by Rick Sterling
My name is Yahweh, I will not yield My glory to another, nor My honor to idols. See how former revelations/declarations have come true. Fresh things I now foretell; before they appear I tell you of them. (Isaiah 42:8-9)
The future is hidden to human-kind; which is why there is so much interest in prophecy. But how does one know which prophets to believe? We must first look at the record of their exact fulfillments; the best record for a human being is about 80-88%. Only the true prophets of God have a fulfillment percentage of 100%. The subject of this article is not a comparison of true and false prophets and their prophecies; it is a sequential expose’ of the past, present, and future revelations from God, which He has given to His prophets/messengers. The Son of God gave information about the distant future to His own disciples, Matthew and John; and they wrote this information in their accounts. Matthew wrote the prophecy in his gospel, chapters 24-26, John wrote the Revelation. Both of these writers also recorded prophetic parables in their accounts. The Prophet Daniel wrote prophecies concerning the “end of days”, both for the people of Israel and the people of the end.
The children of Israel had been chosen to fulfill a specific mandate, which was the restoration of God’s glory to this earth (See Numbers 14:21). There were certain requirements that must be accomplished before this could take place. The mandate of righteousness was expressly stated through the Law (of Moses) and the Judges; and later through the prophets of God. The account of this mandate is called the Law and the Prophets. God’s plan was purposed to the children of Israel based upon their performance of the requirements that were detailed in the Law of Moses. This part of the plan was ignored by Israel, mainly due to the successful efforts of the god/gods of this world. Through deception and subterfuge, Satan and his evil host had taken the authority to rule the nations from God. They accomplished this by deceiving the nations (Isa. 14:12-17). The restoration of the glory of God is the restoration of His authority over the people of His creation.
Then Peter went up to Him and said, ‘Lord how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22).
There is a specific limit to forgiveness, seventy sevens. I know that the common interpretation of these verses is that there is no limit to forgiveness, that Jesus was implying that we should forgive as many times as we are asked; but that is not specifically what He said. If there is no limit to the number of times one should forgive someone when asked, then the mandate for righteousness is a moot point. God has demonstrated this exact limit of forgiveness with the children of Israel. The first time Israel reached this limit was when there had been seventy “Sabbath year violations” (see Leviticus 26; Jeremiah 29:10; Daniel 9:2). Israel violated seventy Sabbath years; therefore they had reached their limit of forgiveness. Daniel chapter nine contains the second, and last, opportunity for Israel. The angel Gabriel revealed to Daniel the specific limit to accomplish the mandate given to the children of Israel, that being 70 weeks of years (see Daniel 9:24). As Israel was nearing this limit God sent prophets to warn them about the events about to take place. These prophets also revealed the events Israel would experience if they would only change their evil ways, ask for forgiveness (repent), and learn righteousness by making righteousness their only practice. Sadly, most of the nation ridiculed these prophets of God, refusing to listen to their warnings. Upon investigation it is evident that every word of these prophecies was fulfilled in detail.
Pride and arrogance always seems to trump the facts in evidence. The evidence reveals that everything God says will take place, in a given situation, and happens just as He said it would. The problem for human-kind is they have a distorted understanding of how God interacts with them. The scribes and Pharisees knew that the prophets of God were right, and that their “fathers” should have listened and obeyed the words of these prophets. Yet these same prophets had prophesied about the Messiah, the Messiah that these same scribes and Pharisees were plotting to kill. Why would they condemn their forefathers for the same arrogance they were demonstrating?
‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees; you hypocrites! You who build the sepulchres of the prophets and decorate the tombs of holy men, saying, ‘We would never have joined in shedding the blood of the prophets, had we lived in our fathers’ day”. So! Your own evidence tells against you! You are the sons of those who murdered the prophets! Very well then, finish off the work that your fathers began. (Matthew 23:29-32)
At one time or another we have all second guessed ourselves; “If I had it to do all over again I would have. . . “; this is called hindsight. The purpose of prophecy is to give us is the ability to see what we should do before it actually happens, and is behind us; in other words, it allows us the opportunity to see the end from the present. The evil one knows that all his well laid plans would be fully exposed if human-kind knew the end from the beginning, so he has cleverly co-opted the minds of those for whom these prophecies apply. The proof of this is found in the historical record. The greatest stumbling block to understanding God’s prophecies are the presence of paradigms based in falsehoods. Insight based in truth gives us the ability to know and understand these prophecies from God.
The following is a sequential revelation of the prophecies concerning the end of days. These prophecies speak as the voice of God to the world, a world about to reach the conclusion of its final chapter.
This account starts at the end of previous prophecy. The children of Israel had, for the last time, rejected their God, His Spirit, and their Messiah. There were many prophecies foretelling this. Here is one;
The Stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. (Psalms 118:22). Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation/people producing the fruit of it. (Matthew 21:42-43).
These words from God’s own Son, are woefully telling. This pronouncement was made after the retelling of a prophecy, given in the form of a parable (see Isaiah 5:1-7 and Matthew 21:33-41). Compare these with the prophecy in the context of a parable, describing a marriage feast (see my article “The Invitation”). Both prophecies/parables reveal the two opportunities Israel had to fulfill their God given mandate; they failed on both occasions (Rev. 14:8). With the second and final rejection of their Messiah/God’s Son (the heir in the parable), the privilege of accomplishing their purpose was permanently taken away from them. It was made available to those willing to meet the requirements to be included the kingdom of God. The parable of the “King and His invitation to the marriage feast of His Son” tells of these two rejections by those chosen to attend this wedding. After the final rejection the invitation was then extended to people of every nation, along with the opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God. The only thing that changed concerning the plan of restoration was the people to whom this opportunity was offered. It has always been open to anyone willing to abide by the covenant (Ten Commandments, Deut. 4:13) and obey the instructions of God. The people originally charged with accomplishing this were the children of Israel. This changed, and God’s word verifies this (Matt. 21:43). The Third and FinalKingdom appears as a result of the actions of those who have made a firm commitment to the accomplishment this plan for restoration (Dan. 2:44-45). After this FinalKingdom is established a new prophet and prophecy are no longer necessary. All the information needed for the accomplishment of the plan has already been given; specifically the prophecies of Daniel chapters two, seven, eight, ten through twelve; and also in Matthew, the parables and prophecies in chapters thirteen, twenty-four through twenty-six; and the book of the Revelation.
The prophecy of Daniel chapter two is a dream vision given to king Nebuchadnezzar. It is an over view of the kingdoms of the world to the end of days. In the end of days, the God in the heavens will see the final accomplishment of His kingdom, when it defeats the kingdom of the world. How does this happen? It happens because THIS Kingdom actually learns righteousness in fact, and practices it. It also calls those who are of the kingdom of the world to join with them in righteousness. This righteous Kingdom sets itself apart from the world, by following the instructions given by the Son of God and His faithful bondservants. It is said about them in Revelation 12:17, “These are they that keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus”. The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy (see Revelation 19:10).
Let us take a look at facts in evidence at the time Nebuchadnezzar had this dream vision. God had “divorced” his wife (first Israel, and then Judah) for continued acts of adultery. According to the Law, a divorce was only allowable for the act of adultery involving one of the parties to the marriage (see Isaiah 50:1, Jeremiah 3:8 and 31:31-32). The first wave of exiles from Judah had arrived in Babylon; some of the royal families were given tryouts for admission into the council of advisers. Here begins the account of one of the greatest prophets to have ever lived. In demonstrating acts of faithfulness to his God, Daniel was given high standing in the court of Nebuchadnezzar.
In Daniel chapter two, it is recorded that king Nebuchadnezzar was thinking about the future, wondering what would become of his kingdom after he died (see Daniel 2:29). Nebuchadnezzar knew that if he told his dream to his magicians and enchanters, sorcerers and Chaldeans, they would give him an interpretation; but it would be neither true nor valid. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream/vision concerned the far distant future, the end of days. It was displayed as a progression of world kingdoms that started with his own, and ended with a mixture of several kingdoms. Some of these kingdoms possessed the strength of iron, some were hard as baked clay; but like baked clay were brittle. During the time of this mixture of kingdoms the God in the heavens would establish a kingdom that would never be destroyed, nor would it be given to another people.
The elements of this prophecy reveal the final outcome for this world. Four great kingdoms of the world follow in consecutive order, from Babylon to Media-Persia, then Greece followed by Rome. Near the end of days there is a mixture of kingdoms, represented by the feet of the great image. The ten toes of the feet are the last ten kings to rule the kingdoms of the world. The kingdom that is significantly missing from the image is that of Israel. The stone that separates itself from the quarry (cut out without human hands) is a totally different group of people than those of any kingdom that has come before them. Remember the statement the Son of God made to the leaders of the Jews; “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to another people who will produce the fruit of it”. (Matthew 21:43). Please consider the evidence in this promise to the children of Israel in this statement of what was to be taken away, i.e., the Kingdom of Heaven.
The prophecy in Daniel 8:14 reestablishes this Kingdom of Heaven after an extended period of time, namely twenty-three hundred evenings and mornings.
The first replied, ‘Until two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings have gone by; then the sanctuary shall have its rights restored. (Daniel 8:14)
All restoration prophecy that occurs during the function of the restoration calendar is counted in day years (see rule 4 at spiritoftruthministry.net/STM). It is also clear that this time period was not 24 hour days. This is because the two animals, the ram and the ‘he goat’, represent the same two kingdoms as the silver and bronze, parts of the great image, in the dream/vision of Nebuchadnezzar. Significantly, there is also an ‘end of days’ reference included. This clearly is describing a period of time that takes two-thousand three hundred years to complete. The restoration of the sanctuary operates on behalf of the Kingdom of the Heavens. This prophecy was fulfilled in the year 1844 CE, when the ten bridesmaids went out to meet the Bridegroom; but the Bridegroom does not come (see Matthew 25:1-13). Note: that the Son of God calls these “bridesmaids” the Kingdom of the Heavens. This 1844 CE date also fits the time requirement in both the Dan. 2 and the Dan. 8:14 prophecy, as this is during the time represented by the feet of the great image. Daniel chapter nine contains important information to support this evidence.
‘Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city, for putting an end to transgression, for placing the seals on sin, for expiating crime, for introducing everlasting integrity, for setting the seal on vision and on prophecy, for anointing the Holy of Holies. (Daniel 9:24)
Daniel showed genuine concern for his people and their holy city, for good reason. Daniel knew there had been no real change in the character of the people since the beginning of the exile. He treasured the prophecy given to Jeremiah concerning the length of time the exile in Babylon would last, namely seventy years. He prayed that God would forgive His chosen people and remember the promise He gave to Jeremiah. God told Daniel that He would definitely keep His promise to allow the exiles to go home and rebuild. They had a predetermined length of time in which to accomplish the requirements issued in the prophecy. God revealed to Daniel that there would be four-hundred and ninety years (490), set aside out of the twenty-three hundred years (Dan. 8:14) for this purpose. This was given to “Daniel’s people” and “holy city”, specifically to accomplish the requirements for God to restore His glory to the whole world. It was in the middle of the seventieth week that the Son of God took this Kingdom of the Heavens away from the Jews, holding it in reserve until the end of the twenty-three hundred years.
When the Messiah explained the meaning of the “Stone” prophecy to the “builders” (the scribes and religious leaders), He described the end of one stone structure and the beginning of a whole new stone structure. The capstone/keystone is the last stone place, and when it is put in place the structure is complete. The Messiah was represented by this final/last stone. The builders recognized that this stone would not “fit” in their house, because they had not constructed the house according to the plans laid out by God; therefore they rejected this Capstone based upon their understanding/paradigm.
The chief cornerstone is the first stone laid in a new construction/house. The difference in this process is obvious. God had commissioned the children of Israel to construct a house (metaphorically), and had supplied the blueprint to follow to accomplish this. Prompted by the great deceiver, these builders had changed the blueprints to fit their own idea of how their house should be built, which reflected their own purposes (Jer. 8:8); therefore when the Capstone arrived it would not fit. The Capstone was not what the changed blueprint described; therefore the builders had to reject it as a fraud. After Jesus took the Kingdom from Israel, the Capstone then became the chief cornerstone of a whole new house. There is an important point in this understanding; with the placing of the perfect Cornerstone, the rest of the stones in the building will match the perfect pattern of the first Stone. The builder, who has the responsibility for accomplishing this, is the Father Himself.
John 15:1-3 ‘I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that bears no fruit He cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes to make it bear even more. You are pruned already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you. Make your home in Me, as I make mine in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in Me.
This testimony of Jesus confirms this change in responsibility. The prophet Isaiah reported that God had planted the vineyard and hired others to tend the vine. Now the vine is Jesus, and the One who bears the responsibility for maintaining it is the Father.
The instructions for the operation of the vineyard and the completion of the house have all been given, and are available for all who commit to seeing this plan through. There is only one house, with one foundation; the foundation “Stone” is the Son of God. There is only one vine, the Son of God; and the branches are all in Him, the true vine. Anyone who preaches/teaches that there are two houses, or that branches can be grafted onto the vine, is a liar. Doing this is an attempt to change the blueprint for the completion of the house or the vineyard. According to the words of Jesus there is only ONE way unto salvation; there is not one salvation for Jews and another for Gentiles. There is only one house, which is built upon one foundation. There is one vine with branches that are growing from it, there are not multiple vines from which to choose how to be saved. If any branch is cut off it will never be grafted back in to the vine. Any branch from another vine will never be grafted into the true Vine. Branches are cutoff or pruned; no branches are ever grafted in!
It was with a mighty hand that God separated Israel from the world, when He led them out of Egypt. At the end of days no hand separates the stone from out of the quarry. This brings us to a prophecy recorded by Matthew that answers the questions of the disciples of Jesus about the end of the age.
As explained above, at the end of the 2300 years the sanctuary in the heavens was properly restored. The sanctuary functions on behalf of the Kingdom of the Heavens; therefore, if there is no Kingdom of the Heavens on earth the sanctuary does not function. From the time that the kingdom was taken away from the children of Israel to the formation of the ThirdKingdom of the Heavens, the whole world was under the authority of the ruler of this world. The Woman (see Revelation 12) represents the Holy Spirit, which the Son of God promised to send when He returned to His Father. Her time in the wilderness is the time before the separating out of the Kingdom of the Heavens; the final Kingdom which WILL accomplish all of the requirements for righteousness. The truth necessary for the Kingdom of the Heavens to use in this tasking was preserved during this time, just as is stated in the prophecy of Revelation 12. The parable/prophecy of the wheat and tares (Matt. 13:24-30) is a true statement confirming that the truth will be protected by allowing the lies (tares) to coexist in the same place (field).
How this protection of the truth was worked out is brilliant, and could only have come from the mind of God. Most “believers” maintain the understanding that the testimony of Jesus applies only to Jews, and the testimony of Saul/Paul applies only to the gentiles (and any Jew who would also believe it). According to Paul, and these Christians, salvation for the Jews is accomplished through works of the Law, yet for gentiles salvation is a gift given according to faith through grace, and not through works of the Law (which, as was pointed out, is for the Jews). Therefore, there are TWO forms of salvation available; one for the Jew, and one for the Gentile. It is in this way that the true testimony of Jesus was distorted by the great deceiver, thus causing a different gospel to be preached to the world, and a different building to be constructed. The testimony of Jesus is protected from alterations simply by the fact that no ‘born again’ Christian would believe that this ‘different’ plan of salvation, that was taught by Jesus to His own disciples, applies to them; they believe that it only applies to Jews (Gal. 1:8-9). The knowledge that the Kingdom of God has already been taken away from the Jews (which Paul did not believe) is proof that this teaching of separate plans for salvation cannot possibly be true.
Between the years 1813-1844 CE there was a great awakening among Christians. A movement began through the efforts of William Miller, and others, that would become known as Millerites/Adventists and eventually organized as the Seventh-day Adventist church. The main theme of their message was the return of the Bridegroom, which they believed would occur in the year 1843 CE. That year came with high expectation, and ended with great disappointment. A brief rejuvenation occurred because of “new light”, but ended with an even greater disappointment; the Bridegroom did not return. Prophecy revealed this great disappointment; but although this movement was founded and built upon prophecy, this particular prophecy was never correctly understood.
Matthew 25:1,5 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten bridesmaids, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the Bridegroom. Now while the Bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.
The first line of this text confirms the fact that this group that went out to meet the Bridegroom is the Kingdom of the Heavens. The understanding that the
Sanctuary in Heaven functions only when there is a Kingdom of the Heavens present on earth presents with it a new understanding that we see in the fulfillment of the prophecy of the 2300 years. This new understanding is also seen in the fulfillment of the prophecy of the ten bridesmaids; the prophecy of the delaying of the expected Bridegroom, and the bridesmaids falling asleep. These bridesmaids were not the Bride, as they had originally thought. These bridesmaids were not taken out of the world “with a mighty hand”; no, they separated themselves from the world through their study of the prophecies in the Scriptures. Unfortunately they have not finished their work, because they have an incomplete understanding of the truth. The great deceiver wasted no time in taking control of this group, insuring that they would remain asleep forever. He knows that there will be someone that will come in the “spirit and power of Elijah” just prior to the end, and the Faithful and Wise Bondservant will restore all things. He will prepare his fellow bondservants (144,000). They will then awaken the sleeping Kingdom of the Heavens. Together they will prepare the bride of the Lamb, during the great tribulation.
To be continued
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