What Gospel Is Proclaimed Before the End Comes?
The Apostle Peter said that disciples were a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation so that they could "proclaim the mighty acts of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Pet 2:9). Jesus commanded his disciples, "'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations'" (Matt 28:19). And for most of twenty centuries, His disciples have, beginning in Jerusalem, spread Christianity to the world, proclaiming repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name to all nations. Early on, these disciples reached India, China, Russia, the coast of Britain, and possibly, even the Americas. By the 4th-Century, there were few places not penetrated by disciples. But the events described by Jesus in His Olivet prophecy did not occur. The end of the age did not occur.
Jesus' ministry in 1st-Century Judea was approximately three and a half years long, but most of what is recorded about His ministry occurs at its beginning, and at its end. Jesus would be sacrificed as the Passover Lamb of God close to the hour when the nation of Israel annually sacrificed paschal lambs; He would enter the grave at the hour of sacrifice (John 19:31, 42). The Sabbath day was the first high day of Unleavened Bread (v. 14). So Jesus was killed on the Preparation Day for Passover, and He becomes the spiritual reality of the sacrifice of the Passover lamb that caused the Death Angel to pass over the houses of ancient Israel in Egypt. He was killed on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan (Lev 23:5); the first high day of Passover or Unleavened Bread was on the 15th (v. 6).
In addition to the Apostle John recording when Jesus was killed, he records when Jesus entered Jerusalem that last time: "Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. …The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival [i.e., Passover] heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him" (John 12:1, 12). Thus, it was on the fifth day before Passover, which began at sundown between the 14th and 15th of Nisan, that Jesus entered Jerusalem. And if we count backwards from the high day, we find that Jesus entered Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan, the day when the Passover lamb was to be taken and penned (Exod 12:3). It was also on this day that the uncircumcised children of Israel in the second covenant of Moses, the covenant by which hearts and mind would be circumcised (Deu 30:6), crossed the Jordan and entered the promised land (Jos 4:19).
The tradition of a Palm Sunday entrance, Good Friday crucifixion presents an event chronology contrary to Scripture. If Sunday were the 10th of Nisan--and without legitimate dispute, Jesus as the Lamb of God entered Jerusalem on the 10th of the first month and was crucified on the 14th--the crucifixion would have, necessarily, occurred on Thursday. Jesus was not crucified on the 15th, the high Sabbath. And there never has been a tradition of Jesus being crucified on Thursday; whereas, there is an early tradition of Jesus being crucified on Wednesday, the women resting on the high day, then going into the market on Friday to buy spices, then again resting on the weekly Sabbath, before coming to the tomb the first day of the week to find Jesus gone. In this tradition of a Wednesday crucifixion, Jesus spends three full days, and three full nights in the heart of the earth. While the Greek expression of three days and three nights can be ambiguous, Jesus said, when asked for a sign, that, "no sign will be given to [this evil generation] except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth'" (Matt 12:39-40). The length of time Jonah spent in the belly of the fish, when his account is examined in Hebrew, is unambiguous. A "day" is the hot portion of a twenty-four hour period, and a "night" is to turn away from the light. Thus, three days and three nights equal 72 hours. Jesus could not be in the grave for less than 72 hours and be the Son of Man, nor would He have been in the grave for longer. Therefore, based on a reasonable assignment of linguistic objects to icons, we can state with certainty that Jesus entered Jerusalem on the Sabbath of the 10th of Nisan; He was crucified on Wednesday, the 14th of Nisan. He rose from the grave at or just after sundown on the evening of the first day of the week, but He did not ascend to His Father until about 9:00 a.m., the traditional hour when the Wave Sheaf offering was waved, after which the early barley harvest could begin. The later, main harvest of wheat wouldn't occur until the fall of the year. He then returned to Jerusalem about sunset of the first day, and appeared to ten of His disciples, breathed on them, and said, Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22-23), thereby creating the spiritual Eve, mother to the Church of God.
The Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter sunrise tradition is contrary to Scripture, and actually negates Jesus' claim that He would be in the belly of the earth as Jonah was in the belly of the fish. If Jesus says that He will only give one sign, then if He doesn't make good on that sign, He isn't the Son of Man. But He does make good on the sign He gave. It is tradition stemming from historical exegesis that would have Him spending a day and only a couple of nights in the grave, thereby not fulfilling the sign He gave.
The above chronology is necessary to show that Jesus is the actual Lamb of God, sacrificed as the spiritual reality of the shadow that the paschal lamb represents. Of course, the Apostle Peter compares the "blood of Christ" to "that of a lamb without defect or blemish" (1:19); and the Apostle John writes of John the Baptist, upon seeing Jesus come toward him, declaring, "'Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world'" (1:29 & 36). Jesus, when His disciples asked if they should make preparations for Him to eat the Passover, said to them, "'Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, "The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples"'" (Matt 26:18). Then during that Passover meal, Jesus "took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to [his disciples], saying, 'Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins'" (vs. 27-28). The writer of Hebrews says, "But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, 'he sat down at the right hand of God'" (10:12), the quote from David. Christ's offering for sins was His righteous blood as the Passover Lamb; for the Death Angel that passed through Egypt slew the firstborns of man and beast, because the sins of the Egyptian houses were not covered by sacrificial blood. The apostle Paul adds,
But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom 3:21-26)
Again, Jesus said that the Passover cup held His blood of the covenant by which sins are passed over. As a condition of the new covenant that was to come, the prophet Jeremiah, quoting YHWH, writes, "I will forgive [Israel's] iniquity, and remember their sin no more" (Jer 31:34). The writer of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah: "'This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: …For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more'" (8:10, 12). The writer of Hebrews then repeats this new covenant condition: "he also adds, 'I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more'" (10:17).
When all of the above is coupled together, all of humanity sins, which is the active transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4); all fall short of the glory of God. All need grace for their sins to be passed over. Grace comes as the gift of God, but it is only effective by faith in Jesus Christ. This faith in Jesus Christ becomes a law of faith (Rom 3:27), which produces the righteousness that comes from faith (Rom 10:6). About the righteousness that comes from faith, Paul writes that this righteousness "says, 'Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven?"' (that is, to bring Christ down)" (v. 7), and Paul goes on to quote further from the second covenant made with uncircumcised Israelites just before they crossed the Jordan to enter the promised land. As a condition of this second covenant, the hearts and minds of Israel would be circumcised upon obedience to God; circumcision wasn't of foreskins, but of consciences. Upon obedience, these physically uncircumcised Israelites could receive the Holy Spirit, the very Breath of YHWH, before they crossed the Jordan. They were the shadow of spiritual Israel, created when the law that separated circumcised from the uncircumcised [i.e., the Sinai covenant] was abolished (Eph 2:11-22). The second covenant of Moses (Deu chptrs 29-31) is the shadow of the new covenant, which has the law[s] of God written on the hearts and minds of disciples. So the blood of the sacrificed Jesus as the Lamb of God is the covering of sins that causes the Death Angel to pass over spiritual Israel when spiritual Israelites are liberated from slavery.
Now, we can begin to assemble the endtime gospel of the kingdom. This is not "another" gospel, but this is the gospel Jesus delivered in His Olivet discourse, and this is the gospel that must be taken to all the wold before the end of the age can come. This is not a gospel about Jesus, a gospel that declares His mighty deeds to the world. This is not a gospel about His coming millennial reign. Both of these are legitimate and necessary messages that have been taken to the world. If I would have lived in an earlier era, I suspect I would have taken the good news of the Messiah having come as the Son of Man, crucified at Calvary, to the world. For a couple of decades, I indirectly participated in taking the gospel of Christ's soon-coming millennial reign to the world. That gospel, though, has since been diminished, so that this endtime gospel of Jesus Christ can be taken to the world as a warning, and as the affirmation of hope. This endtime gospel must be taken to the world before the end of the age can occur.
When His disciples came to point out the buildings of the temple a couple of days before He would be sacrificed as the Passover Lamb of God, Jesus asked His disciples, "'You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down'" (Matt 24:2). An accurate paraphrase of what Jesus said is, All that you see will be thrown down. Does one stone still sit on another? Indeed, a few do. The now-bulging Wailing Wall is believed to be a wall of the temple. Therefore, either Jesus' observation about the temple was not literal, or remains to be fulfilled.
I suspect the Wailing Wall will topple in a future earthquake, but let's look at the concept of what we see (i.e., what is physical) will be thrown down. Physical, or circumcised Israel lost its status as God's holy people when the law by which the nation was made holy (Exod 19:5-6) was abolished (Eph 2:15). Spiritual Israel replaced physical Israel as God's holy nation (1 Pet 2:9). Spiritual Israelites became the buildings of the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16-17). By extension, spiritual Jerusalem replaces physical Jerusalem as the focus of God's attention on Earth; and spiritual Jerusalem has theological rather than geographical coordinates. The spiritual buildings of the temple of God are located within spiritual Jerusalem. So the "unseen" spiritual creation replaces that which is visible--and with this as background (Jesus' disciples didn't understand His words, for they had not yet received the Holy Spirit), let us examine Jesus' Olivet discourse.
When Jesus' disciples asked when the stones would be thrown down and what will be the sign of His coming and the sign of the end of the age, Jesus asked by warning them against leading disciples astray (verse 4 is poorly translated in all common English versions). He then gives some general conditions of the state of the world that are not signs of the end of the age, but "'is but the beginning of the birth pangs'" (Matt 24:8).
Human childbirth has been painful since Eve swallowed the serpent's lie that if she ate forbidden fruit, she would not die. What we will see in the Tribulation is spiritual childbirth. It is also painful. So as a participant in spiritual childbirth, we should not expect glorified sons of God to be suddenly brought forth without gut retching pain on the part of the mother/woman. The Church is the second or spiritual Eve, created when the glorified Christ breathed on His disciples and said, Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22-23), and created at approximately the same time as when Elohim presented the physical Eve to the first Adam after his deep sleep. Therefore, the Church should not expect to be relieved of childbirth pain when it has also swallowed the serpent's lie that it would not die if it ate of forbidden fruit. Eternal life is the gift of God; it doesn't come by fornication in the backseats of Chevrolets. The wages of sin is death, not eternal life in hell. And the physical is the shadow of the spiritual in all things. Jesus said what can be seen would be cast down. It was, beginning with His death at Calvary.
How long did it take the first Eve to swallow the serpent's lie that she would not die? About as long as it took the early Church to swallow Satan's lie of humanity possessing an immortal soul. Satan's lie was in spiritual Eden; that is, in the minds of Gentile converts at their conversion. And swallowing that lie once they were born in Christ caused them to be driven from the garden of God. The greater Church no longer had access to the tree of life. Only those spiritual Israelites who believed God as Jesus, the second Adam, did/had remained in spiritual Eden. Therefore, the charismatic gospel of the Church being raptured to heaven prior to experiencing the birth pains of glorification is a false gospel, but the charismatic Church is a portion of spiritual Israel that was sent into spiritual captivity in Babylon. This is what the Churches of God have never accepted. The history of physical Israel is the shadow of the history of spiritual Israel. The holy nation of spiritual Israel divided into the house of Israel and the house of Judah, with the house of Israel holding the error of Bishop Arius and the house of Judah holding the trinitarian error. Both houses were sent into spiritual captivity. A remnant of spiritual Israel, just as a remnant circumcised Israel under Ezra did, began its journey toward spiritual Jerusalem, with a commission to rebuild the temple of God, not to its former glory, but nonetheless to be a glorious building. A second remnant was to join with the spiritual type of Ezra to rebuild the walls of spiritual Jerusalem. However, in 1962, revelation was rejected by the remnant building the temple. Forty years passed before spiritual construction resumed--and what is being presented in this paper is the production of the workmen for the spiritual entity of which Nehemiah was the shadow. And with the resumption of construction has come the realization that spiritual Israel includes the synagogue of Satan, where genuine sheep have been taken captive and need to be recovered. The work of the Church in Philadelphia is directed at this synagogue of Satan (the seven churches aren't eras, but contemporaries). The saints in Philadelphia aren't more righteousness than other saints, but because of how many sheep they recover, their sins are covered (Jas 5:19-20).
Now begins the gospel of Jesus that must be taken to the world before the end of the age can come:
Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matt 24:9-13)
This endtime gospel truly isn't about the mighty deeds of Jesus, or about His millennial reign. It is a warning delivered worldwide to the Church that the Body of Christ will experience horrific birth pains, but just as in childbirth, those pains will end with the spiritual birth or glorification of those who endure.
The endtime gospel is actually more encompassing than just a message to the Church: after a third of humanity is killed, the remainder "did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols…they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts" (Rev 9:20-21). Therefore, John is told, "'You must prophesy again about many peoples and nations and languages and kings'" (10:11). And we are immediately given the prophecy about the two witnesses, whose resurrections will conclude the second woe, with a third woe still to come.
Backing up to Jesus being the sacrificed Lamb of God: in the physical liberation of Israel from Egypt, six hours after the paschal lamb was killed, YHWH "struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and all of the firstborn of the livestock" (Exod 21:29). This striking down firstborns was of physical Egypt, and serves as the shadow of God striking down spiritual firstborns in spiritual Babylon.
Today, the greater Church of God is in spiritual bondage, largely because of the lie Eve and spiritual Eve swallowed. It does not believe God; it does not believe that eternal life is the gift from God. Rather, both houses of spiritual Israel believe that a human has an immortal soul (or a little angel inside each person), which is--and there is no way around this--believing that humanity received eternal life apart from receiving it as the gift of God. Thus, they do not believe that the man Jesus of Nazareth really died for three days and three nights. Instead, they believe He was in hell, preaching to lost souls there. And if Jesus wasn't really dead (i.e., having ceased to exist in any conscious form), then there is no grace, no forgiveness of sins, no covering of righteousness that will cause the Death Angel to pass over firstborn Israelites.
The Apostle Paul says, concerning Israelites with circumcised hearts and minds, "if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom 10:9) -- if a spiritually circumcised Israelite does not believe that Jesus really died, but believes that Jesus was in hell for portions of a couple of days, this Israelite does not believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, but believes that God raised Jesus from hell. The dead know nothing (Eccl 9:10). There is no thought or knowledge in hell. God tests men to see what they will believe about death:
I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals. For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. (Eccl 3:18-20)
The greater Church has failed its testing. It believes that humans have an advantage over animals, that humans and animals do not go to the same place, that there is more to a human than breath [psuche], blood or life [pneuma] and bones or flesh [soma]. It assigns differing linguistic objects to those three Greek icons--and in its assignments, it reveals how deceived it is (Rev 12:9).
But until the greater Church is spiritually liberated at the second Passover, my pneuma is wasted trying to ease the Church's birth pains. Only those individuals the Father draws to Himself will hear Christ's words in my voice. So it is to these individuals now that I write. The day following the second Passover, the greater Church will be ready to listen. My desire is that the greater Church listens now, but the shadow has no Israelite leaving Egypt until the Egyptians drove them away following the slaughter of firstborns. My fear is that spiritual Israelites will not believe Christ about the importance of covering their sins with His blood, that they will not take the Passover, either first or second. If they do not take the Passover, if they do not drink of the cup on the night that the Lamb was taken, then they will be as Egyptians. Their firstborns will be slain. If they are firstborns, they will be slain.
The greater Church is in its most precarious situation since the second Eve was filled with the Holy Spirit, as a husband fills his wife, and conceived three thousand on that day of Pentecost. Yes, it is gaining converts--in ancient Egypt, there were more Israelites than Egyptians (Exod 5:5). Just prior to the second Passover, there will again be more enslaved Israelites than spiritual Egyptians; so we should expect to see worldwide revival quickly add another billion or more people to the greater Church. But at this time, the greater Church will not listen to a spiritual Moses and Aaron; will not take the Passover as instituted by Christ Jesus; will, instead, take communion whenever and however it feels like it, oblivious to Jesus' instructions or example. Disciples in the greater Church seem to believe that they were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit so that they could become spiritual Gentiles, not spiritual Judeans.
The endtime gospel of Jesus Christ is first directed to these spiritual Gentiles who should be in a Passover service this year and next, and the year after that until Christ returns. This endtime gospel tells them that despite their persecution, despite their martyrdom, despite the betrayals, if they will endure in faith until the end, they shall have a part in the first resurrection. It is gospel of hope, delivered to the charismatic Church when it cannot understand why it wasn't raptured. It is gospel of hope, delivered to the Arian Church who has seen its firstborns slain. It is a gospel of hope, delivered to spiritual Egyptians and Babylonians. It is a gospel of hope for the few remaining Chinese, who witnessed the decimation of their nation because of their one-child policy. It is the gospel that must be delivered before the wrath of God comes upon those who accept the mark of the beast. The third woe is the Father's wrath on those who, once He has liberated them, trade enduring to the end and glorification in the first resurrection for a few bowls of lentils, as they return to spiritual bondage.
No one escapes the first three and a half years of the Tribulation. Not the Church. Not you. Not me. We will either live by faith, trusting implicitly in the Father to protect us, or we will give up, hide in holes in the ground, and wish we were dead. There isn't another option. There isn't a diplomatic option, or a military option, or a humanitarian option, or an Islamic option. We will either be marked by God because we sigh and cry about the abominations committed here on Earth, or we will curse God, while still worshiping demons and idols. Spiritual Egyptians and enslaved Israelites didn't suddenly start worshiping demons and idols; they have been all along. So regardless of whether a person is a newly liberated spiritual Israelite, now really hated by the world, or whether the person remains a part of the world, the person can have a part in the first resurrection if he or she endures to the end. All that really matters is endurance; for to endure, the person will develop the faith necessary to be in the resurrection of firstfruits.
After spiritual Israel it liberated, and after conditions here on Earth become so bad that if these days were not shortened no flesh would be saved alive, the archangel Michael in heaven and Christ here on Earth fight as on a day of battle. On day 1260, the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of the Most High and of His Messiah (Rev 11:15). Satan is cast from heaven (Rev 12:9). A great earthquake occurs (Rev 11:13 & Zech 14:3-4). The armies of the king of the North that are surrounding Jerusalem pursue escaping saints into the valley formed by the split Mount of Olives, and are swallowed by the mountain (Rev 12:16 & Exod 15:12 & Dan 9:26). The man of perdition and the demon possessing him are destroyed (Dan 7:11-12). And Satan shall declare himself the returned messiah. Humanity has been liberated from bondage to him, but the world's economy remains under the fallen king of fallen Babylon. As such, he [Satan as the true antiChrist] demands that everyone who participates in commerce accept his slave mark, thereby causing the newly liberated person to either return to slavery, or to live by faith. This antiChrist's slave mark is the mark of the beast, Chi xi stigma, or the tattoo of Xx -- the tattoo of the Cross of Calvary.
The endtime gospel of Christ, in addition to being a message of hope, is a warning against accepting the mark of the beast, is a warning about the high price that will be paid for not being covered by the Passover blood of Christ. Those who are in covenant with Christ can, by living entirely by faith, escape the third woe, the horrors of the wrath of the Father. But those who will escape by being supernaturally protected in place represent only a tithe of spiritual Israel (that tithe is the great multitude of Revelation 7:9); they escape by being within the theological walls of spiritual Jerusalem. The 144,000 represent the number of physical Israelites who escape to a physical place of safety, that place Mt. Zion. They now follow the Lamb of God wherever the Lamb goes.
There is a goodly amount of work that remains to be done, for this endtime gospel of Christ that must be preached to all the world is only, at this Passover of 2003, beginning to be proclaimed. But this is the gospel for which Christ opens the door that no one is able to shut (Rev 3:8).
"The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright, 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved."