The Visible Church Abandoned by the Invisible God
Erroneously Reckoning the Promises of Covenantal Idealism
the City of Jerusalem as the Eternal City (Ezek. 11:2-3, 15-16)
The LORD testified to Ezekiel concerning how twisted and backwards the people of Judah and Jerusalem were. They, being Evil Figs, were hopelessly lost and doomed to a total annihilation! Meanwhile, they, being Evil Figs, thought that everyone else but themselves were Evil Figs! Speaking to the Jews who were taken Captive from Judah in former Babylonian Captivities, they said, “Get you far from the LORD: unto us is the Land given in possession” (Ezek. 11:15). The LORD explained the matter to Ezekiel, saying,
“Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the House of Israel wholly [the entire population of Jews taken in the Captivities], are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem [the residue of the remnant of Israel in Judah] have said, Get you far from the LORD: unto us is this land given in possession. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.” – Ezek. 11:15-16
The Evil Figs said to the Good Figs, in other words, “You are evil and we are good!” Which means, in other words, “You needed to be purged so we could inherit the Land and be saved!” “You were hand-selected for damnation and we were hand-selected for salvation!” Shockingly, it was the EXACT OPPOSITE (Good Figs: Jer. 24:5-7, 29:4-15). You see, my reader? It happened as Isaiah said, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight” (Isa. 5:20-21)!
Deceptively, the Jews who were destined by God to a hopeless destruction as Evil Figs (the present occupants of the Land of Judah) were proclaiming that, on the contrary, damnation had befallen the dispersed Jews. Meanwhile, as the Evil Figs accused the Jews who were destined by God to a hopeful future of salvation as Good Figs; they reckoned upon Covenantal norms and biblical promises of pastime Church History thinking that they were applicable to the present situation (“can ye not discern the signs of the times?” – Matt. 16:3). The Evil Figs didn’t know that God had left the Temple, relinquished control of Jerusalem, and joined the Army of Babylon for war! Foolishly, the Evil Figs claimed Unconditional Eternal Security! Church Members should rethink their security when the Visible Church is being abandoned by the Invisible God! Sadly, though, the doctrines of the Visible Church were erroneously reckoned as the Jews thought upon God’s longsuffering and abundant working among backsliders for many centuries leading up to the Tribulation Period. Please, let me explain further.
God’s Longsuffering & Abundant Working Among Backsliders
The Kings, Priests, and Prophets of the Tribulation period knew that they were practicing idolatry and they steadfastly continued in wickedness, but they were crafty to scripturally defend themselves and erroneously inspire hope while condemning the harsh and hopeless message of the Tribulation Prophets, so they thought. They believed for hope when the situation was hopeless! More specifically, though, they believed for Jerusalem’s indestructible eternality when total destruction was imminent. They supported their false hopes by misinterpreting their time (hoping for pastime norms). My reader, consider the following evidences of pastime situations: God’s longsuffering & abundant working among backsliders.
After the Kingdom of Israel split on account of Solomon’s sin and, consequentially, causes of destruction and woe were manifest in the two Kingdoms, God’s hesitancy to bring upon them what was justly deserved is evident. The reasons for this hesitancy are very specific and identifiable. Starting with Rehoboam, for example: even while Rehoboam made Judah sin above “all that their fathers had done” by filling the Land with idolatry, sodomy, and a multitude of other abominations (1 Kings 14:22-24), in the annals of Biblical Church History we read that a certain aspect of the Davidic promise was unconditionally verified. Amidst rampant idolatry and wrath-inciting wickedness, it was said of Jerusalem that it was “the City which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His Name there” (1 Kings 14:21), which meant that God would not destroy it at this time even though it was lawfully meet to do so. Purposefully, this was the reason 1 Kings 14:21 was written. I repeat, God was intent upon communicating why He preserved the City from destruction even though the people’s lawlessness did merit its destruction. This promise proved profoundly durable amidst scores of woeful backslidings!
For example, consider King Abijah. Abijah reigned after Rehoboam and he too merited for Judah lamentation, mourning, and woe on account of all his wickedness, but the LORD was very careful to sustain certain promises that granted physical life and security to the Visible Church even despite their wretchedness. Behold, my reader, Abijah’s wickedness and God’s promises… and the emphatic victor of the pastime situation!
“And [Abijah] walked in all the sins of his father [Rehoboam], which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father. Nevertheless for David’s sake did the LORD his God give him a Lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem: Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that He commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” - 1 Kings 15:3-5
Take careful note of the placement of the word, “Nevertheless”. As a result of the innumerable transgressions committed by Rehoboam and Abijah (and their associated generations) the City and people deserved to be destroyed! Ah! …but the text says, “Nevertheless…”. Nevertheless, God didn’t destroy them! Not for Rehoboam’s righteousness and despite Rehoboam’s wickedness, and not for Abijah’s righteousness and despite Abijah’s wickedness, physical life and security were sustained! You see, God was intent upon performing the promise He gave to David. This would appear to promote a doctrine of Unconditional Eternal Security, doesn’t it? Hence, despite the people’s wickedness, certain promises were unconditionally performed on behalf of David, promises that had to do with the City of Jerusalem being eternal, impregnable, and beautified according to the promises of the Davidic Covenant. Make no mistake about it, my reader! These promises, and the antagonizing iniquities of backsliders that did threaten to overthrow the promises of God, were plainly addressed in the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:12-16, 1 Chron. 17:10-14, Psalm 89:19-37).
“I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for My name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But My mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine House and thy Kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” - 2 Sam. 7:12-16
“Furthermore I tell thee that the LORD will build thee an House. And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his Kingdom. He shall build Me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son: and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: But I will settle him in Mine house and in My kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore” - 1 Chronicles 17:10-14
Three promises can be accounted of in this Covenant. Concerning David’s seed, God said, (#1) “I will establish his Kingdom,” (#2) “He shall build an House for My Name,” and (#3) “I will stablish the Throne of his Kingdom for ever.” These three promises are emboldened above. Take note of what God said following these promises in the italicized text. Steadfast mercy, unfailing faithfulness, and persevering grace were promised to the seed of David – a covenanted relationship unlike what happened to Saul who became a castaway. When Saul sinned, God took away mercy from him and so went the Kingdom, but with Solomon, God said that this would not happen to him even if he sins! If Solomon sinned, God said that He would “be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But My mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.” On the basis of this Fatherly relationship, it was therefore reasonable to believe the following PROMISE to be inevitable, irreversible, unconditional, and without question, unalterable: “And thine House and thy Kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy Throne shall be established for ever.” Right? My reader, do you think this promise could be breached even though the content of the promise itself appears to be unconditional and unalterable? The content of the Davidic Covenant speaks volumes in defense of God’s hesitancy to destroy Jerusalem. Indeed, but we must not mistake God’s hesitancy for an absolute unwillingness to destroy Jerusalem. Therefore, also, we must not mistakenly reckon upon pastime possibilities of mercy while abiding in the present-tense Day of Wrath (the Evil Day: Prov. 16:4, Ps. 92:5-8; the Day of Visitation: Jer. 5:29, 6:15, 8:5-12, 9:9, 10:15, 14:10, 23:12, Hos. 9:7)!
With all things considered, God would not let the Tabernacle of David fall until His longsuffering had run out (Amos 9:11-12). God would not cause to perish the “Vineyard” which His “right hand [had] planted, and the Branch that [He] made strong for [Himself]”, until His longsuffering had run out (Ps. 80:14-19). Furthermore, God would not cast off the “favour”, “mercy”, “promise”, and “grace” of the Abrahamic Covenant (“the days of old” and “the years of ancient times”) until His longsuffering had run out (Ps. 77:3-9). As a profound example of this, even after the Kingdom of Israel was overcome by Assyria (the wrath of God) and dispersed among the nations, things were notably different with the Kingdom of Judah because “[God] rent Israel from the House of David” since the days of Jeroboam and Rehoboam (2 Kings 17:21-22). This rending was to preserve salvation in Judah; this was God’s good intention! As you can see, God’s promises were committed to the House of David so that from David onward, theretofore, God was committed to establishing Jerusalem with indestructible eternality and unconditional durability so that therein life and security would flourish.
Speaking of this, furthermore, when the Son of Jehoshaphat (Jehoram by name), began to reign in Judah and walk in the way of the Kings of Israel, it was emphatically stated: “Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah for David His servant’s sake, as He promised to give him always a Light, and to his children” (2 Kings 8:19). The promise was being unconditionally fulfilled through the abundance of God’s longsuffering, you see? Jehoram’s sin merited the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, but God unconditionally preserved it according to what “He promised”. Hence, from generation to generation, the LORD was very liberal to work wonders among the people even while they were abiding steadfast in wickedness and meriting for themselves the woefulness experienced in the Tribulation Period. This served as a stumbling stone to the Jews of the Tribulation Period, no doubt. The false Prophets were hereby thinking upon Biblical Church History so that in the crookedness of their evil desires they would denounce the Tribulation Prophets as harsh and unbiblical. Indeed, from generation to generation God wasn’t willing to destroy Judah and Jerusalem according to the promises of the Davidic Covenant, but then Jeremiah and Ezekiel came in the way of righteousness proclaiming the contrary by declaring its utter desolation (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)!
Remember, though, the declaration of Jerusalem’s destruction and or its scarce survival therefrom was far from irrelevant in the pages of Biblical Church History, but the declaration of such without changeability was nonexistent. To understand this, one must consider the ministry of Prophets via intercession to alter the woeful thing spoken by the LORD (Ps. 78:38, 106:23, 43-45, Jer. 18:7-11). Think of how this would be misunderstood by eye-blinded false Prophets, my reader! As we have seen thus far, despite Rehoboam’s, Abijah’s, and Jehoram’s wickedness, God unconditionally preserved the City of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah, and looking even closer we see an abundant working of wonders because of true Prophets and their successful intercession! (For more information, see “Intercessory Attempts Denied” & “Jeremiah Backslid”.)
Rehoboam, though a backslider, found enough grace in the eyes of the LORD for the performance of the Davidic promise (“They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them…My wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem…” – 2 Chron. 12:7) even though he was steadfast in impenitence and rebellion (“And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD” – 2 Chron. 12:14). This means that Rehoboam’s humiliation unto the LORD was a short-of-salvation humiliation, which means that his iniquity was unceasingly, meritoriously, and justly beckoning damnation and destruction – a destruction the LORD was unconditionally unwilling to do at that time on David’s behalf. So, when the LORD should have destroyed Jerusalem because Abijah continued to walk in the sins of his father, Rehoboam, He statedly didn’t do it for the aforementioned reasons (1 Kings 15:3-5).
Abijah too, a no-good backslider like his father, demonstrated profound understanding in the Covenant of God when he went to battle against Jeroboam (2 Chron. 13:3-22). God worked wonderfully and abundantly among the backslidden generation amidst whatever short-lived righteousness and or longstanding short-of-perfection righteousness they had (“they relied upon the LORD God of their fathers” – 2 Chron. 13:18). The Prophet Iddo told the story (2 Chron. 13:22)! Reigning after them, and on the contrary, Asa and Jehoshaphat “did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD” unto perfection (1 Kings 15:11, 14, 22:43); and, meanwhile, during Jehoshaphat’s reign, God wrought wonderfully amidst the rampant and unprecedented folly of Ahab, the King of Israel. An astounding degree of longsuffering was demonstrated in the life of Ahab, the King of Israel! Even though Ahab was more wicked than any King before him (1 Kings 16:30-34), he was a recipient of profound blessings on account of Elijah’s intercessory ministry.
Ahab was not even worthy to live! He should have suffered the fate of the Prophets of Baal whom he sanctioned (1 Kings 18:40)! Yet, on the contrary, Ahab had a non-violent audience with Elijah (1 Kings 18:42-46). Furthermore, he was granted victory against Benhadad of Syria, to wit, God said: “thou shalt know that I am the LORD” (1 Kings 20:13), as the LORD himself directed the strategy of the battle on his behalf. Then, Ahab was graciously warned of Syria’s return (1 Kings 20:22). Upon Syria’s return, he was directed unto victory via prophecy in the battle, to wit, God said: “ye shall know that I am the LORD” (1 Kings 20:28). And when Ahab’s provocations multiplied, he was graciously informed beforehand of his death on account of sparing Benhadad (1 Kings 20:35-43). Furthermore, after the sins of Jezebel against Naboth led to his murder and the robbery of his Vineyard, Elijah visited Ahab to communicate the manner of Ahab’s death and the annihilation of his House, to wit: Ahab humbled himself and found mercy from God so that the woeful pronouncement was not brought to pass in his day (1 Kings 21:21-29)! Amidst the rule of a King whose wickedness was unsurpassed and unceasing, a man who never ceased to serve Baal, the LORD was pleased to work wonders with abundance and dispense blessings with astounding liberality!
Therefore, do you see how the Kings, Priests, and Prophets of the Tribulation Period would have erroneously compared themselves to Ahab’s situation by thinking that they deserved audience with Prophets who were successful intercessors and, thus, they would be granted many chances to repent according to the longsuffering of God and the abundant working of His glory that provided such things and more to King Ahab and others? Ahab was a recipient of Elijah’s intercessory success and a beneficiary of both Elijah and other Prophets when they visited and directed him into God’s blessings that he didn’t deserve, but the Kings of the Tribulation Period were told that intercession was UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE. How unacceptable would such a word be to the ears of such hypocrites? Namely, that there would be no escaping the utter destruction of Judah and Jerusalem despite Jeremiah’s attempts to intercede (Jer. 15:1), when even King Ahab found mercy from God! Furthermore, amidst all the steadfastness of Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s prophesying, God provided spaced to repent in that He executed incremental judgments that increased over time according to God’s pursuit of the elect. Time was provided and the prophetic words of utter desolation were slowed because of God’s longsuffering. So, the people were remembering how the Prophet Micah prophesied of the utter destruction of Jerusalem (Micah 3:12, Jer. 26:17-20) and, yet, it never came to pass! The City of Jerusalem did at this time history, once again, prove indestructible according to the promises of the Davidic Covenant (“For I will defend this City to save it for Mine own sake, and for My servant David’s sake.” – Isa. 37:35). Indeed, the David Covenant was held in remembrance before God as in the former times and so intercession prevailed, but the false prophets were ignorant of this one thing: how scarcely it prevailed! In other words, time was running out! The pastime acts of redemption that hardly came to pass are, in the future, harder to come to pass. Sadly, false prophets don’t understand the scarcity of salvation via God’s judgment upon the Church (1 Pet. 4:17-18). Consequentially, when Hezekiah was a recipient of Isaiah’s successful intercession (2 Chron. 32:20) on the basis of the promises made to David, at least in part (Isa. 37:35), meaning that he and the City of Jerusalem were threatened by the very same words of utter destruction spoken by Jeremiah, the self-righteous false prophets of Jeremiah’s day took it all for granted and were in no rush to repent!
The false Prophets were emboldened to think of all these men and the abundant working of God among them, how often Jerusalem should have been destroyed but wasn’t. They thought, I can live like Rehoboam and Abijah and find mercy with God so as to inherit the blessing of life and security in Jerusalem, but they didn’t understand the provocation of the short-lived righteousness and/or the short-of-perfection righteousness in these men’s lives – that it was only a matter of time before God’s longsuffering demonstrated in these pastime situations would run out if these iniquities continued from generation to generation. They thought, I can commit the idolatry of King Ahab with unrelenting persistence and God will be longsuffering and abundant in blessing through the Prophets they erroneously deemed as successful intercessors, though they were false Prophets. They thought that God would have mercy in their time like He had mercy on these pastime situations! …but they were not discerning that these provocations gain momentum and God’s longsuffering runs out! They were not discerning the unmerited provision of these former wondrous workings, and how such things would not and cannot continue! They were seeking to reckon upon undeserved Covenantal Blessings in a time when God was reckoning with the deserved Covenantal Curses that He restrained in former days!
God would not allow the generations of men to continue downward in their courses of degeneration. Hence, God chose the last generation, the generation of visitation… and they stood in disbelief! They were thinking about all these other generations that God seemed to choose as the last generation, but lo and behold they weren’t the last (i.e. Hezekiah’s & Josiah’s Generation)! Ah, but on this wise the false Prophets of the Tribulation Period failed to discern the time and season in which they lived, therefore their reckoning of the promises of salvation was an unacceptable profanation! You see, the deception which seized the Evil Figs was quite alluring and extremely popular, as it is today. But, oh! How contrary to the truth these men were! How strong the deception! How prevalent the evil! How vile the Figs! And they did it all in the name of Unconditional Eternal Security. The LORD directly confronted their vain hopes in Davidic promises, but to no avail (Jer. 17:24-27, 21:12, 22:2-5, 29:16-18)! The false Prophets claimed intercessory powers they did not possess, they reckoned Covenantal Promises that were inapplicable, and they cited Biblical Church History in an unbiblical way! Even so, the false Prophets of the 21st century will misunderstand God’s provision of time and or the incremental judgments of God’s longsuffering; they will mistakenly reckon upon God’s abundant working of wonders amidst backslidden generations to wit they will denounce the presence of God’s wrath in the generation of its arrival (The Stumbling Stone of Time: Ezek. 12:17-28, 2 Pet. 3:3-11, 1 Pet. 3:20 2 Pet. 3:9, Matt. 24:48, Matt. 25:5, 14, 19, Gen. 6:3, Lk. 17:26-37, Hab. 2:3). When all things are manifest, be sure of this! …it will look something like the Tribulation Period of old. (For more information on this subject, see “Time Has Run Out!”.)
Through reckoning the Covenantal Ideals associated with the Land of Israel and the City of Jerusalem (the Visible Church), the Evil Figs will preach the condemnation of the Good Figs. This was and will be the false repudiation of the Good Figs (Ezek. 11:15) whom God has promised to save (Ezek. 11:16-21)! The doctrines of the Visible Church were and will be erroneously reckoned – the Davidic Throne in the City of Jerusalem (the Lamp of David), the seed of Abraham and the Promised Land – and so, through God’s longsuffering and abundant working among backsliders for many centuries, the people will be garnishing the sepulchers of the righteous (they will be falsely supported by arguments from Church History)! “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matt. 23:29-33)
The Majesty of the Lord in Tribulatory Judgments of Life & Death
The LORD declared the truth against the lie by speaking good toward the Captivities and evil toward the homeland. Very specifically, the LORD said He would be with the people of the Captivities whithersoever they had been driven; and through this, the LORD would later regather them and save them (Ezek. 11:16-21). But, speaking evil of the homeland population, the LORD said He would depart from them and recompense them (Ezek. 11:21-25). At this time, also, Ezekiel looked-on as the Glory of the LORD “went up from the midst of the City and stood upon the Mountain which is on the east side of the City” (Ezek. 11:23). Fearfully, the LORD would not return peaceably to the people of Jerusalem… He departed that He might soon return: not to repossess the Temple, no! But as an Adversary He would come in the Day of Visitation (Isa. 63:13-15)! Emphasizing this earlier in the prophetic oration (Ezek. 8:1-11:25), remember, Petaliah the son of Benaiah dropped dead and Ezekiel cried out, “Ah Lord GOD! Wilt Thou made a full end of the remnant of Israel” (Ezek. 11:13)! As for the remnant of the Evil Figs, He would; excepting the few-in-number remnant allowed by God to live by an amendment.
Remember, though, if allowed to live this could mean only ONE THING: true repentance and actual righteousness. As I formerly explained, Ezekiel’s ministry largely dealt with the status and fate of the Evil Figs for the sake of the Good Figs (to turn the heart of the Good Figs back to God). Therefore remember, my reader, the rules of life and death in Ezekiel’s prophetic ministry were made plain from the very beginning: the wicked would die and the righteous would live, PERIOD. Those wicked persons to whom God said, “Thou shalt surely die”, it was certain that they would die unless they turned from their wickedness because of the prophetic warnings (“to save his life” – Ezek. 3:18). God had certainly determined to kill them and surely promised to do so, EXCEPT THEY REPENT. Also, those righteous persons to whom God had surely promised goodness, life, and eventual restoration, it was certain that they would live unless they turned from righteousness and committed iniquity (“he shall die in his sin” – Ezek. 3:20). If the righteous man doesn’t sin, God promised, “he shall surely live” (Ezek. 3:21), and given the circumstances of wrath and the imminence of death on every side, this was a miracle! Only a divine shielding could safely conduct a soul through the annihilating Tribulation! With prophetic detail a Tribulation Psalm was written to illustrate this wondrous happening, my reader! Depicting the provisional safeguard of an otherwise inescapable storm of wrath, the psalmist scribed the inspired words in the context of the Great Tribulation: “He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall by thy shield and buckler” (Ps. 91:4)! Hence the climactic end of the Tribulation Period, my reader! – it was effectual to annihilate all wicked persons from the Church so as to restore her to God’s Glory in the beauties of holiness! There is nothing more important to God than this.
[Note: to understand Covenantal Idealism as it relates to the promises of God and Biblical History, see “The Truly Converted Status of Israelite People in the Wilderness & the Ideals Theretofore”.]