident cry of those who claim to be victims of bigotry represents criminal behavior. This blatant disregard for the freedom of religion as originally intended no longer matters, as those of us who still consider the Judeo-Christian God to be ours are being marginalized to the point where our collective voice is of no consequence. Violence has come to Main Street in a multitude of forms. Drugs, alcohol and pornography are epidemic in our culture.

From what I’ve read of Scripture, God’s warning to other nations serves rather bluntly as an example to ours, which means that there will come a day of reckoning where God Himself perceives that there is no remedy for our behavior. From my perspective, that day may well be tomorrow.

BACKGROUND TO BUDDY #18

Note to the reader: the series of articles entitled Background to Buddy were extracted from a Christian nonfiction work that formed the basis for the novel Buddy, which is available from either Amazon or Signalman Publishing. Directions are noted on the page entitled Buddy on this blog site. The purpose of this work was to explain the reasons why I consider the Holy Spirit to be functionally female. Adventure episodes and humor were added for the entertainment of both the reader and the author.

Chapter 10: The Pattern of the Divine in the Human Family

When God made man in His own image (Genesis 1:27, 28), His forming them both male and female was an important element in the image of the Divine attributes, but it was only a part of that image. At a higher and more basic level, as we have noted in an earlier chapter, is His creation of the family and its functional interaction as a pattern of the Godhead.

Aspects of the pattern of family can be discerned today in our own interrelationships, as I intended to show in the following excerpt from page 161 of Family of God1.

“Under the extraordinary circumstance of disaster or war, a man might bond with his companions through the sharing of hardship and fear. In some cases, this bond may become so close that he will lay down his life for them. But the individual character and the conditions that might bring this about are so unique that medals are granted for altruism of this order. More typically, man is, at best, indifferent to the welfare of his neighbors and acquaintances. At his worst, he regularly places those with whom he is in contact at a disadvantage for his own profit, caring little about his victims’ consequent loss and discomfort. He lies, cheats, covets, and steals, doing these things with impunity under a pragmatic and often twisted legal system. He may do them with little sense of wrongdoing. Hidden behind the mask of a false face or the tinted glass of his automobile, he often indulges in nasty, mean-spirited thoughts: he hates; he is quick to take offense and visualize a bad end for the offender. In this manner he might, in his mind, break most of God’s commandments without hesitation during a simple drive from home to work.

“But there is a unique relationship in which that same individual will often behave in an altogether more altruistic manner. That better relationship exists within his family, with his spouse and children. Historically, most people on earth have willingly belonged to this unit, exercising their responsibilities to it and taking pleasure and comfort from it. The individual intuitively understands and accepts the principle that while every member of the family unit deeply and permanently belongs to him, he also belongs to them in that same way. He accepts as natural the principle of sharing: of shared responsibilities, shared activities and recreation, shared possessions and, most importantly, shared intimacy. Within the impositions and limitations of the larger society to which he belongs, the individual also usually will accept as natural and beneficial that particularly complementary division of function and labor that will result in the most secure and orderly maintenance of the family unit. Beyond that, he will often behave as nobly as the heroic soldier in the protection of his family members from harm.

“In behaving as he does with respect to his family, man elevates the unit to a position greater than himself. He does so naturally and without reservation, sensing no conflict in this behavior with the essential components of his individual identity. There is no conflict because the integrating factor is love in a variety of different manifestations. Love produces harmony in place of friction, and results in unity rather than separation.

“Given the imperfect and often base nature of fallen man, his historic nobility in the family setting is quite different than his behavior with respect to the rest of mankind. It is, in fact, so different that it is unique. That man must function so well in the context of family merely to survive is incidental. He was designed to operate that way. As we have seen, God created man in His own image, one that included the Godhead as an integral feature.

“As God designed it, the family operates as a wonderfully effective means to bring individuals into a unity larger than themselves. A man and a woman share a romantic love. Through that love they form an intimate union of body and soul. That union, in turn, creates a new life that is also shared between them, and expands their shared love into a new form. Through the nurturing of that larger love the life they created develops and grows. Along the way, the couple may have struggled to develop a farm or a business, so that as the child matures, it can first participate to the benefit of the existing family unit, and eventually acquire it for the benefit of his own new family. During this entire process the constituents of the family function not as individuals but as components of a unit.

“The family provides the only natural context in which man will give up his individuality with a willing spirit. There are other human institutions in which individuals contribute to a greater whole, but they are artificial and contrived. Within these other institutions are inevitably found strife, backbiting, self-service, forced participation, and a host of other evils. Because of its unique bond of love involving the creation and nurturing of life, the family stands alone as a cohesive unit in which its members can claim: we are one.

“If imperfect man represents the family as well as he does, the Godhead in its absolute perfection exhibits all the elements of love in such a perfectly harmonious interaction that its result is a transcendent Unity. This Unity is of an order of perfection that permits God to speak of Himself as One. As we have already noted, its perfection is not only functional; it is romantic, as one might easily glean from the following Scriptural excerpt:

“’Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!
“’Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of ebanon. A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard’”

“The Song of Solomon, from which verses 4:9-13 above typify, illustrates this romance. But it has a further significance. Although it applies first to the Godhead, it also describes a future relationship between Jesus and humanity for which our family institution is simply the prelude. On what basis is this extravagant claim made? Turning first to Genesis 1:21-24, we find a depiction of the beginning, essence and basic significance of family:

“’And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
“And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.’”

“In the context of this description, note the incredible statement that Paul makes in Ephesians 5 starting with verse 17:

“’Wherefore, be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
“’Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
“’For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.
“’Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself: and the wife see that she reverence her husband.’”

“Herein Scripture explicitly shows that when Jesus shall perform His new functional role as Divine Will on earth, He shall do so with redeemed mankind at His side. Mankind, too, shall have a new functional role in this new heavenly order, that of Jesus’ wife. Just as a child, as it approaches maturity, is given to understand the significance of male and female and begins to anticipate a future as a spouse, our eyes will eventually open to what Scripture has already told us. Jesus awaits our coming of age. This was the beautiful mystery of which Paul wrote to the Ephesians.

“There has been some speculation over the centuries as to whether Jesus may have had a hidden romance. He has often been linked in this regard with Mary of Magdalene2. After all, it is rather difficult to think of an all-powerful God taking the time and effort to come to earth as a man and then leaving without once having tasted of the greatest delight obtainable on the planet. His supposed celibacy somehow makes Him incomplete in many minds.

“But His celibacy did make Him incomplete! As the Son of God He was already betrothed to His Church. That is the mystery of which Paul spoke and His great promise of future joy to those who love Him, that without His Church He is indeed incomplete. That is the wedding for which He is yet waiting, and which He joyfully anticipated at the wedding in Cana (John 2). Just as He permitted the prophets to define Him before he came to earth, he permits his Church to complete His function as a man. In the fullness of God’s time, mankind will yet serve again in the function of implementation, this time alongside the risen Jesus as His partner in marriage.

“This is why, when we recite the following verses of the Lord’s prayer as instructed by Jesus, we may be really speaking out His promise to us:

“’…thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’”

“These words are a gift to the beloved of God. If the possibility upon which we speculated in Part Four [Part One in the original edition] is actually true, this gift would indeed be an amazing one. Just as Jesus is the Son of the Divine Will, He may well assume that function of Will in the future in the context of Family. And, using His Church as the Means of implementing that new Will, He may bear the universe a new Child in its Implementation. That Child also would belong to us, the Church, as the Wife of Jesus.”

[to be continued]