This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
We have seen some incredible imagery, concerning Christ. He is the “faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth”– the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” He has white hair, a golden sash, feet like burnished bronze and a long, white robe. Literary images used to paint a picture to the reader and hearers, that Jesus is the wise, eternal King.
With these images in our minds, the words of Jesus to the seven churches become all the more intense and emotional. When he says things like, “I know your deeds,” and, “repent,” we see the everlasting Savior and his true love for his people. Brethren, that is what Revelation is all about! As John has said, not that we loved him, but that he loves us.
Problem: the law and the prophets couldn’t hold the door open, in fact the law and the prophets spoke of only Christ. He is the open door and, at present and in eternal perpetuity, the door of the law is slammed shut. Yet in fact, the law was only a door through which Christ Jesus was made known. Works of the law could never save anyone because no one but Jesus could keep the law. As Paul says in Romans 4, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Abraham wasn’t justified by works but by faith in God, the Scriptures are crystal clear on this. We notice the all-caps, meaning Paul was quoting the Old Testament, in fact, way back in Genesis. Paul also repeats this to the church of Galatians. In Romans Paul goes on to remind us that, “for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” And, to the Galatians, “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.” The seed is Jesus.
Again, to both the Romans and Galatians Paul quotes Genesis and explains it is not, “seeds but seed.” “For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU.'”
John reveals in Revelation, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands.”
Paul continues in Romans, “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.”
Consulting our Old Testament tutor, we read in Isaiah, “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, “Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. “An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” The Lord continues, “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, And the fat of fed cattle. And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats. “When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts? “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts…For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah Both supply and support, the whole supply of bread, And the whole supply of water; The mighty man and the warrior, The judge and the prophet, The diviner and the elder, The captain of fifty and the honorable man, The counselor and the expert artisan, And the skillful enchanter…”
The question is, where do they go, figuratively? Remember Revelation: Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews, and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them to come and bow down at your feet, and to know that I have loved you.”
I know it is difficult to digest and bewildering to believe, especially because most of us were taught that the nation of Israel are the chosen people of God, and they were: Paul makes it clear in Romans 3, Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “THAT THOU MIGHTEST BE JUSTIFIED IN THY WORDS, AND MIGHTEST PREVAIL WHEN THOU ART JUDGED.”
There is both doors. The open and the closed. We see continually that Israel could never follow the law, in fact, they trampled on it; just like the gentiles–all have sinned. We are all under sin, only Christ Jesus lived a sinless life and then took sin upon himself as he was crucified on the cross. And he, the true son of Abraham, the true Israel, is not racist. The salvation he imparts is open to all peoples, tribes, tongues and nations. The door is open to those that will come by faith, the humble. But to the self-righteous, who have a bloodline that goes back to Abraham but do not have faith in Christ, the door is slammed shut. Truthfully, it always was and always will be. Notice the synagogue of Satan mentioned in the letters to Smyrna and Philadelphia. Think about it–the only two churches of which Jesus has nothing against, are being persecuted by those who called themselves Jews. The rest of the churches are being reprimanded for acting like Israel. Yet Paul says there is no distinction, we’re all one.
Why can’t we see this? We all, every human being, whether Jew or gentile are in sin. We cannot rely on our bloodline or our sacrifices and works to bring us to God. And in the same way we, who have the faith of Abraham are all considered heirs and descendants, whether Jew or gentile. Their is no distinction. The Jews were privileged with being chosen to be the writers and prophets and the bloodline of Christ, but Christ, himself, and only himself is the open door. All other doors have been slammed shut. There no longer remains any other sacrifice as Hebrews states. So while Orthodox Judaism may make a comeback and have revival, it is nothing. They will still be the ones mentioned in Isaiah 22, the ones that bow to the true heirs in Philadelphia.
God does not have two distinct peoples with two distinct plans. He has but one people, those with the faith of Abraham.
I don’t believe that Revelation is allegory, but I also don’t believe it should be taken in, as Hank Hanegraaff would say, a wooden literal fashion. Again, it is impossible to take Revelation in a wooden literal sense–otherwise we would have to change the words of near and soon to far and distant–thus negating the literal interpretation.
Once again, we must read Revelation in the way in which it was intended. Realizing the analogy, the imagrey and its poetic overtones. Remember to waltz.
Many people misspell my name. Actually, without hyperbole, almost everyone misspells my name. I have a check in my pocket in which my name is misspelled at this very moment. But I have a solution, none of you will ever misspell my name again. I’m going to teach you how to spell it once and for all, so that you’ll remember. R U double S E double L.
Is that literally how my name is spelled? No, but you’ll remember it now. In the same way as another abysmal anecdote about my name, Revelation is written in a way that flows–it’s a waltz, it’s written in a manner of which we’ll remember and pay attention. Remember the genre is apocalypse and it is written that way. Revelation won’t contradict the Bible, it is in harmony, so long as we understand the literary way in which it was written.