Had Ye Believed Moses
By Arlen L. Chitwood
What Is This That He Says?
A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.
Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father’?”
They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying. (John 16:16-18).
(John 16:16-18 shows the other side, or the converse, of that set forth in Mark 1:21-27 [ref. chapter 3 of this book].
In Mark 1:21-27, those in Capernaum had witnessed Christ performing a miraculous sign, which was not understood at all. And as a result, though the people were amazed, there was no belief or repentance [cf. Matthew 11:23, 24]. Rather, those in Capernaum looked upon this sign as some new thing, or some new teaching [v. 27].
In John 16:16-18, the disciples had heard Christ’s instructions concerning His departure and return. And though they didn’t understand what He was talking about, they were interested in finding out.
Thus, in Mark 1:21-27 there was unbelief, but in John 16:16-18 there was belief. And Christ dealt with each accordingly.)
The gospel of John stands alone among the four gospels. The other three — Matthew, Mark, and Luke — are often called “the Synoptic Gospels,” covering numerous parallel events and presenting an overall scope of Christ’s ministry. The gospel of John though doesn’t cover Christ’s ministry in this respect. Rather, the first part of his gospel (chapters 1-11) is built around seven signs taken from different parts of Christ’s ministry; and the latter part of his gospel (chapters 12ff), leading up to the crucifixion, centers on Christ’s dealings with His disciples at the very end of His ministry, providing a number of events occurring at this time that do not appear in the Synoptics.
The seven signs in the gospel of John begin in chapter two with the marriage festivities in Canaan of Galilee and conclude in chapter eleven with the raising of Lazarus from the dead. And these signs have to do with Israel. They point to God’s future dealings with Israel, mainly in the latter days, leading into the Messianic Era.
And keeping within the septenary structure of Scripture (cf. Genesis 1:1-2:3; Hosea 5:15-6:2; Matthew 16:28-17:5; Hebrews 4:4-9; 2 Peter 1:16-18; 3:3-8), six of these seven signs point to a fulfillment on the third day or the seventh day (or a fulfillment on the Passover, which will be fulfilled on the seventh day). And, within the septenary structure of Scripture, the third and seventh days point to the third and seventh one-thousand-year periods, dating from either Christ’s crucifixion (third) or from the restoration of the earth and man’s creation (seventh).
The first sign (2:1-11) points to Israel’s conversion and restoration as the wife of Jehovah, on the seventh day (1:29, 35, 43, 2:1); the second sign (4:40-54) points to Israel being healed of her sickness, on the third day, following Christ having spent two days with the Gentiles (vv. 40, 43); the third sign (5:1-9) also points to Israel being healed of her sickness, but on the seventh day (v. 9); the fourth sign (6:1-14) points to Israel receiving the Bread of Life, the true Manna, on the Passover (v. 4); the fifth sign (6:15-21), the only sign not containing a specific reference to days, has to do with Israel receiving Christ following the Great Tribulation; the sixth sign (9:1-41) has to do with Israel’s blindness being lifted, on the seventh day (v. 14); and the seventh sign (11:1-44) has to do with Israel’s resurrection, on the third day, following Christ having been out of the land of Judea for two days (vv. 6, 7).
These signs were manifested in Israel’s presence when Christ was upon earth and recorded by John about sixty years later for one central, revealed purpose:
…these [signs (v. 30)] are written [‘have been written’ (perfect tense in the Greek text)], that you [the Jewish people, those requiring a sign (1 Corinthians 1:22)] may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God [‘Sonship’ implies rulership]; and that believing you may have life in [or ‘through’] His name. (John 20:31).
John 20:31 is often used by well-meaning individuals to single John’s gospel out and say that this is the one book in Scripture that was written to tell a person how to be saved. Such a statement though, based on this verse, is quite misleading, for that is not what John 20:31 states. John neither makes such a statement in this verse nor has any book in Scripture been written for this specific purpose.
Jude sought to write a book dealing centrally with salvation by grace through faith, but the Spirit of God constrained him (v. 3). And all Scripture follows this same pattern. No one book — Old or New Testament — deals centrally with salvation by grace through faith. It is man, not understanding the central message of Scripture, who has taken Scripture and sought to turn matters around in this respect.
But though no one book, or Scripture as a whole, deals centrally with salvation by grace through faith, this message can be found throughout Scripture. Biblical teachings surrounding salvation by grace through faith begin in Genesis chapter one and progress from that point. And Genesis, not John, is really where an individual should begin when dealing with this message. An individual must first understand the foundational framework set forth in Genesis; else he may very well go wrong in John.
John, in his gospel, deals with the salvation message only within the same framework as it had previously been set forth by Moses and the Prophets. And salvation by grace through faith is no more set forth in a central manner in the gospel of John than it is in the book of Genesis. Both Moses and John deal with the same message, though from different perspectives. The foundational framework is set forth in Moses, and John simply builds on that foundational framework.
John 20:31 calls attention to seven signs (v. 30) having to do with things surrounding the latter days for Israel, with a view to the nation being healed and placed back in the land, within a theocracy. And this subject matter would govern how salvation must be understood within these signs.
The message surrounding salvation by grace through faith must, of necessity, be included; but the central thought of salvation within these signs moves beyond the simple salvation message and has to do with Israel’s deliverance in the Messianic Era.
(Note that John recorded these signs following the re-offer of the kingdom to Israel, at a time when God was no longer dealing with Israel on a national basis in relation to the kingdom [when the gospel of grace would have had to be in view]. But these signs had been manifested in Israel’s presence during the original offer of the kingdom to Israel, at a time when God was dealing with Israel on a national basis in relation to the kingdom [when salvation by grace would not really have been in view within that seen in the signs; rather, the message surrounding the offer of the kingdom of the heavens alone would have been in view]. Refer to the author’s book, FROM ACTS TO THE EPISTLES, chapters 3, 4.)
The deliverance seen in these signs is the same deliverance seen through the use of the word “saved” in Romans 10:13, a quotation from Joel 2:32. This is a deliverance for those who have already believed and are already saved (cf. Joel 2:27-31; Acts 2:16-21; Romans 10:14).
To misrepresent that which John states about signs as he closes his gospel can only serve to obscure the truth surrounding that which he actually does state. And error of this nature, widely taught in the churches of the land today, is in no small part responsible for the present ignorance of Christians concerning that which Scripture reveals about God’s past and future dealings with Israel — something that must be grasped in order to properly understand God’s present and future dealings with the Church.
Then, moving beyond these seven signs — beginning with John chapter twelve, throughout the remainder of the gospel — John deals with events during the last week of Christ’s earthly ministry, preceding His crucifixion. John 12:1 relates the time when Jesus began that part of His ministry that John records, following attention being called to seven signs (chapters 2-11). And, according to this opening verse, Jesus began this part of His ministry six days before His death as the Paschal Lamb (note also that His entry into Jerusalem in John 12:12ff is the same as that seen in Matthew 21:1ff; Mark 11:1ff; Luke 19:29ff).
Thus, that which is seen in the latter half of John’s gospel occurs during a time seen toward the end of the three Synoptics. And numerous things are revealed in John’s gospel that are not seen in the Synoptics, and vice versa.
Parables, Jesus’ dealings with Israel’s religious leaders, and the Olivet Discourse are seen in the Synoptics; but this part of John’s gospel centers on Jesus’ intimate dealings with His disciples — providing instruction (13:1ff; 14:1ff; 15:1ff; 16:1ff), and His prayer on their behalf (17:1ff).
The disciples would fare no better than their Lord (16:2, 32, 33). And the same Word that, for the most part, had been rejected when proclaimed by the Lord of the vineyard would, for the most part, be rejected when proclaimed by His disciples, either in or out of the vineyard (17:8, 14).
Toward the end of Christ’s instructions, preceding His prayer, Jesus told His disciples that it was necessary for Him to go away for “a little while,” though He would return in “a little while” (16:16). And Jesus made this statement immediately following instructions concerning the Spirit being sent into the world after His departure (16:7-15). It was necessary for the Son to go away for “a little while,” else the Spirit could not be sent (vv. 7, 16).
(The words, “a little while,” are the translation of the Greek word, mikros, from which we derive the English word, “micro.” The word has to do with something “small,” or “little.” A short period of time is in view through the use of this word. And though man may look upon 2,000 years as a rather long period, not so with God. It is, as stated in the verse, “a little while.”)
Christ’s reference to both His departure and return — with “a little while” seen between the two times, and the Father sending the Holy Spirit into the world during the time described as “a little while” — should be studied and understood in the light of events in Genesis chapter twenty-four. This chapter is an Old Testament parallel to that seen in John chapter sixteen, setting forth in type things to which Christ referred.
Events in Genesis chapter twenty-four have to do with Abraham sending his eldest servant into the far country to procure a bride for his son, Isaac. And these events occurred following the death of Sarah (chapter 23) but preceding the remarriage of Abraham (chapter 25), which is exactly the same time-frame seen in John 16:7-18.
Genesis chapter twenty-four, in the antitype, points to God sending the Holy Spirit into the world to procure a bride for His Son, Jesus. And the antitype can be seen following the type in exact detail. It must, for the pattern was set in the type; and once the pattern had been set, no change could ever occur.
The Spirit being sent into the world and the subsequent work of the Spirit occurs following the setting aside of Israel, the wife of Jehovah (typified by Sarah, the wife of Abraham, dying prior to Abraham sending his servant into the far country to procure a bride for his son [chapter 23]). And Israel, as Sarah, is looked upon during this time as being in the place of death (Jonah 2:1ff).
Then, the work of the Spirit in the world after this fashion also occurs preceding God restoring Israel to her rightful place as the wife of Jehovah (seen in Abraham’s remarriage, his marriage to Keturah [chapter 25]). And this is also the event to which the first sign points in the gospel of John.
The Father sending the Holy Spirit into the world centers on one task — procuring a bride for His Son. This fact has been set forth in a foundational Old Testament type, and that seen in the antitype (the Father sending the Spirit into the world) must be in complete accordance with the type. Everything must be the same — events surrounding the Spirit being sent, central mission of the Spirit, success of the mission, etc. And this is what must be understood in order to not only properly understand the ministry of the Spirit in the world today but also that which will occur once the Spirit has completed His mission.
A Little While,
and You Will Not See Me
Christ’s departure and the Spirit being sent into the world are inseparably connected. And, because of this inseparable connection, Christ’s statement that He was going away for “a little while” immediately follows a rather lengthy statement concerning the Spirit being sent into the world and the work that the Spirit would do once He was in the world (John 16:7-15):
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper [ Gk., Parakletos, “One called alongside to help” (same word translated “Advocate” in 1 John 2:1)] will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you (John 16:7).
Then, according to the parable of the pounds (Luke 19:11-27), Christ went away for “a little while” to receive a kingdom. But before He left, He called all of His servants, delivered unto them all of His business, and commissioned them accordingly:
Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.
So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten pounds [“ten,” the number of ordinal completion, pointing to all of His servants and all of His business], and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’” (vv. 12, 13)
Two events, with one end, are in view. The Father has sent the Spirit into the world, for a particular purpose — to acquire a bride for His Son (in the type [Genesis 24], it’s the Father doing the sending; in the antitype [John 14:26; 16:7], it’s both the Father and the Son doing the sending [which can be the case and not violate the type-antitype parallel, for the Father and the Son are “One”; cf. John 1:1-3; 10:30; 14:9; 20:27, 28]). And the bride is being acquired for purposes having to do with the kingdom, which the Son has gone away to receive. The whole of the matter is regal; and purposes surrounding the whole of the matter will be realized only in the Messianic Era.
1) Allowing the Spirit to Be Sent
Why was it necessary that the Son depart prior to the Spirit being sent? It was necessary, if for no other reason, because of the way matters had been set forth in the type (Genesis 24). Isaac was with his father when Abraham sent his servant into the far country to procure a bride for his son. And Jesus, accordingly, had to be with His Father at the time when the Spirit was sent into the world to procure a bride in the antitype.
But the type had been set this way for a reason. The Son being in heaven and the Spirit being on earth (in the type, Isaac being with his father, and Abraham’s servant being in Mesopotamia) was necessary for different works that both must carry out at the same time. During the time of the search by the Spirit on earth, the Son would exercise the office of High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary; and while the Spirit searched for the bride on earth, the Son would perform a cleansing from defilement for the bride in the heavens.
Two separate works by two members of the Godhead, with one end, are in view. The work of each would last for one dispensation, and these two works would begin and conclude at the same two times. They would begin with the Spirit being sent to the earth and the Son entering the heavenly sanctuary; and they would conclude with the Spirit removing the bride and the Son coming forth from the sanctuary to meet His bride.
The work of the Spirit searching for the bride, the Spirit removing the bride, and the Son coming forth to meet His bride can be seen in Genesis chapter twenty-four. But for other parts of that which John deals with in chapter sixteen of his gospel, an individual will have to go to other types set forth by Moses.
For example, teachings surrounding Christ’s present high priestly ministry (not seen in Genesis 24) can be seen in Aaron’s actions on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). And the termination of Christ’s present ministry can be seen in Aaron coming forth from the sanctuary after completing his work (not really dealt with per se in Genesis chapter twenty-four either [though the Son is seen coming forth to meet His bride in this chapter]). Or the death of the high priest in Numbers chapter thirty-five relates the same truth, though another matter is dealt with in this chapter in connection with the termination of Christ’s present ministry in the sanctuary — that of Israel’s restoration after Christ comes forth.
2) Allowing a Kingdom to Be Received
Then there is another reason for the Son’s presence in heaven rather than upon earth during the time of the search for the bride. The Son has gone into heaven to receive a kingdom. This was His stated purpose for departing for “a little while” in the parable of the pounds, showing another facet of the matter (Luke 19:12). And the transaction surrounding His receiving this kingdom can only be performed by the Father.
Another (Satan) presently holds the scepter in the kingdom, and only the Father can take the kingdom from the one He appointed as ruler in past time and give it to Another, appointing Him Ruler in the stead of the incumbent ruler. The Father alone rules “in the kingdom of men,” He alone appoints rulers in this kingdom, and He alone can remove these same rulers and give their power to others. The whole of that which God does in this respect is summed up in the expression, “the heavens do rule” (cf. Daniel 4:17-37; 5:18-31).
The entire matter surrounding the work of the Spirit and the work of the Son throughout the present dispensation is regal in nature. The Spirit is presently searching for a bride to reign as consort queen with the Son, and the Son is presently performing a cleansing from defilement on behalf of His bride, with a view to receiving the kingdom from the Father at the end of this time.
The Son cannot reign apart from possessing a bride, and only a pure bride can be presented to the Son (Ephesians 5:26, 27). The necessity of procuring the bride and the bride being presented “without blemish” would sum up the work being carried out by both the Spirit and the Son during the present dispensation.
A ruler in the kingdom of men, within God’s economy, cannot hold the scepter alone. This is a principle set forth in the first two chapters of Genesis when man was created, when Eve was removed from Adam and presented back to him for a helper. God stated concerning this relationship, “…let them [Adam as a complete being — the man and the woman together] have dominion” (1:26-28).
This is why God Himself, within the Old Testament theocracy, had to possess a wife. Otherwise, He would have violated a principle concerning the government of the earth that He Himself established. And this is why the wife of Jehovah, Israel, will have to be restored prior to the restoration of the theocracy to the nation.
This is also why Scripture throughout deals so extensively with Israel’s restoration. There can be no future theocracy apart from Israel being healed of her present sickness. And God is about to cause Israel to pass through the most severe time of trouble the nation has ever experienced (the Great Tribulation) in order to bring this to pass.
The whole of this matter is what the seven signs in John’s gospel deal with. And the importance of Israel’s restoration in God’s sight should, alone, cause individuals to stop and think before using these signs to teach something which the signs do not deal with, while, at the same time, ignoring that which the signs do deal with.
Not only must Israel be restored as the wife of Jehovah but the Son must have a bride as well. The Son cannot reign alone. The bride for which the Holy Spirit is presently searching will complete the second Man, the last Adam, as Eve completed the first man, the first Adam. And this is exactly what Hebrews 2:10 states: “…to make the captain of their salvation perfect [‘complete’] through suffering.”
Thus, throughout the present dispensation there is the work of the Spirit on earth, and there is the Work of the Son in heaven, with the same end in view:
I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13, 14).
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms [lit., ‘The kingdom of this world is become that’] of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15).
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage [‘marriage festivities’] of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.
And to her it was granted to be arrayed [‘should array herself’] in fine linen, clean and bright and white: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation 19:7-9).
A Little While,
and You Will See Me
The present dispensation will end following the completion of the Son’s work as High Priest in the sanctuary (a work alluded to in John 13:4-10 by Christ laying aside His garments, taking a towel, girding Himself, pouring water into a basin, washing the disciples’ feet, and wiping them with the towel), and following the completion of the Spirit’s work in the world (seen in the actions of Abraham’s servant in Genesis chapter twenty-four).
Then, as Abraham’s servant in the type removed the bride from the far country, with Isaac coming forth to meet his bride, so will it be in the antitype. The Spirit will remove the bride from the earth, with the son coming forth to meet His bride.
And events from that point on will be exactly as set forth in this type, though the numerous details will have to be found in other types.
Isaac’s bride, Rebekah, in the type, met Isaac at a point between her home and his home. Then, Rebekah accompanied Isaac to his home, where she became his wife (vv. 61-67).
Exactly the same thing will occur in the antitype. Christ and His bride will meet at a point between His home and her home. Then the bride will accompany the Son to His home, where she will become His wife (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; Revelation 19:7-9).
1) Christ’s Return for His Bride
Christ’s return, after “a little while,” will be for all Christians, though not all Christians will form the bride. When the Spirit’s work on earth and the Son’s work in the heavenly sanctuary have been completed, the dispensation will come to a close. And it will be at this time that the Spirit will remove the bride from the earth and the Son will come forth from the sanctuary to meet His bride.
But the bride will not be revealed at the time of her removal. Rather, the revelation of the bride will come only after events at the judgment seat have been completed. Only following decisions and determinations at the judgment seat will there be a separation of Christians, where certain ones will “stand up out of” the larger group (Gk., exanastasis [Philippians 3:11]). Only then will the bride be revealed and be granted the privilege to be arrayed “in fine linen, clean and bright and white” (Revelation 19:8).
This is seen in the type in Genesis chapter twenty-four through Rebekah covering herself with a veil when she met Isaac. Rebekah and her damsels all went forth on camels. And though the number of the camels is not stated, the inference would be that there were ten, for Abraham’s servant had ten camels when he entered the land. And ten at the time of their departure, transporting Rebekah and her damsels, would show that “all” went forth to meet Isaac, though not “all” would become the wife of Isaac (vv. 10, 61, 65; cf. Matthew 25:1-12).
This is shown in a slightly different fashion in Revelation chapters one through three. In Revelation 1:10, John is seen being removed both into heaven and into the future Day of the Lord (Man’s Day ended at that point for John, for he was removed from the earth and Man’s Day into heaven and the Lord’s Day). And John, following his removal into heaven and into this future day, saw Christ occupying the role of Judge, surrounded by seven golden candlesticks. And “the seven candlesticks” are specifically stated to represent the seven churches, seen in chapters two and three, also removed from Man’s Day into the Lord’s Day (vv. 11-20).
Everything about the description of Christ (vv. 13-16) refers either to a Judge or to judgment. Christ appearing as Priest, or a reference to His priestly work, is not in view at all in this description. It can’t be, for Christ will have completed His work as High Priest at this time.
After going forth to meet the bride, whom the Spirit will have removed from the earth, the next work of the Son will be that of Judge. And that is exactly what is revealed in the scene depicted in Revelation 1:12-17. All judgment has been committed to the Son (John 5:22). And He will, at this time, judge those removed from the earth.
“Seven” shows the completion of that which is in view. “Seven churches” show the complete Church, all Christians. The picture in chapter one is that of all Christians appearing in Christ’s presence in heaven, at the same time, to be judged. Both the faithful and unfaithful will be there — represented by all those in the seven churches in chapters two and three, which includes those in Laodicea.
And they will be there with a view to judgment. They will be there with a view to showing whether they had overcome or had been overcome in the previous race of the faith. And through this judgmental process, the bride will be revealed, showing the successful search of the Spirit during the preceding dispensation.
2) Christ’s Return as King
The judgment of Christians will occur following their removal from the earth. But other judgments are seen following that of Christians. Christ’s subsequent redemption of the inheritance (over which He and His wife will rule) is associated with His breaking the seven seals of the scroll, seen in God’s right hand in Revelation 5:1. And the breaking of these seals — the means through which the inheritance will be redeemed — has to do with judgment befalling the earth and those dwelling on the earth.
It is only following this redemption (Revelation 6-18) that the bride, previously shown forth (Revelation 1-3), will appear “in fine linen, clean and bright and white”; and her arrayal will be with a view to participating in “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7-9).
Only after all these things transpire will the heavens open and the Son come forth on a white charger, accompanied by the angelic armies of heaven (Revelation 19:11ff). He, after “a little while,” will return in this fashion in all His power and glory. And, at that time, the same scenes that witnessed His sufferings and humiliation will witness His glory and exaltation.
Rather than wearing a crown of thorns, He will have many diadems on His head (v. 12); rather than being mocked as King, He will have a name written upon His garments (at His thigh, for all to see), “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (v. 16); and rather than being struck, as at His first coming, He will do the striking in that day.
He will not only “strike through kings” at the time of His return, but throughout the succeeding Millennial Era as well (cf. Psalm 2:1-12; 110:1-7; Isaiah 63:1-6; Revelation 19:17-21). And kings will be speechless in His presence in that day.
These kings are going to see and understand things completely outside the range of their prior experiences. And they will see and understand these things at the hands of the “Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6; 52:15).