8) The Last Days - Acts 2, Miracles, Wonders, Signs and Tongues
1) Some Questions?
2) Terms and Events of the Last Days?
3) Day of the Lord?
4) Receive Ye the Holy Ghost?
5) Pentecost - The Anointing of the Holy Spirit?
6) Tongues – This is That?
7) Tongues of Fire?
8) Tongues Today – Known or Unknown?
9) Signs, Wonders, and Miracles Today?
10) When Perfection Comes?
11) I Come Quickly Maybe?
12) Did Israel’s Clock Stop?
13) Signs of the End?
14) The New Covenant?
15) The Tribulation – The Last Days Again?
16) The Tribulation and The Uncircumcision?
17) A Closing Comment
-What is the meaning of the term the last days?
-When did the last days begin, and when will they end?
-Did Christ, the 12 apostles, James, and apostle Paul all indicate that the end of the age, and the return of Christ, would come very soon?
-If they did, what happened?
-What is the relationship between the last days and miracles, in the past, present, and future?
-Will certain events of the last days indicate we are approaching “the end of the world” (Matthew 24:3)?
-Are we in the last days now?
Terms and Events of the Last Days?
We will first look at the scriptures using the term “the last day” in the Old and New Testament, and the terms “latter days”, “last time(s)”, “day of the Lord”, and “the last day”. “(1) And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in last (319 from 310; the last or end, hence, the future; also posterity, latter) days (3117 era of time). (2) Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father…(10) The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a law giver from between his feet, until Shiloh (7886 an epithet of the Messiah) come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Genesis 49:1-10) This is the first occurrence of the term the “last days” in the bible, and the only place where the Hebrew word Shiloh (7886) is used, in other locations the word Shiloh (7887 a place in Palestine) is used. “(2) And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” (Isaiah 2:2-3) The only other places where the term the “last days” appears is here in Isaiah, and in Micah 4:1-2, which is almost an exact duplicate of the scripture in Isaiah.
The “latter (319) days” using this same Hebrew word as the last (319) days, is the most common interpretation of this word in the Old Testament where it occurs 12 times, one which is the “latter day” (Job 19:25). Events associated with scriptures using the latter days include: “(17) a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:14-17), “(30) When thou (Israel) art in tribulation,” (Deuteronomy 4:29-31), “evil will befall you (Israel)” (Deu. 31:29), “(25) For I know my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25-26), “(20) The anger of the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:19-20, 30:23-24), “captivity of Moab” (Jer. 48:47), “captivity of E-lam” (Jer. 49:39), “(18) Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord God, that my fury shall come up in my face. (19) a great shaking in the land of Israel;…(20) mountains shall be thrown down,…(22) an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. (23) I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 38:14-23), “(28) what shall be in the latter days…(44) And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven setup a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed:…, and it shall stand for ever.” (Daniel 2:28-44), “(14) Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days:, for yet the vision is for many days.” (Dan. 10:14), “Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.” (Hosea 3:5) All of the scriptures relating to the “last” and “latter” days in the Old Testament tell of a future time when the God of heaven will set up a kingdom, and events related to his anger and fury immediately before his coming.
“(1) God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets. (2) Hath in these last (2078 farthest, utmost, extreme) days (2250 dawn till dark, 24 hours, a period) spoken unto us by his Son,” (Hebrews 1:1-2). The last and latter days foretold in the Old Testament began when the Son spoke unto us. Other New Testament scriptures of the last days are: “(17) And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:” (Acts 2:17), “in the last days perilous times shall come.” (2 Timothy 3:1), “Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days” (James 5:3), “shall come in the last days scoffers” (1 Peter 3:3). Peter quotes Joel “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Jo-el;” (Acts 2:16), indicating the events occurring in Acts are the signs spoken of by Joel that indicated the last days had began, although Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us the last days actually began with Christ’s ministry (Luke 4:21). The scriptures including the terms “last time(s)” indicate they are within this same time period (1 Peter 1:20, 1 John 2:18, Jude 18), and the “latter times” (1 Timothy 4:1).
Day of the Lord?
“For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance,” (Jeremiah 46:10). “(18) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (19) To preach the acceptable (1284 approved, see Luke 4:24 accepted) year (1763 a cycle of time) of the Lord…(21) And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:17-21) In Luke 4:18-19 the Lord is quoted reading from “Esaias” (Isaiah 61:1-2), as it states in verse 17, but from Isaiah 61:2 (Luke 4:19) He fails to read “(2)… and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn:”. The “day of vengeance of our God”, is the “day of the Lord God” (Jer. 46:10). “(19) the acceptable year of the Lord”, was “(21) This day” fulfilled (Luke 4:19, 21), but the “day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2) was not fulfilled. Based on the Old Testament the Jews expected the Day of the Lord, and the establishment of their kingdom would immediately follow the coming of the Messiah (Luke 19:11), and Christ went on to tell a parable that indicated He would first go “(12) into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return” (Luke 19:12-27). In Luke 4:19 and 19:12-27, the Lord indicated there would be a gap between the “acceptable year of the Lord”, that is the beginning of the last days (Hebrews 1:2), and the beginning of “the day of the Lord”, a day of vengeance. A gap during which Christ will go “into a far country”, “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction (6862 enemy, adversary, trouble) they will seek me early.” (Hosea 5:15)
(14) The great day of the Lord is near,…(15) That day is a day of wrath” (Zephaniah 1:14-15), “(9) Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger” (Isaiah 13:9-13), “(11) the day of the Lord is great and very terrible, and who can abide it?” (Joel 2:1-11). “(7) Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jeremiah 30, Daniel 12:1-2). The day of the Lord is a time of the vengeance, wrath, anger, like never seen. Does the day of the Lord begin at the start of the 7 year tribulation? Apostle Paul tells the Thessalonians not to be concerned that “(2) the day of Christ is at hand (1764 instant, present)” (2 Thessalonians 2:2), the NIV translation is “the day of the Lord has already come”. “(3) Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away (646 defection, revolt, apostasy) first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (4) Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thes. 2:3-4) Paul indicates the day of Christ (day of the Lord), would not occur until the antichrist “sitteth in the temple”, which occurs at the middle of the tribulation (Daniel 9:27, Mat. 24:15), so this would place the start of the day of the Lord at the middle of the tribulation, the start of the “great tribulation” (Mat 24:21). “(10) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10-13) Peter places the end of the day of the Lord at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 21).
The term the last (2078) day (2250) includes the resurrections (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54, 11:23-24), and judgment (John 12:48), which would seem to include the time from the coming of Christ (Ezekiel 20:34-38, Mat. 25:31-46), until the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:11-15). Although most of the events associated with the last days occur within the period from Christ’s ministry, until his coming, the last days may include the period of the Millennium (Hosea 3:5).
Receive ye the Holy Ghost?
“And when he has said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:” (John 20:22) At Christ’s first meeting with the disciples after His resurrection, He made this statement, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost”. Considering this occurred before Christ final ascendtion (Acts 1:9), and before Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), which many consider to be the initial coming of the Holy Spirit, speculation about the interpretation of this verse continues. Two common interpretations are: (1) That this was an initial filling with the Holy Spirit, which occurred again at Pentecost, and again later (Acts 4:31), or (2) Christ was referring to what would happen at Pentecost, but did not mean that it was occurring at the time He spoke it. There is another possibility to consider, which may be understood by reviewing the sequence of events that occurred at the time this was spoken.
The scriptures that record the events that occurred the evening when Christ first met with the disciples after His resurrection are John 20:19-22, Luke 24:33-49, and Mark 16:14-18. Considering all that occurred that evening is not recorded in any of these alone, we can combine these scriptures to understand as much as possible. “(19) Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” (John 20:19, Luke 24:33, 36). “(20) And when he had said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.” (John 20:20, Luke 24:39-40) “(41) And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? (42) And they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and of an honey comb.” (Luke 24:41-42) Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided (3679 rail at) them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.” (Mark 16:14) “(44) And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. (45) Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, (46) And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” (Luke 24:44-46) “(21) Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (John 20:21, Luke 24:47-48, Mark 16:15-18). (22) And when he had said this, he breathed (1720 to blow at or on) on them, and saith unto them, Receive (2983 take, have, catch) ye the Holy Ghost:” (John 20:22). “(49) And behold, I send the promise of my father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued (1746 to put on, clothed with) with power (1411 force, miraculous power) from on high (5311 elevation, the sky).” (Luke 24:49) Why would Christ “breathed (1720)” the Holy Ghost on them, to fill them with the Holy Spirit, and then tell them to wait in Jerusalem, until they would be “filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:4)? Why would the Lord say “Receive (2983 take, have, catch) ye the Holy Ghost:”, while meaning, but not now? Possibly because He meant receive the Holy Ghost now.
The word breathed (1720) is derived from the two greek words with Strong's numbers (1722) and (5453). En (1722) means “at, on, or by”, and phuo (5453) means “to puff or blow i.e. to swell up; but is only used in the implied sense to germinate or grow (sprout, produce), spring up, grow of seed in Luke 8:6, 8.” “(8) And other fell on good ground, and sprang up (5453), and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (15) But that on good ground are they, which in honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:8, 15) “(13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,” (Ephesians 1:13-14) Christ opened their minds to receive the word (Luke 24:45), then they were given the word (Luke 24:46), which is the seed (Luke 8:11), “the gospel of salvation” (Eph 1:13, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4), the seed had fell on good ground (Luke 8:8), Christ “breathed (1720, 1722 + 5453) on them” (John 20:22), to germinate the seed and it “sprang up (5453)” (Luke 8:8), Christ said “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” (John 20:22), and they were “sealed with the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:13). “(11) he (Christ) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:” (Mat. 3:11-12), John 20:22 was the record of the first baptism with the Holy Spirit, no one understood the Gospel of Salvation before that time, even though Christ had told them before his death on the cross (Luke 18:34).
This greek word breathe (1720 emphutos) is only used this one time (John 20:22) in the New Testament. This same greek word is used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) to interpret the Hebrew word naphach (5301 primary root to puff). This word is used in such scriptures as “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed (5301) into his nostrils the breath (5397 a puff, i.e. wind, angry or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect, a breathing being) of life, and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7), and “Then said he unto me, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind. Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath (7307 Spirit, spirit, wind), and breathe (5301) upon these slain, that they may live.” (Ezekiel 37:9) “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted (1721 implanted, from 1722 and 5453) word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21) Notice (1721) is derived from the same two words (1722 and 5453) as the word breathed (1720).
Pentecost – The Anointing of the Holy Spirit?
“And being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” (Acts 1:4) What was the promise of the Father? “(49) And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued (1746 put on, clothed with, sinking into a garment) with power (1411 force, miraculous power) from on high.” (Luke 24:49) “But ye shall receive power (1411), after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:” (Acts 1:8). The apostles were to wait to begin their ministry (Acts 1:8), until they received power. Why?
“How God anointed (5548) Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power (1411) :” (Acts 10:38) The word chrio (5548) means “through the idea of contact; to smear or rub with oil, i.e. (by implication) to consecrate to an office or religious service.” “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed (5548) me…” (Luke 4:18, Isaiah 61:1), and other scriptures speak of the anointing of Christ (Acts 4:27, Hebrew 1:9) “(16) And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straight way out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (4058 or pigeon), and lighting upon him: (17) And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mat. 3:16-17) William MacDonald comments in his Believers Bible Commentary on page 1212 about these verses “Just as persons and things in the OT were consecrated to a sacred purposes by (the holy anointing oil, Exodus 30:25-30), so He was anointed Messiah by the Holy Spirit.” By this anointing Christ was “(31) made manifest to Israel” (John 1:29-34), He received power (1411) from the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38), He was tempted (Mat. 4:1-11), then immediately after He began his ministry (Luke 3:22-23). Christ did not begin his ministry until he was anointed by the Holy Spirit.
“(32) And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode (3306 remain, stay, dwell) upon him.” (John 1:32) “(3) And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat (2523 settle, hover, dwell) upon each of them.” (Acts 2:3) These events sound similar, but why did the Holy Ghost appear as a dove at Christ’s baptism, and cloven tongues like as of fire at Pentecost? “the Spirit of God moved (7363 shake, flutter, to broad) upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2), this same word is used in “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, flutter (7363) over her young” (Deuteronomy 32:11), related to Jacob (Israel). A dove returns to Noah with an olive leaf (Genesis 8:11), Israel is later called “A green olive tree” (Jeremiah 11:16). Also note “harmless as doves (4058)” (Mat. 10:16), and Psalm 55. As for Pentecost and tongues like as of fire, God appeared to Abraham (Genesis 15:17-18), Moses (Exodus 3:2), and at mount Sinai (Exodus 19:18) as fire. Fire represents purification (Isaiah 6:5-7), and judgment (Jude 7, Hebrews 10:27). Tongues of fire will be further explained. Although the events are similar, we can see a purpose for the different appearance of the Holy Spirit in these two instances.
When the Holy Ghost sat upon those at Pentecost, they received power, then they began their ministry. In the Old Testament priest’s (Exodus 28:41, 29:7), and kings (1 Samuel 9:16, 10:1, 16:3, 12-13) were anointed before beginning their ministry or office. After king Saul was anointed “(10) the Spirit of God come upon him, and he prophesied” (1 Sam. 10:10), and after king David was anointed “(13) the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward” (1 Sam. 16:13). “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father;” (Revelation 1:6). “(26) But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26) “(27) But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” (1 John 2:27) But if others were filled with the Holy Spirit before Pentecost (Luke 1:15, 41, 67, 2:25, 1 Peter 1:11), what was different about the filling at Pentecost (Acts 2:4)? The battle between good and evil will involve extraordinary powers in the last days (Acts 2:16-21, Revelation 11:1-14, 13:11-15), the promise of the Father to believers is that in the last days they will be “endured with power on high.” (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4, 8) by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
“(7) Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter (3875 intercessor, consoler) will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7) But we know the Holy Spirit is Omnipresent (Psalm 137:7-13), He has always been everywhere. Some feel the Holy Spirit was abiding in heaven until Pentecost, and came to abide on earth at that time, to baptize believers into the body of Christ, and that He will be withdrawn to abide again in heaven (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12) at the time of the Rapture. “(16) And I pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever (165 an age, Messianic period)” (John 14:16). “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world (165)?” (Mat. 24:3) The disciples associated “the end of the world (165)”, which is the same word as “forever (165)”, with the return of Christ. The Holy Spirit would be with them at least until the return of Christ.
“(16) But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; (17) And it shall come to pass in the last (2078 farthest) days (2250 a period), saith God, I will pour out (1632 spill, shed, bestow) of (575 off, away, from, out of) my Spirit upon all (3956 any, every, all men, everyone) flesh (4561 meat, body, a human being): and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:” (Acts 2:16-17). “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth (1632) this, which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33) What is poured out (1632 spill, shed, bestow) of (575 off, away, from, out of) the Spirit in Acts 2:17, is shed forth (1632) in Acts 2:33, it is seen and heard. It was the miracle of tongues that resulted from the pouring out of (575) power by the Holy Spirit. Would this power be poured upon “all (3956 all men) flesh (human beings)”, believers and unbelievers? Many say when Joel stated all flesh, he really meant all believers. The “tongues like as of fire” (Acts 2:3), may indicate Joel meant exactly what he said, as discussed below under the Tongues of Fire.
“(13) If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13) Is Christ telling the disciples that they may ask and receive the Holy Spirit before He came at Pentecost? William MacDonald comments on this verse in his Believer’s Bible Commentary on pages 1412-1413 “In the original Greek, verse 13 does not say that God will give (the) Holy Spirit, but rather He will (give Holy Spirit) without the article. Professor H.B. Swete pointed out that when the article is present, it refers to the Person Himself, but when the article is absent, it refers to His gifts or operations on our behalf. So in this passage, it is not so much prayer for the (Person) of the Holy Spirit, but rather for His ministries in our lives.” E.W. Bullinger comments in his Lexicon of the New Testament on the Holy Spirit on page 881 “The article is not used when the reference is to the gifts, operations, or manifestation of the Spirit in man. Nor when (the Spirit is regarded subjectively. Nor when the disciples are said to be filled with the Spirit, to walk in or to receive the Spirit.” “And they were filled with the Holy Ghost…” (Acts 2:4). William MacDonald comments on this verse in his Commentary on page 1583 ‘Up to now, the Spirit of God had been with the disciples, but now He took up His residence in them (John 14:17).” Unfortunately MacDonald fails to note that the article (the) is absent in this verse also, (And they were all filled Holy Ghost) (Acts 2:4), and for the same reason that he stated in his explanation of Luke 1:13, Acts 2:4 refers to the filling of believers with the power of the Holy Spirit, not the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Tongues – This is That?
In Acts 2:16-17 Peter explains why “(5) Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.” had heard “Galileans” (Acts 2:7), that had been filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:4), speaking “(11) the wonderful works of God”, “(6) in his own language” (Acts 2). Note the apostles were probably all Galileans (Acts 1:11), except possibility Judas Iscariot (2469 keriothite). They knew those speaking could not know their languages by any natural means (Acts 2:6-13). Peter explained that “this” physical miracle, that the “Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth (1632) this, which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33), speaking in “tongues” (Acts 2:4,11), was a result of “that”, “(28) I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28-32), that the prophet Joel had said would occur during Israel’s last days. By Peter’s explanation these Jewish unbelievers knew that this was a sign from God that Israel had entered into their last days. But why would tongues be a sign of specific meaning to these Jewish unbelievers, “(5) out of every nation under heaven.” (Acts 2:5), that had come to Jerusalem for Pentecost?
“(21) In the law it is written, with men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. (22) Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not:” (1 Corinthians 14:21-22). In verse 21 Apostle Paul refers to a scripture in Isaiah “(11) For with stammering (3934 baffon, foreigner, mocker) lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. (12) To whom he said, This is the rest where with ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.” (Isaiah 28:11-12) George Williams comments on Isaiah 28 in his Complete Bible Commentary on page 482 “Verses 9 and 10 are to be understood as the mocking words of the scornful men of Jerusalem (v. 14)…For (v.11), i.e., nay, verily. The Prophet taking their taunting words out of their lips, turns them against themselves, and predicts that God, through the Assyrians, would speak to them in another tongue and in a language that would sound jabbering to them.” The Jews understood that this was not only a miracle, but it was a miracle specifically to prove to them that God had fulfilled the prophecy He had given through Isaiah, to scatter them among the other nations, and then to speak to them in the tongues of those nations, since they refused to listen to Him speaking in their own language through Isaiah (Also see Deuteronomy 28:45-50, Jeremiah 5:11-15).
Tongues of Fire?
“(1) And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord (3361 unanimously) in one place. (2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing (5342 to bear, carry, bring) mighty (972 violent) wind (4157 to blow, breath synonym for Pheuma 4151 Spirit), and it filled all the house where they were sitting. (3) And there appeared unto them cloven (1266 partition thoroughly, divide, part) tongues (1100 a language, organ of speech) like as of fire (4442 lightning), and sat (2523 sit down, hover, dwell) upon each of them. (4) And they were all filled (4130 imbue, influence, supply, accomplish) with the (“with the” is not in greek text) Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit (4151 a current of air, breath, breeze) gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4) The word most often used for Spirit or spirit (7307) in the Old Testament, is used for wind 92 times, and breath 27 times. Those hearing this sound would most likely associate it with the Spirit of the Lord. But what about visible “tongues like as of fire” that sat “upon each of them”? Note that neither the wind, or tongues of fire, are indicated to enter into them, and there was the “sound”, “as of wind”, but not physical wind.
“(27) Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue (3956 instrument of licking, eating speech) as a devouring (398 eat, consume) fire: (28) And his breath (7307 Spirit, spirit), as an overflowing (7857 to gush, inundate, cleanse, rinse, wash away, drown) steam, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift (5299 lifting, height) the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.” (Isaiah 30:27-28) “(11) he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (12) Whose fan (4425 winning – fork) is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge (1245 cleanse perfectly, winnow) his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Mat. 3:11-12) Harper Collins Bible dictionary defines a Sieve as “a perforated plate or screen used for separating grain from chaff…, shaking motions that would agitate the contents and separate them. (Amos 9:9, Isa. 30:28, Luke 22:31)”. They define winnowing as “the process by which threshed grain is separated from chaff.” In Isaiah 30:27-28 the nations will be sifted with a sieve, grain separated from chaff, and the Lord’s tongue of fire will devour the chaff. In Matthew 3:11-12 the Lord will baptize with fire which will purge (winnow) his floor using a fan (winnowing – fork), and He will burn up the chaff. The result is the same, the nations will be cleansed, believers separated from unbelievers, believers gathered, unbelievers devoured by fire, in Isaiah 30:27 by “his tongue as a devouring fire”.
As previously explained Apostle Paul refers to Isaiah 28:11, in his explanation of the purpose of speaking in tongues to unbelieving Jews. The chapters of Isaiah 28 through 35 explain the link between baptism by fire, tongues of fire, the Lord’s tongue as a devouring fire, and speaking in tongues to unbelieving Jews. Some say baptism by fire (Mat. 3:11), results in the judgment of unbelievers in Matthew 3:12. Others say baptism by fire, results in believers being “endued with power (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:8) by tongues like as of fire at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Isaiah 28 through 35 explains how baptism by fire does both. “(5) In that day shall the Lord of host be for the a crown of glory, and for diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people. (6) And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength (1369 force, power, mighty acts) to them that turn the battle to the gate.” (Isaiah 28:5-6) “tarry ye in the city Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power (1411 force, strength, mighty work) from on high.” (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:8) In Isaiah 28 God said He would give strength (1369 force, power, might acts) to the residue of believers, at Pentecost believers received power (1411 force, strength, mighty work). In 1 Corinthians 14:21 Paul quotes Isaiah 28:11 a few verses after Isaiah 28:5-6, explaining why this results in a sign for unbelieving Jews. Peter quoted Joel in saying “I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh” (Acts 2:17), to unbelievers his tongue is a devouring fire (Isaiah 30:27), but to believers this same tongue gave power and strength. This was the result of the pouring out of the Spirit during “last days” of Israel (Acts 2:17).
“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? (Luke 12:49) “(16) For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead (8199 judge i.e. pronounce sentence for or against; by implications to vindicate or punish) with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.” (Isaiah 66:14-19) “For everyone (3956) shall be salted (233 to sprinkle, season with salt) with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted (233) with salt.” (Mark 9:49, Leviticus 2:13, Deuteronomy 29:23) George Williams comments about Mark 9 on page 737 of his Complete Bible Commentary “All followers of Christ, including John and the man whom he rebuked (v. 38), will be salted with fire (v. 49), i.e., tested by trial;”, and “Fire and salt are symbols of purifying and preservative judgment (vs. 33-50). For the Christian the fire is chastening in its action and only consumes the flesh (1 Cor. xi. 31 and 32). The fire of 1 Cor. iii. 15 affects doctrine and not conduct. This fire destroys the theory of purgatory. For the non – Christian the fire is eternal and destroys both soul and body in hell (Matt. x. 28).” Some other related scriptures include: Psalm 29:7, Deuteronomy 4:24, 30, Malachi 3:2-3, 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 2 Peter 3:10-13, Revelation 8:7-8, 11:5, 14:10, 18, 16:8, 18:1-8, Isaiah 4:3-5, 5:24, 11:4, 24:6, 19-20, 28:22, 29:5-6, 30:27-33, 31:9, 32:15, 33:5-14, 19, 24, 34:4, 8-10, 35:4-6.
Tongues Today – Known or Unknown?
“(22) Wherefore tongues are for a sign (4292 miracle, indication of something hidden), not to them that believe but to them that believe not:” (1 Corinthians 14:22). As previously discussed apostle Paul refers to Isaiah 28:11-12 in 1 Cor. 14:21, and explains why the purpose of tongues is a sign for unbelieving Jews. As Peter explains it is a sign of the last days of Israel, the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel (Acts 2:16-21, Joel 2:28-32). This is exactly what happened at Pentecost, when Jews “(5) out of every nation under heaven.”, “(6) heard them speak in his own language.”, “(7) And they were all amazed (1839 put out of wits, astound, insane)” (Acts 2:5, 6, 7, 12). The “Jews and proselytes” (Acts 2:10) of Judaism, unbelievers of the gospel of Christ (Acts 2:22-38), had no doubt this was an obvious sign miracle. As Paul indicates “(10) to another divers kinds (1085 kin, offspring, nation, country) of tongues” (1 Cor. 12:6-10), those speaking various tongues as a miracle sign, would be speaking known languages associated with various nations, people, and countries.
“(27) If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at most by three, and that by course (3313 part, division, NIV one at a time): and let one interpret. (28) But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church: and let him speak to himself, and to God.” (1 Cor. 14:27-28) Apparently a problem had developed at the church of Corinthians with more than one person speaking in tongues at the same time, and some speaking a language that could not be understood, without an interpreter. Although Paul said “(18) I thank God, I speak with tongues more than ye all”, and “(39) forbid not to speak with tongues” (1 Cor. 14:18, 39), he seemed to somewhat discourage speaking in an unknown tongue in the church. Paul said “(19) Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. (20) Brethen, be not children in understanding: how beit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” (1 Cor. 14:19-20)
If tongues is a sign to unbelieving Jews, by speaking to them in the languages of the countries in which they have been scattered, what is an unknown tongue? “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,” (1 Cor. 13:1), some suggest an unknown tongue may be a tongue which angels speak, that men can not understand, except by spiritual interpretation. Another possibility is that a person could be speaking in an existing language of man, but no one that understands it is present at that time, therefore it would require a spiritual interpretation. “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man (3762 none, nobody, no man, not even one) understands him; how be it (1161 but, and, now, then) in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” (1 Cor. 1:2) Paul states when an unknown tongue is interpreted, it may contain mysteries of revelation, knowledge, prophesy, or doctrine (1 Cor. 14:5-6), but without interpretation it is like “(9) ye shall speak into the air” (1 Cor. 14:7-10), that others will think you are a “barbarian” (1 Cor. 14:11, and “ye are mad” (1 Cor. 14:23).
So are those that say believers speak in tongues today, referring to known or unknown tongues, or both? When they speak in an unknown tongue in the church, are they always using an interpreter, always speaking in course, that is one at a time, and no more than three at one service. If not is this disobedience to “(37) the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Cor. 14:37) And what about known tongues? Is anyone today speaking in known tongues? That is speaking a language they have not learned, declaring “the wonderful works of God.” (Acts 2:11), to unbelieving Jews and others in their own language? If no one is speaking in known tongues, then what changed? If believers do not speak in a known tongue due to a lack of faith, it would have to be a lack of faith on their part, because “tongues are for a sign,…to them that believe not”.
Signs, Wonders, and Miracles Today?
Are miracles today similar to those performed by Christ and the apostles? A son is raised from the dead and there are “much people” present (Luke 7:11-17), a man who was “born blind” (John 9) was healed, a man with a “withered (3583 shrivel) hand” (Mark 3:1-5), a man “lame (5560 crippled) from his mother’s womb” (Acts 3:2), and “lepers (3015 rough scaly patches)” (Luke 17:11-19), were all healed. The miracles were visible and obvious, and even the Pharisees who did not believe, could not deny the miracles were real, “Then gathered the chief priest and the Pharisees, a council, and said, What do we? For this man doeth many miracles.” (John 11:47). Either “many” (Mark 1:34, 3:10) or “all” (Mat. 12:15, Luke 4:40, 6:19, Acts 5:16, 10:38) were healed in most cases, and they were healed “immediately” (Mat. 8:3, 20:34, Mark 1:31, 42, 2:12, 14:43, Luke 5:13, 25, 8:44, 18:43, John 5:9, Acts 3:7). The miracles performed by Christ, the apostles, and others (Acts 8:5-7), were obvious, visible, miraculous, numerous, instant, and even unbelievers could not deny them (Acts 4:16). Is this typical of miracles during our time?
What was the purpose of the miracles? “(30) And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: (31) But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:30-31) The purpose was “that ye might believe”. Due to the fact that healing was so often associated with faith (Mat. 8:5-13, 9:20-22, John 11:25-27, Acts 14:9), many believe that healing is a blessing granted to believers who have great faith. Then many today with the greatest faith, wonder why they or a loved one are not healed, and may believe it is still due to insufficient faith. There is no reason to believe faith was any greater at that time than today (Mat. 6:30, 8:24-26, 17:14-18, Mark 16:14, John 12:37). When apostle Paul “(8) besought the Lord thrice”, that his “(7) thorn in the flesh”, “(8) might depart from me”, God told him “(9) My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength (1411 miraculous power) is made perfect (5048 complete, accomplish, fulfill) in weakness” (769 infirmity, diseases, sickness).”, then Paul said “(9) Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities (769), that the power (1411) of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) God told Paul “my strength (1411) is made perfect ( 5048) in weakness (769).” Is there any reason to believe this does not apply to all believers? This does not mean that today God does not heal, “(14) if we ask anything according to his will” (1 John 5:14-15), but we should remember God’s strength is made perfect in weakness”, and John said the miracles were “that ye might believe”, not because you believe.
John said “(31) that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:30-31). “(48) Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” (John 4:46-54) In Jesus Christ’s own home town “(6) he marveled because of their unbelief”, (5) And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.” (Mark 6:1-6) If the signs were so that those in unbelief, such as in his hometown, would believe, then why would He “do no mighty work”, not perform many miracles there? “(23) Physician heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.” (Luke 4:17-28, Mat. 13:53-58). They were aware of the miracles Christ had performed in Capernaum, and He knew they would continue to deny the truth, even if He performed more miracles. This is the same type situation as when Christ heals a man “(22) blind and dumb”, the Pharisees charge “(24) This fellow do not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.”, they knowingly denied the miracles of Christ, “(32) but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him,” (Mat. 12:22-40). “(38) Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. (30) But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:” (Mat. 12:22-40) Should believers “seeketh after a sign”? Christ could have performed any kind of sign, but still they would not have believed. “(24) If thou be Christ, tell us plainly. (25) Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believe not: the works that I do in my Fathers name, they bear witness of me.” (John 10:24-38) The purpose of the miracles of Christ were to prove “Jesus is Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:30-31, 9:3, 14:11, Acts 2:22, Hebrew 2:3-4), to those who would believe, including the miracles of nature (Mat. 8:23, Mark 6:30, 6:48, Luke 4:30, 5:1, John 2:1, 21:1). Even then some would only “(13) for awhile believe,” (Luke 8:1-15, John 2:23-25, Hebrews 6:4-6).
What is the purpose of signs, wonders and miracles, after Christ ascended to heaven (Mark 16:19, Acts 1:11)? “(17) And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (18) They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover…(20) And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming (950 establish) the word with signs (4592 indication, miracle, token) following. Amen.” (Mark 16:17-20) The words miracles (1411), wonders (5059 prodigy, omen causing marvel), and signs (4592), are sometimes used in the same sentence (Acts 2:22), and although sometimes interchangeably, can also have different meanings. Strong’s Concordance with Vines comments on signs (4592) “Semeion is a manifest deed, having in itself an explanation of something hidden and secret, It denotes a sign, mark, indication, token, is used of that which distinguished a person or thing from others.” Notice that tongues is specifically a sign “(22) not to them that believe, but to them that believe not:” (1 Cor. 14:21-22). The purpose of signs are to confirm the word, drawing the attention of unbelievers (Acts 2:37, 3:12, 5:12-16, 6:7-8, 8:5-7, 14:1-3, 16:27-30, 19:8-19). “(16) Saying, what shall we do to these men? For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.” (Acts 4) Are miracles performed today that cannot be denied by unbelievers?
These signs were a result of the “power (1411)” (Acts 1:8) that was being poured out of the Spirit, which “(17) shall come to pass in the last days” (Acts 2:17). These signs not only included healing, they included other miracles and wonders such as Peter and others freed from prison by an angel twice (Acts 5:19, 12:6-11), Philip moved to another place by the Spirit (8:39), Paul blinds Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:11), Agabus prophesizes a world famine and Paul’s imprisonment (Acts 11:28, 21:10), an earthquake opens prison doors and loosed the bands of Paul and everyone in prison (Acts 16:26), Paul bitten by viper unharmed (Acts 28:3). This power was so great that people were healed by Peter’s shadow (Acts 5:15), and “handkerchiefs or aprons” (Acts 19:12) that Paul had touched. “(12) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12-14) There is no reason to believe the signs would be any less obvious, visible, miraculous, numerous, instant, and undeniable to unbelievers now, than in the past, unless something changed. The signs were “confirming the word”, but they were also confirming that the “last days” for Israel had began (Acts 2:17-22, Joel 2:27-32). Is that the purpose and result of miracles today? “(22) For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: (23) But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (24) But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24)
When Perfection Comes?
“(8) Charity never failth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail (2673 entirely: die, destroy, abolish), whether there be tongues, they shall cease (3973 restrain, cease, refrain, willing cessation); whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away (2673). (9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. (10) But when that which is perfect (5046 complete, finished, full age) is come, then that which is in part shall be done away (2673)…(12) For now we see through (1223 by, with, for) a glass (2072 mirrow), darkly (1722 in, by, with, +135 obsceneness); but then face (4383 front, appearance, surface, presence, person) to face (4383): now I know (1097 understand, perceive) in part, but then shall I know (1921 recognize, acknowledge, know well) even as also I am known (1921). Prophecies and knowledge will be abolished (2673), and tongues will be restrained (3973), “when that which is perfect is come”. Many believe “that which is perfect” is the completion of the New Testament, and the time “is come” was the time of its completion. They believe the gifts ceased at that time, and point to the fact that not only apostle Paul was not healed as that time approached (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), but also Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23), Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:26;27), and Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20), were not healed. Others feel that “when that which is perfect is come”, a time when we will see “face to face”, means at the time when we see Christ “face to face”, and therefore the signs are the same today as they were at the time of the apostles.
We can compare scriptures to try to determine what is “that which is perfect”, and when “is come” will occur. “(12) but then shall I know even as also I am know.”, note the word then refers to the time when the perfect “is come”. The NIV translation of these scriptures are “(10) but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears,…(12)…then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Known by who? “But now, after that ye have known (1097) God, or rather are known (1097) of God” (Galatians 4:9). So “then” we shall know fully, even as we are known by God. Comparing some other scriptures: “(12) For now we see through a glass, darkly;” (1 Cor. 13:12), “(2) it doth not yet appear (5319 render apparent, manifest, show one’s self) what we shall be:” (1 John 3:2), “(12) but then face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12), “(2) but we know that, when he shall appear (5319), we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2) When “that which is perfect (5046 complete),”, “is come”, “we shall be like him”, the time “is come” is when “he shall appear”, “then shall I know (fully) even as also I am known (fully by God)”. This is one possible interpretation of this scripture, and some will disagree. But if the signs ceased due to the completion of the New Testament, how could they exist after that time?
“whether there be prophecies, they shall fail” (1 Cor. 13:8), “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17), “the powers (1411) of the world (165 age, Messianic period) to come.” (Hebrews 6:5) Paul states prophecies will fail, and Peter states that “your sons and daughters shall prophesy in the last days, and the writer of Hebrews tells them these are powers of the world (age) to come, the Millennium. If prophecies and other signs ceased due to the completion of the New Testament, then how can prophesy exist in the last days, and powers (1411) exist during the Millennium? If the completion of the New Testament is not the reason signs ceased, and it is unlikely that signs ceased due to a lack of faith, what other reason could there be for this change?
Paul writes that the living and resurrected uncircumcision believes will be raptured (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), so uncircumcision believers will have glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Philippians 3:21) after that time. But living Gentile proselytes (Mat. 25:34), and living Jewish believers (Ezekiel 20:34-38), will enter the Millennium in natural bodies. Considering apostle Paul writes to the uncircumcision (Romans 11:13), this could explain how the signs could cease for the uncircumcision at the time of the rapture, and still continue for circumcision believers during the tribulation and Millennium. But his does not explain why signs like those at the time of the apostles, are not present today.
I Come Quickly Maybe?
“(9) And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight…(11) Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in a like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11) “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) Based on the Old Testament scriptures and covenants the apostles fully expected Christ would return to the location from which He has risen on the “mount called Olivet” (Acts 1:12, Zechariah 14:4), “(31) make a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31), and that He would “restore again the Kingdom to Israel?”. “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1:7), “(36) But of that day and have knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Mat. 24:36, Mark 13:32) Christ told the apostles the “day and hour” of his return would not be revealed, but he gave them no indication that he did not intend to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel. But did Christ give any indication when He would return, and what was the apostles understanding of what he said? Upon receiving the sign of tongues Peter indicated Israel had entered the “last days” (Acts 2:17), and Peter stated if Israel would “(19) Repent ye therefore, and be converted” then “(20) He (God) shall send Jesus Christ” (Acts 3:19-20). But did he believe Christ would return soon after they repented, or only after an indefinite or long period?
In Revelation in relation to the occurrence of events related to Christ coming John states: (1) things which must shortly (1722 in, by, with, 5034 a brief space of time, haste, quickly) come to pass”, and “(3) the time is a hand (1451 near, nigh, ready)” (Rev. 1, 3, 22:10). Christ states: “Behold, I come quickly (5035 shortly i.e. without delay, soon)” (Rev. 3:11, 22:12, 20). Some other statements made by the apostles in relation to the time of the Lord’s coming include: “(8) the coming of the Lord draweth nigh (1448 make near, approach)…(9) the judge standeth before the door” (James 5:8-9); “the end of all things is at hand (1448)” (1 Peter 4:7); “it is the last (2078 final, utmost, extreme) time” (1 John 2:18); “as ye see the day approaching (1448)” (Hebrews 10:25); “time is short (4958 being wound up)” (1 Corinthians 7:29), “the day of Christ is at hand (1764 impend, present, instant)” (2 Thessalonians 2:2), “The night is far spent (4298 well along), the day is at hand (1448).” (Romans 13:12). “Then we (2249 us) which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air:” (1 Thessalonians 4:17), notice Paul says “we which are alive” as if he expected to remain alive until the rapture. Of course Paul (2 Timothy 4:7), and Peter (2 Peter 1:14), acknowledged they would die toward the end of their ministries, but Peter had been told of his death years before (John 21:18). Peter knowing of his death, still did not seem to take that to mean the end of all things was not “at hand”, but what did he mean when he said “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8)? “the day of the Lord is at hand” (Isaiah 13:6, Joel 1:15), “the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand;” (Joel 2:1), perhaps it was because the prophets had been speaking of the coming of the Lord for hundreds of years. Did this statement mean that Peter and the others took “at hand (1448 near)” to possibly mean thousands of years? Or did something change, something that may have not even been made known to the apostles?
“(27) For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (28) Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Mat. 16:27-28) Although many interpret this to mean the transfiguration that occurs directly after this statement, Christ said that this coming would be “with his angels”, and “then he shall reward every man according to his works.”, which of course did not take place at the transfiguration. Or should we take verse 27 to mean an entirely different time than verse 28? “(16) we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye witnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16-18). When Peter speaks of the coming of the Lord he never says directly that this coming occurred at the transfiguration, but many interpret that to be what he must mean because of the statement of his coming near the discussion of the transfiguration, and because they can see no other reason to explain that those that were with Christ all died. E.W. Bullinger points out the meaning of the word till in the statement “till (2193, 302) they see the Son of man coming”. This word till is not the single word till (2193) which means until which time, but it also includes the word 302 which means a supposition, wish, possibility on uncertainty. As Bullinger points out this statement should read “There are some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till (2198 until + 302 possibility) they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
Many of Christ’s statements were made with the possibility that they may or may not occur, because they depended on Israel’s decision to accept Him (Acts 3:19-20). If Israel had accepted Christ immediately then some of those standing there would not have tasted death before His coming, but His coming depends on the repentance of the Jews (Acts 3:17-23, Hosea 5:15). Another example of this type of statement is in relation to John the Baptist, as to whether or not he is Elijah. “(19) And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, who are thou?...(21) And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.” (John 1:19-21) Speaking of John the Baptist Christ says “(14) And if ye will receive it, this is Elias,” (Mat. 11:7-15), and “(12) But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not,…(13) Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.” (Mat, 17:11-13) Some say the sending of Elijah (Elias, Malachi 4:5) was meant to be taken spiritually, but what does scripture say? “(13) But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come,” (Mark 9:11-13), and some say that John the Baptist “filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15), did not know he was Elijah. “And he (John) shall go before him (Christ) in the spirit and power (1411) of Elias” (Luke 1:17), yet “John did no miracle” (John 10:41), like the “(3) two witnesses” (Revelation 11:3-5) will do. John was Elias (Elijah) “if (1487 particle of conditionally)” (Mat. 7:14) Israel had accepted him, and accepted Christ, but if they did not accept them he was not Elias (Elijah). How is this possible?
When Christ offered himself to Israel as King (John 12:14-16) it was a valid offer, although prophecy indicated they would crucify him (Isaiah 53, Psalm 22), and they did not understand that until after it happened (1 Peter 1:9-12). But there was no prophecy that indicated he would not establish the Kingdom of Israel soon after his death, burial, and resurrection. Paul revealed the Kingdom would not be restored “until (891 up to, terminus, 3739 which, whom, that) the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Romans 11:25), but never indicated that would not come soon. “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till (2193 until, 302 possibility) all these things be fulfilled” (Mat. 24:34), that is the fulfillment of the end time events of Matthew 24. This can mean literally the generation living at that time would not pass before the fulfillment of the end time events, and the coming of the Lord, if they had accepted him. This word until (2193, 302) is used in the scriptures referring to His coming during their lifetime (Mat. 16:28, 24:3, Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27, 21:32), except in Mark 13:30 where till (3360 as far as) is used, and followed by a word (3739 who, which, what). Considering that Israel did not accept Christ, and will not until they see him coming in the clouds (Zechariah 12:10, Revelation 1:7), how did this effect the last days of Israel, a time when Christ was expected to come quickly?
Did Israel’s Clock Stop?
“(24) Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people”, “(26) And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off”, “(27) And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation (4503 offering, tribute) to cease” (Daniel 9:24-27). “(1) and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time:” (Daniel 12:1-2). Many understand these scriptures allow the calculation of the time when Christ would offer himself to Israel as King (Mat. 21:1-4, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:29-38, John 12:12-19, Zechariah 9:9), and “be cut off”. George Williams comments in his Complete Bible Commentary about Matthew 21 on page 720 “This was Messiah’s official presentation of Himself to Israel as the Great King, the Son of David. On this day, the sixty-ninth week of Daniel’s prediction was completed (Dan. ix 27).” Using Nehemiah 2 and historical information, Neh. 2:1 allows the determination of 445 B.C. as the start of the 490 years spoken of by Daniel, and the realization that there is one remaining week (7 years) spoken of by Daniel (9:27, 12:11-12), by Christ (Mat. 24:15, Mark 13:14), and by apostle John (Revelation 11:1-3, 12:6, 14, 13:5). Upon Israel’s rejection of their King, that is the Messiah was cut off (Daniel 9:26), the counting of the 490 years were suspended, Israel’s clock stopped. During this time apostle Paul tells that Israel remains blinded “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Romans 11:25), and Paul’s gospel of the uncircumcision (Galatians 2:7-9) is going to all the world. Israel’s clock will restart the day they sign a 7 year peace treaty with the Antichrist (Daniel 9:27), and they will resume the temple sacrifices, which he will cause to cease “in the midst of the week.”
“(20) The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon in to blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:” (Acts 2:19-21, Joel 2:30-32). “(29) Immediately after the tribulation of those days, shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give light,” (Mat. 24:29-30, Mark 13:24-26), “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;” (Revelation 6:12). Peter states that during the last days for Israel foretold by Joel “the sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood”. Christ states this will happen “Immediately after the tribulation”, but before the “Son of man coming in the clouds” (Mat. 24:30), and this same event is written in Revelation. If the final seven year of Daniel have been suspended, and the last days of Israel include this event that occurs during this period, is there any reason not to conclude the last days of Israel were also suspended? The signs of speaking in tongues, and of miraculous powers poured out of the Spirit (Acts 1:8, 2:1-4, 17;18), began at Pentecost as a sign of the last days of Israel. These signs continued throughout the 40 year period of grace (29 A.D - 69 A.D) until the destruction of Israel, for “a remnant” (Romans 11:5) of Israel that would be saved, which also happened to be about the time of the completion of the New Testament, although before the completion of apostle John writings.
The last days of Israel will resume at the signing of the 7 year peace treaty, and the signs will probably resume at that time. Some or all of these “powers of the world (165 age) to come.” (Hebrews 6:5), will continue into the Millennium. There is no indication any of the apostles knew this period of suspention of the final seven years, and the last days of Israel, could be over two thousand years, “(7) And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons” (Acts 1:6-7)
Signs of the End?
“Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world (165 age)?” (Mat. 24:3) From the very beginning mankind has wanted to know the time of Christ’s coming, or at least “the sign” of His coming. Christ went on the explain to them the sequence of events before His coming (Mat. 24:4-44, Mark 13:1-33). But what do they mean to us? Can we use what Christ said to determine how close we are to His coming? Are there any scriptures that help to answer this question?
“And many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Mat. 24:5), “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist (500) shall come, even now are there many antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:18) The word antichrist (500) comes from the word anti (473 opposite i.e. instead or because, replacement) and Christos (5547 anointed i.e. the Messiah), and antichrist (500) is defined as “an opponent of, an imposter for the Messiah”. Jesus Christ states there will be wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, at the end of the age, but of course these have always existed. In the past 100 years 2 world wars have occurred. Many prophecy teachers report there has been a continuous increase in earthquakes, while www.USGS.gov reports “We continue to be asked by many people throughout the world if earthquakes are on the increase. Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude of 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant. A partial explanation may lie in the fact that in the last twenty years, we have definitely had an increase in the number of earthquakes we have been able to locate each year. This is because of the tremendous increase in the number of seismograph stations in the world and the many improvements in global communications. In 1931, there were about 350 stations operating in the world; today, there are more than 8000 stations and the data now comes in rapidly from these stations by electronic mail, internet, and satellite. This increase in the number of stations and the more timely receipt of data has allowed us and other seismological centers to locate earthquakes more rapidly and to locate many small earthquakes which were undetected in earlier years.” So how will we know when earthquakes increase to the point that we are approaching the end? How many wars, and how big do the wars have to be, before we will know the time Christ describes is approaching? Did Christ mean there would be gradual small changes in these signs, that we would finally recognize, or was He speaking of something that would be obvious?
Possibility the answer is found in the comparison of Matthew 24:3-9, with Revelation 6:1-14. “(5) For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Mat. 24-5), “(2) And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” (Rev. 6:2) Most believe this represents the antichrist, “And no marvel; for Saten himself is transformed into the angel of light.” (1 Corinthians 11:14). “(6) And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Mat. 24:6), “(4) And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” (Rev 6:4) “(7) and there shall be famines” (Mat. 24:7), “(5) And I beheld and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. (6) And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and wine.” (Rev. 6:5-6) “(7) and pestilences (3061 plague, disease, pest)” (Mat. 24:7), “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was unto them over the forth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger and with death, and with beasts (2342 dangerous animal, venomous beast) of the earth.” (Rev. 6:8) “and earthquakes, in divers places (5117 location, NIV various places)” (Mat. 24:7), “(12) and, lo, there was a great earthquake;”, “(14) and every mountain and island were moved out of their place.” (Rev. 6:12,14) “(9) Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you:” (Mat. 24:9), “(9) I saw under the alter the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. (10) And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord…(11) until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” (Rev. 6:9-11)
The coming of antichrist (s), wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, and the killing of saints, mentioned in Matthew 24:5-9, are the same events mentioned in Revelation 6:1-14, and are all in the same order as spoken by Christ, except the last two. “(15) When ye therefore shall see the abomination of dissolution, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (who so readeth, let him understand:)” (Mat. 24:15), then Christ mentions the antichrist standing in the temple, which Daniel says happens “in the midst of the week” (Daniel 9:27), the middle of the tribulation. Is it possible that the signs that Christ told the apostles to look for, are events that take place during the tribulation? Charles Welch comments in his book Dispensational Truth page 153 on Matthew 24 “The link between the prophecy and the book of the Revelation is found by comparing Matthew 24 with Revelation 6 and 7.” The single event that defines the beginning of the 7 year tribulation is the signing of the peace treaty, “(27) And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week:” (Daniel 9:27). Whether or not there will be any signs to confirm the time of the tribulation is approaching before the antichrist shall confirm the covenant, remains in question.
The New Covenant?
The last events of the end of the age for Israel will be the coming of the Lord (Zechariah 14:4, John 6:39-54, Mat. 24:27-31, Revelation 1:7), their judgment (Ezekiel 20:34-38), and the making of the new covenant with Israel and Judah (Jeremiah 31:27-40, Ezekiel 20:37). Many say the New Testament (1242 a disposition, i.e. a contract, devisory will) is for all believers, but the conditions of the covenant (testament), and how, why, and when the covenant is made all indicate it is for Israel. “(31) Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:” (Jer. 31:31), God said He will make the covenant with Israel. God said the reason He will make a new covenant with Israel is because “(32) my covenant they break” (Jer. 31:32), the gentiles could not have broken a covenant, because they never had any covenants with the Lord (Ephesians 2:11-13). The covenant will be made after Israel’s final 7 year tribulation to make “(4) reconciliation for iniquity” (Daniel 9:24), then he will “(8) gather them from the coasts of the earth” (Jer. 31:8), Judge them (Ezekiel 20:37-38), “(33) put my law in their hearts”, and “(34) they shall all know me” (Jeremiah 31:8, 33, 34). “(26) And so all Israel shall be saved”, “(27) For this is my covenant unto them” (Romans 11:26-27), but “(6) They are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6), and so the judgment will “(37) purge out from among you the rebels” (Ezekiel 20:37), so that only believers enter the land under the New Covenant.
The New Covenant is made when “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourneth for him, as one mourneth for his only son,” (Zechariah 12:10, Ezekiel 36). This is the time of the making of the New Covenant, the spirit of grace poured out removes the blindness from Israel (Romans 11:25), God did not give the Gentiles “(8) the spirit of slumber” (Romans 11:8-10, Deuteronomy 28:28, 29:4, Isaiah 6:9-13). Note this “spirit of grace and supplication” is poured out upon the “house of David”, “the inhabitants of Jerusalem”, and “they” shall look upon the one that “they” pierced. This is not the pouring out of the Spirit in Acts 2:17, that is the power (1411) poured out of the Spirit on “(17) all flesh”. The spirit of grace is not poured out on all flesh, it is poured out on the blinded nation of Israel to remove the blindness, and “a nation be born at once?” (Isaiah 66:8) This New Covenant will not only confirm the New Testament that Christ made at the cross for Israel (Jer, 31:31, Mat. 26:28, Hebrews 9:16-22), it will also fulfill the other covenants with them. The Abrahamic covenant “I will make you a great nation” (Genesis 12:12), “For the nation and Kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish;” (Isaiah 60:12, 49:22-26, Daniel 7:27), “(18) Unto thy seed have I given this land” (Gen. 15:18-21), the Davidic covenant “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee:” (2 Samuel 7:16), “shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44), “I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels” (2 Sam. 7:12), “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made after the seed of David” (Romans 1:3)
The Tribulation – The Last Days Again?
At the time “he (antichrist) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” (Daniel 9:27), Israel’s clock will restart, counting down the final 7 years (one week), of the 490 years determined upon the Jews “to make reconciliation for iniquity” (Daniel 9:24). The clock stopped at “(25) seven weeks, and three score and two weeks”, 483 years, when “(26) shall the Messiah be cut off” (Daniel 9:25-26). The nation of Israel (including Judah) was given a 40 year period of grace (29 AD – 69 AD), before their “(38) house is left unto you desolate” (Mat. 23:38-39), during which “a remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5) could be saved. During that period the last days of Israel continued. In 70 AD the King (Christ) “sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” (Mat. 22:7). “Therefore say I unto you, the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation (1484) bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Mat. 21:43) The word nation (1484) is used for Gentiles, heathen, and people, but it is often used in singular of the Jews (Luke 7:5, 23:2, John 11:48, 50-52). The Millennial Kingdom is not given to the Gentiles, “a foolish (5036 stupid, wicked) nation” (Deuteronomy 32:21, Romans 10:19), it is given to Israel (Acts 1:6). “Fear not, little flock, for it is you Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32), which speaks of the future kingdom when the apostles “shall sit upon twelve thrones; judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Mat. 19:28), considering the kingdom was not taken from Israel until 70 AD, and will not be established again until Christ returns. “The kingdoms of the world are become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
Christ will send forth “two witnesses” (Revelation 11:3), possibly Moses and Elias (Mat. 17:4), through which a “hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 7:4) will be “sealed”. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all nations, and then shall the end come.” (Mat. 24:14), that is “the end of the world (165 age)” (Mat. 24:3). The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that Christ is coming to establish His kingdom, and the Jews will be preaching the gospel of the circumcision, that is the gospel of salvation and the covenants. The Gentile proselytes that are saved during the tribulation by the gospel of the circumcision, the sheep (Mat. 25:33-34), and enter the Millennium as living believers, will be required to “(6) keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant:”, and “(7) their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine alter” (Isaiah 56:6-7).
At the time of Pentecost the signs of the last days of Israel began, “I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17), all Jews and Gentile believers were being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-46), “(20) with signs following” (Mark 16:16-20), and so it should also be during the tribulation when the last days of Israel begin again.
The Tribulation and The Uncircumcision?
The Gentiles saved during the Dispensation of Grace (Uncircumcision) will be raptured (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) before Christ establishes the Millennial kingdom, in fact the purpose of the rapture is to remove those not under the covenants. As “changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52) believers in glorified bodies (Philippians 3:21), we will assist in ruling during the Millennium (1 Cor. 6:2). But what if the uncircumcision believes, those not under the covenants, remain on earth after the start of the tribulation?
Many say the Gospels of the Kingdom (and Circumcision) and Grace (Uncircumcision) could not be taught at the same time (Galatians 2:7-9). But the Gospel of the Kingdom (and Circumcision), that is the Gospel of Salvation under the Covenants, and the Gospel of the Uncircumcision (Grace), that is the Gospel of Salvation not under the Covenants, were both taught at the same time for about 40 years, between Pentecost (29 AD) and the destruction of Israel (70 AD). But they both were teaching the same Gospel of Salvation (Luke 24:44-46, Acts 15:9, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 11). The 144,000 Jews will be teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and Circumcision, but what would the Uncircumcision believers teach? “Who also hath made us able ministers (1249 teacher, servant, attendant, pastor) of the new testament (1242 contract, will, covenant);” (2 Corinthians 3:6). A related question of similar difficulty is: How can we be teachers and servants of a covenant that we are not under?
Charles Ryrie explains about 2 Corinthians 3:6-11 in his book Dispensationalism pages 204 and 205 “If the only new covenant is with the house of Israel and has not been inaugurated with the church, we still minister somethings about that new covenant…To sum up: In what ways are we today ministers of a new covenant? In sense that we (1) minister in the power of the Spirit to bring life, and not with self – righteous works of the law to bring death, (2) place the substitutionary death of Christ (the blood of a new covenant) central in all our ministry, and (3) proclaim the eschatological promises of the new covenant made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” This is true in some sense, but is better expressed by noting that items 1 and 2 are the Gospel of Salvation common to both the Gospel of the Circumcision and Uncircumcision, and item 3 is the Gospel of the Kingdom and Circumcision. Although Peter as a minister of the Gospel of the Circumcision (Galatians 2:7-9) was still under the law (Acts 10:14, 28, 21:20, Galatians 2:11-21), he states “And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” (Acts 9:15), Peter understood salvation is by faith. As ministries of the New Testament (Covenant) our responsibility is to understand the meanings of the Gospel of Salvation, Uncircumcision, Circumcision, and the Kingdom, and be prepared, “rightly dividing (3718 to make a straight cut, to dissect and expound correctly) the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15), in any situation.
The 144,000 Jews will be proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and Circumcision “in all the world” (Mat. 24:14) during the tribulation, and as “ministers of the new testament”, we would be responsible to understand and explain the new testaments meaning, and how it would result in the establishing of a Millennial Kingdom for Israel (Acts 1:6). But there is no scripture indicating the Gospel of the Uncircumcision could not be taught up to the time of the Rapture, even if the Rapture took place at the end of the tribulation.
A Closing Comment
In 1948 Israel officially became a nation (Ezekiel 37) in the eyes of the world governments, although from God’s position they are presently “(20) broken off” and experiencing “(25) blindness in part” (Romans 11:20,25). Within plus or minus a few years of that time the first atomic weapons were used (Isaiah 23:6, Zechariah 14:12), the Dead Sea scrolls were found, the 10 nation European Union was formed (Revelation 17:12), and on the Euro bill is a picture of a woman riding a beast (Rev. 17:7). We have seen a dramatic development in transportation, communication, and knowledge such as the World Wide Internet (Daniel 12:4), a worldwide cashless financial system, and implantable chip the size of a grain of rice, that can store personal information and contain a GPS locator, and a Universal Product Code (UPC) that happens to have the number 6 at each end, and one in the middle (666) (Rev. 13:16-18), and the list goes on. This article is not meant in any way to deny that there are many prophetic signs that the end of the age, and the last days, may be at hand. It does question what some call signs that show how near, and considers the question : What if those saved by the Gospel of Grace (Uncircumcision) were not Raptured before the tribulation?
“(20) He which testifieth these things saith, surely I come quickly. A-men. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (21) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. A-men. (Revelation 22:20-21)