Elijah the Prophet

Posted in: 2005
By Tom L. Ballinger
Feb 23, 2008 - 4:32:20 PM

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Plainer Words Online …Elijah the Prophet

Have you ever seriously considered what the future role Elijah will play in the Lord’s Prophetic Program? Have you ever considered the time-frame in which his prophetic mission will take place? If you have, will your conclusions meet the test of rightly dividing the Word of Truth? Let’s ruminate concerning Elijah the prophet. The last two verses of the Old Testament in the English Bible (AKJV) concern him.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6).

The prophecy is that the LORD will send Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful Day of the LORD even commences.

The Day of the LORD begins with the Tribulation period. The Tribulation begins before the Lord Jesus Christ returns to earth. His return initiates His one-thousand year Parousia on earth. In plainer words, this Scripture tells us that Elijah comes on the world-scene before our Lord Jesus Christ does.

Not only that, but the Lord Jesus Himself verifies that Elijah must come first.

“And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias (i.e. Elijah) must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matt. 17:10-11).

These two “witnesses,” Malachi 4:5-6 and Matthew 17:10-11, establishes the truth that, truly, Elijah shall come before the Lord Jesus does.

Well then; does this suggest that we, as believers, should look for Elijah instead of Christ? The vast majority of church-going Christians are looking for the 2nd Coming of Christ. Should they, instead, be looking for the Coming of Elijah?

If those who embrace the Sacred Secret of Paul’s post-Acts revelation believe that the Kingdom of God is ushered in when Christ returns, and the Church which is His Body is received up into glory—should they, too, be looking for the appearing of Elijah?

During the “last days” of the “Dispensation of the Mystery,” will Elijah show up and begin turning the hearts of the Jewish fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their Jewish fathers? Of course, this is absurd. The Jews will not be re-gathered during this dispensation. Therefore, Elijah the prophet would not have a nation of Israel in which he could perform his prophetic mission. No wonder many of us have shied away from Elijah’s future ministry—in fact, many of us wouldn’t even touch the subject “with a ten- foot pole.” Why? Because, the truth set forth in Malachi 4:5-6 and Matthew 17:10-11 doesn’t fit into our scheme of right division. We refuse to find a place for Elijah’s significant work to “restore all things.” Truly, Elijah shall come first to restore all things.

As long as we refuse to acknowledge that God will impose Himself into the events of the world long before the Day of the LORD and will assume sovereignty over it, we can find no place for Elijah to accomplish his momentous prophetic ministry.

However, if we have “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” that the Day of Jesus Christ precedes the Day of the LORD, the ministry of Elijah falls right into place.

It must be noted here that Elijah does his great work in the time period and under the conditions brought about by the divine as¬sumption of sovereignty which inaugurates the Government of God upon the earth.

Matthew 17:11; “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things,” must be interpreted in the light of Malachi 4:5-6. This has to do with restoring the family ties and identities. Myriads of Israelites will be raised from the dead from all around the world and will be brought back to their Land of Promise. It will be Elijah who sets the families in order. Thousands of these will have no idea what family or tribe they descended from. The Lord knows, and He will direct Elijah. Elijah identifies who belongs to what tribe and who their fathers are.

This will be a great work of spiritual importance. It was God Who established the family unit. The family was the paramount unit for establishing order. Elijah will restore the families and inform them which of the Twelve Tribes they belong to. The restoration of the family units will be a blessing to Israel, and from them, it will be a blessing for all the families of earth. Men grouped according to their “family tree.” This indicates there will be a full return to the family system when God governs the earth.

It seems that Satan’s focus, ever since he has had dominion over the world, has been the destruction of the family. Think of Cain and Abel who were the first Biblical account of rebellion within the family. As time marched onward, it has gotten progressively worse.

Elijah will be the one who will indicate the exact boundar¬ies of the land God promised to Abraham, the geographical boundaries of the land allotted to each tribe, the division of Israel according to their tribes, the identification of Aaron’s family, the three divisions of the tribe of Levi, and the restoration of the judges and counselors as promised in Isaiah 1:26:

“And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellers as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.”

Elijah will restore the proper observance of the feasts. He, very likely, will identify the historical sites. It has been said that, today no one knows how Passover was observed during the time of Christ. All of these will be restored by Elijah when God governs the earth.

The prophecies of Malachi and the words of the Lord Jesus, con¬cerning the coming and the ministry of Elijah, have proved embar¬rassing to many students of the prophecies of things to come. They do not know what to do about a coming of Elijah and his great work before the return of the Lord. They have no room for this glorious event within the limits of their unyielding structure of prophetic interpretations. They steadfastly refuse to make room in their structure for the pre-millennial Day of Jesus Christ. I choose not to deny my Lord and Savior His Day of Exaltation.

Tom L. Ballinger

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

No. 112

Plainer Words Online …Elijah and John the Baptist

The LORD made a very direct, declarative statement in Malachi 4:5-6 that He would send “Elijah the prophet” to Israel before the Day of the LORD. That was a straight, forward statement. And that Elijah would turn the hearts of the fathers to their sons, and the hearts of the sons to their fathers. [The word “sons” in the Hebrew is “ben;” meaning sons, not “children,” as it is translated in the KJV] which indicates the restoration of the Hebrew family principle of “sonship.” The LORD did not imply that He would send someone in Elijah’s stead. He would send Elijah.

Many Christians have been somewhat confused on the ministries of Elijah and John the Baptist. Some Bible teachers insist that if Israel had repented, John the Baptist would have fulfilled Elijah’s mission. An example is the note in the Companion Bible on Matthew 11:14 (page 1331) where it reads; “Had the nation repented, John would have been reckoned as Elijah.” If this were accepted as Truth, it would make God’s promise of sending Elijah the prophet before the Day of the LORD a lie!

A number of folks have taught that a number of God’s promises were totally dependent on Israel’s response to them. Men have come up with ideas (or imaginations), such as; God offered the Kingdom to Israel, and Israel rejected His offer. He never made the offer; therefore, Israel couldn’t have rejected something that hadn’t been offered. This idea is ludicrous. Another false assumption was that when Stephen saw the heavens open up, in Acts 7:55-56, and Jesus “standing on the right hand of God;” had the persecutors repented, which included Saul of Tarsus, Jesus would have returned. This, too, is ludicrous.

The ministry of John the Baptist was not the same as that of what Elijah’s is to be. There were similarities, but that’s all. During the days of John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Pharisees, the scribes, the priests, and the leaders of Israel had “a thing” about who someone was.

In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked His disciples; “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”

They answered Him by saying that some think you are John the Baptist; some say, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets (vs. 14). By this time, John the Baptist was already beheaded. Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind around the year 896 B.C. (2 Kings 2:11) and then set down in a secret place [not heaven]. About fifteen years later he wrote a prophetic letter to Jehoram (see PWO; “Where Are They Now”). Jeremiah died around 477 B.C.

The priests and Levites asked John the Baptist who was he? He said he was not “the Christ.” Well, then, they asked; “Art thou Elias [i.e.Elijah]. And he saith, I am not” (John 1:21). John denied being Elijah the prophet. This should silence those who insist that John fulfilled the Malachi prophecy. He was not a false-Elijah. He was the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth. Zacharias was told by the angel of the Lord that he and Elizabeth would have a son and they were to name him John, and he shall go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; and to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 2:17).

This is exactly what John did. He went forth in the “spirit and power” of Elijah; preparing the people of Israel to receive Christ at His 1st coming, that is, in the days of His “flesh.”

While John was in prison, he had heard of the works of Jesus. Just to make sure he had been right, he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He was, indeed, the One who they were looking for? Then, the Lord Jesus said this about John:

“For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist…” (Matt. 11:10-11).

Matthew 11:13-14 has perplexed many; “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” Notice in the KJV the word “it” in the thirteenth verse; “it” is in italics, indicating the translators added the word “it” when “it” wasn’t in the Greek text. The wording doesn’t make sense to me; “and if you will receive it.” Evidently, we have here an ellipsis; meaning a word was intentionally left out, and the reader must mentally supply a noun or pronoun. The subject in question was John the Baptist, not it. John was the subject of the discourse. “It” is a pronoun and must modify a noun. It couldn’t be a modifier of “prophets” because it’s a plural noun. It doesn’t make sense for the word “law” to be modified by “it.” I think we must supply the ellipsis—which is “John.” Therefore, the idea to be conveyed was the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you receive him [meaning John], this is Elias, which was to come.

“This is Elias” is a Metaphor for John. A Metaphor is a declaration that one thing or person is another (or represents another). So, in plainer words, what the Lord Jesus told John’s disciples; “If you’ll receive John, then he will be an Elijah to you.”

Later, the Lord took Peter, James, and John up on the Mount of Transfiguration where they saw in a vision the Lord transfigured, and Moses and Elijah standing along side of Him having a conversation. Afterward, as they came down from the mountain, the three Disciples asked Him; “Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?” (Matt.17:10).

The statement here indicated the reason for the scribes’ unbelief (the scribes represented the religious establishment). They had not accepted the person and ministry of John the Baptist as “the Christ’s” forerunner. This meant they had no reason to accept Jesus as “the Christ.” As all detractors do, they said, in defense of their unbelief of John’s ministry, that “Elijah must first come.” Therefore, this Jesus could not be “the Christ.”

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him [imprisoned and beheaded him] whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them” (Matt.17:11-12).

Again, Elias is used as a Metaphor for John the Baptist. They knew him not and did to him whatsoever they wanted to. So, also, was the Son of man to suffer a similar fate at their hands. Now notice verse thirteen;

“Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist” (Matt. 17:13).

They, then, understood that even though the Lord spoke of Elijah, He was really speaking about John the Baptist.

To sum up this idea, the religious elite in Israel wouldn’t have accepted Jesus as “the Christ” [Messiah], even if Elijah showed up instead of John the Baptist. The religious elite knew that if the Kingdom came, they would lose their place in the nation. Their attitude was expressed in John 11:48:

“If we let him (Jesus) thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.”

Like all politicians, the chief priests, the Pharisees, and most all who made up the elite leadership of Israel were more concerned about their position and power in the conquered country than the liberty that would come to the people when the Christ [Messiah] would rule and “expel the Romans.”

When the chief priests and elders of Israel came to question the Lord Jesus, asking under whose authority did He teach and do what He did. Then, He asked them concerning the baptism of John; was it from the authority from Heaven [i.e. God], or of men? (Matt. 21:23-25). That put the religious elite in-a-pickle. They lied and answered and said; “We cannot tell.” Then, the Lord told the parable of the two sons. One son refused to go into the vineyard when he was first asked by their father. But, after that he repented and went to the vineyard. The father asked the second son to go, and he straightway went to the vineyard.

“Whether of them twain did the will of the father? Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him” (Matt. 21:31-32).

Perhaps the following was the thoughts of Israel’s religious elite as expressed in today’s American English: If the “sinners” believed in John he was certainly not to be believed. John came from the wilderness where he neither feasted, nor drank wine, not only that but he ate locust and honey, and he wore wilderness clothing. Certainly, that was a sign of an uneducated “redneck.” Who, in their right-mind, would believe such an unsophisticated rabble-rouser as him? Only the restless and turbulent masses!

As we pointed out earlier, John the Baptist’s ministry was to be somewhat similar to that of Elijah’s. However, not the same!

The angel of the Lord spoke to John’s father prior to the conception of John and said:

“For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb” (Luke

The angel added to this; “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God” (Luke 2:16).

Compare this with the mission of Elijah before the Day of the LORD. When the Kingdom of God becomes a reality and hundreds of years before the Parousia of Christ, Elijah will show-up and begin to turn the hearts of the fathers to their sons, and the hearts of the sons to their fathers. Elijah will not turn “many” but all, inclusively. Every father and every son in Israel, during the Kingdom of God, will be in the right relationship with each other. Whereas, John the Baptist was to turn “many” to the Lord before the Lord Jesus Christ began His earthly ministry. John accomplished this.

Not only did John turn many to the Lord, but he had an inner circle of disciples. It was in the formation of this inner circle of his immediate followers that he prepared a sure foundation for the work of the Messiah; for it was from this inner group that the disciples of Jesus were mainly drawn, and that with his consent. Several are named—Andrew and Peter. Some insist that John, the evangelist, was included in John 1:37. Years later, Apollos, who was a great preacher, knowing only the Baptism of John, was taken under the wing of Aquila and Priscilla and was taught the way of God more perfectly (Acts 18:24-26).

“And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 2:17).

God bless John’s heart! He said that he must decrease in order that Christ must increase. He did not insist that his disciples stick with him. He had prepared many to become the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. It has been said─ you hold on by letting go! John certainly did just that. Even after turning his disciples over to Christ, he kept right on going. He did not retire into the wilderness, but he went before Herod, the king, and denounced him for marrying Herodias, the wife of his own brother. It lost him his head, but it will gain him the world when the Lord Jesus Christ reigns from heaven.

In conclusion, it can be said the John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus of Nazareth and he manifested Jesus as Israel’s “Christ.” Whereas Malachi (Mal 4:5) names Elijah as the forerunner of ‘the great and terrible day of Yahweh,’” (International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia).

Tom L. Ballinger

No. 113 (Was not in this series of studies)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

No. 114

Plainer Words Online … The Ministry of John the Baptist

Part I

In the wilderness of Judaea, John, the son of a Levitical priest and a relative of Jesus of Nazareth, suddenly appeared on the scene and began preaching and baptizing as he called for Israel to repent. John the Baptist astonished his hearers when he announced that this expected, and hoped for, kingdom was "at hand" in the person of Jesus (Matt 3:2). Those who believed the Old Testament were expecting Elijah to be “the voice crying in the wilderness” as prophesied by Isaiah 40 and Malachi 3. However, as it turned out it was John the Baptist.

They were waiting for the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5 to be fulfilled: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”

Very much ground is covered in this prophecy. That is, from John’s crying in the wilderness; “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” to the time the actual Kingdom is established, “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

Sandwiched in between the two parts is the unprophesied Dispensation of the Mystery.

Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I will send my messenger (John the Baptist), and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord (Jesus Christ), whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to this temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

The word “Lord,” here is “Adonay (ad-o-noy'); an emphatic form of OT:113; the Lord (used as a proper name of God only): Strong’s Concordance in Number 136.

Israel had been without a prophet from God for 400 years—not since Malachi. When John the Baptist, seemingly coming out of nowhere and with no credentials, made his startling proclamation that the Kingdom of God was “at hand,” many were waiting for just such an announcement. The hearers were familiar with the expression of the “Kingdom of God.” While Christ was the central person of the Old Testament, the central theme of it was the coming Kingdom over which God would rule. Therefore, the Kingdom of God didn’t need to be explained to the Jewish audience. All of their prophets had preached about it; therefore, the need to explain it was not necessary since they were familiar with its nature.

Most Christians don’t understand, in Scripture, the “Kingdom” means the Government of God (Webster’s Dictionary of 1828). The Jews, however understood full well what the Kingdom of God meant which John the Baptist heralded; “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

Three people are identified as examples of those who were waiting for the Kingdom of God.

Mark 15:43― “Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counseller, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.” It says, “which also waited for the Kingdom of God” clearly indicates many in Israel were waiting for it to come.

Luke 2:25—“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.”

By implication, the “consolation of Israel” means Simeon was waiting for the Kingdom of God.

Luke 2:36-38― “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem (i.e. Israel).”

Matthew introduces John the Baptist; “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. [Notice Isaiah 40:4-5 is left out because they will not be fulfilled until the Epiphaneia] And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (Matt. 3:1-8).

John preached repentance because the Kingdom of Heaven (God) was at hand. He demanded “fruit” which was worthy of repentance. Note the parallel passage in Luke 3:7-8; “Then he said to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, ‘O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance’ …”

The fruits worthy of repentance are enumerated in Luke: 3:11-14. The works they were to show were—(1). If they had two coats, give one to him that had none, (2). He that had food let him do likewise, (3). The publicans were to collect no more than they were supposed to, and (4). The soldiers were to do violence to no man; neither accuse falsely and to be content with their wages.

John’s baptism was not an Old Testament baptism. It was not a Levitical washing or dipping. The baptism of John was unique. It was uniquely his own. He was divinely commissioned to do so (John 1:33). It was intimately associated with the proclamation that the Kingdom was “at hand.”

What was the purpose of John’s baptism? John 1:31 tells us in no uncertain terms that it was for the purpose of making Israel’s long-awaited Christ manifest to them. Their Messiah was in their midst. John’s baptism (i.e. his ministry) was to make known and identify their Messiah and future King.

Matthew 3:11 says; “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance …” The baptism unto repentance was for the purpose of “the remission of sins.”

Mark 1:4-5 states additionally; “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” Israel’s sins were weighty. Her moral and spiritual condition was sad, indeed. Isaiah spoke of her condition in his day, and that condition still existed.

“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (Isa. 1:4).

Those who submitted to John’s baptism admitted their condition—confessing their sins.

Notice what the Lord Jesus Christ said about John the Baptist after two of John’s disciples inquired of Jesus; “Art thou He that should come? Or should we look for another?” (Luke 7:19). The Lord Jesus performed many miracles and sent John’s disciples away telling them to tell John what they had witnessed.

“And when the messengers of John were departed, He began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:24-30).

The prophets were never part of the religious establishment in Israel. They were always outside the camp. Likewise, so was John the Baptist as was Jesus Christ.

Tom L. Ballinger

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

No. 115

Plainer Words Online …The Ministry of John the Baptist


Those who responded to John’s baptism message from God became the repentant ones of Israel. As those who submitted to John’s baptism, they formed a separate company within Israel. They were identified with Israel by birth. They were identified with Israel’s covenants by circumcision. Now, with John’s baptism, they became identified as the repentant ones in Israel. As such, they would form the new nation of Israel.

His baptism was unto repentance which was for the remission of sins. Israelites who were baptized by John were called out of Israel’s religious camp, out of the city of priests, out of the temple, out to the countryside, out to the foot of Mt. Sinai where Israel first heard the Law. They were called out beyond Jordan, by John the Baptist, to where the twelve stones marked the place of Israel’s crossing the Jordan.

John’s baptism was a time of national awakening, a time for the birth of a new nation—“the Israel of God” (Gal. 5:16) as opposed to Israel after the flesh. Paul referred to this new nation as “the commonwealth of Israel” (Eph. 2:12) to which Gentile believers, during the Acts period, were aliens.

We read in Matthew 3:13-17 of John baptizing the Lord Jesus; “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Even though Christ had no need for repentance, nor the need for the forgiveness of sins: because He was without sin (1 Cor. 5:21. Heb. 4:15) but He was baptized by John.

Mark 1:9 and Luke 3:21 are accounts of the baptism of the Lord Jesus. By birth He was the seed of David and by circumcision He was the seed of Abraham; thereby, He was identified with Israel. Now, with John’s baptism He was identified with the repentant part of Israel—who would become the new nation, the Israel of God, or the commonwealth of Israel, replacing those who would forfeit their place in the Kingdom.

Roman 9:6 says; “For they are not all Israel which are of Israel.” Just because they were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not mean they were to make up the true Israel of God.

Because of unbelief, those who by natural right were to have been heirs of the Kingdom will be cast out. Matthew 8:12 says; “But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

This indicates to me that the “new earth,” as mentioned in Isaiah 65:17, will have a geographical area called “outer darkness.” This will be where the Jews, who forfeited their “natural right” as children of the Kingdom, will be exiled. It will be there, in outer darkness, they will experience the woes of having “rejected the counsel of God against themselves” (Luke 7:30). I don’t think “outer darkness” will be the grave, nor do I think it will be outer space.

The Lord Jesus also said of those who forfeited their right because of unbelief; “… Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him” (Matt. 21:31-32). The self-righteous are to find no place in the new nation. Publicans and harlots will.

Isaiah has a very interesting prophecy regarding a “new nation.” Isaiah asked—“shall a nation be born at once?” Notice Isaiah 66:7-8; “Before she travailed, she brought forth, before her pain came, she was delivered of man child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” This is the birth of the new nation.

Zion travailed when Christ was crucified, but a new nation was born on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The Acts of the Apostles chronicles its’ birth, its’ growth, its’ citizens’ divinely-given-gifts of the Spirit, its’ engrafting of wild olive branches (Gentiles), and its’ rulers’ awesome authority with which they were endued with from on high. What Israel was to have been and forfeited because of unbelief, the Lord Jesus raised up a commonwealth that was submissive to Him and His Apostles during the years of the Acts Period. This new nation that was “born at once” is referred to as the “Church of God”—however, Paul also christens it the “Israel of God,” as well as, “the commonwealth of Israel.”

During the Acts of the Apostles, this new nation had a foretaste of the coming Kingdom of God. Hebrews 6:4-5 says that they had been enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.

This new nation functioned during the Acts period. Its’ King was enthroned in Heaven, He had rulers (the Apostles) upon the earth functioning under His direction, being guided by His Spirit, and exercising Divine authority as higher powers ordained by God (see Romans 13:1-7). Jesus Christ, as Sovereign Head of this new nation, designated Paul to be His ambassador to the nations (Rom. 11:13; 15:16; 2 Cor. 6:20). An ambassador is a representative of the highest rank sent by one government, or ruler, to another.

The churches that the Apostle Paul established during the Acts period were not churches in the sense that Christendom means by the word. The Acts period “churches” were technically Ekklesias. An ekklesia was the governing body of a Greek city-state. The Holy Spirit employed the Greek word, Ekklesia, as the name for the governing or ruling body of the new nation that He called-out and formed. Ekklesia is translated “church” in our English Bibles. Apparently, the real meaning of the word has been lost over time.

Each Ekklesia Paul planted was ruled, independently of the Roman Empire, over all who submitted to its’ authority. Each Ekklesia had its’ own rulers (bishops, deacons, and elders).

All issues between the saints were to be settled by the Ekklesia. They were not to go to the civil Roman courts to settle their disputes (see I Corinthians 6:1-8).

The Lord suspended His working through His new nation at the end of “Acts of the Apostles.” The Lord accomplished everything He intended to do at the time. Then, He suddenly ushered in His hidden secret purpose—the Dispensation of the Grace of God. A new and startling revelation was given to Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles (Eph. 3:1). Christ’s ambassador, the Apostle Paul, conducted his ambassadorship in prison and in chains for the express purpose of receiving the revelation of the Mystery (Eph. 6:19-20).

Tom L. Ballinger

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