Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 1, 1951

Answers To Mr. Sparks - Concluded

N. W. Allphin, Tahoka, Texas

Answers to Mr. Sparks' questions previously given include numbers one to 10, except that references in his number three were promised an answer in another article. After the last three in his list are noticed, I shall return to number three. See list in former issue.

(11) The "great tribulation" was the extreme calamities visited upon Israel—wars, loss of property and lives, famine, pestilence and final desolation of the Jews as a nation and kingdom. It began to occur not long after the crucifixion of Christ. It was future when Jesus told about it, of course; but it was to happen before the passing of that generation.

(12) To give a generally satisfactory answer to this, is necessarily difficult, because the scriptures do not answer it, except by implication. Yet, since Jesus said in Matt. 24:30, Mark 13:26, and Luke 21.27, that some should see him "coming on the clouds with power and great glory," and this before that generation passed away (verses 34, 30, 32, respectively), there should be no doubt that such sign was witnessed; for, unless we challenge the Lord's prescience, thus impeaching him, we are bound to infer that his statement was true, and that it was fulfilled within the time indicated. In John's record in Rev. 14:14-16, he saw one like unto a son of man sitting on a cloud, who sent forth his sickle, and reaped the harvest of the earth. If any others saw this, or how many, we do not know.) This "reaping" I believe was done before the destruction of Jerusalem.

(13) Evidently the sending of his angels (messengers) to gather his "elect" from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" was the gathering of his saints out of Jerusalem and other war zones, into places of security before the final crisis brought on by the Romans. It was not gathering them up "to heaven" as futurists think. Note, in this connection, the Savior's warning to "flee to the mountains,' 'etc.

Now back to the prophecies cited in his question number three, where he asks if and when these were fulfilled; Isa. 11:6-9—Yes; but not literally, nor will it ever so happen. The language is highly figurative. To literalize this and many other such prophecies would make the work of Elijah (John) purely that of a civil engineer, straightening roads, cutting down hills, filling up valleys, etc. It would make Jesus at once an actual lamb, lion and tyrant knocking people around with an iron club—an impossible picture. This happened after Christ came (a shoot out of the stock of Jesse), as the first five, verses show. 19:18-24: Yes. This chapter concerns Egypt both before and after it was conquered by Alexander, including the period when the Septuagint was written, and a temple like that at Jerusalem was built at Alexandria. It contains figures of speech, of course, but it is history now. 35:8-10: Yes. This refers to conditions under a new era and order, after the birth and ministry of Christ. Note verses 5-7, about his work of healing of the blind, deaf, dumb, lame, etc. It pictures, in figures, both conditions for re-gathered Israel and conditions peculiar to the gospel system. 60:13: Yes. This chapter, like some others, carries a double fore view—it describes things to be at Israel's return from captivity (more or less literal), and symbolic conditions under the new covenant. No other book abounds in rhetorical figures as does the Bible. This is why the Jews could not interpret their own prophecy; and a main reason why people misunderstand so much of it today. 65:17-24: Yes. The language here is highly figurative. It refers to the new dispensation, the present one. Note what he says in the first three verses about when the Gentiles were to be in covenant relationship. Paul quotes this in Rom. 10, giving it a then present application. Note also his condemnation of old Israel, in verse 10f; and verse 15 says he will slay them, cause them to leave their name for a curse, and call his servants by another name. Jerusalem, verse 19, is the "heavenly Jerusalem" of Heb. 12:22, the one that came down out of heaven—Rev. 21:10. Verse 22 does not mean that each person should live to be as old as a tree—the "age of a tree" is not known. It simply means that his chosen people in the new age (ours) should endure for a long, uncounted time. Don't try to literalize this. Jer. 25:20-33: Yes. These things were uttered against Judah—see verse one. Note also verse 12, concerning the "70 years" of captivity, also the threat against the Chaldeans; then, all the nations named in verses 20-25. These all met their punishment in subsequent years. The "earth" of verses 30 and 33 means the same as "their land" in verse 38. See Jer. 4:23-27. What he calls earth in 23, he calls "whole land" in 27. And this was the province of Judea. Eze. 34:25-31: Yes. This was addressed to the shepherds of Israel—see verse one. Note also 14f. It refers to the gathering of dispersed Israel, their rehabilitation in Palestine. Evil beasts (lions) were brought in after the Assyrians carried the people out of the northern kingdom—II Kings 17:26. Much of this is figurative, but it pertains to fleshly Israel, and is past. Ezek. 39:8-16: Yes. But space is not here available for a detailed account of when all this was fulfilled. The men and names of countries given all belong to the distant past. Read all of chapters 38 and 39. Connected and careful reading of these and other prophecies shows that some of this was history when this was written; and that the future part was to happen before Israel's end. Micah 4:1-7: Yes. This is one of many passages that carry a two-fold meaning, i.e;, reference to temporal things, then an allusion to spiritual matters. Verses 1-3 envision the beginning of the gospel age and kingdom reign of Christ. To "learn war" he more means that the kingdom is not to be maintained by carnal warfare, as had been necessary in all temporal kingdoms. Verse 6 alludes to the gathering of the Israelites after their capture by Shalmanezar and Nebuchadnezzar. "For ever" in verse 7 does not mean eternal. Many statutes and ordinances of the law were to be observed "for ever," but that forever, like everlasting in the law, was limited to the times of the old covenant. Mal. 4:1-3: Yes. This language is figurative. It was fulfilled some 45 years after the sending of Elijah, in the person of John the baptist. See verse 5 and Matt. 17:10-13. I hope these answers and references benefit Mr. Sparks and others who maybe have believed that the old prophets are showing us things that are yet to be. Jesus fulfilled the law and prophets. Matt. 5:17.