Notice the continuing expression: “For three transgressions … and for four.” These words were used for each of the nations surrounding Israel who were due for judgment. We are not to try to find three or four actual transgressions for each. Rather, the point is that Moab and the other nations had a history of transgressions and would, therefore, be judged.
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It seems providential that the Book of Jude is found next to the final book in the Bible, the Book of Revelation, which is one of the last books to be understood this side of the veil. The Epistles of John (not the Gospel), the Epistle of Jude, and the Revelation of John—all three of these last messages to the Church—each contain special prophetic warnings and admonitions with respect to the future. Moreover, each sequential message, as it is given, contains increasingly greater detail and thus ascends in importance. First, there is John’s allusion in his epistle to Antichrist and its identity; then comes Jude’s stern message; and finally the Apocalyptic scene of events of the Gospel Age provides an overview that helps us, in turn, to locate, identify, and further understand the climactic predictions of the age, particularly its conclusion.
Let us observe how strange it is that Jude’s epistle is sandwiched between the two messages of the same apostle John—between his epistles and his Apocalypse. Does not this placement of Jude suggest to us the possibility—nay, the probability—that these last three perhaps least-studied, least-understood books are to be considered as a special triad or unit unto themselves, which in due process of time would assume greater import?
The Book of Jude seems to have been written especially for the end of the age. What is the evidence or proof for such a statement? Verses 14 and 15 of the epistle inform us that Enoch prophesied of conditions that would prevail in the last time or day, and this prophecy of Enoch was directed against a class that Jude himself repeatedly refers to in his epistle. This book provides a rather startling revelation of conditions that will exist not in the world but in the Church, and it is from this standpoint that we will consider the letter.
Paul was entreating the Thessalonians: “We beseech you, brethren, concerning the presence [Greek parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto him.” He was the apostle who showed, particularly, that at the end of the Gospel Age, the presence would be a period of time and that those who slept in Christ would be raised first. Later the feet members of the body of Christ would be invisibly and spiritually raptured as a group. As pictured by Elijah’s being taken up by a whirlwind, a class will be taken together. When John the Baptist was beheaded, he portrayed the last members of the body of Christ.
At the end of the age, there are two collective gatherings of faithful Christians: first, the dead in Christ and then the feet members at a yet-future date (1 Thess. 4:17). In between these events, saints who die as individuals do not sleep but are instantaneously changed (1 Cor. 15:51,52). When Paul uttered these words, however, he was probably thinking of himself and the brethren at Thessalonica, rather than the feet members especially, but he was quite aware of both.
If we were not familiar with Present Truth and the teachings of all the great Reformers, we might think of the “man of sin” as a literal being, as some wicked person, but it is the false religious system just as the “man of God” is the true Church, a collective body made up of component parts or “joints.” The ideal is the picture of Jesus as the head and the Church as the body parts. Similarly, the man of sin is an organization with a person (the pope) as the head and the corresponding component parts of the Antichrist system (the Papacy) as the body. The man of God is The Christ, The Elijah,with Jesus as head. The man of sin is the Antichrist, the Papacy, a religious system, with Satan as its head. As the head of the man-of-sin system, Satan works through Papacy, whereas Jesus, the head of the man of God, works through the congregation.
OUR lesson is interesting as we find it simply recorded in the Bible, but the interest of Bible students increases from the time they learn that Elijah was not only a Prophet of the Lord, but also a type of the Church’s earthly experiences. The Book of Revelation (2:20-25; 18:7) pictures to us Queen Jezebel as representing a great religious system of this Gospel Age which did great violence to the Truth. Ahab represented the worldly governments. His wife represented a false Christian Church system married to earthly governments. As Ahab represented the worldly governments claiming to be Christ’s kingdoms, so Queen Jezebel pictured, or typified, a false Church system, which, instead of maintaining its purity as the virgin Church of Christ, became married or united to these earthly systems. Contrary to this, the true virgin Church of Christ was to remain faithful to her Heavenly Lord, awaiting His Second Coming; and her marriage to Him was then to be accomplished.
As already suggested, Elijah’s prophecy was larger than on the surface appeared; for he and all of his doings were a type on a small scale of greater things which came afterwards. Elijah was a type of the Church in the flesh—the Church of which Jesus is the Head, and all of His saintly followers are the members. It was of this antitypical Elijah that God declared, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord; and he shall turn the heart of the children to the fathers, and the heart of the fathers to the children; otherwise I will come and smite the earth with a curse.”—Malachi 4:5,6
“Elias shall first come.”
Jesus says this prophecy is fulfilled in John the Baptist, but then he associates himself with Elias as well. Look at Matthew 17:12, “Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.”
What did he mean by that? We know that Elijah was 1260 days in the wilderness, Jesus’ ministry was 1260 days, the Word of God was 1260 days in sackcloth and ashes, and that the Church, the Body of Christ is 1260 days in the wilderness. Coincidence or designed to direct our thoughts to important symbolisms?
So if our Lord is likened to Elijah and we (his body members) are associated with him, what does that mean to us as Christians? Can we look at Elijah’s life in a new light and glean the deeper meanings?
This study covers the life of Elijah from the first record of his ministry to Mount Horeb (Sinai). The prophet is unique in that his life’s experiences hold symbolic meaning from beginning to end and in a chronological fashion. Just as Daniel the 11th chapter, with a language brings us from Darius Hystaspes right up to the Time of the End. Elijah’s life pictures most of the Gospel age right to the completion of the Bride of Christ. The narrative starts with the 3 1/2 years of drought (539 AD). We see the 3 1/2 or 1260 days appears elsewhere in Scripture which helps to identify this time Chronology (Jesus’ ministry is 1260 days, there is 42 months, and the woman in Rev. 12 flees into the wilderness 1260 days). It is Revelation that helps determine the date with the ascendancy of the Manchild (Papacy), and the woman’s flight into the wilderness. This is the same as the drought sustained by Elijah. The date is 539.