Part 16. Final “summing up.”
Today is Pentecost Sunday, and from the point of view of this series, it is a good day on which to conclude the study. We have seen that the Feast of Pentecost is very much connected with resurrection, and so it might be a good day to pray that the Lord’s purposes will soon be filled up in connection with the calling out of His elect, and so bring in “the times of restitution of all things”, and the resurrections connected with the Kingdom age.
I personally have learned a number of new things in preparing this study. I think mainly that I have learned just how complex the subject is , and how little we really know of the coming age. I have tried not to “speculate”, but rather to take what material has been granted to us in the Bible, and examine that in detail, but the more I have done so, the more trouble I have had, because some things don’t seem to add up, and other things appear on the surface to be self-contradictory, and therefore the last thing I should wish is to present this series as a conclusive statement on the subject. However, even if this is the only conclusion, it may be that it has helped others to see that the usual concept of “The Rapture” as a singular event is hardly doing justice to the writings of the Apostle Paul.
In the series we have discussed the meaning of “every man in his own order, company, or rank,” the meaning of “firstfruit” and “firstborn”, the concept of “putting off” and “putting on” in connection with the actual change that takes place to those still alive, the “last trumpet”, the situation of Israel’s blindness, and what happens when the Lord removes the scales from their eyes. We have asked what it means to “meet the Lord in the air”, and the consequent discussion about “dimensions”, and we have devoted quite a bit of space to Paul’s emotive survey of his own life, and his expectation of being “caught up” to receive “the prize of the high calling.” This led on quite naturally to a further search of what the Lord meant by being “worthy”, and how it seems to divide believers into two companies, those who have been deemed worthy, and those who have, for one reason or another, missed out. Finally we broached the subject of the Harvest Festivals of Israel, and how they were given by the Lord to adumbrate the whole process of resurrection, from the time the first believers go through, until the end of all things.
That paragraph was my way of “summing up.” I am anxious to use that expression, because Paul used it in Ephesians. It is a most important statement, the force of which is seldom fully appreciated. Here it is from the Greek,“Having made know to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself, that in the outworking of the fulness of the seasons, He might sum up for Himself everyone in the Christ, both those who are in the heavens, and those on the earth, even in Him.” (Eph.1:9-10)
Paul was a scholar, and he never shrank from using long words when they were necessary. The verb translated “sum up for Himself” is one of the longest words in the whole of the N.T. ANAKEPHALAIOSASTHAI. It comes from the root KEPHALAION, meaning a summary. Just as I gave a very brief résumé of the 15 parts of this series, so in the end of the ages, the Lord will produce a final “summing up” of all His work by saying that everyone, both in heaven and on earth, is “in Christ.” I know that this causes deep seated problems for those who insist on an everlasting hell-fire, but it cannot be helped. If words mean anything, they must be taken and accepted for what they say, and that is most certainly the thrust of what Paul was saying in verses 9-10 of chapter 1.
I rejoice most heartily in what Paul said. I am reminded again of the words of Isaiah “He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.” What will satisfy the heart of God the Father? To put it in a word, that His own beloved Son, His Christ, shall be elevated above all, that every knee shall bow to Him, and accept that He is Lord of the Universe, Lord of Creation, Lord of their lives, Lord by virtue of creation and Lord by virtue of redemption. Truly, as the old song said, “There is wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.” This I believe to be the ultimate goal of God the Father, who will stop at nothing until He sees that His Son is worshipped, loved and adored by every being whom He has created. Nothing short of that will satisfy His great heart. Nothing short of that will erase the heartache of watching His Son on the cross of Calvary. Truly Jesus must be lifted up before all. There cannot be any final conclusion less than that.
I would like to leave you with something that has caught my attention and imagination over many years, and about which I have written in part in earlier messages in the Prophetic Telegraph. It is based on John’s Revelation of the Holy City in chapter 21. A casual reading of the chapter might lead to the impression that the New Jerusalem is a huge Cube, about 1,500 miles each way, and that John sees this Cube descend out of heaven to earth. In fact I have seldom seen any exposition of this chapter that does not view it that way.
But just because we read that “the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal” (verse 16) it doesn’t have to be cubic in design. It could equally well be seen as a pyramid, and in fact there is far more reason to suppose this to have been what John saw than a cube. First of all, I was fascinated to read in H.A.Baker’s little book, “Visions beyond the Veil,” that the Adullam children, orphans, taken off the streets, who were led to know the Lord through MrBaker’s ministry, actually had a joint vision of the Holy City. They described to Mr Baker what they were seeing as “three cities in one; one suspended above another, with the largest at the bottom and the smallest at the top, forming a pyramid.” (Page 40, para 2) The Lord spoke to one of the small boys, saying that His throne was at present in the upper city. (para 3)
In the second place, I believe that the Bible confirms this vision because of our Lord being called “the chief corner stone”. (Eph.2:20) A better translation would be “Capstone”, the Pyramidion, the top stone of the pyramid. This comes from the Greek AKROGONIAIOS. AKRO means “extreme, top”, and GONIA is “angle” (as in goniometer, an instrument for measuring angles.) Hence AKRO-GONI-AIOS means “top angle,” a very good way of describing the capstone of a pyramid.
A further clarification of this comes from the words our Lord quoted from Psalm 118:22, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head of the corner.” The Hebrew word for “head of the corner”, PINAH has the same meaning as the Greek of Eph.2:20, namely “capstone”. If the shape of the New Jerusalem is a cube, then all the stones would be of the same shape, but if it is a pyramid, then the capstone is a most singular stone, of a shape that is not repeated in any other part of the structure. No wonder the Jews rejected our Lord. They couldn’t place Him within the confines of their mental structure.
Having established Jerusalem as pyramidal in shape, (and realising of course that it is a picture, not a reality, because the city is composed of “living stones”) we are then drawn to the statement in Rev.21:2, “I saw the Holy City coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a Bride.” It would be better to translate this as “growing down”, rather than “coming down.” The “Capstone” remains in its heavenly position, and then the City begins to grow downwards towards the earth. The Adullam boys then saw three distinct stages of the city, each below the other, and getting larger as the pyramid grew, the number of people in each stage increasing as time goes on.
The next step is to consider these “three cities in one.” This brings us back to Revelation 12, where John saw the Woman, clothed in the Sun, with the Moon beneath her feet, and crowned with the 12-fold zodiac of stars. In the outworking of this figure, we find that three distinct companies of people are mentioned in the chapter, the first being the Manchild, then the Woman, and finally the “rest of her seed”. The Manchild is called up to the throne, and in resurrection becomes the next course of stone below the capstone. But notice this most important point. As soon as the course is added to the capstone, it is lost in its own intrinsic shape, so that from the outside all that is seen is alarger version of the Capstone itself. “This is marvellous in our eyes!” (Psa.118:22) None of the stones of the building have the same shape as the Capstone, but as each stage of the building is added below the Capstone, itmagnifies, enlarges the shape of the Capstone. What better way of expressing that the glory of the Lord is increased, and the glory of each individual member is only within the Lord’s own glory.
And so, as time progresses, the Woman, and then the “rest of her seed” are added to the structure until the Bride is complete. We must now return to Paul’s exposition in 1 Cor.15. He spoke of “celestial bodies” and “terrestrial bodies”, and then listed them – There is one glory of the Sun, another glory of the Moon, and another glory of the stars, and star differs from star in glory.” (Verse 41) These are the “celestial bodies”, the three phases of the elect church, the three cities in one that the Adullam children saw, and the three stages of the Woman of Rev.12.
But Paul also spoke further about the “terrestrial bodies.” He said, “All flesh is not the same flesh, there is one flesh of mankind, another flesh of animals, another flesh of birds, and another of fishes.” And finalising this particular aspect of his exposition, he said, “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” (Verses 39 & 42) It seems clear that Paul was adding to the figure, by making resurrection a seven-fold happening, whereby there are three celestial stages, forming the Bride of the Lamb, these being the ones “whose names are written in heaven,” followed by four terrestrial stages of those whose names are “written in the earth.” I mentioned this briefly in Part 1 of the series.
If this is what Paul meant, then could we envisage a growth of the pyramid with another four stages below those of the Heavenly Bride? I suggest this because of what I said earlier about God finally summing up everyone “in the Christ.” It is only by adding stages to the pyramid that the Capstone is magnified. If all creation ends up within these seven stages of growth of the pyramid, then the Capstone is seen progressively enlarged, and magnified. “Shall wemagnify the name of the Lord in this manner, within the pictorial setting provided by John?
I find it difficult to draw diagrams using Outlook Express, but if anyone wishes to make a little diagram of a seven-fold pyramid, then all these conclusions may be added to the diagram. The Capstone, of course, is the Eighth stage, and eight is the number of resurrection. With that I’ll close. I believe I have “magnified” the Lord, and that has been my primary objective.
Thank you for reading my series. Please let me know whether I have been of help. Some of you have done so already. Thank you. Maybe you have something further to add. If so I shall be most pleased to hear from you. My wife joins me in sending our sincere love in the Lord Jesus to all our readers.