2 + 2 = 4



CAN WE KNOW FOR SURE WHEN THE ‘END OF THE AGE’ COMES?


Today my sense of expectancy, and thus teaching, is not quite as urgent and/or imminent as it once was. I think, and hope, that this is not because I’ve become less sensitive to the things of God, but rather because of seeing the bigger picture a bit clearer as a result of ongoing and repeated studies of the prophetic word of God through many years now.


However, many conditions of our day show with ever-increasing clarity that we are nearing the Biblical description of the end of the age. As most of you well know, Jesus and others spelled out much of it in several passages of apocalyptic Scriptures. But, we notice that God was careful to not provide us with the exact day and hour of Jesus’ coming. General conditions?, yes. Precise dates?, no. In fact, Jesus Himself said in Matthew 24:36 that we can’t know the “day and hour” of His coming. If you’re like me, you may be weary of hearing from those who use this verse to bolster the notion that we can’t know the rapture time within even centuries, let alone knowing within a few months or a few years of Jesus’ return. I do not believe this negative attitude reflects Biblical truth nor the position I’m taking here.


In my God-generated, born-again, new-man spirit I would like to experience the rapture today. And I hope and pray that you do, too. God has also given us logic-seeking and inquiring minds. We can be excited about His coming but we must also realize that there were many prophecies given, all of which must be accomplished and fulfilled before the rapture occurs. (How I love God’s timing. Just as I was writing here at this very moment, Carman and a full choir started singing on a CD in my computer, “When the saints go marching in.” Hallelujah, God is always right on schedule! When will the saints go marching in? That’s the big question, isn’t it?)



WHAT AM I DRIVING AT?


Let me come to the major point I want to make today. In John 11 is found one of the most incredible real-life occurrences in all of history. A man was raised from the dead merely by another man speaking to him and calling him out of the tomb. The dead man was Lazarus. The one calling him forth was Jesus of Nazareth. But one day I realized that this real-life story is also a beautiful, mosaic picture of God’s working with Israel and the Church. I was astonished when I first saw this about 27 years ago. It came several months after committing this entire chapter to memory. I cannot tell you why I suddenly desired to memorize this passage. I was simply overcome with an inner compulsion to do it. I typed out the whole chapter, consisting of a few verses on each of a stack of 3 x 5 cards, and carried them in my shirt pocket for several weeks. I would pull out a card and read between scheduled patients at my optometry office, when I was having lunch, or whatever. Anytime I had a few spare minutes, I would go through the cards over and over again.


One evening at church, the pastor decided to have a meeting which consisted of spontaneous, volunteer participation. One could sing a song, share a testimony, pray, read some Scripture, etc. “Anything Goes” was basically the theme. At a certain point, I stood up, walked to the podium, and quoted the 57 verses of John 11, without cards or a Bible, and sat down. I don’t recall ever reciting it again. The purpose here is not to boast in that accomplishment, but rather merely to share with the reader what I believe was a God-prompted reality. I sincerely believe the Holy Spirit was preparing my heart, soul and spirit to later show me something which we can all now see and enjoy.



I must suppose John 11 became deeply inserted into my spirit man, because a few months later I suddenly saw some special pictures of Israel and the Church come to life out of this magnificent portion of God’s Word. I have since written a book on John 11 (and Acts 27 & 28) called “Images From God’s Darkroom”, but will here touch on only a few points.


I had already written “The Two Witnesses”, the chief Scripture of which centers on Revelation 11. Then, with Godly irony, the second book involved John 11. I later noted that it was the same chapter number written by the same author, the apostle John. I would later discover that the two chapters were intrinsically linked. Once you see it, nothing will ever again cast a doubt in your mind about it. Until you do see it, really like all Biblical understanding, it may appear as a blur or sound like babble to you. Just be patient. If the pictures described here don’t emerge for you at first, don’t reject the understanding. Just keep it on hold. God seems to not show us certain things until our sensitivity has been prepared to a certain level.



PICTURE # 1 - LAZARUS


The name “Lazarus” is the Greek counterpart of the Hebrew name “Eliezer”, or as also spelled, Eleazar. It means “whom God aids”. Eliezer was Abraham’s servant. A careful search reveals that this name is kept and woven throughout the Bible all the way from the first “Eliezer” up to the final one, Lazarus. The name is a slightly-camouflaged way to tell us that it symbolizes God’s special servant-nation, Israel. Israel is the nation God “aided” from her inception. It was through Israel that all the Scriptures were revealed, including even the New Testament, because all the writers of the NT were Jews. Born-again Jews, of course. But Jews, nevertheless.

 

(I shall assume you know the basic story of John 11. If not, you might want to pause and refresh your thinking by reading the whole chapter. There are several applications of this story. First, the straight-forward interpretation is that the raising of Lazarus was to show Jesus’ power over life and death. Secondly, it also pictures the new spiritual birth when faith is exercised in Jesus; that is, at Christ’s command, we come out of our spiritual “tomb” of death into new life when we believe in Him. Thirdly, it forecasts the resurrection of all people at the last day.)


But there is yet another image, a fourth. The man Lazarus depicts a called-out people — indeed, a nation. Symbolically, when we observe “Lazarus” in John 11, we are seeing a mini-portrait of the whole nation of Israel — the nation God aided. In darkroom lingo, let me swish this “photograph” in the “developer” a little longer and see if an “image” comes forth for you.


In verse 17 of John 11, we see that Lazarus remained in the tomb “four days” before Jesus came to raise him up. Does this have a prophetic ring in it to your ears? What could it possibly mean?


In spite of the fact that there was always a Godly remnant in Israel, on the whole, Israel was dead to the things of God. A careful reading throughout the Hebrew Scriptures reveal this to be consistently true. It took me a long time to see this because our tendency is to focus on the good found in Israel, not the bulk of the rebellious nation.


Naturally speaking, Jesus delayed His coming to raise Lazarus up for four days to make sure he was fully dead, even to the level of “stinking”, according to Martha in verse 39. Symbolically and prophetically, though, there is another reality of utmost importance. These four days picture the four, 1000-year “days” of Israel’s history of lethargic, spiritual “sleep”. (See 2 Peter 3:8 for the allusion to a “day” being as a thousand years.) The counting is from Abraham’s day up to the time when Jesus will, at the end of the age, quickly raise up the whole nation of Israel. (Romans 11 clearly spells out this eventuality.)


To repeat, this is not to say that Abraham was not a man of faith — God forbid — nor that there wasn’t always a Godly line up to Jesus’ day, and will be up to the end. I’m talking about the spiritual blindness which existed in the mainstream of Israel’s whole population. This is clearly revealed in all of Scripture, as well as having been demonstrated historically, up to and including the present day. But Jesus will one day remove this “fog” from Israel’s spiritual “eyes”. He will do it at the end of a certain, four, 1000-year “days”.


We can’t know exactly when these four days began or shall end. But we can approximate it to plus-or-minus a few years, which is much finer than liberal theologians would allow. Most worthy chronological works I’ve studied date Abraham’s day at around 2000 BC. From then until 2000 AD is roughly 4000 years. So, if this fairly large picture found in John 11 is true, then clearly we are nearing the completion of this forecast. I don’t see how one can avoid concluding that we are close to the end of Israel’s four-day “sleep”.


The apostles didn’t get it at the time, but note in John 11 that Jesus referred to Lazarus’ passing as “sleep”, not death. Of course, in the natural sense, Jesus knew He was going to soon raise Lazarus from the dead, so why call it death?. But, long-range speaking, the “sleep” makes even more sense in reference to the slumbering “Lazarus” — i.e., Israel. Jesus will someday be just as faithful to raise up Israel the nation as He was to raise up Lazarus the man. And He’ll do it exactly on time — at the end of another special time period, a “two day” delay.





PICTURE #2 — A SPECIAL “TWO DAY” DELAY

(New Testament snapshot)


It’s very interesting what Jesus did when He first heard of Lazarus “sickness”. (By the way, we don’t know exactly what was naturally wrong with Lazarus. But, symbolically, this sickness refers to the spiritual “sleep” of Israel.) Note Jesus’ response:


“So, when He heard that he (Lazarus) was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.”


Now why would Jesus stay “two more days in the place where He was”? Well, naturally speaking, so that Lazarus would be absolutely at a stink-level, dead state! This would insure His miraculous power to be all the more awesome in front of the gathered spectators. Also, this would be demonstrative for all future generations of believers to see and experience the hope of Jesus’ ability to raise us from the dead, both at our spiritual birth as well as our resurrection at the last day. But, there is also another outstanding feature found here, a long-range prophecy:


Jesus’ staying two more days in the “place where He was” is of utmost, prophetic relevance (note there is no real identification where this “place” literally was at that time). The symbolical key here is that this refers to Jesus’ absence from this earth during the whole Christian age. Where is Jesus today? Scripture is clear on this. He’s at the right hand of God the Father making intercession for us. He is already the Lord and mighty King. He just hasn’t returned yet to take His rightful seat of authority here on earth, but He will someday do that, at the end of a special “two day” physical separation from His followers. That’s the great Christian hope, is it not?




PICTURE #3 --- ANOTHER SPECIAL “TWO DAYS”

 (Old Testament snapshot)


Prophetically and symbolically, the “two day” delay found in John 11 has the very same meaning as a certain “two days” mentioned in Hosea 6:2:


“After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight.”


Raise who up? The sleeping nation “Lazarus”, that’s who. After he was raised from the dead, Lazarus lived again in Jesus’ sight. (See John 12:2.) Likewise, this will one day happen to national Israel.


Through the prophet Hosea, the “us” and “we” in the above verse is a picture of Israel’s ultimate belief being placed in the God Who created and guided their nation. Let me put it this way: prophetically, by God’s power on him, Hosea knew that all Israel would someday wake up and repent when God removes the scales from their spiritual eyes. And the promise here is that this will happen “after two days”. But the question is ‘what two days?’. This is clearly a preview of the time span between Jesus’ first advent and His second. Can we know beyond question that this is what Hosea is referring to?


Let’s look at a few key words in verses 5:14 and 6:1. God is speaking and says, “I, even I, will tear.....and go away”. I left out a word where the dots appear. Your version of the Bible may say “them” here. But “them” is not in the original Hebrew. The reason “them” is not found is because God wanted us to realize that it is the “I” who is going to be torn. If “them” is inserted, then this understanding becomes totally lost in the mistranslation. Can we know this for sure? Yes, indeed.


Thank God that some translators did have their thinking caps on relative to the “I” in this passage. The little phrase “even I” is there purposely and correctly because it indicates that an emphatic pronoun “I” is in the original language. We don’t have an emphatic pronoun in English for “I”, so the “even I” is the way the KJV and NKJV translators prevented this emphasis from being lost. The being “torn” is referring to Jesus’ crucifixion. Why is this prophecy inserted here? Because it is due to the “tearing” of Jesus, not the tearing of ancient Israel, that provides the hope of Israel’s someday being able to revive and “live in His sight”. Israel nor anyone else will ever live in Jesus’ presence because they, or we, get it together via natural learning. It is because of the “tearing” of the Messiah that revival and living with Jesus will become a reality, including both raised-from-the-dead Israel, and the Church.


The proof of this is also indicated in verse 6:1 which says, “...For He has torn, but He will heal us;...”. The subtle but oh-so-important message here is that the “tearing” is talking about Jesus, our suffering-servant Savior. He was “torn” and “stricken” for the benefit of all believers in Him, but in this passage, the blessing refers specifically to national Israel.


In verse 5:15, the prophet Hosea also tells us that this torn “I, even I” would “...return again to My place Till they acknowledge their offense, Then they will seek my face...”.


This “place” is the same location as implied in the John 11 passage. Heaven. Then in Hosea 6:2 we find that on the third day Jesus will raise Israel up. This third day is the Millennial Kingdom age to come. You see, Jesus has been away for almost “two days” now. When He returns to establish His throne and Kingdom, part of His reigning, including the Church, will be over revived Israel. And this will occur for a 1000-year period. This “third day” promise to Israel — “that we may live in His sight” — will be fulfilled. God keeps His promises.



(Let me suggest that you later study these verses on your own: Hosea 5:14&15 and 6:1&2. Just be sure to remove the “them”, “us” and “we” if they are italicized in your version. [Using italics is a method some translations use to indicate that the words do not appear in the original Biblical text, which, at least to some extent, protects the intended meaning if one reads carefully.] Some translators have taken destructive liberty in their versions by not in any way indicating what words were either left-out-of or added-to the original. This can virtually destroy the crucial prophetic meaning of a Scriptural passage. Check this out in several versions to be convinced.)



SUMMARY & CONCLUSIONS:


In a mere four verses, the prophet Hosea presents us with a microcosmic view of a gigantic history of a nation which tended towards rebellion against its loving Creator and Provider. Ironically, and perhaps illogically to the human mind, the resolution to this problem was that a “torn” individual would someday revive this blessed, sleeping people. Yes, this would be a blessed nation, yet one which suffered the “disease” of spiritual lethargy and rebelliousness from their inception. But, according to Hosea, after revival, the awakened nation would have the privilege of living in the sight of this stricken person. Any other Scripture come to mind as you think about this? How about Zechariah 12:10?:


“And I will pour on the house of David (i.e., Israel) and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”


Clearly, Zechariah and Hosea are both speaking of the very same person, the Lord Jesus Christ.


In the eleventh chapter of his Gospel, the apostle John joins the Old Testament prophets and adds further clarification to this story. To picture what would someday happen (perhaps soon) to the nation Israel, Jesus raised a man from the dead, “sleeping” Lazarus. Lazarus and Israel (the ones “whom God aids”) and Jesus of Nazareth (the “torn” one) are the main subjects of Hosea 5:14&15; 6:1&2 and John 11.


How soon is soon when I say I believe Jesus will “soon” revive “Lazarus-Israel”? Well, these passages, if I’ve interpreted correctly, say it will be at the completion of “two days”. Two, 1000-year days is the strong implication of both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures covered in this writing. Another big question is: When did the counting start? Hm! Well, it could have started from Jesus’ birth, which was probably between 2 and 6 BC. (I think Jesus was born in 5 BC, but that’s another subject which I won’t attempt to confirm here.) Most prophetic writers would want to date the “two days” beginning at Jesus’ birth. I think the majority of modern, students of Bible prophecy are expecting and predicting that Jesus will rapture His Church (or, as some believe, at least a portion of it) right away, or at the most, a few months from right now (April 2007 as I write today). If this turns out to be the case, then counting from Jesus’ birth would be the obvious answer to this question.

But then note these facts in the Hosea and John passages: In Hosea, it would be two days after the “torn” one would have returned to His place (see verse 5:15). And in John 11:6, it was after Jesus “...stayed two more days in the place where He was...” before He returned to raise up Lazarus. This occurred near the end of Jesus’ life on earth. Thus, both passages could be implying that it will be two, full, one-thousand-year “days”, counting from Jesus’ ascension back to “His place”, rather than counting from His birth. After all, to get a bit literal here, both passages are referring to two days of Jesus being in “His place” (heaven) before the Israelites will “live in His sight”. This implies that we could be looking to somewhere around 26 - 30 AD before the rapture of the Church occurs!



Ironically, one of the calculations presented in my book, The Two Witnesses, based on a passage in Daniel, actually ends in the year 2026 AD. At the time of that writing I had not yet arrived at the understanding presented here in this article. I simply made the calculation based on the Scriptures found there, made a few comments, and included it in the book. (You’ll find this and more dates in chapter 23 of The Two Witnesses should you desire to look further into this subject. I would also recommend my article entitled “Two Days”.)


Since we are already living in 2007, counting “two days” from Jesus’ birth has already passed. So, if this understanding of the “two days” is credible, we must now reference it to having started counting at the time of Jesus’ “tearing” or His ascension. This means that the Church will still have time to evangelize and see additional souls saved. Christians can still hopefully and gladly look forward to the rapture, only a little later than many teachers and believers ascribe to in our day. If this is the case, having heard this understanding should help followers of Christ to not be disheartened should the rapture turn out to be a little later than previously believed.


Don’t take me wrong. I believe Christians should live as though Jesus could come at any moment. We should be faithful in our responsibilities to God and man regardless of when Jesus comes. We ought to be constantly diligent in our prayer time, Bible study, worship, Church activities, evangelism, etc. But we can also be reasonable and know that God does have a schedule relative to past, present and future plans for Israel and the Church. And we can know that much of that plan, if not indeed all if we could but grasp it, is found in Holy Scripture. So, we need to also be vigilant in prophetic studies. (I believe the primary purpose of knowing and understanding the prophetic word and works of God is designed to stir us to activity. Those who neglect the study of prophecy do so to their own, ultimate, spiritual chagrin.)



I am not attempting to promote a lack of expectancy in those who are today looking excitedly and expectantly for Jesus’ return in the next few days, weeks or months. But, based on the understanding found in the passages presented in this article, if it turns out that the rapture is further down the line than many are preaching today, I shall not be as disappointed or discouraged as I might have been had I not been exposed to the Scriptures outlined herein. Thus, I share these thoughts with you for the same benefit.


Let me urge you to go back through this article and carefully note the insights. And if you believe that I’ve not abused the passages with the attempted clarifications, and then read these Scriptures repeatedly for a few weeks, I believe you’ll see that the pictures I’ve tried to describe will emerge as a distinct possibility. When it does, like most Biblical understanding, you’ll wonder how you ever missed it. Of course, only the Holy Spirit of God can make these Biblical “pictures” real to you and I. He is the Comforter and our present Teacher, the one who comes alongside to direct our thoughts.


The final thought I’d like to leave with you today is found in the same passage I started with:

 

“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.” Matthew 24:45&46.


Dear friends in Christ, let’s be “so doing” (i.e., the will of His Commission) when He comes.


In Jesus’ Mighty Name,


Lance Johnson


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