Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Israel's Restoration


Israel’s Restoration
A Regathering, Rebirth, and Repossessing

(from unpublished "One Book Rightly Divided" appendix)


by Doug Stauffer & Andrew Ray

The Bible contains prophetic passages that are increasingly and unnecessarily dividing good brethren. Obviously, God is not the cause of these divisions; however, believers on both sides of the theological divide have misinterpreted key prophetic passages. Matthew chapter 24 is a prime example.

Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

In short, this conflict ensues because two phrases are misunderstood: (1) “after the tribulation” and (2) “gather together.” First,  we consider the faulty views concerning the meaning of “after the tribulation.”


After the Tribulation?


The first question that needs addressed concerns when the Tribulation” (more appropriately, Daniel’s Seventieth Week) ends? Many Post-tribulation Rapturists (some of which are Pre-wrath Rapturists) point to the phrase “after the tribulation” incorrectly assuming that this is the point where the Tribulation PERIOD” terminates. This assumption is not correct. One must carefully consider the context to grasp God’s intended meaning.

What saith the scripture IN CONTEXT? To grasp the truth, one must read the two verses from Matthew and Mark paying close attention to the peculiar wording. Doing so will bring to light key words which reveal to the reader the correct context. HINT: “of those days” in Matthew andafter that” in Mark change the entire context and meaning from what is generally taught by those teaching the Church will go through Daniel’s Seventieth Week. These two phrases change the entire meaning.

Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Mark 13:24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

Neither passage implies that the events that take place prior to these verses serve as the all-encompassing “Tribulation PERIOD,” nor do they serve as the terminus to the so-called Tribulation PERIOD. Instead, Matthew’s gospel states that the sun and moon will go dark “after the tribulation of THOSE DAYS.” In context, this clearly refers to the tribulation mentioned in Matthew 24:4-28. Mark said the same thing: the sun and the moon will go dark AFTER THAT tribulation.” What tribulation is that? It involves the suffering mentioned in Mark 13:5-23

Gathering Together


After the world suffers tribulation described in the first 28 verses of Matthew chapter 24, the focus turns to the cosmic disturbances. Sometime thereafter, the Lord will return TO EARTH. However, prior to His return, He will send His angels to gather together the elect from all over the world. Plainly stated, this GATHERING IS NOT A RAPTURE (Matthew 24:31). A rapture implies that people depart the earth and there is no indication that anyone leaves.

Two primary purposes for Christ’s Second Advent are to judge the world and to deliver believing Israel. Yet, Israel had and still has a problem with walking by faith. They have grown accustomed to—and dependent upon—signs (1 Corinthians 1:22). God, therefore, in His infinite wisdom and boundless mercy, will provide three distinct and visible precursors announcing the return of His Son. These three forerunners are:

  • Cosmic and earthly disturbances,
  • The sign of the Son of man, and
  •  Christ’s sending His angels for the gathering of the elect.

Although no one can be completely certain concerning the duration of the cosmic and earthly disturbances, the second and third precursors seem to provide no time for the unbelieving to repent.

The Cosmic and Earthly Disturbances (Matthew 24:29)


Unfortunately, many prophecy teachers fail to recognize the distinguishing features between the Rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and Christ’s Second Coming. The Rapture, involving the Church’s call to meet Christ in the clouds and only forecasts decline in godliness as a precursor. The Church leaves this earth at the Rapture, but none of God’s people leave the earth at Christ’s Second Advent. That is not the purpose of His return to earth. In fact, Christ’s return to earth begins with judgment and soon follows with the blessings of His ruling in an earthly kingdom.

This Second Coming to earth is preceded by visible evidence, especially natural disturbances, or what the world refers to as “natural disasters.” Every “real” Rapture passage noticeably excludes any indicators of these physical precursors. Yet, these types of disturbances are prevalent and dramatic just prior to Christ’s Second Coming. In fact, the anxiety caused by the worldwide upheavals will cause men’s hearts to fail them. These events consist of at least five specific types of catastrophic events:

1)      the sun will be darkened (Matthew 24:29)

2)      the moon will stop shining (Matthew 24:29)

3)      the stars will fall from heaven (Matthew 24:29)

4)      the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Matthew 24:29)

5)      the sea and the waves will roar (Luke 21:25)


When the world turns pitch black, earth’s inhabitants will not expect what is about to take place, nor how drastically things will change. The Day of the Lord will be introduced with the sun and moon being darkened, but this phenomenon of darkness is only temporary. Upon Christ’s return, things instantaneously swing to the opposite end of the spectrum with the normal light multiplied seven times brighter.

Isaiah 30:26 Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.

This overpowering, brilliant light will shine forth sometime following the piercing darkness and blackening of the heavens. This bright light heralds the coming of the Son of Man from heaven’s glory. Imagine when the light of the moon becomes as the sun in its normal strength and the sun shines “sevenfold, as the light of seven days.”

To the human eye, these events might seem simultaneous; yet the following sequence seems to take place.

  • the brightness of the sun will be magnified seven times (Isaiah 30:26);
  • the Son of Man appears (Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27);
  • all the tribes of the earth mourn (Matthew 24:30);
  • a great trumpet will sound (Matthew 24:31);
  • Christ sends His angels to gather the elect for protection (Matthew 24:31);
  • Christ comes to earth from heaven to execute judgment upon the enemies of Israel (Revelation 19:11-13, 15-16);
  • the armies which were in heaven follow Christ to earth (Revelation 19:14); and
  • an angel stands in the sun, inviting the fowls of the air to gather for the supper of the great God (Revelation 19:17-18).


The Sending of Christ’s Angels (Matthew 24:31)


This next issue reveals the importance of every word of scripture. Those who insist that the Church will enter Daniel’s Seventieth Week fail to distinguish certain key elements and differences between two major events. Most confusion can be eliminated by simply noticing the differences between Christ’s return for the Church before the beginning of Daniel’s Seventieth Week and His return to gather the Jewish remnant toward the end of that period.

Nowhere in any of Paul’s writings where he refers to the Church’s Blessed Hope (also known as the Rapture) is there any indication of angels being sent to gather the saved. Instead, all believers will be brought UP to meet the Lord Jesus in the clouds. The Lord HIMSELF gathers the Church to Himself. 

1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

At the Rapture, the Lord will meet the saved in the clouds followed by all believers returning into heaven where we will remain with Christ until His Second Advent. This is not the scenario presented throughout the Old Testament or the Gospels when describing Christ’s return at the close of Jacob’s Trouble to establish a kingdom for the Jews. Instead of Christ HIMSELF gathering at the Second Coming, the Bible says that Christ will send His angels to gather the elect (believing Israel) to protect them from the onslaught of judgment proceeding from the Saviour. In fact, the Bible is clear that Christ will lead His armies into battle rather than meeting with believers in the clouds (Revelation 19:11, 14). This is likely the reason why the angels must precede Christ and His armies.
  
Matthew 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Unfortunately, many Bible teachers and students fail to grasp three of the key components of this passage concerning Christ’s Second Coming: (1) the identity of the elect, (2) the meaning of the four winds, and (3) the heaven referred to within the context. Clearly, the elect of Matthew chapter 24 identifies believing Israel (Isaiah 45:4). Now, the four winds and heaven must be defined in light of the context and other correlating scriptures.

If the angels are going to gather the elect from the four winds, it would make sense that the elect first had to be scattered into the four winds. The Bible repeatedly mentions this scattering of the Jews toward all the winds. Here are just a few of the many examples:

·         Notice that the Bible clearly says that God scattered His people into and toward all the winds.

Ezekiel 5:10b the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.

Ezekiel 17:21 And all his fugitives with all his bands shall fall by the sword, and they that remain shall be scattered toward all winds: and ye shall know that I the LORD have spoken it.

·         The scattering into all winds is defined as the utmost corners of the earth.

Jeremiah 49:32 And their camels shall be a booty, and the multitude of their cattle a spoil: and I will scatter into all winds them that are in the utmost corners; and I will bring their calamity from all sides thereof, saith the LORD.

·         The four winds are mentioned in conjunction with the four quarters of heaven.

Jeremiah 49:36 And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.

The nation that God previously scattered toward the four winds will be gathered by the angels prior to the physical return of Christ and His armies. Any diligent Bible student can recognize that these four winds cover the earth and are associated only to the first heaven[1] where the winds blow. John, in the book of Revelation, provided additional confirmation in Revelation 7:1 when he prophetically wrote of another event involving the four winds during Daniel’s Seventieth Week: “I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth.

Despite these truths, some Post-tribulationists assume that the mere mention of heaven means the third Heaven (God’s abode); however, the context remains consistent since the passage refers not to the Heaven of God’s abode but to the first heaven where the winds blow (1 Kings 18:45 – see below; also Psalm 78:26; Daniel 7:2; Daniel 8:8; Daniel 11:4).

1 Kings 18:45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.

Other passages clearly associate the four winds with the first heaven. For example: “I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven” (Jeremiah 49:36) and “the four winds of the heaven” (Zechariah 2:6). In each case, the winds and the heaven refer to the first heaven and never the “third Heaven” of God’s abode (2 Corinthians 12:2) where the Church will have resided for nearly seven years. Read the passage again with these truths in mind.

Matthew 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Interestingly, it truly does not change the outcome of Matthew 24:31 regardless of what heaven is being referenced. After all, in both Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27 the elect are being GATHERED FROM heaven and NOT UNTO heaven. In other words, no one is leaving the earth and going UP during this event. Any other private interpretation destroys the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 30:4 where the Lord promised, “If any of thine be DRIVEN OUT unto the outmost parts of heaven, FROM THENCE will the LORD thy God GATHER thee, and FROM THENCE will he FETCH thee.” Where was Israel DRIVEN? Verse 1 says they were driven “among all the nations.” Verse 3 says they were SCATTERED into the nations and He will “gather thee from all the nations.” Read the entire context that shows that the prophecy does not point to a gathering TO Heaven.

Deuteronomy 30:1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, 2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; 3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. 4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5 And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.

The scriptural truth taught is that those who had been scattered by God all over the earth (to the four winds of heaven) will be GATHERED by His angels just prior to Christ and His armies arriving to the earth! The gathering will bring them “into the land.” Those who had endured persecution will find refuge, being protected and preserved! Those accused and attacked by Satan will be redeemed and secured in Jesus! Jacob’s testimony that once was “all these things are against me” (Genesis 42:36) will become “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Furthermore, Matthew, at the time of his writing, neither knew of nor wrote of the New Testament Church’s removal from the earth. Paul, on the other hand, knew of both the Blessed Hope and the Second Coming and clearly distinguished between the two by pointing out that the Lord HIMSELF would come and get His Church while sending His angels as forerunners of Christ’s Second Advent. If the calling UP of the saints at the Rapture is the same event as that described in Matthew chapter 24, why no mention by Paul of the armies following the Lord at the Rapture (Revelation 19:14)? It is because they are two separate events.

Don’t miss this! There is no general catching up in the days approaching the Second Advent. It is simply NOT A RAPTURE. The angels will GATHER together the elect for protection UPON THE EARTH. This protection takes place toward the end of Daniel’s Seventieth Week and almost simultaneously with Christ’s return in vengeance on the Day of the Lord. They are gathered into the land.

Israel’s Gathering Versus the Church’s Rapture


In the passages describing the Church’s Blessed Hope, there is only one usage of the word gather. In fact, even that single reference distinguishes the Church’s Rapture as “our gathering together UNTO HIM” (2 Thessalonians 2:1), not unto the land The word unto identifies destination. In other words, the Church’s departure is a gathering of the saints UNTO the destination [Christ in the clouds]. While the significance may not be self-evident until one considers that the gathering of Matthew chapter 24 matches the promised gathering of the Old Testament. To understand this better, consider a few of the promises of Israel’s future final “gathering” as the Bible repeatedly uses this terminology to describe God’s promise to Israel.

Deuteronomy 30:3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. 4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:

Nehemiah 1:9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.

Isaiah 11:12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

(more scripture references in the book)

Matthew 13:29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

These verses should sufficiently prove that Israel will be regathered into the LAND! God promised He would one day gather a remnant of the nation of Israel. That gathering would take place upon this earth with them being led back into their own LAND for safety. Not one time is the third Heaven (the place of God’s abode) in view and the context in each passage suggests the timing is Christ’s Second Advent followed by Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. Replacement Theology teachings will struggle to pervert this event by calling it a Rapture!

The Witness of Ezekiel and the Dry Bones


Simply believing the Bible changes one’s perspective about even the most familiar passages. For instance, Ezekiel chapter 37 contains the prophecy of the Dry Bones. It has been incorrectly taught as a Last Days revival when it teaches no such thing. Instead, Ezekiel points to Israel’s future restoration as a rebirth and regathering, along with a repossessing of an earthly land once possessed by the Jewish fathers. Notice the gathering mentioned in verse twenty-one. According to Ezekiel chapter 37:

1)      God will GATHER the children of Israel and bring them INTO THEIR OWN LAND.
Ezekiel 37:21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
2)      God will make the children of Israel one undivided nation IN THE LAND under one king.
Ezekiel 37:22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:
3)      The remnant of Israel (also known as the elect or believing Israel) shall be SAVED.
Ezekiel 37:23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.
4)      David will be restored as KING of a united Israel.
Ezekiel 37:24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
5)      Israel will dwell IN THE LAND safely and FOR EVER.
Ezekiel 37:25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.
6)      God will make with Israel an EVERLASTING COVENANT—the New Covenant.
Ezekiel 37:26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.
7)      The vision of the valley of dry bones at the beginning of the chapter brings the whole prophecy together. 

After the Rapture of the Church, God will again turn His focus toward His people—the nation of Israel. He will gather the children of Israel and make of them one nation in the land; thus, the believing remnant of Israel shall be saved (Romans 11:26). David will be restored as king and God will make an everlasting covenant with Israel. This restoration is taught throughout both Testaments.

In fact, consider again the 37th chapter of Ezekiel and the prophecy of the valley of dry bones. The prophecy began, like John in Revelation, with Ezekiel carried forth in time (Revelation 1:10).

Ezekiel 37:1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

These bones represent a spiritually and physically dead Israel. As such, they had no marrow and are brittle and bleached. The question was whether God could revive such dead matter.

Ezekiel 37:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.

The solution for deadened Israel will be the same as it is for sinners who are dead in trespasses and sins today—hear the word of the LORD. Heeding the charge from Heaven, Ezekiel prophesied upon “these bones.”

Ezekiel 37:4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

These lifeless dry bones will get their “second breath” or as the LORD puts it in Ezekiel 37:14, He will put His Spirit in them and they shall live!

Ezekiel 37:7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

Ezekiel did his part and God will do what only God can do. Although there was a gathering of the bones, they remained lifeless until the wind of God’s Spirit blew upon them!

Ezekiel 37:9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

While it is God’s Spirit that comes from the four winds and not the elect as it is in Matthew chapter 24, this designation helps to pinpoint the timing and significance of this event. Those who had historically been scattered into the winds will be regathered.

Ezekiel 5:10 Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.

Ezekiel 5:12 A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.

Ezekiel 12:14 And I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him to help him, and all his bands; and I will draw out the sword after them.

Those scattered will be gathered, revived and regenerated by God’s Spirit, and brought into the land of Israel. The once-dead bodies are restored and clearly identified as the “whole house of Israel.”

Ezekiel 37:10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. 11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.

It is important not to miss the significance of the meaning of the prophecy of the dry bones of Ezekiel chapter 37. Israel’s future points to a time when God opens the GRAVES and brings believing Israel into the LAND OF ISRAEL to dwell there safely for the Millennial kingdom.

Ezekiel 37:12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.

This is clearly Israel’s restoration and rebirth performed by the Spirit. John says, The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit (John 3:8).  Notice that the bodies are resurrected and brought into the land of Israel. One could even say that this is a resurrection when God puts His spirit in these once dead bodies. It certainly does not match the bodies resurrected and “changed” in the “twinkling of an eye” at the Church’s last trump when the dead at the end of the Church Age are raised (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

Ezekiel 37:13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.

Additionally, it is important to note that man consists of three parts—body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). This prophecy only mentions the body and spirit but one might infer that the soul too must reenter these bodies to complete the rebirth. Regardless of this unaddressed aspect concerning the soul, the truth is that Israel will be regathered into the land and the prophecy of the dry bones is another confirmation of that glorious truth.

Israel and Judah: The New Covenant


The spirit reentering the bones/bodies likely refer to the institution of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31). This New Covenant takes place “after those days” indicating the timing taking place at the end of Daniel’s Seventieth Week at the commencement of the Day of the Lord.

Hebrews 8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those d`ays, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:  

Hosea’s prophecy of Israel’s reviving takes on special significance too if one day with the Lord could represent one thousand years (2 Peter 3:8). This reviving certainly could match the two millennia since Christ’s death (“two days”) and point to the final millennium of Christ’s earthly kingdom yet to come (“in the third day”).

Hosea 6:2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.


Many of the prophesies in the Bible points to Israel’s future:


·         Restoration,

·         Regathering,

·         Rebirth, and

·         Repossessing of the land.





[1] The first heaven is the atmospheric heaven where the birds fly, referred to as the “open firmament of heaven” (Genesis 1:20). The second heaven is the starry heaven that we call outer space and is referred to as the “firmament of the heaven” (Genesis 1:14). The third heaven is where God dwells and is referred to as “heaven” (Genesis 1:1) or the “heaven of heavens” (Deuteronomy 10:14).

Friday, May 25, 2018

Tree of Life (part 2 of 2)

By Douglas D. Stauffer
& Andrew B. Ray

The Tree of Life (Part 2 of 2) Appendix 1One Book Rightly Divided (June 2018 Unpublished)

Be sure to read PART 1 of this article on the Tree of Life first in order to understand the context of what continues here. 


The Book of Proverbs
Once a man understands the true significance and purpose of the Tree of Life in Genesis, Revelation, and Ezekiel (discussed in PART 1 , the references in Proverbs take on further significance. The Tree of Life offered a lengthening of one’s physical life. In similar fashion, Solomon identified four things that lengthened the physical life of man and, therefore, function as trees of life. They are: (1) wisdom, (2) the fruit of the righteous, (3) the fulfillment of desire, and (4) a wholesome tongue.
  • Wisdom

Proverbs 3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. … 18 She (wisdom) is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
  • Fruit of Righteousness

Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
  • Desire (of the Righteous—see below) Fulfilled

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

Proverbs 11:23 The desire of the righteous is only good:

Proverbs 10:24
  the desire of the righteous shall be granted.
  • Wholesome Tongue

Proverbs 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
Living right does not bring eternal life but can certainly prolong one’s physical life. In fact, this was identified as one of the primary purposes of the Law (Deuteronomy 30:14-20). As it pertained to the Law, man’s choice was simple—choose between “life and death.”

Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

The man who chose disobedience faced premature death unless the mercy of God intervened. To clarify, death in such cases did not confirm eternal damnation—consider Samson, king Saul, Moses, etc., who all had a life shortened because of disobedience.
The Right to the Tree of Life: Overcome
The passages in Revelation repudiated the false teaching concerning the purpose of the Tree of Life—the offering of physical life versus eternal life. Yet, these same verses, when misconstrued, pose another potentially dangerous teaching. Those who fail to consider the totality of the teaching concerning the Tree of Life generally find themselves unable to reconcile their perception with the Bible’s true teachings. According to Revelation, the Tree of Life presents two preconditions for those blessed to be able to partake of the Tree of Life: (1) overcoming and (2) doing His [Christ’s] commandments.

Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.


Without sufficiently understanding the depths of the teaching, one might see the word overcometh and assume that the Tree of Life is available only to those who earn access through their works. However, to comprehend God’s intended meaning, one must gain a sufficient understanding by studying the other passages that refer to a saint overcoming.
John wrote and focused upon this doctrine more than any other writer. In fact, John covered four crucial and foundational truths concerning overcoming:

(1) A saint was an overcomer prior to the completion of his life and possibly during his youth (1 John 2:13-14; 1 John 4:4)

1 John 2:13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. 14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

1 John 4:4
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.


(2) That which was born of God overcometh the world (1 John 5:4);

(3) The victory that overcomes is found through a man’s faith (1 John 5:4); and

(4) The specific faith that allows one to overcome is possessed by “he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5).

1 John 5:4
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Far too many teachers allow their assumptions to interfere with the reality of God’s intended truths. Overcoming has been taught as a work of man or a demand for man to work, yet the totality of scripture indisputably proves that overcoming is based solely upon the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Overcoming is a God-given benefit granted to those who trust the Lord. In fact, all who are in Christ overcome in Him, by Him, and through Him. According to John, we who are “of God” overcome BECAUSE we are indwelt by One who is greater than he who serves as the god of this world.  

1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Overcoming was not the result of the long battle-tested life of one who earned merit and favor with God. Instead, it could be gifted to “young men” and “little children” who “have known the Father” (1 John 2:13), had the indwelling word (1 John 2:14), and the indwelling God (1 John 4:4). In other words, men overcome, not by works of righteousness, but by knowledge of the Righteous One through believing “that Jesus is the Son of God.”

1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Those who want to discount these truths based upon some sort of a dispensational distinctive involved with the writings of John should consider that John wrote later than Paul and built upon a premise begun in Paul’s epistles.

Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Men confuse the issue of salvation and rewards when they fail to understand that those who ADD faithful obedience to overcoming gain special rewards from the Almighty.  This is the truth taught in Revelation 2:26 where it states, “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” The honest Bible student readily admits that this truth matches the teaching set forth by the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 2:12 which states, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” While our salvation is based solely upon faith in the finished work of Christ, our rewards are based upon our faithful obedience to Christ.

Faithful saints receive additional benefits due to their faithful service to the Saviour. However, all that overcome are promised at least twelve basic rewards from the Lord. According to the testimony of scripture, the overcomer shall

  • Eat of the Tree of Life (Revelation 2:7),
  • Not be hurt by the second death (Revelation 2:11),
  • Eat of the hidden manna (Revelation 2:17),
  • Receive a white stone in which his name is written (Revelation 2:17),
  • Be clothed in white raiment (Revelation 3:5),
  • Not be blotted out of the book of life (Revelation 3:5),
  • Be confessed before the Father and the angels (Revelation 3:5),
  • Be made a pillar in the temple of God (Revelation 3:12),
  • Have the name of God written upon him (Revelation 3:12),
  • Have the Son’s new name written upon him (Revelation 3:12),
  • Sit in the throne with the Son of God (Revelation 3:21), and
  • Inherit all things as a son of God (Revelation 21:7). 

The Right to the Tree of Life: Do His Commandments
The second characteristic—“they that do his commandments” (Revelation 22:14) seems a bit more problematic until one considers what the verse actually says and means. A good Bible student knows that true Bible study involves three pertinent questions answered in their proper order:

  • What does the Bible say?
  • What does the Bible mean?
  • What does the Bible mean for me? 

In the simplest sense, a look at Revelation 22:14 shows that those who do Christ’s commandments are blessed. Furthermore, contrary to common thought, the passage DOES NOT SAY men do Christ’s commandments IN ORDER TO have a right to the Tree of Life, but that one of the blessings obedient men receive is “that they may have right to the tree of life.” A careful reading of John’s epistles will prove that God led John to record two great truths concerning obedience:
  • Obedience is a manifestation of one’s love and the love preceded the obedience (John 14:15, 21, 23, 24; 1 John 5:3), and
  • Obedience to the commandments of God was the evidence and manifestation of one’s salvation, not the driving force that brought it about (John 8:51; 1 John 2:3-5).

Another great principle to always consider and follow: God never intended for obscure passages to overrule truths learned from the clear, simple, straightforward passages. Much of the divisiveness within the body of Christ finds its roots in the doctrines derived from over-prioritizing hard to understand passages. Regardless of the principles applied, at the end, truth is the same—the Tree of Life will be available to all who know the Lord but serves as ONE of the special blessings given to “they that do his commandments.”
What Is in It for Us?
Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

All the puzzle pieces fit when one merely believes THE BOOK. Yet, one piece remains a bit curious and that is the promise given to the church at Ephesus—“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life.” Would saints with glorified bodies likened to Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 15:51; Philippians 3:20-21) have need of the Tree of Life in the midst of the paradise of God (2 Corinthians 12:4)? No! Yet, the key to be considered is that the redeemed in Heaven have no NEED for the Tree of Life like other elements found in Heaven.

One might assume a lack of NEED would mean there would be no OFFER of the Tree of Life. Yet, the paradise of God contains a great number of things that are not NECESSARY but certainly serve as blessings for God’s people. God’s gracious nature provides them for man’s enjoyment. The Tree of Life was part of God’s loving and gracious plan for the first couple (Adam and Eve) as God described it as pleasant to the sight, and good for food” (Genesis 2:9). The fruit of the Tree was free from corruption with no curse attached to it.

No doubt God intended for the fruit of the Tree to satisfy man’s God-given appetite. Additionally, Genesis described how pleasant it was to look upon. Man cannot imagine the state of the first couple before the fall—an environment that blessed the senses beyond comprehension. In the future, God will allow the redeemed to taste and visually feast upon that which Adam lost.


The future home of the saints is a city decked with precious stones, pearls, and gold—none necessary in man’s future abode. The delightful city has gates, a street, walls, and mansions—none of which is necessary for man’s subsistence. God also promised a river (clear as crystal) and a Tree of Life; all provided for man’s pleasure—none of which is essential. Our Heavenly Father designed our future home to manifest His beauty and personality forever. What a blessed day when we taste that blessed Tree!

This is an excerpt from Appendix 1 from the yet-to-be-published update of One Book Rightly Divided available for pre-publication order at www.BibleDoug.com 




Monday, May 21, 2018

The Tree of Life (Part 1 of 2)

By Douglas D. Stauffer
& Andrew B. Ray

The Tree of Life (Part 1 of 2) Appendix 1One Book Rightly Divided (May 2018 Unpublished)

For millennia, the Tree of Life has proven to be most intriguing for Bible students. Like it is with many subjects in scripture, one passage or statement stands out and serves as the foundation upon which an entire doctrinal position has been developed. Unfortunately, this limited focus has created numerous contradictions once the entirety of the scriptural teaching is considered. The student should reflect upon all scripture references before building a doctrinal position on any subject. This study will do just that—consider all ten specific references to the phrase “Tree of life.”


These references are strategically spread between three Bible books—Genesis, Proverbs, and Revelation. The Bible also contains some other indirect references that will be considered. The first book of the Bible—Genesis—introduces the Tree of Life and chronicles how quickly its access was lost. The last book of the Bible—Revelation—reveals a renewed access to the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem. In the book of Proverbs, the Tree of Life is associated practically to wisdom, the fruit of the righteous, arrival of desire, and a wholesome tongue. While the references in Proverbs may seem insignificant compared to Genesis and Revelation, they actually serve as wonderful proofs of the Tree of Life’s true scriptural teachings.

As alluded to previously, it is unwise to develop one’s perspective of a doctrinal truth based upon a single verse or phrase. Sadly, cults use this method to draw followers, convincing innocent souls that their cult has a monopoly upon the truth. Yet, when every passage on a particular subject is considered, false interpretations are thwarted, and God is glorified. Unfortunately, this unscriptural method of teaching is common, even amongst Bible-believers. The teaching concerning the Tree of Life is a prime example of unwarranted methods creating unsavory results.

The lone phrase driving most men’s understanding of the Tree of Life is found in Genesis 3:22. The purpose of the passage was to express why Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden in Eden and the additional danger they faced once they had sinned. God’s great concern was that the first couple would “take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.” As we shall see, despite popular opinion, a single taste from the Tree of Life did not grant everlasting physical life, nor did eating of the Tree of Life grant Life Eternal.

One would think in their sinless state that Adam and Eve had no need of the Tree of Life. After all, the inaccurate thought is that aging is a direct result of sin, because death entered the world by sin (Romans 5:12). However, BEFORE the fall of man, Adam and Eve were welcome to eat of every tree, save one: “the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it” (Genesis 2:16-17).

In other words, prior to the fall, Adam and Eve were permitted—even “commanded” to partake of the Tree of Life. Consider the implications of this truth: if one taste from the Tree of Life brought everlasting life, Adam and Eve would have had no worries about death as a consequence of their sin, and ultimately the Devil would have been right when he said, “Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). Instead, eating of the Tree of Life simply extended their physical life. Although death did not pass upon Adam and Eve until after they sinned, they still would have benefited from partaking of the Tree of Life. Once Adam and Eve fell, the Tree of Life became a liability. Continual access to this Tree would have enabled them to extend their physical lives indefinitely so long as they continued to eat from it—potentially forever.
The Beginning and the End
Christians have a tendency to be shortsighted in their application of scripture. This is especially true concerning Bible prophecy. To clarify, we often account for the immediate application but fail to account for the overarching prophetic application. For instance, the average Bible student reads the next passage and assumes the extent of Christ’s mission involved rescuing lost souls from Hell.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

A more thorough Bible study indicates that Christ came “to seek and to save THAT WHICH was lost.” While this would certainly include the saving of souls, the truth is not limited to a salvific application. After all, Adam lost much more than his personal fellowship with God when he surrendered to sin in the garden. Thus, the work accomplished by Christ’s coming was not limited to the redemption of souls. In fact, everything that Adam lost in the garden in Eden, Christ won back in a garden (John 19:41). Remarkably, this includes a future renewed access to the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem.

Many Old Testament features are representative of things in the future. For instance, the furniture designs given to Moses were intended to be representative of a greater design found in Heaven. The paradise in Eden, at least in part, resembled a greater paradise in the Lord’s dwelling place. As such, the correlation between the Tree of Life found in Genesis and in Revelation is by divine design. This correlation is best seen when considering three details: (1) the centrality of location, (2) the purpose of the produce, and (3) the permission to the Tree.

Detail
In the Beginning (Genesis)
In the End (Revelation)
Centrality of location
Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Purpose of the produce
Genesis 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Permission to eat
Genesis 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.


The details concerning the Tree of Life are provided to help correlate man’s past (Genesis) with man’s future (Revelation). Like Genesis, Revelation mentions the Tree of Life three times, yet Revelation points to the New Jerusalem as the Tree’s location. The Genesis account reflects the loss of man’s access to the Tree of Life while the account in the book of Revelation exhibits the fruit of Christ’s victory on Calvary—a renewed access to the Tree. As has been stated already, everything that Adam lost in paradise will be restored by “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45), which is Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Detail
In the Beginning (Genesis)
In the End (Revelation)
Centrality of location
Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Purpose of the produce
Genesis 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
Revelation 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Permission to eat
Genesis 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

The Revelation passages offer great insights into the Tree of Life while also introducing some profound controversy. In eternity future, according to Revelation 22:2, the purpose of the Tree of Life will be “for the HEALING of the nations.” Since man assumes that physical healing in the future is completely unnecessary, what does this healing entail? The referenced people already have eternal life (Matthew 25:46) and yet God provides them with a Tree that continually bears fruit whose leaves offer physical healing. Sounds a bit like a conundrum.

Like it was in the garden where Adam and Eve had natural bodies, the nations enter the Millennial Kingdom and eventually the New Jerusalem in natural bodies. Although they have eternal life of the soul, their bodies will require the Tree of Life for physical preservation. Unlike the garden in Eden, there is no indication of a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil for a repeat of the garden tragedy.
The Millennial Kingdom

If these simple truths do not arrest one’s curiosity, consider the trees referenced in the book of Ezekiel—specifically chapters 40 through 47. These chapters describe a future temple and a future temple worship. This temple description is larger and grander than any previous temple, including that of Solomon’s temple. The context also mentions the “many trees” at the bank of the river.

Ezekiel 47:7 Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.

Ezekiel 47:12 And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.

The timing can be further pinpointed as the Millennial Kingdom by considering that strangers are mentioned enjoying an inheritance AMONG the Jews.

Ezekiel 47:22 And it shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel.

The strangers who live among the Jews will receive an inheritance based upon which tribe they reside alongside. Yet, the narrative also mentions the performance of sin offerings.

Ezekiel 45:17 And it shall be the prince's part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel: he shall prepare the sin offering, and the meat offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel.

During this Millennial Kingdom, the Bible identifies a river gushing forth from under the temple altar that flows to the Dead Sea bringing life to this body of water. Additionally, it mentions trees, like that found in Revelation. “At the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other” (Ezekiel 47:7). The wording uniquely foreshadows the scene of Revelation 22:2 where the Tree of Life grows on “either side of the river.”

Also, peculiarly similar is the fact that the trees of the Kingdom “grow for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed [or exhausted].” Furthermore, the leaves of these trees are “for medicine.” The book of Revelation says of the Tree of Life: shall bring forth new fruit according to his monthswith which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month(Revelation 22:2). In both cases, the leaves were for healing (or medicine) with the purpose of sustaining PHYSICAL LIFE. So long as the nations eat of the tree’s produce (like in the garden with Adam and Eve), they would live forever. 


(Part 2: To be continued....)
Read HERE