Refuting Popular Commentators
The Spawning of Damnable Heresies to Overthrow the Faith of Tribulation Saints
Remember, Jeremiah 30:1-31:40 & Ezekiel 18:1-32 were synchronistically given by God and delivered to the Tribulation Jews as a relevant interpretation of their present experience (see “The Doctrine of the Wilderness According to Hosea”); and, of course, Jeremiah’s description of the survivors of the Wilderness Experience provides vital details to properly interpret Ezekiel’s description. The Lord, through Jeremiah, spoke of the survivors of the Wilderness Experience, saying: “The people which are left of the sword found grace in the Wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest” (Jer. 31:2). Why is this important? After Ezekiel clearly detailed the Wilderness Doctrine of the Tribulation Period (Ezek. 20:33-44) using the Exodus Generation as an example (Ezek. 20:5-32), he waxed metaphorical to elaborate further in Ezekiel 20:45-49. Upon doing so, and because of the intensity of what was prophesied, the exact meaning of the metaphor became a point of controversy (Ezek. 20:49). Hence, after some time passed, Ezekiel was compelled to provide the interpretation of the prophetic metaphor in Ezekiel 21:1-7.
“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop thy word toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field; And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein. And all flesh shall see that I the LORD have kindled it: it shall not be quenched. Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?”
“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel, And say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked. Seeing then that I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked, therefore shall my sword go forth out of his sheath against all flesh from the south to the north: That all flesh may know that I the LORD have drawn forth my sword out of his sheath: it shall not return any more. Sigh therefore, thou son of man, with the breaking of thy loins; and with bitterness sigh before their eyes. And it shall be, when they say unto thee, Wherefore sighest thou? that thou shalt answer, For the tidings; because it cometh: and every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water: behold, it cometh, and shall be brought to pass, saith the Lord GOD.”
What’s the point of controversy? Whether or not the fire will “devour every green tree [in the forest of the south], and every dry tree” (Ezek. 20:47), that’s the controversy. God gave the interpretation in plain speech to settle the controversy: the forest of the south is the Land of Israel and its holy places (Ezek. 21:2), the unquenchable and all-devouring fire is the sword of the Almighty that is irreversibly drawn against all flesh (Ezek. 21:3-5), the doomed-to-burn green trees are the righteous while the doomed-to-burn dry trees are the wicked (Ezek. 21:3-5), and the actual experience of burning is in the described experience, “every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water” (Ezek. 21:7). Speaking more specifically, in plain terms, the controverted issue resides in the unique word-choice of this prophetic woe in that, God said: “I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked” (Ezek. 21:4).
Ordinary, Natural, Common, & General?
Tragically, some unadvised yet popular Commentators have been sorely misled on the meaning of this pronouncement. This, in turn, has popularized a catastrophically dangerous heresy that is crafted to subvert and destroy Tribulation Saints amidst the Great Tribulation that is to come. The Commentators erroneously conclude…
“The sword in like manner shall cut off the righteous and the wicked. Good and bad were involved in the common calamities of the nation; the righteous were cut off from the land of Israel when they were sent captives in Babylon, though perhaps few or none of them were cut off from the land of the living…” – Matthew Henry
“The righteous - It is no unusual thing, that in publick calamities, those who are indeed righteous should be involved with others.” – John Wesley
“Now, among the two latter classes there might be many righteous as well as wicked. And when all the provisions were consumed, so that there was no more bread in the city, during the siege by Nebuchadnezzar, the righteous must have suffered as well as the wicked; for they could not be preserved alive, but by miracle, when there was no bread; nor was their perishing for want any loss to them, because the Lord would take them straight to his glory. And however men in general are unwilling to die, yet there is no instance, nor can there be, of any man’s complaint that he got to heaven too soon…The righteous were not cut off for the crimes of the wicked, (see chap. 18), nor were these crimes visited upon them, yet several of them shared in the common calamity, but none perished. Those that were removed by a violent death, (and I believe we shall find few such), got a speedier entrance into eternal glory.” – Adam Clarke
Do you see how these respectable Commentators are describing the Great Tribulation of the Babylonian Captivities? My reader, do you know the holocaustal consequences of such a belief? My reader, things are not as these men of stature would have you to believe! Fitting words for this situation are those that were once spoken to the respectable but misled apostle Peter, when the Jesus said to him, “Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offence unto Me” (Matt. 16:23)! Shockingly, the Majesty of the LORD (Isa. 24:13-16, 26:8-10) within the meticulous details of the Tribulation in all its forms is not the glory of these Commentators. Ah, but it must be! …for, this, and nothing besides, will be the glory of the righteous amidst the fires of the Great Tribulation! Grievously, though, these Commentators are ignorant of the Gospel Message of the Tribulation Period (Rev. 14:6-7). Can you believe it? Therefore, to them, the calamities of the Church amidst the Tribulation Period are secularized.
Matthew Henry: Notice that Henry characterizes the Jewish calamities to be like “the common calamities of the nation”, one might say, as if the “holy Nation” of Israel is comparable to the commonalities of all other nations!
John Wesley: Notice that Wesley characterizes the Jewish calamities as “publick calamities”, one might say, as if the saintly population of Israel’s Citizens are subject to things as usual among the public of heathen nations!
Adam Clarke: Notice that Clarke characterizes the Jewish calamities to be the sharing of “the common calamity”, as if this people or their calamities could possibly be called common in respect to the happenings of all other nations and peoples, as if the people and their calamities aren’t utterly uncommon in every way possible!
Surely the Lord Jesus is displeased with this unbiblical, offensive, and dangerous nonsense! I cannot help but remember the words, “Have ye never read…?”, and imagine the Lord’s countenance at such a time (Mark 2:25, Matt. 21:16). These words were spoken at a time when Jesus was combatting dangerous heresies that, in His description, were like venomous serpents sinking their fangs into the helpless souls of Jewish society (Matt. 12:34, 22:33). Even so, in this case, I find it shockingly abnormal that these Commentators would interpret Israelite normality like the normalized societal experiences of heathen nations. Have they never read of the peculiarities of the Israelite Nation, a Holy Nation, and how that even the Land itself is holy unto God? How much more the societal happenings of the Civilization?
One of the primary purposes of God’s Glory in redemption is to put a difference between the People of God and the Peoples of Men. Namely, that God’s People would be a separated people from all other peoples in that they dwell in union with God (see “Rules of the Union”). I marvel that this momentous feat could be forgotten or ignored by Popular Commentators. For, indeed, it was hardly accomplished (see “Becoming God’s People, the Controversy”)! And, the hard-to-be accomplished status, being accomplished, only reinforces the inestimable difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdoms of Men (see “Israel as God’s People, the Implications”). Truly! …how can this hard-to-be accomplished status be so easily ignored by Popular Commentators?
Well, the Gentiles are disadvantaged. We, being such, are prone to conjecture based upon our own experiences (it’s called worldly wisdom); thus, in the case of so called public calamities, the nominal “common sense” heathenistic perspective prevails its imposing presence upon the text of Holy Scripture. However, neither the public nor the politics of the Israelite People is comparable to the Heathen Peoples of the World. The probabilities of the one are irrelevant to the other, and vice versa, because in Israelite society GOD is the probable cause. Exemplifying this, my reader, have you ever wondered why the Book of Proverbs is not proverbial for you and I in heathen societies and governments? Have you ever wondered where all the ultimatums of blessing and curse are in this our day? Can you imagine it, my reader? Actually living in a civilization where all the proverbs of the Book of Proverbs were so pervasively and unmistakably present in Israel that to them, shockingly, the Glory of God depicted in the proverbs was but common sense knowledge held in remembrance by all Israelites!
The fact that God was KING in Israel through all the meticulous ways presented in the Book of Proverbs was just common sense among God’s People. That’s what a proverb is, you know: common sense. Proverbs are statements of reasonably acquired wisdom that prove true in the common life experiences of all men. Only for Israelites, those things which are common among this uncommon people bear witness to the sheer magnitude of God’s Glory which was in operation. Solomon’s inspired oration of Divinely Empowered Civil Justice (contained in the Book of Proverbs) was written with divine genius as a testimony to all nations and peoples how that in Israel, “God is known” (Ps. 48:3)! The entirety of this uncommon people – a “Holy Nation” (Ex. 19:6, 1 Pet. 2:9) – was made to fear God because they were utterly encompassed and enveloped by the activity and actuality of GOD as KING.
In other words, the Israelites Government was Divinely Empowered to accomplish purely miraculous feats. Hereby, the whole population of Israel came under an intense awareness of God’s imminent judgment upon any uncleanness and impurity existing in the Land of Israel, the Church. Gloriously, Solomon details the judgments of God pursuing the objectives of Church Purity to the vanquishing of unlawful sex, thievery, and covetousness, while establishing a love for God, a love for the Brethren, and a bridling of the tongue. Thus, the proverbial commonality of the citizenry of this Civilization is radically different from all other earthly civilizations (Deut. 4:5-8). Right? For, indeed, there is no such thing as an Israelite citizen, “commonly speaking”. The uncommon commonality between all Israelite citizens is that they were saints, according to doctrinal rule. Wrongfully so, however, some distinguish between Israelite citizens and Israelite saints. The divine commands for holiness were for all the people, not just the politicians (Lev. 20:22-27). Thus, Israelite Government wasn’t like our governments. Israelite citizenship does not operate like our Gentile citizenship. The Israelite nation was not as Gentile nations (Deut. 14:2).
In Israel, there was an inseparable mingling of state and citizen affairs. This means that unlike any other nation, state and citizen affairs were not secular but religious. Matters of state were matters of religion! The branches of society and civilization in Israel (every congregation held anywhere with any vocation in all of Israel) were, more specifically, branches of Church Ministry. Yes! And the congregants therein were Church Ministers! Therefore in Israel, the government and its citizens, along with the soldiers of war (Deut. 23:9-14, 28:7), the ingathering harvesters of the farm (Ex. 23:16, 34:22, Deut. 28:4-6, 10-13), the marital compatibly of individuals (Neh. 13:1-3), and all things that appertain to financial and economic prosperity (Deut. 28:4-6, 10-13), or likewise, family relationships and fruitfulness (Deut. 28:4-6, 10-13)… all persons of every vocation, or, “the children of Israel” as a people, had to be separated from all other peoples (exempting lawful converts from strange peoples). If Israel as a people did mingle with uncleanness --- men would “DIE”! Religious rites were gospel messages preached by shadows, therefore Israel’s participation (inwardly and outwardly) was necessary for conversion and present progressive holiness (which is saving union with God’s Spirit), thus all Israelites were to be Israelites indeed (inwardly and outwardly), or in other words, all citizens were to be converted, twice-born, saints (Lev. 15:31).
Israel was bound by Laws which demanded all of Israel’s participation in religious ceremonies. Ceremonies could not be neglected by any of the population. They were not a matter of personal choice or leisure, as if it was a mere privilege. Ceremonial practices were not dependent upon civilian preferences, no! The religious ceremonies of Israel were a matter of life and death (Deut. 30:15-20)! Pause and think about that, my reader. Whoever did not keep the Passover was not passed over (which means, the destroying angel of God’s wrath did not pass them by, but rather, pursued and fell upon them with the death sentence), for it is written: “that soul shall be cut off from Israel” (Ex. 12:15). The Day of Atonement was a wrath-absorbing escape for “all the people of the congregation” (Lev. 16:33), thus anyone who did not observe it was “cut off from among his people” (Lev. 23:29). The Sabbath was observed by all and neglected by none, for upon its neglect it was written, “whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people” (Ex. 31:14). Circumcision, neglected by any man, “that soul shall be cut off from his people” (Gen. 17:14). Israel was a clean nation, a clean people, and when Unclean Laws were defied by individual Israelites (Lev. 15:31) or Levitical officers, the penalty was DEATH: “that soul shall be cut off from My Presence, I am the LORD” (Lev. 22:3). Any Israelite of any tribe, if they Defile the Tabernacle of God by their uncleanness they would die (Lev. 15:31).
As you can see, either Israel was separated from their uncleanness or they were separated from their God, and if God did abide in their midst, He required the death of unclean persons, and if the nation did abide in uncleanness, the whole nation would be destroyed by a plethora of curses and heathen armies which God would raise up against them. Anyone excluded from Religious Services was cut off from among the people, the simplest example to reference being: Ceremonial Sacrifices (Num. 15:30-31, Heb. 10:28)! Some assume that those who were “cut off” from among God’s people were excommunicated rather than put to death (JFB), but this is not true! To be “cut off” from the people of Israel was, by God’s definition, the death penalty (Num. 4:18, Lev. 20:1-8, 18, 23:29, Ex. 31:14, see also the presumptuous sinners of Num. 15:30-31 in context with the Sabbath breaker in Num. 15:32-36, in comparison with Heb. 10:28; see also Chapter 5). Furthermore, unlike heathen nations, the punishments involving the death penalty were civilian affairs. Though our heathen nation, my reader, enforces the death penalty upon transgressors by political rather than civil powers, in Israel this was a civil matter. All the people were involved in and obligated to conduct the execution, rather than a mere state or national officer. Israel DID NOT operate like our heathen nation because in Israel… God is KING.
Of course, backsliding was possible and well accounted for in Biblical Church History. However, according to Solomon, the perfection of holiness was achievable because Civil Justice was Effective to Save. This means that when the backsliders of Israel, the Church, were engaged by the chastisements and judgments of Civil Justice, they were recovered! God’s imminent judgment against sinning saints (evildoers) was ideally accomplished through Civil Justice via the Government of Israel, and it was EFFECTIVE! Solomon told the story, my reader. For example, when fellow Israelites did backslide from the bridling of the tongue… behold, they were recovered! Not only this, but, dishonesty and slothfulness were effectually purged, thievery was forsaken by all, covetousness via oppressing the poor was disdained and avoided by all, fighting ceased to exist, and, all the while, scorners were made to fear and fools did become wise! How did it happen? The Glory of God did effectively operate the material Government of Israel for the enforcement of Civil Justice! For, after all, in Israel God was KING. Melodious sounds and worshipful utterances were heard from the windows of them that kept the Home, the same which were echoed by the city-street travelers who tended to their day’s business: “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the City of our God, in the Mountain of His Holiness” (Ps. 48:1)! Let the Gentiles marvel and wag their heads in wonder! In Israel, God was KING! But what about all the sin and wickedness which is noticeably pervasive in various generations of Israelite Church History, you wonder? There were times of apostasy, this is true… and in such times these glories were not in operation (Rom. 9:6). Nevertheless, there were select generations which did experience the glories which Solomon memorialized in the Book of Proverbs! How did “the times” change, and why? A story well told by Solomon, my reader. According to the Book of Proverbs, when there were times when civil justice was ineffective to save the backsliders of Israel, there was a backup plan. Ultimately, when all else fails… BABYLON is the backup plan.
The Doctrine of the Majesty of the LORD
I repeat, BABYLON is God’s backup plan. Babylon doesn’t replace God or usurp His Majesty. Babylon is subservient to God’s Majesty! Thus, God is meticulously involved in whatever befalls the Jews through Babylon. Literally. Thus, in the case of Babylon, or in any other case, it is nonsensical and violently unbiblical to expect the societal experiences of heathen and Israelite peoples to be in concert one with another. For, don’t these two peoples, and their societies, have stark and inestimable differences? Isn’t there something about them, or someone, which makes the two contrastingly distinct and diametrically opposed? GOD. Yes, GOD HIMSELF! He is the inestimable difference: namely His immediate presence and the transcending manifestation of His rule via the blessings and curses (according to the Covenant) that universally affect every aspect of Israelite life.
The heathen peoples, however, do not have any divine light from God, nor an inspired Law, and neither do they have God Himself as their indwelling and among-dwelling KING (Deut. 4:6-8, Eph. 2:12)! Therefore, neither the wicked nor the righteous within the borders of Judah were in a “common situation” as the heathen public of other nations would naturally expect; there was a supernatural difference at hand! Naming names, the former were forbidden within the borders of the Kingdom and, meanwhile, God promised to separate the former from the latter no matter the cost lest they all descend into hell together! Startling though it may be, my reader, follow the hyperlinks and observe God’s honest truth:
All the Assemblies or Congregations of the Israelite People, in any place or for any purpose within the Land of Israel, or anywhere in the Kingdom of God, especially within the City of Jerusalem & upon Mount Zion, or anywhere of closer proximity to the Temple of God, were required by Law to be entirely populated by righteous and godly persons.
In the case of Babylon, the LORD pursued the same objectives even though the borders of the Kingdom were dissolved, and national sovereignty was compromised from a human perspective. Undeniably, this is the expressed purpose of the Tribulation Period! However, like Peter was obnoxiously ignorant of the need for and glory of Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion (Matt. 16:22-23), Matthew Henry, John Wesley, and Adam Clarke are obnoxiously ignorant of the need for and glory of the Tribulation Period. For, herein, through the Tribulation and not without it, or through Babylon and not without it, God will restore what the rule of Law had always required (hence the promise, “I will purge out from among you all the rebels, and them that transgress against Me” – Ezek. 20:33-44). Indeed, with all heathen nations or peoples, or societies, the calamities which befall them are arbitrary even though it is a just and due penalty of death (an arbitrary assertion of the moral protocol). However, with Israel & Judah, the Church, the calamities aren’t arbitrary; they are standard in protocol according to God’s demand of righteousness and holiness in the Land (a constant & unchanging assertion of moral protocol). Interpreters that are ignorant of this will be unperceptive of the mystery of God’s Majesty in, through, and over Babylon.
Being utterly blind to the warrant for and purpose of the Tribulation, the scriptures are wrested. Being utterly blind to what a Church is and how the Kingdom of God operated in the Old Testament, they assume that when death and suffering befell the people of God during the Babylonian Captivities, it is like what happens in heathen nations when “public calamities” befall people in general. In other words, it is a punishment of the Nation and not individual persons. What is, in actuality - a glorious Masterpiece of Majestic Sovereignty - they reckon to be a sad result of disorderly and unfortunate circumstances. You see, my reader? The proponents of the popular interpretation are ignorant of God’s prerogative with every Jew in the Land of Judah (God’s Prerogative for & Performance of Church Purity). Therefore, what God employed as an Inescapable Manhunt they misunderstand as the sad inclusion of righteous persons in “public calamities” that are due to a wicked society and nation.
My reader, God will purge the people without sparing the place. God will purge the Church and spare the righteous while unsparingly destroying the City of Jerusalem and the Temple of God. Heretofore, this has been the expressed message of the Tribulation Prophets, Jeremiah & Ezekiel. Thus, it is glaringly apparent that Popular Commentators did not follow Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s prophesying heretofore, from the reign of Jehoahaz until the present, which was the 7th year of Zedekiah’s reign, otherwise they would know the following.
Metaphorical Terms: “fire…it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree” – Ezek. 20:47
The Interpretation: “my sword…will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked” – Ezek. 21:3
The Meaning: The term “cut off” conveys the removal of all the Jewish inhabitants whether by death or captivity, but it does not and cannot exclusively mean death because then, contrary to scripture, this would mean the death of the righteous.
Firstly, it should be duly noted that the prophecy is directed toward Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah in general, which we know to be the habitation of the Evil Figs. The word of the Lord to Ezekiel was very clear in both metaphorical terms and plain speech. Ezekiel was directed by God to turn unto the City and Land of the Evil Figs in the words: “set thy face toward the south…toward the south, and prophesy against the Forest of the South Field” (Ezek. 20:46), and, “set they face toward Jerusalem…toward the holy places, and prophesy against the Land of Israel” (Ezek. 21:2). Hence, the noun, “thee”, in the phrase, “my sword…will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked” (Ezek. 21:3), is the City and Land of Jerusalem and Judah. Understandably, there are two ways to “cut off” people from the Land via the sword: death & captivity. Both of these experiences happen at the point of a sword; and, of course, the Lord’s sword (“My sword”) is the Babylonian Army (for more information, see: “The Day of the LORD: Having Departed, God Returns for War!”). Once again, and I repeat, it is hereby impossible to conjecture that the cutting off of the righteous and the wicked is signifying the death of the righteous and the wicked, as it may appear to some. This interpretation is contrary to the immediate context of Ezekiel 20:45-21:7, as has been demonstrated in the aforementioned, and it is contrary to the greater context of Ezekiel 20:1-21:7.
Furthermore, this interpretation is contrary to the most recent prophecies of the Tribulation Prophets in the 6th & 7th year of the reign of Zedekiah. For example, Jeremiah was compelled to identify the survivors of the Babylonian sieges in the terms, “The people which were left of the sword found grace in the Wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest” (Jer. 31:2; Ezek. 6:8). Jeremiah prophesied Jeremiah 30:1-31:40 in continuity to what Ezekiel began in Ezekiel 3:22-7:27, 8:1-11:25, 12:1-16, 12:17-13:23, 14:1-23, 15:1-8, 16:1-63, 17:1-24 (starting from the 5th day of the 6th month of the 6th year of the reign of Zedekiah) and, notably, Ezekiel’s message culminated in clarity concerning the controverted issues at hand in Ezekiel 18:1-32. [Note: all the prophecies of Ezekiel from Ezekiel 8:1 to Ezekiel 19:14 took place starting from the 5th day of the 6th month of the 6th year and onward, one by one, unto any time prior to the 10th day of the 5th month of the 7th year (see Ezek. 8:1 & Ezek. 20:1). In approximately 1 year, Ezekiel received and delivered 9 prophecies while Jeremiah received and delivered only 1 prophecy.] Ezekiel’s culminating argumentation in Ezekiel 18:1-32 did directly confront the underlying theology of the notorious heretics, the Evil Figs, by proving that in a situation of annihilation every person is individually judged by God. In other words, so as to preclude the easily misunderstood details of Ezekiel 20:45-21:7, the doctrine of collective judgment was thoroughly refuted. Furthermore, what Jeremiah gave reference to in Jeremiah 31:2, speaking of the Wilderness Experience, Ezekiel elaborated upon in Ezekiel 20:33-44. All of this is, of course, a contextual framework that objectively interprets Ezekiel 20:45-21:7 contrary to the popular opinion of respectable Commentators.
Shockingly, these Commentators are utterly ignorant of the point and purpose of the Tribulation Period in general. The common understanding of Ezekiel 20:45-21:7 is a shocking and tragic contradiction to the rest of the Book of Ezekiel. There should be no confusion about what is meant by the prophetic act, “my sword…will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked” (Ezek. 21:3). Why? Heretofore, the Tribulation Prophets have already abundantly prophesied concerning the final estate of the Land and Kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem, that it would be utterly desolate and without inhabitant (Jer. 2:15, 4:1-4, 4:7, 7:33, 9:11-12, 26:9, 33:10, 34:22, 44:2, Ezek. 6:14, 14:14-16, 15:8). In other words, this means that all the people (both the righteous and the wicked) would be cut off from the Land. Furthermore, profound specificity was used to describe what would become of the entire population of the inhabitants of Jerusalem all throughout the Babylonian sieges (Ezekiel 5:2-4, 12-13, 6:1-10, 13, 14, 7:2-3, 9, 11, 16, etc.).
Therein it was written, and specified, that two-thirds of the population of the Evil Figs would die in the Babylonian sieges via famine, pestilence, and the sword. Specifically speaking, it is important to note that that a “third part” of the people would fall/die by the sword (Ezek. 5:12). However, another third part (“the whole remnant” that is left of those who did not die by famine, pestilence, or the sword) would be scattered “into all the winds”, God said, warning that He would “draw out a sword after them” (Ezek. 5:13). Now this may appear to mean a total annihilation of the people, no questions asked, but a thorough study of Jeremiah and Ezekiel has proven otherwise. In other words, there was an amendment of grace added to the repertoire of damnation decreed upon the Evil Figs (Good Figs: Jer. 24:5-7, 29:4-15; Evil Figs: Jer. 24:8-10, 29:16-19). I must say, however, this amendment was hardly added to the repertoire because God was indeed intending to totally annihilate the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Evil Figs, because none of them were righteous! To comprehend the fulness of this glorious mystery one must go back and study the progress of prophetic messages delivered by Jeremiah and Ezekiel leading up to this point in time (the 7th year of the reign of Zedekiah). An orderly guide of the most profound points of prophecy are provided below.
“The Majesty of the Lord in Tribulatory Judgments of Life & Death” in Jeremiah 14:1-17:18
“The Majesty of the Lord in Tribulatory Judgments of Life & Death” in Ezekiel 1:2-3:21
“The Spiritual Status of the Evil Figs” in Ezekiel 8:1-11:25
“All the Residue of the Remnant of Israel being Totally Annihilated!” in Ezekiel 8:1-11:25
“The Majesty of the Lord in Tribulatory Judgments of Life & Death” in Ezekiel 8:1-11:25
“The Mysteries of Redemption in the Great Tribulation” in Ezekiel 8:1-11:25
“Erroneously Reckoning the Promises of Covenantal Idealism” in Ezekiel 8:1-11:25
“The Majesty of the Lord in Tribulatory Judgments of Life & Death” in Ezekiel 8:1-11:25
“The Evil Figs Didn’t Believe They Were Evil!” in Ezekiel 18:1-32
“In a Situation of Annihilation Every Person is Individually Judged by God” in Ezekiel 18:1-32
“Attempted & Hardly Thwarted Events of Total Annihilation” in Ezekiel 18:1-32
The spiritual status and eternal fate of those who suffered death in the Captivities is central in God’s message through the Tribulation Prophets; and, of course, this is the most controverted issue of the heretical and apostate Jews at large. Fearfully, though, the popular Commentators of today are in agreement with the false prophets of old on this point. Henry, Wesley, and Clarke are seeking to make ambiguous, collective, and inclusively general that which God says is objective, individualistic, and exclusively specific. They are inadvertently affirming the heretical propaganda of the backsliders in the Tribulation Period of old! Biblical refutations of these dangerous heresies as they existed in their ancient forms can be found in the following:
Truly, my reader, upon a brief reading of the prophetic details that determine the happenings of life and death in the Tribulation Period, it is impossible to label the fate of each soul as random or ambiguous. There is no vacuum of nothingness at the center of the storm, my reader! GOD IS THERE. The injuries suffered therefrom were not chaotically administered. The precious souls of mankind were not subjected to the whims of ambiguous randomness. Rather, the blessings of life and the curses of death and every injury in between suffered by every means possible were totally under the sovereign control of God (Deut. 27:9-28:68). That which appears chaotic and unguided is actually controlled and aimed! That which appears to be ambiguous and random is actually specific and individualistic! These Commentators need to fill the vacuum of nothingness with GOD, and then they will know the Glory of God in the Tribulation Period! Otherwise called, “The Majesty of the LORD” (Isa. 24:14)! B-E-H-O-L-D! This revelation makes every experience of the Tribulation morally charged and incrementally punctual in bringing the impenitent souls of hardened men into an otherwise impossible repentance whereby, at last, they acknowledge the Majesty of the LORD. This acknowledgement is what the Tribulation Prophets were talking about when they said, “And they shall know that I am the LORD, and I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them” (Ezek. 6:10).
If the Tribulation was an unguided storm of general wrath that was stirred, spiraled, accelerated, and flung into the Land of Judah to the collective punishment of the whole, then God would not have pointed the finger at the fanciful escapees and foretold the unforgettable details of their soon-to-be experiences. Furthermore, God utilized inescapable judgments of spiritual delusion to maneuver damned souls into the position of foreordained justice. Speaking of the inescapable judgments of spiritual delusion, Amos prophesied,
“Shall not the Land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwelleth therein? and it shall rise up wholly as a flood; and it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt. And it shall come to pass in that Day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day: And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the Land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it. In that Day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.” – Amos 8:8-13
When the prophet said, speaking in the name of God, “I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day” (Amos 8:9), he was speaking of God’s curse of spiritual darkness and spiritual sleep (for more information, see: “Spiritual Darkness” & “The New Testament Curses of God”). When the prophet said, speaking in the name of God, “I will send a famine in the Land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD…in that Day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst” (Amos 8:11, 13), he was speaking of God’s curse of spiritual famine and spiritual desertification (for more information, see: “Spiritual Famine” & “The New Testament Curses of God”). These divine curses are inescapable judgments of spiritual delusion sent by God to maneuver the souls of men into the position of greater judgments. In Amos 5:18-20 & Amos 9:1-10, speaking directly of this maneuvering process, Amos speaks of the spiritual darkness of the Day of the LORD in that it makes possible the physical circumstances of greater judgments upon the bodies and souls of impenitent Jews. Looking upon both of the passages side-by-side, the message is clear.
“Woe unto you that desire the Day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the Day of the LORD is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the Day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?” – Amos 5:18-20
“I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered. Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from My sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them: And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good. And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the Land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt. It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name. Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir? Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD. For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all Nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. ALL the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.” – Amos 9:1-10 [Isa. 24:18, 30:16-17]
You may object to the use of these scriptures from Amos by arguing that they were spoken to Israel, not Judah, and being such they reference the Assyrian Captivity. This, I know, but I have already proven how Hosea and Amos were Tribulation Prophets to Israel like Jeremiah and Ezekiel were Tribulation Prophets to Judah, and how that Jeremiah and Ezekiel give much more detail and elaboration upon the experience of the Tribulation because the remnant of the Jews throughout the generations of the Kings remained in Judah for the most part. This point was further confirmed in the introduction and elaboration of the Wilderness Doctrine, introduced by Hosea and elaborated upon by Ezekiel (see “The Doctrine of the Wilderness According to Hosea”); and, while studying the Tribulation Period of Judah we have observed the unchangeable constancy of God’s sovereignty in the subject title, “The Majesty of the Lord in Tribulatory Judgments of Life & Death”. In other words, the Tribulation Experience of this time period was a Wilderness Experience, as Hosea and Ezekiel testified – one exactly like the Wilderness Experience of Israel when she came out of Egypt, only this time God was using the Babylonians (the sword, famine, and pestilence that accompanies warfare and longstanding sieges) and other choice instruments (wild beasts, venomous serpents, etc.) to accomplish the same ultimate objective: Church Purity.
The Gospel Message: The Majesty of the LORD in every detail of the Tribulation
Remember, during the Wilderness Experience of the Exodus Generation the Glory of God did suddenly appear in a pillar of Cloud or Fire to execute the neglected judgment by divine plagues to the successful restoration of Church Purity. Furthermore, remember that the Glory of God, as it was in operation among the Exodus Generation, is the single most coveted after experience of all generations thereafter (see “The Church Defined, Recalled, & Revived”)! Albeit, in Ezekiel’s time and among the Tribulation Jews, the Glory of God departed from the Church (Ezek. 8:1-11:25; see “The Visible Church Abandoned by the Invisible God”). This characteristic of the Church among the Tribulation Jews puts them in a starkly different situation as the Exodus Generation in the Wilderness Experience, right? And, yet, the Lord solemnly testified to the Tribulation Jews, saying:
“And I will bring you into the Wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” – Ezek. 20:35-38
The Lord, the King of the Church, would accomplish the same objective of Church Purity only by different means. The Pillar of Cloud & Fire wasn’t manifest like the 1st Wilderness Experience. This is the 2nd Wilderness Experience, different than the 1st but like unto it. The similarity is in the manner of divine pleading (Ezek. 20:35-36). The similarity is in the manner of furious ruling (Ezek. 20:33). The similarity is in the enormity by which God was confrontationally and inescapably purging the Church from all rebels by His standalone authority and unsurpassed power (Ezek. 20:37-38). In other words, this was a situation no less miraculous than when the Pillar of Cloud & Fire did suddenly manifest and execute inconceivable and unquestionable judgments amidst the Church in the Wilderness! This being the case, however, the Glory of God departed from Judah and joined the Armies of Babylon to the end that they, and all other choice instruments (Ps. 17:13-14), would be under the control of the Majesty of the Lord in every single detail of the Tribulation! Thereby, through profoundly different means, and through the 70-year Captivity that would transpire, the Jews experienced the 2nd Wilderness Experience. If you can believe it, this is the Gospel Message of the Tribulation Period! The glorious Gospel Message of the Tribulation is the Majesty of the Lord in every single detail of the Tribulation, in that…
If an arrow was drawn and shot at venture and killed a man – it struck God’s targeted man, a wicked man, whom the LORD desired to slay (1 Kings 22:20, 34; Ezek. 3:18, 18:4, 20)!
If a wandering Lion or Bear found and killed a man, it wasn’t by chance (Lev. 26:22, Ezek. 14:15, 21, 33:27, Jer. 15:3, 1 Kings 13:24-25, 2 Kings 17:25)!
If a fleeing Israelite evades the Armies of Babylon on the terrain of the countryside and then, he accidently fell off a cliff and died – his foot was appointed thereto (Deut. 32:35, Ezek. 5:12-17, 6:1-7, Ps. 73:17-19, Isa. 8:15, Jer. 13:16, Ps. 91:12)!
This is just to name a few, my reader. Much more can and will be said! But, I pause, knowing that many readers will ask the question: “What does this have to do with the Gospel Message of the Tribulation Period?” Firstly, my reader, you must remember the primary audience whom God is addressing in Ezekiel 20:1-21:32 – namely, the no-good Good Figs and the generally reprobate and hopeless Evil Figs, but especially the Evil Figs because they were the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah and the City of Jerusalem. Secondarily, to understand the goodness of the Good News you must understand the bad. Will God make “a full end” of the Evil Figs (Evil Figs: Jer. 24:8-10, 29:16-19)? Yes. That’s the bad news. Like the staggering vision that Ezekiel had seen (recorded in Ezekiel 9:1-11), a present-tense operation of total annihilation was in motion among the Evil Figs! This was the prophetically pronounced status of “all the residue of the remnant of Israel” (Ezek. 9:8, 13). Why? Because they were unchangeably wicked and they deserved it! Thus, for the enforcement of the bad news God had a meticulous involvement in every detail, in that…
The LORD was watching with every Babylonian Soldier who stood at attention to prevent all escapees (Ps. 127:1, Ezek. 21:3-4, 5:2, 12-17, 6:2-4, 6-7, 10; Joel 2:3, 11; Isa. 5:27), the LORD was meticulously guiding the blade of every Babylonian sword wielded on the battlefield (Ps. 17:13-14, Joel 2:4-9, Isa. 5:29-30), the LORD was meticulously aiming every Babylonian arrow to plunge into the flesh of those whom divine anger was targeting (1 Kings 22:20, 34; Ezek. 3:18, 18:4, 20; Isa. 5:28), the LORD was meticulously directing the deadly claws of pestilence which walked the countryside to ravaged the people (Ex.. 12:12-13, 23, Deut. 28:35, Ex. 15:26), the LORD was standing in judgment over the biological resilience of every man who assayed to endure the famine but couldn’t (Jer. 42:16-17, 22, Ezek. 5:12, 6:12), and, finally, the LORD was specifically ordering the disorderly imagination of every violent beast to devour the flesh of whomever was divinely appointed to die (Lev. 26:22, Ezek. 14:15, 21, 33:27, Jer. 15:3, 1 Kings 13:24-25, 2 Kings 17:25)!
Hereby, a full end was determined and declared upon the Evil Figs, my reader. It was “surely” promised (“thou shalt surely die” – Ezek. 3:18), truly, but the pronouncement could be altered in the right conditions (Jer. 18:7-11) – that’s the Good News! The possibility of a surviving remnant was prophetically declared impossible until an amendment was made to the pronouncement in Ezekiel 6:8-10 (for the first time), but the operation of total annihilation already in motion was unwaveringly annihilating the whole population unless the conditions of peace were met (Lk. 14:31-33).
“And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” – 2 Kings 9:22
Lo, and behold, the residue of the Evil Figs had not, would not, and could not repent unless the swinging blade of an unwavering annihilation splattered blood upon their faces! The residue of the Evil Figs had not, would not, and could not repent unless they encountered physical circumstances comparable to the slaughtering weapons of holy angels who would not turn away from a total annihilation of men, women, and children, young and old (Ezek. 9:5-6)! The residue of the Evil Figs had not, would not, and could not repent unless they knew their present calamity was powered by Sovereignty, to wit: Omniscience and Omnipotence commanded angels to execute the sentence! And, they, the surviving Evil Figs amidst the exercise, were forced to watch their comrades in “the faith” suffer death on the right hand and the left – the ammunition of annihilation whizzing past their own mortal bodies by a hair’s breadth! – and, they, knowing that the strike of death did hardly pass them by, knowing that time was short until one’s own destruction was manifested in real time (according to the heavenly vision of holy angels with slaughtering weapons going to and fro, and sparing none!)! …behold, the few-in-number Evil Figs would finally come to grips with the shocking truth of a sure visitation of death, a total annihilation! Being forcibly convinced of this, I say! Being overwhelmed by death’s imminent visitation, I mean! Feeling, as it were, the eyes of holy angels fastened upon them! Seeing, as it were, the angelic slaughtering weapons reared for the strike! THEY REPENT.
“Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, He will whet His sword; He hath bent His bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; He ordaineth His arrows against the persecutors.” – Psalm 7:9-13 [Psalm 90:3]
Ah, the Divine Goodness of this Tribulation! The wondrous ingenuity exercised by Omniscience! The perfectly calculated chaos of engulfing calamities! The refining and purifying qualities of this divinely lit furnace (Isa. 48:10)! For, it was these scenarios of sure and certain death that exacted the results! It was when the Evil Figs were utterly surrounded, they surrendered! It was when wrath was demonstrably reared to slay the surrounded rebels, the impenitent repented! These are the exacted results, my reader! Behold, the fearless became terrified, the proud denounced lies, and the cold-hearted cried! The wayward turned Godward, the impenitent were broken-hearted, and the stiff-necked looked upward in humble acknowledgment of God on high! Ah, this glorious working of an otherwise unobtainable redemption! Behold, my reader! The hopelessly Evil Figs became good! “Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires…” (Isa. 24:15).
Now, remember, this was a situation no less miraculous than when the Pillar of Cloud & Fire did suddenly manifest and execute inconceivable and unquestionable judgment amidst the Church in the Wilderness! Herein, with an equaled display of miraculous intervention, God’s Glory departed from Judah to join the Armies of Babylon to the end that they, and all other choice instruments (Ps. 17:13-14), would be under the control of the Majesty of the Lord in every single detail of the Tribulation! Can you perceive it? Can you believe it? Or, do doubts persist? My reader, the aforementioned Majesty of the LORD is the Gospel Message of the Tribulation Period. If you are still unconvinced then I plead, hold your peace! I mean, let the doubting Thomas take a look closer! Come near. See, experience, and handle what the soon-to-be Tribulation Saints will experience in exact fulfillments of scripture in real time. Suffer me to repeat and elaborate…
The glorious Gospel Message of the Tribulation is the Majesty of the Lord in every single detail of the Tribulation, in that, if an arrow was drawn and shot at venture and killed a man – it struck God’s targeted man, a wicked man, whom the LORD desired to slay (1 Kings 22:20, 34; Ezek. 3:18, 18:4, 20)! So, we’ve noted already. Also, if a wandering Lion or Bear found and killed a man, it wasn’t by chance (Lev. 26:22, Ezek. 14:15, 21, 33:27, Jer. 15:3, 1 Kings 13:24-25, 2 Kings 17:25)! So, we’ve noted already. Elaborating further, however, in reference to the Lion and the Bear, if a man did perchance escape the one, and the other, the hope provided by the latter circumstance was an illusion of false security unless the man repented of his sins and glorified the LORD in the fires (Ezek. 33:12, Isa. 24:13-16). Any transient circumstance of an impenitent escapee was a divinely planned event of incremental chastisement. In pursuit of the wicked man’s repentance (Ezek. 18:30-32), God intended to incrementally chastise him in hopes that he would repent and acknowledge the Majesty of the LORD to the praise and glory of Sovereign Mercy (Ezek. 20:43-44), and therefore the man escaped the Lion and the Bear for the time. In the end, however, if the man continued to be impenitent of his sins, let it be known to the reader that his steadfast impenitence resulted from an obstinate disacknowledgement of the Majesty of the LORD in the exercise of Tribulation; thereby, the man was rendered unable to repent and be sorry for his sins! Thereby, the man was a worshipper of chance and the admirer of happy circumstances. Thereby, the man was in denial of the Gospel Message of the Tribulation! In other words, the man was a hopeful survivor who lived in denial of the divinity involved in every detail of the divinely orchestrated Tribulation. Thus, being an abject of the Tribulation Period, he was doomed to run the course of futility “as if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him” (Amos 5:19). Behold, my reader, the futility of the hopeful escapee who refuses to repent and humble himself to the Majesty of the LORD!
“Woe unto you that desire the Day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the Day of the LORD is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the Day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?” – Amos 5:18-20 [Isa. 24:18, 30:16-17]
Apparently, spiritual darkness was upon the man (Amos 5:18-20)! …right? Or else, how could he be so blind to the Majesty of the LORD to think that he could outrun God? Evidently, the man was numb to the exercise of God’s Majesty as a senseless piece of chaff is blown in the wind (Ps. 35:5)! Behold, the man was sliding down a slippery path of spiritual darkness, thinking he’s safe (Ps. 35:6)! According to the testimony of Holy Scripture, the man was being chased and persecuted by angels at the charge of God’s Majesty and thereby the wicked man was deluded to his own impending doom: “thou shalt surely die” (Ezek. 3:18, 33:8, Ps. 35:5-6)! Ah, how manifestly clear is the testimony of Scripture! How dreadfully unimaginable is the Majesty of the LORD (Gen. 28:12-17)!
“Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them. Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.” – Psalm 35:5-6
My reader, suffer me to repeat and elaborate further. We have noted before that if a fleeing Israelite evades the Armies of Babylon on the terrain of the countryside and then, he accidently fell off a cliff and died – his foot was appointed thereto (Deut. 32:35, Ezek. 5:12-17, 6:1-7, Ps. 73:17-19, Isa. 8:15, Jer. 13:16, Ps. 91:12)! Do you agree? Are you convinced? If not, let your imagination venture onward into the realm of the impossible! Consider the manifold ways that God would catch the escapee in fulfillment of the word, “And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence”, and, “though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down” (Amos 9:1-10)! My reader, consider the most impossible circumstance, the most fantastic scenario: like, for example, a man hiding in the bottom of the sea hoping to escape the eyes of Almighty God! Or, even further, consider a man digging into hell in hopes that if he hides himself there, of all places, God Almighty would perhaps forget about him! The most profoundly exaggerated circumstances and scenarios as such, whatever they may be (if it were possible!), are ruled by God’s Majesty nevertheless, as God said: “though they be hid from My sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them”, and, “Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them” (Amos 9:1-10)! How illustrious is the point divinely argued and irrefutably proven, my reader! Even so, let the apostate contenders against God’s Majesty be silenced. Moreover, let the unbeliever acknowledge the Majesty of the LORD in the Tribulation! For, in answering such exaggerated circumstances as these, God means to assure the doubting Thomas of the unchangeable truth: “The LORD reigneth” (Ps. 93:1, 96:10, 97:1, 99:1)!
Majestic, Miraculous, Celestial, & Meticulous!
Did not the LORD freely confess, “shall there be evil in a City, and the LORD hath not done it” (Amos 3:6)? Likewise, speaking of the expressed purpose of God’s exercise of absolute Majesty in the midst of Tribulation, He said, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isa. 45:7)! Indeed. Holy Scripture provides undeniable clarity on this matter, my reader. In addition to all the aforementioned, neither is a sunrise random, or a rainstorm; both are an intentional act of God’s love toward mankind every time they happen: “for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45, Jer. 10:12-13, 14:22, Ps. 135:7, Lev. 26:4, Deut. 11:14, 17, 28:12, 1 Kings 8:35-36, Isa. 5:6). Neither is a hailstorm random, or a tornado, and this includes all other forms of destructive weather as well: each and every one is an intentional act of God’s wrath toward mankind (Ps. 11:6, 148:8, 78:47-48, 105:32, 107:25, Hag. 2:17). Nothing, and I mean nothing, is left to the raw process of physiological properties! Even so, and with all these truths in due consideration, let us revisit the untruthful conclusions of the Popular Commentators. Upon being enriched by the mind of God according to the record of Holy Scripture heretofore, this begs the question: How did the Popular Commentators so grossly misrepresent the LORD in this era of glorious redemption during the Tribulation Period?
Henry was correct when he said that the righteous were cut off from the Land of Israel when they were sent captives in Babylon, but he was wrong when he conjectured the possibility of a “few” of them suffering physical death (“cut off from the Land of the Living”). Wesley, also, was wrong to assume that the righteous could or should “be involved with [wicked persons]” in their suffering of death during the siege. Clarke, being no different, begs the question: what obstacle hinders these men from believing that none, absolutely none of the righteous would physically die with the wicked? Amazingly, Clarke confesses to the filthy and unfounded reason! While arguing that many righteous persons must suffer death with the wicked amidst the calamities of the siege by Babylon, he said, “the righteous must have suffered as well as the wicked; for they could not be preserved alive, but by miracle, when there was no bread.”
Is it too hard to believe for the miraculous? Perhaps, in things as usual in heathen societies… ah, but not so in Israel, the Kingdom of God! Clarke, in a failed attempt to correct himself as he remembered the content of Ezekiel Chapter 18, referenced how “the righteous were not cut off for the crimes of the wicked, (see chap. 18), nor were these crimes visited upon them, yet several of them shared in the common calamity, but none perished. Those that were removed by a violent death, (and I believe we shall find few such), got a speedier entrance into eternal glory.” Shockingly, and despite the failed attempt to correct himself, Clarke continued to oppose himself by affirming that a few righteous men would indeed suffer a violent death alongside the wicked in the Land of Judah and Jerusalem. How oddly contrary to the exact teaching of the entire Book of Ezekiel, my reader! How can such atrocious denials of clear and stated truth be possible? …except, alas, these men didn’t read the account of the Tribulation in order heretofore?
“And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.” - 2 Kings 6:17
Nothing, except the employment of holy angels hereunto, could more effectually communicate the message of God’s Majesty to mortal man. The idea that those who suffered death in Jerusalem (the doomed territory of the Evil Figs) included righteous individuals who happened to be victims of mere circumstance, being at the wrong place at the wrong time when Tribulation came, is a dangerous affront to God’s Majesty. Proponents of such have not heard the loud message communicated by God in that HOLY ANGELS were appointed to carry out the Tribulatory Judgments of the Tribulation Period!
Perhaps the Popular Commentators did read the account of the Tribulation in order, but gross misunderstandings of the Church in the Old Testament have had a blinding effect upon their spiritual learning (Ps. 119:18). By the Church in the Old Testament, I mean: the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament. By the Kingdom of God, I mean: the Majesty of the LORD in the Old Testament. My reader, the LORD is the essential and living component of the government that was active in times of Church Purity. Accordingly, also, and without intermission inasmuch as the LORD is still alive, He’s active in times of Church Impurity! Shockingly, though, in reading the Tribulation Prophets, the Commentators have lightly passed over what God did poignantly emphasize with undeniable clarity: namely, the Majesty of the LORD in the Tribulation Period!
The circumstances that the Popular Commentators have casually deemed to be earthly and general were, so much the rather, fascinatingly celestial and divinely meticulous with each and every individual! In other words, the circumstances of the Tribulation Period are shockingly unlike a mere physiologically process of earthly elements that is detached from divinity and released into a region to the common affliction of the collective, for this is incapable of selective punishment and individual specificity. Even so, according to the vision that seized the eyes balls of the Prophet Ezekiel, the case and point of God’s Majesty in the Tribulation was objectively interpreted! It was written,
“He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the City to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar. And the Glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon He was, to the threshold of the House. And He called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My Sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” – Ezek. 9:1-6 [Rev. 7:2-3, 9:1-5]
My reader, do you see anything fascinatingly celestial and divinely meticulous about Ezekiel’s vision? Put yourself in Ezekiel’s shoes and behold what he saw! As before the skyline of the City of Jerusalem, look, see, hear, and understand: the inerrant, infallible, impartial, and divinely organized Tribulatory Judgments that administered deathblows upon the wicked, and only the wicked, by the hands of angels in the unequaled grip of Almighty God (“He had in His right hand seven stars” – Rev. 1:16)! Simply put, before the slaughtering there was a searching! And, if you will understand the slaughtering you must first understand the searching.
There was a command to, “Go”, first, and then there was a secondary command to, “Go ye after him” (Ezek. 9:4, 5). Through the instrumentality of the celestial, God’s judicial mercy was searching for, finding, and marking every righteous individual that was among the collective. Thereby, all righteous men were exempt from the unsparing slaughter that was due to the wicked. Notice the man “which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side”, of whom it was commanded, “Go through the midst of the City, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (Ezek. 9:4). This angel did the marking. Notice the other angels who went after him into the City, of whom it was commanded, “SMITE: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My Sanctuary” (Ezek. 9:5-6). These angels did the smiting. What is the unmistakable point of emphasis?
“set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” - Ezek. 9:4
“but come not near any man upon whom is the mark” – Ezek. 9:6
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” – Rev. 7:2-3
“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.” – Rev. 9:1-5
Hereby, through a marking or sealing of individuals from among the collective, all righteous persons were spared the otherwise inescapable fate of being hunted and slain by angels. Now is the time to reconsider your understanding of the Tribulation Experience, my reader, if you haven’t done so already! For, the prophetic vision of Ezekiel 9:1-11 is the most accurate depiction of reality! Even if Ezekiel never saw the vision so that the invisible was never disclosed to mere mortals, it doesn’t change reality. These holy angels had “charge over the City” of Jerusalem (Ezek. 9:1), and that’s the unchangeable. Before them, “the watchers” (Dan. 4:17, 23), that the most powerful man in the world (Nebuchadnezzar) was made to tremble in fear around this same time period! Hereby, we, on an introductory level, are enabled to understand how that the earthly is subservient to the heavenly and therefore it must be interpreted in the right order: the seen by the unseen and the terrestrial by the celestial! Take the words of the Prophet Daniel as a statement of fact, my reader: “The Heavens do RULE” (Dan. 4:25-26). Any other concept of earthly life is utter madness and unrealistic fantasy (John 19:11)! Do you agree?
Or, sadly, is Ezekiel’s vision still obscure to you? “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Herein, by Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 9:1-11, we behold the majestic operation of the Kingdom of God in the Tribulation Period and it is fascinatingly celestial and divinely meticulous! “He doeth according to His will in the Army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth” (Dan. 4:35)! Nevertheless, the abjects of the future Tribulation will object to the clarity of Ezekiel’s vision by claiming obscurity. Ah, but the meaning of the vision is far from broad and unrealistic! To those of the contrary opinion, suffer me to pose a question that could be of aid:
What earthly affliction was suffered by the unmarked individuals who were doomed to fall under the marksmanship of the angels slaughtering weapons?
Considering the facts, it is unrealistic to allow this question to go unanswered. Dare you let your imagination wander into the realms of depraved fantasy with regard to earthly events and human experience? Dare you divorce your learning of human experience as something irrelevant to the fact that, “The Heavens do RULE” (Dan. 4:25-26)? To answer the original question, one we must consult the whole of scripture. Notably, the slaughtering weapons in the hands of the angels in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezek. 9:1-11) are like the sword in the hand of the angel in Joshua’s vision (Josh. 5:13-15), in Balaam’s vision (Num. 22:31), and in David’s vision (1 Chron. 21:8-30). So, what happens to a man when and if he is struck by one of these celestial weapons? In reference to David’s vision, and to David’s astonishment, at the blade of the angel’s sword 70,000 men of Israel were killed.
“And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched over Jerusalem.” – 1 Chron. 21:16
Hereby, through the angel’s sword, “the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men” (1 Chron. 21:14). Pointedly, and to provide further clarification, it was explained to the reader what act of the angel would instantly put to rest the onslaught of manslaying justice: namely, it was when “the LORD commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof” (1 Chron. 21:27). So, my reader, did the angel smite the people? Or, did God smite the people? Describing the same event, it was written, “God was displeased with this thing; therefore He smote Israel” (1 Chron. 21:87). Evidently, God-through-angels smote the people! This is an understandable element of God’s Majesty, is it not? So, with this in consideration, what shall we make of the statement made in Ezekiel’s time, when God said: “ye shall know that I am the LORD that smiteth” (Ezek. 7:9)? Dramatic illustrations were provided concerning what God would do personally, and this did not mean that He would act exclusively. It was written,
“I Myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath. And I will smite the inhabitants of this City, both man and beast: they shall die of great pestilence” - Jer. 21:5-6
Evidently, according to the vision of Ezekiel (Ezek. 9:1-11), God-through-angels smote the people in the aforementioned manners and more. Jeremiah was describing what Ezekiel was seeing, you know. To the praise of the glory of God’s Majesty, the Lord uses armies of angels to rule over the lower world! God means to bring all of mankind to humbly alongside the King of Babylon, “He doeth according to His will in the Army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth” (Dan. 4:35)! Yea, and as further testimony of this, it was written,
“The LORD hath prepared His throne in the Heavens; and His Kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye His hosts; ye ministers of His, that do His pleasure. Bless the LORD, all His works in all places of His dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.” – Psalm 103:19-22
Evidently, through Holy Scripture, the Almighty discloses the invisible infrastructure of a Majestic Rulership over mankind with unmistakable clarity. Hereby, God leaves no place for obscurity. Hereby, God expects all future abjects of the Tribulation to humble themselves and repent of their scorning of God’s Kingship. Surely, the LORD will even provide unmistakable examples, like the humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar, giving the common peoples of the world a chance to behold the means of God’s Majesty whereby “The Heavens do RULE” (Dan. 4:25-26)! At such a time in the not-to-distant-future, the Tribulation Saints of the end of the world will do exploits like unto the renown and excellent Jew of old, Daniel (1 Cor. 10:11, Dan. 11:32). We, in the courts of Kings, will do like unto Daniel in the courts of Babylon during the Age-Ending Revival (Matt. 10:17-20)! “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.” (Ps. 2:10).
Now, in the case of David’s vision (1 Chron. 21:8-30), when an individual was smitten by the sword of the angel he or she was seized by a deadly plague. The wielding and thrusting of the sword did inflict the people thus. In Ezekiel’s time (Ezek. 9:1-11), however, if the slaughtering weapons of the angels smote a man or woman, then the diverse means of tribulation and or death befell the individuals (depending on if the angels struck a death-blow or not). The various means of affliction and or death were foretold by God so that there would be no mistaking the marksmanship of the angels who went about their courses in City of Jerusalem. How else shall we understand the wherewithal that God fulfilled the terrifying illustration that Ezekiel prophesied of, when the LORD said: “Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth My sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked…that all flesh may know that I the LORD have drawn forth My sword out of his sheath: it shall not return any more” (Ezek. 21:3-5). God-through-angels will accomplish this judgment in real-time according to what was prophetically detailed beforehand.
“He that abideth in this City shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.” – Jer. 21:9 [Jer. 15:2-3, 38:2]
“The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him.” – Ezek. 7:15
“For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?” – Ezek. 14:21
When the angels of Ezekiel’s vision conducted the slaughtering of the City of Jerusalem, it was in stages of incremental progress in hopes that the people would repent; therefore, the Lord used 6 Captivities to do what He could have done in 1 Captivity. At the wielding of the sword of angels – God’s sword! – God-through-angels inflicted the people with miraculous and celestial weaponry whereby, with every maneuvering of the weapon and every stroke of the angel’s swing, the supernatural wielded the natural in diverse and incremental calamities, namely: the Babylonian sword, the pestilence, the famine, and the manslaying beast to name a few. Behold, the Majesty of the LORD in the Tribulation! Look, and marvel in the beholding of it: God-through-angels wielding weapons that were vested with the powers of divine anger! Omnipotence and Omniscience controlling the power and precision of every natural and earthly utility of the tribulation, suffering, and death! Gloriously, and most notably, this included the maneuvering hands of sword-fighting sinners! Can you believe it?
“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!” – Isa. 31:1
Look, and understand! Behold, the Majesty of the LORD! Not only did God-through-angels conduct the Tribulation ---- even further, it could be said, God-through-angels-through-babylonians conducted the Tribulation. In greater detail, I mean, God-through-angel-swords fought the Babylonian battles, to wit: God-though-angel-swords guided the maneuvering of Babylonian swords in the sieges of Jerusalem. Or, God-through-angel weapons guided the maneuvering of Babylonian weaponry in the sieges of Jerusalem. For, if it were not so, why did David reckon the wicked of his generation to be God’s sword (“which is Thy sword” – Ps. 17:13-14)? Or, why did God speak of the Assyrians, calling them, “the rod of Mine anger” (Isa. 10:5)? Even beyond this, the LORD affirmed: “the staff in their hand is Mine indignation” (Isa. 10:5)! My reader, do you think that the Almighty was trying to make a largely contested point to the abjects of the Tribulation Period in the making of these statements and the like (Deut. 32:28, Dan. 4:25-26)?
“Shall the axe boast itself against Him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against Him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.” – Isa. 10:15
Surely, the wielding of God’s sword would not be unspecific and morally irrelevant. Surely, the death of the Jews would not be an arbitrary annihilation that was unlawfully motivated. So, also, in the use of all of God’s instruments (whether angels, men, animals, natural disasters, or plagues) there existed an unchanging moral protocol. Take, for example, the lawful use of the Levite blade that God commissioned to slaughter the men who were a defilement to the Church in the Wilderness (Ex. 32:27, Num. 15:30-31, Acts 7:38). The impenitent idolaters were targeted by the LORD in this fashion: the Levites were commanded by God, “go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor” (Ex. 32:27). In this manner the collective was searched and the guilty individuals were slain, right? Yes, of course. The LORD affirmed to Moses the moral protocol, when He said, “Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My Book” (Ex. 32:33). Even so, should we imagine that a holy angel’s blade would be less specific than a Levite’s blade?
What about the destroying weapon in the angel’s hand on the fateful night of Israel’s liberation from Egypt? This angel passed through the Land in a thorough searching for anyone who was due to die according to the moral protocol, did he not? The answer is, yes, inasmuch as the angel was under the influence of God’s Majesty! Depicting this, God said, “I will pass through…and will smite all the firstborn in the Land of Egypt” (Ex. 12:12), just like in former instances, and the God-through-angel actuality of the happening was revealed with clarity in a later verse, stating:
“For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.” – Ex. 12:23
Herein, the God-through-angel relationship is illustrated. While exercising the righteous demands of moral protocol (Heb. 11:28), the LORD searched the Land and passed over the righteous so that He slew none of them, to wit: He would not suffer the destroyer to enter into their homes to smite them! Who is “the destroyer”, you wonder (Ex. 12:23)? This is the angel who no doubt had a “destroying weapon in his hand”, like in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezek. 9:1). Furthermore, this very same angel, or one like him, was “the destroyer” of the backsliders of the Church in the Wilderness on several occasions (1 Cor. 10:10, 1 Pet. 4:17-18). Further testifying of this, Paul warned the New Testament Church, saying: “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10:10). Over and over, we see how God appointed “wicked” people to a progressively deadly form of angel-inflicted-“destruction” (1 Cor. 5:5, 13, Ps. 90:3) in hopes that they would repent and return to God in righteousness and true holiness! Even so, who do you think the angel in David’s vision was searching for when he “stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it” (2 Sam. 24:16)?
It was written that David “saw the angel that smote the people”, and he had a “sword” (2 Sam. 24:17, 1 Chron. 21:16) …but who was the angel smiting? It was not a general punishment of the collective, no! This has already been thoroughly disproven. So much the rather, the angel was searching and slaying all individuals from among the collective who had committed wickedness worthy of death (1 John 5:16). So, in this case, the sword was the angels destroying weapon and therewith, having it unsheathed, he was searching, finding, and striking wicked individuals at angelic speeds of glory. Before too long… 70,000 men died “from Dan even to Beer-sheba” (2 Sam. 24:15)! At this, when the LORD’s wrath was pacified to wit He would smite the people no more (“the LORD repented”), He “said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand” (2 Sam. 24:16). Notice how God said to the angel, “stay now thine hand” (2 Sam. 24:16) - what a terrifying sight this must have been (1 Chron. 21:30)! David was afraid even though, as always, before and after God repented of the in-motion-annihilation, the Lord operated according to the moral protocol (Ezek. 9:4, Ezek. 9:6, Rev. 7:2-3, Rev. 9:1-5).
Think of it, my reader! Do you think that the angel carelessly and randomly struck people with his sword? The angels with slaughtering weapons in Ezekiel’s vision wouldn’t dare slay a righteous man even among the population of Evil Figs in the condemned City of Jerusalem (Ezek. 9:1-11)! The Almighty commanded the angels, “come not near any man upon whom is the mark” (Ezek. 9:6), remember? Behold, the precision! The exactitude! The slaughtering weapons of angels came not near any righteous man in the woeful City! Even so, did not the LORD say in another place, “Yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth” (Amos 9:9-10)! And, in another place it was written, “He will throughly purge His floor and gather the wheat into His Garner” (Luke 3:17)! Divine Exactitude. Therefore, likewise, in David’s situation, the sword of the angel was finding sinners out from among the collective (Num. 32:23)! The slaughtering of 70,000 men was not only less than what Israel deserved, but it was on Israel’s behalf! Justly so, there needed to be a person-specific purging of guilty individuals so that, as it was written, “all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously” (Deut. 17:13).
This being the case, though, why did the LORD repent (2 Sam. 24:16)? What pacified the wrath of God? Why didn’t the angel continue destroying the people? To understand this, one must study and comprehend “The Judgment of the Church in Situations of Backsliding”. If your foundational understanding of the Church is right, you will see the resounding parallelism in every stage of redemption in Biblical Church History. For example, you will see that the wicked, and only the wicked, were slain in the Church of the Wilderness. Likewise, and with resounding parallelism (according to Covenantal Ideals), you will see how only the wicked perished in the Church in the Civilization. However, there’s no need to wax exhaustive in our explanation because Ezekiel got straight to the point! In speaking of the point and purpose of “pleading” with the Church in the Wilderness, God said: “And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me” (Ezek. 20:38). Likewise, in David’s vision, what can be said of those who were slain in comparison to the survivors?
In all circumstances wherein an annihilation of the Church is underway, any targeted survivors were of like-guiltiness as their slain comrades, but they repented amidst the annihilation so that at last, when Sovereign Mercy was undeservedly shown, the spared individuals were those who clave unto God at last and were thereby loosed from the guilt of their former backslidings. These in-the-moment repentances unto life were carefully referenced by God in context of the annihilating plagues that were destined to totally wipe out the Evil Figs in the Land of Judah, confirming the moral protocol. “The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth” (Ezek. 33:12). As you can see, in the very day of Tribulation amidst the annihilating plague – executed by the destroying weapons of angels – therein did backslidden Church Members (righteous men who were in “the day of [their] transgression[s]”) turn to God at last and in so doing they lived! This is certainly what is meant by Moses, when he said: “But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day” (Deut. 4:4)!
Moses referenced the annihilating wrath of God at the event of Baalpeor in Deut. 4:3, confirming that God aimed to and successfully slew all wicked and impenitent persons who would not cease from following Baalpeor (“the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you” – Deut. 4:3). Only the righteous remained alive universally and consistently according to God’s promises of old (Deut. 28:45-47, Num. 15:30-31) and God’s promises anew in the Tribulation Period (Ezek. 3:17-21, 18:1-32, 33:1-20, Jer. 18:7-11). “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live” (Ezek. 18:21-22). Hence, as the wrath of God slew impenitent righteous persons in the days of their transgression (their backslidings into wickedness), those who survived it were the selfsame people who were not condemned by it because of their newly obtained or longstanding repentance from sin and faith toward God. Therefore, when the LORD said, “Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense”, in the same context as the saying, “The Lord shall judge His people”, He was describing the annihilating wrath that comes upon “them who draw back unto perdition” (Heb. 10:30, 39). Remember, only those with whom God was not well-pleased perished in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:5-6): the lustful (1 Cor. 10:6), the idolaters (1 Cor. 10:7), the fornicators (1 Cor. 10:8), the tempters (1 Cor. 10:9), the murmurers (1 Cor. 10:10), and such like men. Thus, watching men die proved to be an effectual chastisement upon backsliders to bring them to repentance.
The chastening of the Captivities was a more intensified expression of what formerly happened to the Exodus Generation, when nearly all of that generation died in reprobating wrath. In the Exodus Generation and the Captivities (the Wilderness Experience #1 & the Wilderness Experience #2) all that “did cleave unto the LORD” were enabled to remain alive (Deut. 4:4)! And speaking of the Wilderness Experience #1, those who remained alive were, primarily, the children of the Exodus Generation, and when they were instructed as to what their eyes had seen as a divine tutorial - it was, namely, “the chastisement of the LORD your God”. Moses said that this generation was made to see…
“…the chastisement of the LORD your God, His greatness, His mighty hand, and His stretched out arm…and what He did unto you in the Wilderness, until ye came into this place; and what He did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possessions, in the midst of all Israel:…your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which He did” - Deut. 11:1-7
My reader, this example is pointedly applied to the New Testament children of God with a fearful warning! Furthermore, there is a time reference given in this warning wherein, foremost of all times, the saints will be recipients of this kind of judgment (that which was exemplified in the Wilderness Experience #1). It was written,
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: that are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” - 1 Cor. 10:11-12
With this in mind, do you think Paul was defining biblical chastening, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:31-32, with a different understanding than the previous chapter’s awful annals (recounted in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12, stemming from what Deut. 11:2 called “chastisement”). It is understandable, then, why Paul declared chastening to be a means for redemption, and it is – just that – for those who survive it, but it is condemnation for those who die in it. “When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die (Ezek. 18:26-28). While watching men die, being chastened therewith, let us avoid dying like unto their example! See, those Christian Corinthians who were in damnable sin (“damnation” – 1 Cor. 11:29) died in their iniquities (hence, the people came “together unto condemnation” – 1 Cor. 11:34), while those people who were alive unto that day were being chastened so that they should not be condemned with the world (1 Cor. 11:31-32). While watching men fall, being chastened therewith, let us take heed lest we fall and so become like unto them! [For more information, see: “How is Repentance Wrought in Regenerate Children of God?”.]
Therefore, let it be duly noted and emphatically defended that, in the situations of attempted and hardly thwarted acts of annihilating wrath among Israel (the Church) – executed by the searching and slaying exactitude of God-through-angels! - the recipients of Sovereign Mercy did not continue in the wickedness that merited annihilation as their just desert. Being exercised by God’s judgment of the Church, the scarcely saved individuals were brought to repentance through it and thereby God-through-angels passed them by (1 Pet. 4:17-18, 1 Cor. 11:31-32)! Thereby, in beholding wicked men and women repent of their sins… God repented! No doubt, this is what happened in David’s vision when it was written, “the LORD repented” (2 Sam. 24:16). Even so, comprehensibly, no matter the plague in operation throughout Biblical Church History, the moral protocol is the same. If any man survived the plague of Baal-peor, recorded in Numbers 25:1-9 (wherein 24,000 Israelites died), or if any man survived the plague occasioned through David’s numbering of the people, recorded in 2 Samuel 24:1-25 (wherein 70,000 Israelites died), the identity of the survivors according to moral protocol will always be, as it was written: “But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day” (Deut. 4:3-4). My reader, think of it! No plague would have come nigh the dwelling of those individuals who were abiding under the shadow of the Almighty! For, it was written,
“Thou shalt not be afraid…for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come night thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” – Psalm 91:5-10 (Hab. 2:4, 3:16-19; Nah. 1:3-7 [Isa. 64:1-2, Micah 1:3-4])
Amidst the seeming ungovernable chaos of a roaming pestilence and wasting destruction, lo, and behold: GOD IS MAJESTICALLY SOVEREIGN! It was “the angel that destroyed the people” (2 Sam. 24:16), wielding a plague, hence the plague was sovereignly dispensed to each and every guilty man in Israel. “Behold and see the reward of the wicked” (Ps. 91:8)! The angel of the LORD did not unjustly strike a righteous man in Israel, contradicting God’s word! Rather, he rewarded the wicked - individual by individual - in accordance with moral protocol. The judgment of God functioned according to what was written, “For the upright shall dwell in the Land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it” (Prov. 2:21-22; for more information, see: Chapter #16 of the Church Realized).
The engulfing circumstances of the Tribulation Period were majestically authored by the genius of an angry God, and for good reason: there were untold numbers of unjudged and unpurged individuals who were presumptuously sinning against God in the Land of Israel, the Church (Num. 15:30-31). To put it in metaphorical terms, “The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge” (Micah 7:4). To put in plainer terms, “The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among them” (Micah 7:2). God wouldn’t tolerate this for long, my reader. Do you believe it? The Pre-Incarnate Christ rules and reigns to the end that, He said: “Every plant, which My Heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13)! Even so, the moral protocol was flawlessly employed in an unprecedented display of the Majesty of the LORD in the Tribulation Period of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Through the vision of Ezekiel, recorded in Ezekiel 9:1-11, God graciously unveiled the otherworldly origins of that which is naturally and ordinarily earthly; and all of this, to the glory of the righteous who are made to “sing for the Majesty of the LORD” amidst the Tribulatory Judgments of God-through-angel exactitude (Isa. 24:14-16)! To the glory of the righteous, I say, because “none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” (Dan. 12:10).
“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” – Dan. 12:10
“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” – Luke 10:21
Therefore, should we be surprised that the deadly famine that God brought upon the Kingdom of Judah, poised to slay a third of the population of the people, only targeted and executed the death sentence upon those individuals who were tried and found guilty before God and therefore deserving of such a fate (Jer. 42:16-17, 22, Ezek. 5:2, 12, 16-17, 6:12, 14:13, 21, Jer. 24:10, 27:8)? If all things are Majestically in God’s hand to do with them whatsoever He pleases, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right” (Gen. 18:25)? Therefore, it is to be expected that the devouring of a pestilence wreaking havoc on the countryside doesn’t destroy one house as well as the other, in a general sense, but only those houses and the select individuals therein whom God has appointed to die the death of the wicked (Ex. 12:3, 12-13, 23, 15:26 Lev. 26:25, Deut. 28:21, 35, Ps. 91:3, 6, Jer. 24:10, Ezek. 7:15, 12:16)?
So, what about the manslaying sword at war that “devoureth one as well as another” (2 Sam. 11:25)? Should we hearken unto backslidden David who, at the time, was utterly void of wisdom (Ps. 51:6)? Entrusting yourself to the outlook of an unclean Counselor will prove calamitous (Ps. 51:10-13). Much the rather, contrary to David’s crooked counsel, let us entrust ourselves to the outlook of God’s pure and unchangeable word concerning the outcome of war among Israelite soldiers (Lev. 26:6-8, Ps. 44:3, 6, Isa. 54:15-17, Deut. 28:22). The murderous & adulterous man, King David, cannot be trusted as a teacher until he repents and finds restoration in God (Ps. 51:13). For, at the time, he couldn’t even admit to his own personal involvement in the death of Uriah (rather, he deceptively concealed it with the saying, “the sword devoureth one as well as another” – 2 Sam. 11:25), and shall we expect him to speak honestly of God’s Majesty and Personal involvement in all things?
Perhaps the more important question should be posed toward you, my reader. What about you? Which makes more sense to you? Are you beholding the Majesty of the LORD in every detail of the Tribulation? Or, does David’s deceptive and mischievous rhetoric make more sense to you? I am happy to tell you that no matter what happens, God is Majestically involved in every detail! Pertaining to the Jews of the Tribulation Period, this means that if a fanciful escapee of Tribulation avoids the Lion and outsmarts the Bear, outruns the Babylonian and evades every other snare --- he cannot avoid, outsmart, outrun, or evade the LORD! …for, at last, when the hopeful escapee leans upon the wall in the shelter of a home (a refuge of false security), there God commands a serpent to strike and kill the man who is divinely appointed to die (Amos 5:18-20, Amos 9:1-10, Ezek. 5:16-17)!