The Dispensations of God: 4 - Introduction to the Calling of the Church

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Having summarized (in the October 1998 Christian Shepherd) the history of the Gentile empires to their conclusion, we mark especially that the fourth empire of iron and clay, which was the Roman empire, will be revived in a coming day (after the church is caught away, out of this world). In this revived imperial form, its leader will be the complete expression of diabolical power. Thus possessed by Satan, it will be instigated in rebellion against God and Christ and so be destroyed.
We will remember that in the past history of Israel we saw that when Christ was presented to the Jews at Jerusalem, He was rejected and received only a little band of disciples. He told them that He had come in His Father’s name and that Him they would not receive. If another came in his own name, they would receive that one.
Now, during the coming time of this crisis of the world’s history, when the Roman empire has been revived, the Jews will have been gathered again into their land. However, the majority of them will be there in a condition of apostasy.
Scripture shows that a false Messiah will present himself to them at that time one who will be received by the mass of the Jews and rejected by the little, faithful remnant. This is just the reverse of what took place when our Lord Himself was there.
The false Messiah is the connecting link between the Gentile powers in a state of apostasy and revolt and the Jews in a similar condition.
Christ was presented to Pilate, who represented the fourth kingdom of iron and clay, and to Caiaphas, the high priest, who spiritually represented the Jewish nation in that day. Both united in crucifying Him, being rejected by the mass of Jews and received by the little band of disciples.
The false Messiah will be received by the mass of Jews in this coming day, and he will be recognized by the imperial head of the restored Roman empire. The hearts of the little remnant of Jews who refuse him will pass through a time of unparalleled tribulation. This tribulation is God’s way of training their hearts for the kingdom which is about to be substituted for that revived empire of the Beast.
This false Messiah is introduced in Daniel 11:36-3936And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. 37Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. 38But in his estate shall he honor the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. 39Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain. (Daniel 11:36‑39). Chapters 10-12 of Daniel are occupied with this subject. The Lord Jesus Himself alludes to the prophecy of Daniel 1212And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. 13And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the Lord. 14Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. 15And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. (Hosea 2:12‑15) when He is instructing the Jewish remnant in Matthew 2436But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:36‑39).
He says, “Immediately, after... those days... shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven... coming... with power and great glory.” This refers to that coming solemn time of the great tribulation of three and one-half years.
In Revelation 13:1111And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. (Revelation 13:11) this same person is called “another beast” who comes up “out of the earth” having two horns “like a lamb” (an imitation of Christ) but with a voice like “a dragon.”
But there is yet one link which is wanting in this sad, sorrowful history: How is it that this false Messiah becomes the link between the history of professing Christendom and the Jews at the close of this age and before the ushering in of the blessedness and peace of the millennium?
This brings us to consider the subject of the great Gentile parenthesis, which fills up the space between the time when Israel was the acknowledged earthly people of God and that coming time when they shall be so again.
This subject is the calling of the church. In it is involved the second coming of Christ for His saints, before His manifestation with them to the world in the judgment which we have been partially considering. Also involved in this is the first resurrection. That is the resurrection from among the dead of which Christ was the firstfruits of the saints, “the children of the resurrection.”
F. G. Patterson (adapted)
(to be continued)