First John, chapter 2, part 7
Jan 12, 2018
What about antichrist today? Were all the prophecies of antichrist fulfilled when the chief priests usurped the throne of Jesus in the first century?
No. When antichrist usurped the throne of Christ, it caused a problem that yet needed to be resolved in our time. There is still an ongoing dispute between Jews and Christians over the true identity of the Messiah, or Christ. Christians believe the Messiah is Jesus; Jews look for another, and many of them believe it is simply the Jewish people as a whole or the state of Israel.
The delegation that they (spiritually) sent to the court of heaven, saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14), established a court case that has yet to be resolved. Each side believes it is right; only God can decide the case.
But we do have the David-Absalom precedent to help us determine God’s verdict. When David left Jerusalem and made a sacrifice on the summit of the Mount of Olives, he prophesied of the great Sacrifice that Jesus was to make on the same location a thousand years later. David then went into a far country for an unknown period of time.
Mahanaim, the Camp of God
2 Samuel 17:24 tells us that he went to Mahanaim, which means “two camps.” Mahanaim was named by Jacob as he returned to the land of Canaan after working for Laban for 20 or 21 years. We read in Genesis 32:1, 2,
1 Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him. 2 And Jacob said when he saw them, “This is God’s camp.” So he named that place Mahanaim.
Mahanaim serves as a type of heaven, “God’s camp,” in the prophetic type, for it foreshadows the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven after His death and resurrection. Likewise, when David returned to claim his throne, he set the prophetic pattern of Christ’s return, or “second coming.” When David returned, his supporters fought against the supporters of Absalom, and we read in 2 Samuel 18:6, 7, 8,
6 Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 And the people of Israel were defeated there before the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, 20,000 men. 8 For the battle there was spread over the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
David’s army fought against Israel in the forest of Ephraim. Ephraim was the holder of Joseph’s birthright (1 Chronicles 5:1, 2). Ephraim was also the tribe of Joshua, who had led Israel into the Kingdom many centuries earlier. This suggests prophetically that the end-time battle in our time is fought over the birthright and not just the throne itself.
The Battle in the Forest of Ephraim
The throne and scepter had been given to Judah, while the birthright had been given to Joseph and passed to his son, Ephraim (Genesis 48:20). When Jesus came the first time, He was born of the seed of Judah and David as the lawful inheritor of the throne of David and the scepter of Judah. As I have shown, the chief priests usurped His throne and scepter. But when He comes the second time, Christ is said to come “clothed with a robe dipped in blood” (Revelation 19:13) in order to identify Him with Joseph, the only man in Scripture whose robe was dipped in blood (Genesis 37:31).
Hence, the nature of the conflict shifts, because the same people who usurped the scepter of Judah also want to usurp the birthright of Joseph. This second dispute has arisen in the past century with the rise of Zionism and the Jewish claim to be Israel. The Jews have no right to claim the name Israel, for Jacob gave that name only to the sons of Joseph, saying in Genesis 48:16, “The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and may my name live on in them.” Jacob was referring to the angel who had given him the name Israel in Genesis 32:28).
The only tribes who had the right to call themselves by the name Israel are those who are united with the tribe of Ephraim. However, after the reign of Solomon, the kingdom was divided, and the northern ten tribes retained the name Israel. The southern kingdom took the name Judah, because it did not have the right to call itself Israel. The name Israel goes with the birthright.
Israel was deported to Assyria and never returned. The birthright appeared to be lost when those tribes were lost. The scepter of Judah, however, remained with the seed of David in Jerusalem, and after a 70-year captivity to Babylon, the nation was reconstituted so that Jesus could be born in Bethlehem, as Micah 5:2 had prophesied. All of this happened so that the dispute over the scepter might be fought in Judah (Greek: Judea) in the first appearance of Christ.
But we are now at the end of the age, and Christ’s second coming is imminent. Hence, we look at the story of David’s return to claim his throne after spending time in Mahanaim, “God’s camp.” The battle occurs in the forest of Ephraim, because the Jews have usurped the birthright of Ephraim and have usurped the name Israel, hoping to claim both. You might say that the Jews have amended their claim in the heavenly court to include the birthright of Joseph-Ephraim.
The Resolution of the Disputes
Both disputes, then, must be resolved at the same time at the second coming of Christ. So if Jesus is indeed the Messiah, and the Jews rejected His claim to the throne, it is clear that they laid claim to the birthright in 1948 while rejecting Jesus who comes the second time as Joshua the Ephraimite.
Jesus ascended to heaven as the Son of David of the tribe of Judah, but He returns as Joseph with His robe dipped in blood. In this way, He is the repairer of the breach between Judah and Israel, because Hosea 1:11 prophesied that both nations would reunite under one Leader:
11 And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one Leader, and they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.
It is commonly taught that the Jews will repent after they see Christ coming in the clouds as He comes to save Jerusalem from utter destruction. There is much misunderstanding of prophecy about the fate of Jerusalem, but that topic is too long to discuss here. For more commentary on that topic, see my books, The Struggle for the Birthright and The Laws of the Second Coming. For now, we must limit our discussion to the story of the final battle of David against Israel in the forests of Ephraim.
The army of David overcame the army of Absalom, as we have already shown. But what happened to Absalom? We read in 2 Samuel 18:15,
15 And ten young men who carried Joab’s armor gathered around and struck Absalom and killed him.
Absalom represents prophetically the Jewish leaders who usurped the throne of Christ. He did not survive this battle, nor did he become part of David’s government. So also do we read the divine verdict for “Absalom” at the end of Jesus’ parable in Luke 19:27,
27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.
In other words, Jesus said to bring them to Jerusalem and “slay them in my presence.” Zionism is the movement by which they have been brought back to Jerusalem—the scene of the crime. They have not been brought there to rule the Kingdom with Jesus Christ. They have been brought there, as representatives of the Jews as a whole, for their destruction. That event will fulfill the prophecy of Jeremiah 19, where the prophet smashed an old earthen jar in the valley of the son of Hinnom (Greek: gehenna) and proclaimed, “Just so will I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot again be repaired” (Jeremiah 19:11).
The city has been destroyed many times over the centuries, but it has always been “repaired.” The final destruction, however, will be so complete that it “cannot again be repaired.” The prophecies about the glory of Jerusalem will be fulfilled, not in the earthly Jerusalem, but in the heavenly city. The earthly city, Paul says, is Hagar (Galatians 4:25), and she must be cast out with her children (Galatians 4:30).
So when Christ returns, let us not be found supporting the Jewish claim to the birthright of Joseph. We ought not to fight Absalom’s battle against David. Neither should we consider Hagar-Jerusalem to be our mother or the mother of the Kingdom that is to come, lest we be cast out along with our mother for supporting the rival government. Those believers who support the usurpers are like Ahithophel and Judas. Another man will take their office (Acts 1:20).
It really does matter who we support in this age-long dispute. If we do not understand this conflict, we may find ourselves blindly following Absalom, as so many Israelites did. Again, we may find ourselves supporting those who wanted Jesus to be crucified.
1 John 2:20 says,
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.
The context shows that John was speaking of the true anointing (christening) of the Holy Spirit, which came upon the followers of Jesus in the upper room. That anointing did not come upon those worshiping in the temple on that day of Pentecost. Though the high priest did indeed set the timing for the outpouring of the Spirit at the third hour of the day (Acts 2:15), the Spirit did not fall upon the many at the temple, but upon the few in the upper room.
David was anointed by Samuel, and this made him an anointed one, that is, a Christ. We too have an anointing, for we are supporters of Jesus Christ, and we have received the promise of God. The antichrists in John’s day and in our own time do not have that same anointing, for they are not “chosen,” regardless of their genealogy. Paul says that only the remnant of grace is chosen, or “elect” (Romans 11:7 KJV).
John’s word instructs us so that we may be neither antichrists nor betrayers. In the first century, the main issue was the dispute over the scepter of Judah; in our time, the main issue is the dispute over the birthright of Joseph, along with the right to the name Israel. If we are found on the right side of divine justice, the heavenly verdict will go in our favor. If not, the consequences could be quite disappointing.
This is part 10 of a series titled "Studies in First John." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones