Part 1 of 7
September 7, 2015
In the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah, beliefs about the coming Messiah were often splintered, and they remained varied through the days of Jesus Christ (Yeshua). Many people are familiar with the Dead Sea Scrolls (dated almost two centuries before the Christ came) and the Essenes teaching of the “teacher of Righteousness,” but they may not know that sages and rabbis clearly foresaw both a Suffering Servant (or priestly) Messiah, as described in Isaiah 53 and Daniel 9:25-26, and prophecies of a Conquering King Messiah, which are also spread throughout the Prophets. But whether the visionaries of the ancient days pictured one or two anointed ones, or both offices somehow kept by one enlightened Person (cf. Zech. 6:13), they generally agreed that history would play-out as preplanned by God, with this Great King arriving to rescue troubled Israel from the despotic rulers of persecuting nations, even from the whole revolting world. In the Christian worldview beliefs about Christ atoning for sins of believers are universal, although how and where He reigns as King is not (i.e., from Heaven or Earth, now, in the future, or both). Yet even this is solved when we look back at what Jews universally agreed during the time of Christ- that the Messiah would come and reign on the Day of YHVH.
This Great Sabbath that they awaited, known as “The Day of the LORD [YHVH]” (or in short form “The LORD’s Day”), can be found in numerous prophecies concerning the coming justice of YHVH. This Day would end our works of His spiritual harvesting of souls in the world, much as the weekly Sabbath was God’s special day for His people to receive sanctification and cleansing from their work in the fields. This ancient belief in seven millennial days does not necessitate that there can only be 6,000 years in the sum of history before the Messianic Kingdom, but rather 6,000 was understood as the number of years from Adam until the Great King- David’s awaited Descendant who would reign over a reunified and restored Kingdom of Israel. Nor does it mean that nations will sit idle for the millennium, but the labors of bringing the world to God will be finished, since all will know that the Lord dwells on Earth, with all the scriptural mysteries of God made crystal clear. (cf. Jer. 31:34). So to comprehend this connection between a week of work with a rest day, and our longer human history, we must imagine how the hard-working agricultural nation saw the Lord’s Day, that it was a special time of relief and refreshing from the dusty fields and harvesting- presented cleansed and holy before God. Just as the weekly Sabbath was set aside for being especially clean from soil and stains, the coming millennial Day of God would be a period of cleansing humanity from sins. As Isaiah described the mood of the holy prophets for straying Israel, “All our righteousness are as filthy rags.” Yet out of our sullied labors would come the wonderful and blessed fruits of the earth. Although we labor in our vanity throughout a millennial week of harsh human history, the faithful will reap a reward of rest, peace, and sanctification once the Messiah arrives for the Great Sabbath millennium. Thus, the world lives on, with an appointed rest for the elect during the millennial Day of the Lord. After the great Day of God would be the Olam Haba- the world to come- that extends beyond biblical prophecy into eternity. And this is an overlooked truth of Scripture: that it concerns a mystery for an appointed age of humanity. Beyond that time the Scriptures are completed and sealed. Thus, our focus is directed to the Great Sabbath at the end of this appointed age.
Scriptures that appear only centered on the prophets and scribes’ concerns about evils of their days routinely skip forward with inspiring visions and warnings of the ultimate Day of GOD (YHVH). In the literary style of Hebrew prophets, it was common to jump back and forth between past, present, and future events, jumbled in a written mix in which they clearly comprehended but is often confused by Bible readers today. Their usual literary method was to speak against then-present evils, give examples of God’s will being done in the past, and temporarily end their warnings with prophecies of the Day of the Lord and coming Kingdom of Messiah- led by an anointed King David (or Beloved King).
Comprehending where their then-present-day rebukes ended and the prophesied future begins has been troubling to modern readers, simply because dual prophetic fulfillment is not an easily grasped concept. This pattern is repeated in the prophetic books, but it is difficult for Hellenized peoples to mentally sort out because most writers since the great influx of Grecian thought have taken great pains at clarifying linear events of time to define that which diverges singular prophetic themes. The simplicity of Greek linear thought is now considered more rational, but it cannot delegitimize nor the comparative concepts communicated by the prophets and Hebrews of old, as recorded in Scriptures. The difficulty for people today lies is the fact that the Spirit inspired multi-layered writings when it comes to what they reveal, much like a stretch of DNA that instructs more than one function. So ancient writings often disclose dual and sometimes triple prophecies, or fulfillments thereof, in a singular passage, with rippling truths and events. These are now enigmas via our social conditioning for evaluating and processing credible information. In other words, the Lord revealed multi-tiered truths of past, present, and future events in a transcendent method that is now mostly foreign, and Divine information given about the Lord’s Sabbath must be viewed in this prophetic light.
Biblical scholars, thinking they know better, often seek to correct prophecy enthusiasts via positing that passages in question only concerns ancient events, such as the Babylonian and Assyrian captivities. Critical biblical scholars usually do not trust the concept of Divinely-inspired prophecies, so whenever they can, they minimize prophetic passages or seek to iron them straight for Hellenized thinking. This is not only done by secular scholars who seek to debunk Scriptures, and Christian scholars who count all Old Covenant promises for Israel past, but also by Jewish scholars who deny messianic passages that clearly reflect the historical life and sufferings of Yeshua. Furthermore, some critical scholars posit the idea that the prophets were mistakenly looking forward to the Day of God in their own days; yet comprehension of the ancient worldview allows us to rebut and dismiss those negative claims.
When prophets looked back on the creation days of Genesis, they were looking at how God would frame a human workweek through our millennial history, to bring us back to a paradise dwelling that He had not lost sight of. For them, reaching the Kingdom of Heaven was like climbing seven historical steps, where the Seventh Heaven would be the final day in which the Divine throne would be corporeally manifest on Earth through the reign of Messiah. They also awaited a resurrection on “the last day,” which does not mean the last day for life but rather the last millennial day in the appointed week- the Great Sabbath. Beyond the Great Sabbath, Scripture is mostly silent, with the exception of the Gog and Magog War, concerning the Great White Throne Judgment of God. (Yes, the Gog and Magog war against Israel is a final rebellion after the millennial Sabbath, as disclosed in the Book of Revelation, not before it.)
When the Jewish apostles of Yeshua continued teaching in this ancient belief, the last day- after the great workweek- became an awaited Third Heaven, which means from the start of a new age since the cross, with two millennial days- or “last days”- in the Divine plan for humanity until the Great Sabbath. Thus, the Seventh Heaven and Third Heaven are actually one and the same, depending upon which view is taken- from Adam or from the cross of Yeshua. The awaited Kingdom of Heaven is the 7th from Adam but 3rd from the cross.
For a visual, if we count the planets in our solar system from Pluto (which is still a planet) to Earth, our planet is perceived as the seventh; but for someone counting the planets from our star (symbol of the Sun of Righteousness) to our planet, indeed Earth would be the third planet. Such are heavenly signs of the times, although they have remained enigmas for lack of spiritual understanding in the synagogues and churches. Yes, every aspect of our Solar System was designed to declare God’s work in our history.
One apostle, the Pharisee Saul, renamed “Paul” by God, mentions one who was taken up in a vision of the Third Heaven, which is the coming Sabbath paradise, but it was unlawful for him to express the utterances he had heard (see 2 Cor. 12:1-5). And in the Book of Revelation, John was taken up in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day (i.e., the Sabbath) when he received his visions concerning the tribulations that precede the paradise, with seven voices of thunders that he was forbidden to reveal, for they were sealed until the end of the age (cf. Rev. 1:10; 10:4). Thus, both accounts concern the end of the age, when mysteries are revealed on Earth. And here we find a correlation between the 3rd Heaven and the vision on the Lord’s Day.
Moreover, some apostles understood that the Kingdom was still two millennial days away. As a Pharisee, Saul knew the Jewish belief of seven heavens and seven millenniums. Clearly there was no literary conflict with paradise being in the Third Heaven. It was simply a matter of perspective. Messiah, however, extended the mystery by exclaiming, “Today, you will be with Me in paradise,” at the cross. The corporeal world of appointed times is catching up to the spiritual world, when the Kingdom comes on Earth as it is in Heaven. For us it is the future because we are blinded by the concept of time, but to God even time is drawn out of His Spiritual infinity. And speaking of the awaited Great Sabbath, it is also written: “Today, if you will hear His voice,” which means it is always “today” for those sealed in their times but a seventh day for all who are alive at the time on Earth. How can I make this plain? Our appointed times collide with God’s infinite existence and plans for us on the seventh millennial day from Adam, which is third from the cross of the Messiah. The Eternal One has already planned to bring His elect into eternity, and it begins in the corporeal world at the Great Sabbath.
It is not that the Hebrew patriarchs, matriarchs, priests, and scribes did not believe in a spiritual Kingdom of Heaven, paralleling and beyond the natural world, but only that they perceived that earthly manifestations are patterned after spiritual ones, including a Kingdom that was to come on Earth as it is in Heaven, and it coming via the weekly pattern of time. They had already seen the patterns of heavenly things constructed at the commands of God on Earth, such as the Tabernacle and the Ark, so it was no great leap for them to conclude that the Living God’s prophecies of a glorious and righteous Jerusalem would actually follow. Jerusalem below would be made like the Jerusalem above. The spiritual blueprints would be manifest in the corporeal world. Mystics often reason over seven floors of higher and higher spiritual levels of truths in the supernatural Kingdom of Heaven, but for agricultural Israelites it was enough to comprehend that there were seven days appointed for our civilized history from Adam, with the restoration of a lost paradise on the coming Great Sabbath.
Today we should conclude that the visions of such things should be brought down to Earth in proper interpretations for a time to come, that the original beliefs of the ancient mothers and fathers’ might be afforded the same enthusiasm and prestige that an idealized, layered Kingdom of Heaven has long-enjoyed. It can be argued that the Scriptures should be heeded more for what they actually declare than our partial insights and musings over the higher mysteries of the spiritual realm. When we approach Scripture as a Divine plan for our world that was systematically laid out, rather than merely a collection of historical stories, we begin toperceive that it unfolds to include all things. Indeed, the millennial week is only the first part of the grand puzzle; things get much more interesting as it ripples out confessions of an ancient world and universe. The appointed times of Scripture were always meant to be searched out with Messiah as the Masterkey for unlocking the greatest mysteries.