The Association of the Covenant People is now 100 years old and one of the most important conferences in our history is now a distant memory. Considering the titles of the various messages, I have to wonder where we stand in the Great Plan of God Almighty. It’s staggering, isn’t it, to realize just how the condition of the world, particularly the Israel world, has deteriorated in the past dozen or so years. Our world was growing more troubled and wicked gradually but then in the 1990’s it picked up incredible speed.
Only a fool could miss all the signs the Lord Jesus Christ described when He told us what the world would be like just before His Return. The prophet Isaiah described it very well when he wrote, “As rain and snow from heaven fall not in vain but water earth until it yields seed for the sower, food for the hungry man, so with the promise that has passed my lips: it falls not fruitless and in vain, but works out what I will, and carries out my purpose.” (Isaiah 55: 10-11 Moffatt). The wonder of prophecy is marvelous when viewed after the fact but these words from God promise us that anything He tells us will come about. And Jesus told us in Matthew 24 what it would be like when He returned.
I’ve mentioned many times that the Apostle John was the greatest mystery writer of all time. Inspired by God, of course, he was able to take events of the time and interweave the hidden meaning that God intended to reveal when the time was right. You see examples of this throughout the entire Gospel of John, indeed, it is absolutely incredible how John’s use of parables, or, stories, give us a glimpse of what is ahead.
A number of years ago, I was fascinated by the story of Lazarus and while it will take a more enlightened mind than mine to grasp its entire message, yet, I think something is revealed by John that throws an important slant on the Resurrection, which God promises will be a reward to the faithful.
I will not go further into the condition of the world described by Jesus but it is interesting to review Daniel 12:6-7, “……… How long shall it be to the end of these wonders ….. and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” I suppose the question is, “Has our power been scattered?” In terms of wealth, of freedoms, of respect, etc., we don’t come close to comparing with the Anglo-Saxon world of a half-century ago. Daniel began the chapter by describing a time of trouble as never was before as a nation. Jeremiah 30:7 describes it as the time of “Jacob’s trouble” but writes that we (Israel) will be saved out of it. Putting together these and all the other pieces of the Bible that describe today’s world, dare we project that soon the Resurrection will take place? Daniel in 12:13 was told, “Go and wait for the end; you shall rest in the grave and then rise to enjoy your share at the end of the days. [Moffatt]
Actually, Daniel describes two time frames, these being the time of the end (or end times (12:4) and the end of these wonders (marked by the scattering of power). This man in the midst of the waters, believed by scholars to be the pre-incarnate Son of God, has His arms pointed in opposite directions signifying a time frame of 2,520 years, 1260 both backward and forward. Many scholars have suggested that the 2,520 years expired in 1918, thus ushering in the “end times.” I believe this is so and further, that the time between 1918 and the “end of these wonders” witnessed the main part of the falling away prophesied by the Apostle Paul, (2 Thessalonians 2:3) the beginning of the Esau Dominion, (Genesis 27:40) the rape of our wealth, the scattering of our power and on and on.
I believe God’s hidden message behind the story of Lazarus in John 11 is a most heartening assurance for those struggling throughout this time of Jacob’s trouble. As I read the story a few years back, I seemed to instinctively realize that this event during Jesus’ Ministry has what we refer to as “a second fulfillment.” I recall my mind racing with excitement as I thought, “Why hadn’t I realized this before, or at least read about it?” Of course, another thought rushed in, “Had I made another wrong assumption?” It’s so easy to do. Still, John 11 seems such a perfect New Testament double witness to Hosea 6: 2. I just had to explore it further. That was in 2001, and it is impossible to believe the downward change in our Israel nations since 911 took place. Now, we are very early in the third day since Christ’s First Advent, and perhaps it is time to explore the story of Lazarus once more because it can fill us with great hope and peace.
In an exhortation to repentance, Israel is told, “After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight” (Hosea 6: 2). It is such a wonderful feeling to know we have now entered the third day and soon we shall be residing in a Kingdom ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ. We know from 2 Peter 3: 8 that with the Lord, “one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” So in looking at Hosea 6: 2, it really means, “after two thousand years He will revive us: in the third thousand year period (the Millennial Kingdom) he will raise us up and we shall live in his sight.” Most students of prophecy pinpoint the starting point of this prophecy at either the date of the First Advent of Christ or the date of the Crucifixion. I personally favour the first for a myriad of reasons, but then, who knows?
In brief, Lazarus was ill and a message of the illness was dispatched to Jesus. Actually, in looking at John 11: 17, Lazarus was most likely already dead by the time Jesus was informed. Still, despite the sad news, Jesus remained two more days in the place where He was before announcing to His Disciples that they would then go to Judea. Lazarus’ sister Martha went to meet Jesus while sister Mary sat still in the house. Upon His return, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. It is a very touching story, one that demonstrates Jesus’ love and compassion. Yet, like any of the parables, the personal story of Lazarus also has a national meaning, indeed one that reveals a powerful prophecy, centering, I think, on the present time. I invite you to journey with me through this magnificent message.
In the personal story, Jesus’ friend is Lazarus. In the prophecy, the name “Lazarus” reflects “Israel” (and those who walk with her), so the name “Lazarus” is indicative of “Israel.” The hidden meaning of this story is therefore about the twelve tribes of Israel, which at the time of Christ were scattered abroad (James 1: 1). Some Israelites were still in Judea and Galilee, of course, but the bulk of Israel was in Europe. Ten tribes were divorced from God and like most of their brethren in Palestine and elsewhere, all were chasing false gods and all were under the curse of death. Yet, it is not by accident that the “Lazarus” in the parable, “The Rich Man and Lazarus,” (Luke 16) also represents Israel. Bible scholar Howard Rand relates the name Lazarus to “Castaway Israel.”
In John 11: 4, it is interesting that Jesus describes His friend Lazarus’ condition when He said, “This sickness is not to end in death; but it is to honor God and to promote His glory, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (Amplified Version). This is certainly a wonderful description of the power of the soon to occur Resurrection.
In the personal story, despite hearing about the sickness of Lazarus, Jesus abode two further days in the place He was (11: 6). In the prophecy, Jesus knows Israel is sick and under the curse of death, yet, in this second fulfillment, He also stays two days or two thousand years in the same place where he is, that is, by the right hand of God in Heaven. Certainly, when we gaze around the Israel world today, we can say with conviction that we are sorely sick and we urgently need Him to return.
In 11: 7 the story of Lazarus has Christ saying to His Disciples after the two days had expired, “Let us go back again to Judea.” A key word here is “after,” which fits Hosea’s prophecy “After two days…” Going on, the Prophecy of Lazarus would have Christ making a similar statement to His Angels when He readies Himself for His Second Advent, that is, “after two days.” The Bible tells us that His feet will first touch on the mount of Olives, in other words He will go back again to Judea.
What follows in 11: 9-10 is an analogy describing those who believe on Him as walking in the daytime and those who don’t as walking in darkness.
Verse 20 suggests the difference between those who go to meet him and those who remain on earth. To those that meet him, Jesus confirms in Verses 25 & 26, “I am the Resurrection, and the Life…whosoever liveth and believest in me shall never die….” This kind of reminds us of Martha going out to meet Jesus and Mary sitting still in the house. Anyway, upon His Return, Jesus makes something crystal clear, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God” (11: 40). We have to feel sad for all our brethren today who just refuse to believe in either Him or His Words.
In 11: 43, Jesus resurrects Lazarus. He does so in a loud voice. Doesn’t this appear similar to the coming Resurrection of Israel described in 1 Thessalonians 4: 16, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout…”?
How can we definitely know that Lazarus represents Israel and that this chapter of the Bible reflects a major prophecy? In thinking on this, it is important to read verses 50-52 where Caiaphas, the high priest, makes a declaration to those Jews concerned that the Romans might come and take away or destroy their nation (Verses 45-49). Paraphrasing his comments, he says, “You know nothing at all. You don’t understand that it is better for our own welfare that one man should die for his people rather than the whole nation perishing. That he (Caiaphas) was not saying this for his own accord but being the high priest that year; he prophesied that Jesus was to die for that nation. (See also Isaiah 53: 8) And his death was not for that nation only, but also for the purpose of uniting into one body the children of God who have been scattered far and wide” (See also Isaiah 49: 6). We know Jesus died to redeem an Israel that was scattered across Europe and Asia at the time, i.e., the lost sheep of the House of Israel, and while there is some division amongst members of this movement, I believe this offer of Salvation is also open to all the peoples of the world. Whether most will ultimately accept it is another story.
Finally, it is interesting that in Verses 17 & 39, Lazarus is said to have been dead four days. If you think about it, Adam brought the curse of death upon his descendants four days before the First Advent of Christ, or four thousand years. It is also significant to Israel that it is now nearly four days, or four thousand years, since God entered into the Covenant with Abraham. Considering Adamic-Israel history, we can safely say that the symbolic two and four day periods were not a random choice in our inspired Scriptures.
Jesus Himself said, “in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” In His own wonderful words in John 11, He gives witness to Hosea 6: 2 that He will indeed return after 2,000 years to resurrect His believers. Whether soon, as most of us hope, or later, we can be assured it will happen, because as the Lord said in Matthew 24: 25, “Behold, I have told you before.”