The Olive Tree Anti-Semitism and Bible Prophecy

 

THE OLIVE TREE, ANTI-SEMITISM AND BIBLE PROPHECY

imagesDr. Thomas S. McCall

At a convention of the Pre-Trib Study Group in Dallas, Dr. John Walvoord presented a paper on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture and Premillennial teaching, including the history of doctrines throughout the Church age.  I was very much struck by something that Dr. Walvoord said as he analyzed the transition from widely held pre-millennial views of the early church in the first three centuries to the predominantly amillennial, postmillennial or anti-millennial views that developed afterwards, and it centered around Augustine.

Latent Anti-Semitism Caused Amillennialism

I appreciated especially what Dr. Walvoord said, as quoted from the audio tape of his message, in his analysis of what happened in the case of Augustine:

“Augustine arbitrarily made the millennium non-literal, while everything else was literal.  Now as far as I’ve been able to find out, there has never been a book on doctrine that explains this.  But there is possibly an explanation.  In the first two centuries the church was largely Jewish in its background.  They were the evangelists, and they were the apostles.  But as the gospel grew, the church became largely Gentile.  And, of course the millennium is a time when the Jews are prominent, and it could be that there is a latent anti-Semitism here that they were quite unconscious of, that made them question whether Israel is going to have a literal future like it says.  And that, of course, would lead to a non-literal millennial kingdom.   In any case, that’s what happened, and the Roman Catholic Church became amillennial, and the Protestant Reformers like Calvin, Luther and others went back to Augustine rather than to the Bible, and adopted amillennialism.  They brought in, though, a lot of other things that were important, like “every man a priest” and “interpret the Bible yourself,” and so on, very important doctrines that have been the bulwark of Protestantism.  But, it wasn’t until the 19th and 20th Centuries when the Bible Conference movement began, and people began to ask what does the Scripture actually say?  It was not until then that premillennialism became a prominent feature in the church–as it is today in some churches, at least.  And that’s the background.  So we have to understand there’s a long history of this, and we are a minority.  We believe the Bible is literally true and they don’t, and we believe we have the facts on our side.  That’s why we believe what we believe.”

Saint Augustine in His Study by Sandro Boticelli 1840

Saint Augustine in His Study by Sandro Boticelli 1840

 

Thus Dr. Walvoord said it was his impression that it was latent anti-Semitism that caused Augustine and those around him to have this transition in their thinking.  That’s a remarkable statement.   How in the world can latent anti-Semitism have anything to do with one’s eschatological viewpoint, and how can it impact the eschatological viewpoint of the whole church?  Well, I think that it does, and that’s one of the things we are going to be looking at in this article.

There is an inherent connection between one’s attitude toward the Jewish people and Israel and one’s attitude toward the Scriptures and eschatology.   How does that happen?   It’s an understanding of what the Scriptures teach about the nature of the church, the nature of Israel, and the nature of the Olive Tree.  As Dr. Walvoord brought out, at the time of the beginning of the Bible Conference movement, there was a rediscovery of Israel and the promises to Israel in the Scriptures.  Some of the early works published in this movement had to deal with the future of Israel, as scholars began to rediscover premillennialism and literal eschatology.  Of course many of the amillennialists, including Augustine, would have been shocked if someone were to say they were anti-Semitic, and they would deny it strenuously.  And they would say, why, there’s not an anti-Semitic bone in my body!  All we want to do (they might say) is to take away the promises that God has given to Israel and apply them to the church!  Well, that sounds pretty anti-Semitic to me.

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Zechariah’s Vision of the Woman in the Basket means God Will Rid The World of Sin

 

Zechariah’s  Vision of the Women and the Ephah

 

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One spring evening in 520 B.C. The Prophet Zechariah received a series of eight visions all in one night. This was the seventh. While God had assured him that He loved the Nation Israel and He would end their Babylonian captivity and return them their land Eretz Yisrael He would in no way tolerate sin. In an earlier vision He talked about punishing sinful individuals. Here He tells Zechariah by means of symbols that He will remove sin itself. This will occur through the Great Tribulation.

Zechariah 5:5-11

5 Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth. 6 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. 7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. 8 And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof. 9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. 10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? 11 And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base (ASV 1901).

Zechariah is Commanded to Shift His Frame of Vision

Zechariah 5:5

5 Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth (ASV 1901).

The angel that has been speaking to Zechariah now tells him to shift his attention to a vision that is above his straight line of vision. He prepares him to see the next vision, which is a moving active vision. The angel (malakh haddobher bi) who talked in me moves into a different position to begin speaking to Zechariah’s spirit.

The Ephah

Zechariah 5:6

6 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth (ASV 1901).

 Now Zechariah sees the seventh vision and immediately does not know what it is. The Hebrew grammar, which designates gender to all nouns, assigns a feminine gender to the  “it.” So he asked the malakh haddobher bi who answers him. This is an ephah that goes out over all the earth, is airborne and will attempt to assert dominion over all the earth. The term   their resemblance means a multiplication of the symbolism of this image will exert itself throughout the earth. The ephah, the same as bath, was an ancient volumetric measurement of Israel. It was equal to about thirty-seven quarts or a bushel basket of dry goods. This was the largest dry goods measurement in the Old Testament. In this context coupled with the previous vision and the Hebrew morphology refers to a large sinning (thievery, perjurers etc.). Another way of expressing this is to say that in the previous vision God let Zechariah know that transgressors would be removed. In this vision God is showing Zechariah that sin or iniquity itself would be removed. It will be removed at the very place of its origin. And He is saying that He is fed up with it. So the image of the ephah clearly says to the Jews I have had it up to here (ephah) with your sin!

Prior to the Babylonian captivity the Israelites were primarily an agrarian shepherding nation. Their sin caused them to be conquered and expelled from their country. Babylon was the most advanced nation on the earth at that time excelling in commerce and the occult. While there they became accustomed to those advancements and the wicked ways of the Babylonians. The commercial practices in and of themselves are not wicked. But they have been used in wicked ways, which is what God objects to.

For nearly 2,000 years Babylon was the most important city in the world. It was a commercial and financial center of Mesopotamia. The arts of divination, astronomy, astrology, accounting, mathematics and private and commercial law all sprang up from Babylon. In short many of our world systems came from that region.

Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi (Cir. 1772 B.C.) is one of the earliest sets of laws found, and one of the best-preserved examples of a legal type of document from ancient Mesopotamia. It shows rules and punishments if those rules are defied. It focuses on theft, farming (or shepherding), property damage, women’s rights, marriage rights, children’s rights, slave rights, and murder, death, and injury. The laws do not accept excuses or explanations for mistakes or fault. There were 282 laws on an obsidian stela, which is lava like stone and it is about 8 feet tall. It was discovered in 1909. It is now on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. This concept lives on in most modern legal systems and has given rise to the term “written in stone”.

Mathematics

They developed a form of writing based on cuneiform (i.e. wedge-shaped) symbols. Their symbols were written on wet clay tablets, which were baked in the hot sun, and many thousands of these tablets have survived to be read by us today. It was the use of a stylus on a clay medium that led to the use of cuneiform symbols since curved lines could not be drawn. The Babylonians divided the day into 24 hours, each hour into 60 minutes, each minute into 60 seconds. This form of counting (sexagesimal or base 60) has survived for 4000 years. Their year and calendar had 30 month days and 360-day years. (Same as Genesis 7 & 8, Daniel 7:25 Revelation 12:6, 14 and Revelation 13:5) They had tables of squares, square roots, cubes, cube roots, reciprocals, exponential functions, and log functions. They had knowledge of trigonometry, the Pythagorean theorem 1200 years before Pythagoras did, and pi. They divided the circle into 360 degrees.

Occultic Spirituality

Babylon spiritually symbolizes the city of man or the city of Satan. One way to look at the Bible is a tale of two cities Jerusalem and Babylon. Both began in Genesis and both end in Revelation.  It has never been destroyed yet (Isaiah 13:19-20). It fell into disrepair over the years since Cyrus took over the city. Saddam Hussein spent considerable effort to rebuild it. It will be the world headquarters of the Antichrist and the commercial center the one world government. This will be the final governmental form on earth prior to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom.

God implores us to come out of her.

Revelation 18:4-5 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying Come out of her, my people that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

In this vision of the ephah the Jews were being told that the wicked commercialism and occult they have been exposed to will end some day and they are not to participate in it.            God is heaping up the sins of the Israelites and will separate them from the wicked at the end of the Great Tribulation.

 The Talent and The Woman

The Woman in the Ephah by Ted Larson

The Woman in the Ephah by Ted Larson

 

Zechariah 5:7-8

7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. 8 And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof (ASV 1901).

In verse six with reference to this vision Zechariah had asked, “What is it?” Since all Hebrew nouns have gender regardless of whether they are actually male or female we see a feminine gender being applied to the “it.” The feminine ending of the term what is it gives insight that this grammatical feminine gender now takes on new meaning, for there is a woman (feminine) in the ephah, and she personifies wickedness. This symbol of wickedness is sitting in the ephah. Since the ephah was a dry measure and usually represented as a basket about the size of a bushel she is seen sitting in a bushel basket.

In addition to the largest volumetric measure God brings the largest weight measure to this vision. The talent was the largest Old Testament Jewish measure of weight, equivalent to 60 mina or 3000 shekels. The weight of one talent was about 75-95 lbs.

Some examples of the use of talents mentioned in the Old Testament for perspective are:

  1. The sons of Ammon hired chariots and horseman to fight against Israel in the days of King David for 1000 talents of silver (I Chronicles 19:6).
  2. Solomon was said to have received a weight of 666 talents of gold per year (II Chronicles 9:13).
  3. The holy of holies in Solomon’s temple was overlaid with 600 talents (for example; this is at least $12 billion in A.D. 2013 value) of gold (II Chronicles 3:8).
  4. 650 talents of silver plus 200 talents of gold and silver utensils were delivered to Jerusalem for the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 8:26).
  5. Hezekiah, king of Judah, paid the King of Assyria 300 talents of silver plus 30 talents of Gold to withdraw their attacking troops (II Kings 8:14).

In this vision the woman is seen sitting in the ephah. The malakh haddobher bi then casts a talent of lead into the ephah where she was sitting thereby sealing up the ephah with the lead as a cover. She represents being bathed in the luxury of wicked commercialism and is symbolized by it. Again this is not mere commerce, it is Godless commercialism and mammon-worship. Her sitting in this wickedness shows that she delights in it. This is the very embodiment of evil. By her getting thrown into the ephah and covering her with a mass of lead is symbolically tying down and sealing sin so it cannot ever again surface to cause mankind to commit it. This image lets us know that God will finally rid the world of sin and all those who luxuriate in it. Women are symbolically represented in Scripture as a religious entity.  Some examples in Scripture supporting this are:

On the positive side is the Wife of Jehovah in the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, we see the Bride of Christ.  So the Jews are called the “Wife of Jehovah” and in the New Testament the church is called the “Bride of Christ.”

On the negative side, there’s the woman with the leaven, Matthew 13:33 and the Great Harlot of Revelation 17:2 called Jezebel.  Jezebel was a real woman in the northern ten tribal region of Israel.  She married Ahab and brought pagan religions into that community after the civil war when Israel was divided north and south.  Baal worship resulted in more idolatry and sexual immorality. In Bible typology Jezebel represents the Great Harlot of Revelation 17 riding the beast.

Revelation 2:20-22

20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou (allow) that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds (KJV).

Here Jesus is condemning the Thyatira Church for their wickedness in the Dark Ages (Cir. A.D. 600-1517). The name Thyatira means continual or perpetual sacrifice.  It represents the Eucharist, which also called transubstantiation or continually sacrificing Christ.

During this period while the standing church persecuted many and accumulated vast personal wealth they introduced at least ten false doctrines.

  1. Justification by works – not simply by grace through faith.  This means one can work their way to heaven.
  2. Baptismal regeneration – This means that the point the body goes into the water, one is saved, you are a Christian and you are going to be with Christ in heaven.
  3. Worship of images – You can see this especially in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  There is an incredible number of icons there that have a greater importance to most people than Christ himself.
  4. Celibacy – Forbidding priests to marry.
  5. Confessionalism – Is where sins are confessed to a priest then the priest tells you whether or not he is going to relieve you of the guilt of that sin.
  6. Purgatory – It’s a place of confinement, which is neither heaven nor hell, but it’s a place where the priest says that this is where you go because you haven’t completed your responsibility to God. The worse part of Purgatory is that your sanctification here on the planet is not complete.
  7. Transubstantiation – This is the taking of the bread or the wafer in the Mass, which is taught that it is a real sacrifice of Christ.
  8. Indulgences – By the giving of money, one’s time in purgatory is reduced.
  9. Penance – is “beating” yourself somehow to reduce your time in purgatory.
  10. Mariolatry – The worship of the Virgin Mary, elevating her to deity.

The Great Whore

The Whore of Babylon by William Blake cir 1809

The Whore of Babylon by William Blake cir 1809

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revelation 17:1-6

1And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration (KJV).

John the apostle saw this vision of the woman riding the beast. It represents the marriage of false religion to the various governments and commercialism of this world. The beast she rides is the last world empire, which was described in Daniel chapter seven. It is the final form of the empire of imperialism with absolute control of the Antichrist ruling from Babylon supported by the False Prophet leading the world’s apostate religions to worship the Antichrist. The term Jezebel in Bible typology means this woman.

The Two Women With Wings

Zechariah 5:9-11

9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. 10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? 11 And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base (KJV).

The Women With Wings Carrying Away the Ephah  Artist Unknown

The Women With Wings Carrying Away the Ephah Artist Unknown

These two women are symbols of God’s agents to remove sin and take it to Babylon (Shinar)  where it will be destroyed as Babylon will be destroyed. Babylon will be the commercial center of the world during Antichrist’s reign and it will be destroyed during the campaign of Armageddon. This symbolic act demonstrates the commercial nature of Babylon with its wicked commercialism originating in the days of Nimrod (Genesis 11:4). God taking the ephah there symbolizes Him letting the wicked commercialism flourish in the future one-world capital until it is finally removed forever.

 

Daniel E. Woodhead

 

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Dispensations of Grace and Kingdom

Dispensations of Grace and Kingdom

An Allegory of the Old and New Testaments by Hans Holbein the younger cir 1532-1535
An Allegory of the Old and New Testaments by Hans Holbein the younger cir 1532-1535 

Hermeneutics

Keep this in mind as we go through the dispensations:  The interpretation of Scripture is a fundamental factor in understanding the Dispensations. Proper Scriptural interpretation follows standard dictates of grammar. If there is any confusion about this issue there is a great-unbiased pamphlet by Mr. Frank X. Braun available for Bible students on Amazon and elsewhere. It is called “English Grammar for Language students”. Since the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek an understanding of grammar is indispensable to understanding the Bible. Don’t make the mistake of listening to others tell you that basic nouns actually mean something other then their normal commonly accepted definition. Therefore Israel and the Church are two separate entities. Don’t be misled into believing that Israel is the so-called Church of the Old Testament. One New Testament verse that some use as a “proof text” affirming that the term Israel is the Church is found in Acts 7:38. In this text we find Stephen’s address to the council.   This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us (KJV). There are other verses used a “proof text” and all fail to persuade when examined in the light of proper grammar. The term used here is ekklesia. It is a feminine Greek noun meaning an assembly. Vines describes this as such: An Assembly: From ek, “out of,” and klesis, “a calling” (kaleo, “to call”), was used among the Greeks of a body of citizens “gathered” to discuss the affairs of State, Act 19:39. In the Septuagint it is used to designate the “gathering” of Israel, summoned for any definite purpose, or a “gathering” regarded as representative of the whole nation. In Act 7:38 it is used of Israel; in 19:32, 41, of a riotous mob. It has two applications to companies of Christians, (1)  To the whole company of the redeemed throughout the present era, the company of which Christ said, “I will build My Church,” Matthew 16:18, and which is further described as “the Church which is His Body,” Ephesians 1:22; 5:23, (2)   In the singular number (e.g., Matthew 18:17, RV marg., “congregation”), to a company consisting of professed believers, e.g., Acts 20:28; 1Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:13; 1Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1Tiothy 3:5, and in the plural, with reference to churches in a district. For each dispensation there are 7 aspects. 1)    Each dispensation has a “Name” 2)    Each dispensation has a “Chief Person” 3)    Each dispensation has been provided a “responsibility” to God. 4)    Each dispensation has been given a “Test” from God. 5)     In each dispensation man has “Failed” the test. 6)    For each dispensation God has provided a “judgment”. 7)    God has provided a measure of “grace” for each dispensation. Further, a new covenant is often the basis for a new dispensation. We will look at the covenants at the conclusion of the Dispensations.

 GRACE or the CHURCH AGE

1. The Name
 of this dispensation is Grace or some call it the Church.

While grace was evident in all other dispensations, it is in this dispensation that a very unique display of grace was manifested that was different from all former displays of grace. Concerning this dispensation, John 1:17 states: For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Certainly, God was gracious before the coming of the Messiah, for there are many evidences of God’s grace throughout the pages of the Old Testament. However, with the coming of Jesus, there was a totally unique display of grace. This is why it is called the Dispensation of Grace. This is the dispensation in effect at the present time.

This dispensation extends from Acts 2:1, with the beginning of the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, through Revelation 19:21. It covers the entire period of the Church Age, and also includes the seven years of the Great Tribulation.

2. The Chief Person was Paul.

It was Paul who uniquely received the revelation concerning the Dispensation of Grace. It was no accident that he received more revelation than any other apostle. Most of the letters or Epistles of the New Testament were written by the Apostle Paul. As he makes clear in Ephesians 3, it was he that received that special revelation concerning the dispensation of that grace of God (v. 2). He, more than any other apostle, is the key person for this dispensation.

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The Final Stages of The Fourth Gentile World Empire

 

The Last Beast to Control Jerusalem and the One World Government

 

The Bronze Dragon by Hawkwood

The Bronze Dragon by Hawkwood

The Lord Jesus, the Messiah made reference to a group of Gentile world Empires who would control Jerusalem and the entire world starting in 586 B.C.He referred to these times of the Gentiles as ending at some point in time.  The Gentile control of Jerusalem and world government in general is going to end.  It’s not going to last forever.  It will end when He returns to set up His world wide government in Jerusalem at the Second Coming. Now the Lord said this in the Olivet Discourse:

 The Trampling of Jerusalem

Luke 21:24

And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (KJV).

THE FINAL BEAST

Images were given to the prophet Daniel in chapters 2 and 7 of his book referencing these world empires. The descriptions which are written in the 7th chapter characterize four beasts coming out of the Great Sea. The first three have animal characteristics of a lion, bear and leopard. The fourth is a beast that has no animal like description and can be called nondescript. This beast is referred to as dreadful and terrible with iron teeth. It is breaking and devouring the residue of the other beasts. We now examine the various stages of this beast or final Gentile governmental structure.

Stages of The Fourth Beast

The 4th Empire – The Empire of Imperialism

Is this the Roman Empire?

We need to have a discussion regarding the characteristics of this empire. Many commonly hold that the “Fourth Empire” is the Roman Empire.  It is also common to infer that because the Roman Empire died that there must be a Revived Roman Empire still coming. We know from Daniel chapter two that the “Stone Made Without Hands” which will be the Lord’s Messianic Kingdom will destroy this empire.

The Scripture doesn’t teach any cessation of this Fourth Empire prior to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom.  The Scripture teaches that the Empire, the Fourth Empire, continues until the Messianic Kingdom.  It doesn’t show a break.  In actuality, the Empire that the Bible is talking about is something more generic than Rome. It is an imperialistic form of government which the Romans founded.

 

Roman Destruction of Jerusalem by David Roberts 1850

Roman Destruction of Jerusalem by David Roberts 1850

 

Imperialism

Imperialism is simply a policy where one government extends its influence or power through negotiations, diplomacy or military force.  Most of the Western powers are imperialistic governments.  There is nothing particularly wrong with being an imperialistic government. That’s the characteristic of the type of government instituted by the Romans.  It was Rome that brought imperialism into the world.

What the Romans would do  (and they did it much stronger than what we’re doing today) is to place their own people in a country that would control the conquered peoples government.  But, they would let that government run itself.  So the In the case of Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin were still active, but they had to report to Pontius Pilate.  The Romans limited the scope of the subjugated countries activities. For example the Israelites were forbidden to carry out capital punishment.  This is one of the reason Jesus had to be seen by Pilate. The Jews wanted to crucify Him but they needed the permission of the Romans. By in large, the Romans wanted peace. They wanted this Pax Romana which they claimed to be implementing within their empire.

That’s the form of government they implemented and the first stage of this was the Roman Empire, what the Bible calls the “Fourth Empire” – the Empire of Imperialism.

Both Daniel passages make it clear that the Fourth Gentile Empire begins with the end of the Third Empire (Greek) and continues until Messiah comes to set up His Kingdom.  There is no break or gap in the imperialist form of government on the earth from the initiation of the Roman Empire until Christ returns.  Nowhere in Scripture is this stated.  This Roman Empire, this Fourth Empire, This Empire of Imperialism will go through five successive stages.  We need to study those to see where history fits in this exposition.

Five Stages of the 4th Empire – The Empire of Imperialism

Age of Imperialism – United Stage

The United Stage-Rome is the first stage of the Imperialist Form of government. The first stage or the United Stage started about 63 B.C and lasted until A.D. 364.  Rome had a long history going back into the 700s B.C. Rome was founded, perhaps by Romulus and Remus. It suffices to say, the empire began under Julius Caesar started in about 63 B.C. and lasted until about A.D. 364.  That was the First Stage, or the United Stage, of the Fourth Empire.

Age of Imperialism – Two-Division Stage

The second stage or the Empire of Imperialism was the Two Division Stage. This stage was foreseen by the Daniel chapter two visions in the Legs of Iron but not in the Daniel chapter seven visions.  It began in A.D. 364 when Emperor Valentinian divided the Roman Empire into an east and west division. There was an earlier division in AD 285, which did not last long. The emperor Constantine in AD 312-314 reunited the empire for a short period.  However the AD 364 division was permanent.  The Western Headquarters were in Rome and the Eastern Headquarters in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul, Turkey).

The first split came in AD 285 when the emperor Diocletian decided that the Roman empire had become too large to be efficiently ruled by one man. So he initiated a split of the empire into Western and Eastern branches, keeping the eastern part for himself because it was richer in goods and trade. For the western territory he appointed Maximian, who was subject to Diocletian.

A civil war broke out across both parts of the empire in 306. In 314, Constantine was the victor and reunited the Empire under a single ruler. The Emperor Constantine efforts to reunite the empire were accomplished through the Battle of the Milvian Bridge against Maxentius. He reportedly had a vision where he saw a cross in the sky and the Latin inscription, “With this sign you will conquer.”  He embraced Christianity and his men became Christians as well. The capitol he established was in in Constantinople, which is modern day Istanbul, Turkey in the eastern part.

Battle of Milvian Bridge by Giulio Romano 1520-24

Battle of Milvian Bridge by Giulio Romano 1520-24

 

In 337 Constantine died and civil war erupted between his three sons, who divided the empire into three different parts. Valentinian emerged as victor and single leader in 364. He immediately divided the empire again, giving the eastern half to his brother Valens. Succession rebellions in the west eventually forced the Eastern emperor Theodosius I to quell the rebellions and become a single ruler of a unified Roman empire again. He decreed Christianity to be the state religion, which effectively brought on the Dark Ages as the Church merged with the state. He was however the last emperor to rule both East and West. After his death in 395, his two sons inherited the East and West respectively. This was the final and permanent division of the Roman Empire. The Western half wouldn’t last long, finally falling in 476 with the sack of Rome. The Eastern half would exist another 1000 years, becoming known as the Byzantine empire.

 The Two legs of Nebuchadnezzar vision

 

Image by TheDivineTv http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=AA3qHi-rwvI

Image by TheDivineTv http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=AA3qHi-rwvI

The Eastern Leg

When Constantinople fell, the political rulers, scribes, and scholars fled north into Russia and infiltrated the government there, where they set up an imperialist form of government.  The rulers called themselves Czars, which is Russian for “Caesar.” Later Russia began calling itself the Third Roman Empire.

They started calling the rulers up there, Czars.  The word “Czar” in Russian just means “Caesar”, the same exact Roman word.  “Czar” and “Caesar” –means the same exact thing. That was the Eastern Division.  Russia even started calling itself the “Third Roman Empire.”   We know what happened in Russia.  The balance of power shifted.  It moved from the Russian czars into the Communists and ultimately into the Soviet block of countries.   The power then shifted from there after the quiet revolution they had, which was called Glasnost (listen) coupled with Perestroika (restructuring) . The power shifted again  back to Russia and to the CIS, the Commonwealth of Industrial States.   So the power transfer shifted, but it stayed within Eastern Block from Constantinople up into Russia. 1

There are more power transfers going on right now.  The country of Russia is in great turmoil.  It hasn’t lost its power; it hasn’t lost its military prowess; it hasn’t lost its world status.  It’s still extremely strong. An autocrat is now running it by the name of Vladimir Putin. He was the former head of the Soviet KGB. But the power is starting to shift into the Islamic entities.  They’re starting to get a great deal of power in the Eastern Sphere.  There will continue to be uncertainty in the leadership of the eastern power block.  It is difficult to predict the incremental stages of the development of the power transfers.

The Western Leg

The Western Division of power remained in Rome from 364 until 476 when Rome fell.  Now Rome fell and where did that controlling power go?   The people that had power and want power and understand it and know how to get it, are not going to let it go.  It’s not just going to dissipate.  Somebody’s going to grab it.  From there it shifted to France, especially the power gained by Charlemagne in A.D. 800.  He called his domain the Holy Roman Empire of the Frankish Nation.  In 962 Otto I of Germany defeated the Franks and set up the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.  The leaders called themselves Kaiser, which is German for “Caesar.” Since then, especially after World War I, the western balance of power has been centered in the democratic nations of the west.  So the Two-Division Stage, which began in A. D. 364, continues to this day and there may be some shifting yet to come before the east-west balance becomes the third stage. The Two Division Stage we have now is ultimately going to evolve into the One World Government.

Coronation of Charles V The Holy Roman Empire by Cornelius I Schut Cir. 1600

Coronation of Charles V The Holy Roman Empire by Cornelius I Schut Cir. 1600

       Future Allied Invasion of Israel

There will be a time yet future where the Russian and also the Muslim nations encircling Israel will ally to invade Israel.  The text of Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 states, that

God causes the Jews to win the battle.  The Jews do not suffer any casualties but the invading Russian and Muslim nations all lose their political power on the world stage. This causes the Divided Stage to end and that gives way to the One World Government Stage.

 

Chart by Cathy Bateson

Chart by Cathy Bateson

The Ten-Division Stage.

The Ten-Division Stage was seen in both Daniel 2 with the ten toes and in Daniel 7 with the ten horns. This stage is clearly stated to come out of the One World Government Stage.  The Bible is silent as to why and exactly how the division occurs.  These ten kingdoms will cover the entire earth and not be limited to some specific continent such as Europe.  They will begin sometime before the Great Tribulation and continue into the middle of the Tribulation.

Some view the United Nations as being a possible precursor. Perhaps that is the genesis for the divisions. The Bible just states that the ten divisions is going to cover the entire earth.  Some even consider the Club of Rome’s recommendation that the world be divided up into ten administrative districts to avoid economic collapse.  The Club of Rome is a global think tank and center of worldly innovation and initiative. It is a futurist organization, comprised mostly of liberals that take the view that there isn’t any pre-ordained plan for the earth.

The Antichrist Stage

The Antichrist Stage is going to follow the Ten Kingdom Stage.  He is going to rise to power.  We don’t know how he rises to power, we are not given that. But Daniel chapter seven describes him as the eleventh horn that plucks out three of the previous ten. So somehow he is going to eliminate three of the ten kings.   We don’t know how he is going to do that either, but he does.  The other seven submit to his authority.   Once this submission occurs, he has total control of the world’s last Gentile Empire, which has its headquarters in Babylon.  He signs an agreement of some sort with the nation Israel that starts the timing of the Tribulation. That’s the fifth and final stage of Gentile Imperialism and that’s what the Bible speaks about in the book of Revelation.

The Dynamics of Power

Power Image Unknown Artist

Power Image Unknown Artist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have now looked at the dynamics of the shifting of power in human relationships.  We saw how this power over the world shifts from person to person and empire to empire, while at all times, God remains in control. He effects His will in a minimum of two characteristics; His Creative (also known as causative) Will and His Permissive Will.  He either causes things to happen or he lets things happen.  Because of the sin that came into the world, He allows it to continue. The Savior has come into the world, but only those that believe on Him are going to have salvation, and then only those that pay attention to what He says are going to minimize the problems we see upon the earth.

We can define power in the following ways:

  1. It’s a force that has an effect on human behavior.  In some way it causes human behavior to make a change from the status quo to another status quo.
  1. It’s abstract. We can’t see power.  We can’t see power in the mechanical or electronic world.  But, you can see the effects of power.  The same thing is true with power in the social economic world.  You can’t see power.  You can see people who have stations in life that appear to have power – people with lots of money, people who have high ranking government jobs, and people in large corporations with high ranking positions.   They appear to have high-ranking power.   Then there are other people who appear to have power within those organizations that can affect the behavior of the decision maker and they have power too.
  1. It’s temporary.  Nobody keeps power forever – any kind of power.  Nobody keeps it.  It’s almost an illusion.  You’ve got it for a little while and it goes away.
  1. It has many spheres.  There are all kinds of different powers.  One form form is economic power.  The person that has a lot of money or is well supported can buy lots of armaments, can engineer wars, and build huge buildings.  They can make a positive or negative effect on the economy.  There is a lot of power in particular political situations.  Heads of state have a lot of political power, so do heads of corporations.  So, organizational power is one of the spheres of economic powers. Another one is military power.  He that controls the Army, throughout history, has had a lot of power to change things for his or her needs.
  1. It gets transmitted in various ways.  Power is transmitted in a variety of ways.  It is transmitted by means of war, by means of election, or by means of somebody giving it to somebody else.  It’s not always the apparent individual in an organization or geopolitical government that has the power.  They may be the one who sits just outside the office of the President.  The Secretary that controls access to the CEO in a large corporation, she or he has a tremendous amount of power or control over who gets access to the president.  The people that want to see the president know that. So power is abstract it’s temporary.  It’s comes in all kinds of forms, transmitted in a variety of ways

God is the supreme power and always-in complete control of everything. You see the chaos in the world, you see the wars going on, you see sin that’s abounded, and you see heresies and everything that’s happening.  We have to constantly remember that God is in complete control.  The Scriptures are true and faithful.

They won’t lead us astray.

 

Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.

 

Next Post in this series: The Dynamics of Empire Collapse.

1. Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. Footsteps of the Messiah Ariel Ministries San Antonio, TX 1982 pg 34

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The Dispensation of the Law

The Dispensation of the Law

Moses and The Law by Philippe de Champaigne 1602

Moses and The Law by Philippe de Champaigne 1602

Keep this in mind as we go through the dispensations:  The interpretation of Scripture is a fundamental factor in understanding the Dispensations. Proper Scriptural interpretation follows standard dictates of grammar. If there is any confusion about this issue there is a great-unbiased pamphlet by Mr. Frank X. Braun available for Bible students on Amazon and elsewhere. It is called “English Grammar for Language students”. Since the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek an understanding of grammar is indispensable to understanding the Bible. Don’t make the mistake of listening to others tell you that basic nouns actually mean something other then their normal commonly accepted definition. Therefore Israel and the Church are two separate entities. Don’t be misled into believing that Israel is the so-called Church of the Old Testament.

One New Testament verse that some use as a “proof text” affirming that the term Israel is the Church is found in Acts 7:38. In this text we find Stephen’s address to the council.

 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us (KJV).

There are other verses used as a “proof text” and all fail to persuade when examined in the light of proper grammar. The term used here is ekklesia. It is a feminine Greek noun meaning an assembly. Vines describes this as such:

An Assembly:

From ek, “out of,” and klesis, “a calling” (kaleo, “to call”), was used among the Greeks of a body of citizens “gathered” to discuss the affairs of State, Act 19:39. In the Septuagint it is used to designate the “gathering” of Israel, summoned for any definite purpose, or a “gathering” regarded as representative of the whole nation. In Act 7:38 it is used of Israel; in 19:32, 41, of a riotous mob.

It has two applications to companies of Christians,

(1)  To the whole company of the redeemed throughout the present era, the company of which Christ said, “I will build My Church,” Matthew 16:18, and which is further described as “the Church which is His Body,” Ephesians 1:22; 5:23,

(2)   In the singular number (e.g., Matthew 18:17, RV marg., “congregation”), to a company consisting of professed believers, e.g., Acts 20:28; 1Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:13; 1Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1Tiothy 3:5, and in the plural, with reference to churches in a district.

For each dispensation there are 7 aspects.

1)    Each dispensation has a “Name”

2)    Each dispensation has a “Chief Person”

3)    Each dispensation has been provided a “responsibility” to God.

4)    Each dispensation has been given a “Test” from God.

5)     In each dispensation man has “Failed” the test.

6)    For each dispensation God has provided a “judgment”.

7)    God has provided a measure of “grace” for each dispensation.

Further, a new covenant is often the basis for a new dispensation. We will look at the covenants at the conclusion of the Dispensations.

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