SEED & BREAD

Number 196

THE DAYS OF GOD UPON THE EARTH

 


(Originally published 10 Oct. 86)

It is written in the Word of God that there was a time when God was upon the earth in the form of man. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" is the plain testimony of the Apostle John concerning this (John 1:14). "He emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a slave, and was found in fashion as a man" (Phil. 2:7), is the delaration of Paul. We ignore the difficulties that arise when we seek an understanding of these truths, knowing that "no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him" (Luke 10:22). Thus, since it is that these ineffable truths were declared by John and Paul to our faith, we answer and say ó this we believe, and incorporate them into our thinking about God. The godly men in Israel "in the days of His flesh" (Heb. 5:7), men who discerned "the signs of the times," knew quite well that they were living in the days of the Son of God upon the earth. This appearance upon the earth of Godís Annointed One, the Christ, had been prophesied and had been long expected. Certain definite signs gave witness to the reality of the Son of God upon the earth, and these were manifest. Even as the Lord said: "If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not. But if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in Me, and I in Him" (John 10:37,38).

There was in Israel an erroneous idea that when the Messiah (Christ) appeared as a man upon the earth He would "remain for the eon" (John 12:34). The term "the eon" is one applied to the kingdom of God upon the earth. (See Issue No. 128 as to why the kingdom is called by this name.) However, they were wrong in thinking that when He appeared His visit would turn into a permanent residence. This idea came out of their desire and wishful thinking, inasmuch as there were clear intimations in the Old Testament that He would come, do His work, then go away. David had said: "So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about; for their sakes therefore return thou on high" (Psa. 7:7).

The Lord made it plain that He would return to His throne in heaven, saying: "It is expedient (to your advantage) that I go away, for if I do not go away the Paraclete will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send Him unto you" (John 16:7). Thus, with the Lord on His prepared throne (seat of government) in the heavens (Psalms 103:19) and the Paraclete in all places and in every person upon the earth (Joel 2:28), a communication network will be established that will be one of the foundational features of the kingdom of God. God in Christ can speak in heaven and His word will be heard by every man, individually and personally, upon the earth. Or, he can speak, if He so desires to any one man upon the earth. This explains how: "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (Isa 30:21). Would to God that all men had such directions today. "Thy kingdom come."

The theme of the Old Testament was (and is) the coming of a time of divine government upon the earth. Abraham saw (discerned) this day and rejoiced in it (John 8:56). The sacred literature from Genesis to Malachi was filled with promises of the great blessings that would be a reality in the day that Godís government was upon the earth. "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame leap as an hart (a male, mature deer), and the tongue of the dumb shall sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert" (Isa. 35:3-6).

But beyond all this there was another day ó a time so magnificent that it goes beyond the power of human words to express it. The fact of this glorious time was known to the Old Testament saints, even though they tell us very little about it. "To olam and beyond" is about the most that the Old Testament tells us about the glorious time that follows the time of Godís government of this earth.

To the Hebrew olam was the time of Godís government and ad was the time "beyond." However, there is in Deuteronomy 11:21 an intriguing passage which in the KJV speaks of "the days of Heaven upon the earth." Upon reading this the first question that comes to the inquiring mind concerns what is meant by the word heaven in this passage.

As to this there are numerous opinions, but in these as a rule the word is taken to mean "heavenly conditions" which someday will characterize things upon this planet which is our home. "What else can it mean but this?" an inquiring student asked of me. However, much truth will be lost to us if we make "heaven" to mean "heavenly conditions."

Some have tried to retranslate this passage making it to say, "as the days of the heavens are above the earth," telling us that it means "as long as the heavens endure." However, this is not translating at all, but simply a rewriting of the passage in the hope of removing the difficulty.

The Hebrew word for "heaven" in this passage (shamayim) is plural and the definite article is indicated. A reading of the portion that includes Daniel 4:17, 25, 26, 32 will show positively that the words "the most High" and the words "the heavens" are used interchangeably in reference to the same exalted Being, both terms being descriptive titles of God.

That the word "heavens" in numerous places in the Bible is used as a synonym for God is a fact that must be acknowledged by all who have honestly considered the matter. Part of the work of "rightly dividing the Word of Truth" is to discover where in Scripture the word "heaven" denotes a place and where it denotes God. It is difficult to read Luke 15:18 and not realize that the word "heaven" is used of God.

After careful consideration it is my conviction that the word "heaven" in Deuteronomy 11:21 is also a synonym for God, and that Moses knew about and spoke of "the days of God upon the earth." Thus the concept must have been known to the other godly men of Israel who heard his words as he spoke that day. And while this may be the only direct statement to be found in the Old Testament concerning this period of time, it suddenly appears in the New Testament where there is much additional truth concerning it.

It needs to be carefully noted that this "day of God upon the earth" is not the 33 years from Bethlehem to the ascension. These years are the days of the Son of man. Neither are they the days from His assumption of sovereignty to His actual return to earth. There are the days of the government of God, the days when He rules this earth from heaven. For as great and glorious as conditions are in the kingdom of God they are succeeded by a far more glorious period of time, declared in scripture to be a thousand years in length, and characterized by the personal presence of the glorified Christ.

The Old Testament is literally filled with truth concerning the kingdom of God, a period of time when God will govern this earth. Thirty-three years after the death of Christ, Paul is seen testifying and expounding the kingdom of God out of the law of Moses and the prophets. The twelve disciples had this knowledge and during His three years of ministry to them the Lord made many of the truths concerning the coming kingdom quite clear. However, as the days of the Son of Man on earth were coming to a close, His disciples came to Him privately and asked a question concerning the distant future, of things that would follow His long time of government from heaven. This was a proper question since during the kingdom of God they would be sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The question they asked was: "Tell us, when shall these things be;" thus making it clear that the thing they wanted to know was: "What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matt. 24:3). But it is somewhat surprising to find these men asking about His coming when standing before them and was certainly present with them.

If the Greek of this portion is considered three very important words are found in it: parousia, sunteleia, and aion. The first word does not mean "coming," the second does not mean "end," and the last does not mean "world." Nevertheless, a confused jumble of ideas concerning things to come have been built upon these erroneous translations.

The word parousia is found for its first occurrence in this chapter, where it is used four times (verses 3, 27, 37, 39). Its very elements cry out its true meaning, which is para with, and ousia being, a being with, or personal presence if it used of persons, and an actual presence if used of things. (See Seed and Bread Nos. 24 and 25).

This word speaks of the great personal presence of the Son in the character of God so fully that they can be described as the days of God upon the earth.

The term "the eon" (tou aionios) is another descriptive title of the kingdom of God, due to the fact that everything, without exception, that gives that period of time its true character is based upon the outflowings of God. (See Issue No. 55). The consummation of the kingdom eon will be the personal presence, and this will be for a thousand years. This is the time that men call "the millennium," but this tells us only of its duration. The word parousia tells us of the supreme fact that produces the character of this glorious time, the personal presence of Jesus Christ as God.

Christianity has been filled with men who are described as amillennialists. The prefix "a" in this word means "no" and declares that there is to be no thousand years of Godís presence upon the earth. The same as atheist means "no God."

In another issue we will consider the long attempt that has been made to exclude the kingdom of God, and the thousand years of His personal presence from the theologies of men.



INDEX

Issue no. 196