Mysteries of the Kingdom
By Arlen L. Chitwood
I Will Return
When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.
Then he says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation. (Matthew 12:43-45)
These are Christ’s closing recorded words to religious leaders after they had committed the “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” (12:24-32), before He “went . . . out of the house,” “sat by the sea,” and began to speak “in parables” (13:1-3). The house of Israel, during time covered by events seen in these parables, was to be left “empty, swept, and put in order” (Matthew 12:44; cf. Matthew 23:38). The house was to stand vacant (“empty”), and it was to be “swept” and “put in order” relative to its vacated state. Nothing was to remain.
And, once the house of Israel found itself in this condition (which would include the people, the temple, the city of Jerusalem, and the land), the nation was left with only one recourse: Repentance. But, should repentance not be forthcoming — with the Jewish people persisting in their disobedience, ignoring the reason for their condition — matters would only become worse.
God had revealed through Moses at the beginning that Israel would not be allowed to continue indefinitely in disobedience. The nation would ultimately be brought to the place of repentance. And, to bring this to pass, if necessary, Israel’s punishment would be intensified seven times (Leviticus 26:18-31). Israel, through this means, would be brought to a place where the nation would have no recourse other than to turn to the God of their fathers (cf. Exodus 2:23-25; 3:7ff; Jonah 2:2-10).
Then, fifteen hundred years later, Christ called attention to this same fundamental truth immediately before He left the house, went down by the sea, and began to speak in parables (Matthew 12:43-45; 13:1ff).
Matthew 12:43-45 reveals an “unclean spirit” dwelling in the house prior to the house being left “empty, swept, and put in order.” Then, following this, because of Israel’s refusal to repent, “seven other spirits,” more wicked than the first, would take up residence in the house, with the latter state of the nation being far worse than the former state (v. 45).
The picture is that of Israel persisting in disobedience, with God intensifying, seven-fold, the trouble that Israel was already experiencing because of her disobedience. Further, Israel is seen ignoring the reason for her divinely decreed condition and attempting to bring about a change herself — something that could only make matters worse.
(“Seven” is a complete number, showing the completeness of that which is in view. “Seven times,” or “seven other spirits,” may refer to completeness rather than to a literal seven-fold intensity.
However, either way, matters would be quite similar. With completeness in view, intensity would be involved; and this intensity could, at times, possibly be even greater than seven-fold.)
Israel was sick (resulting from sin, disobedience [Isaiah 1:4-6]); and “the house,” the house of Israel, was about to be left desolate. And the nation’s condition would continue after this fashion until a certain decreed time. This condition would continue until matters became so bad that Israel would be forced to cry out to the God of their Fathers for help (Exodus 2:23-25).
And, correspondingly, the nation would, in that day, through divine power, be brought into such dire straits that the Jewish people would willingly, gladly, and eagerly say, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:37-39; cf. Isaiah 53:1ff).
Israel’s condition was/is of divine origin, and the nation’s cure must also be of divine origin. A divine purpose lies behind the nation’s present divinely decreed condition — a purpose having to do with bringing a nation to the end of itself, leaving the nation with no place to turn but to the God of its Fathers.
(A similar divine work can be seen in Zechariah 1:14, 15 (KJV), where the Lord set about to chasten His son, Israel, because of disobedience; but, in this case, the Gentile nations stepped in and “helped forward the affliction.”
That is, God, in His infinite wisdom, set about to chasten His son in order to bring about correction. And the Gentiles, seeing Israel being chastened, stepped in and sought to intensify the nation‘s sufferings.
And God will not countenance such action. God said that He was “a little displeased” with Israel, resulting in the chastening; but, when the Gentiles stepped in and “helped forward the affliction,” God said that He was “very sore displeased” with the Gentiles.
In this respect, the Gentile nations should take note of that which has been happening and continues to happen to Israel today. It is, again, the same chastening hand of God, for the same purpose. And God will no more countenance interference in His plans and purposes for Israel today than He would in Old Testament days.
Should any Gentile nation attempt such [as some already have], God will, again, be “very sore displeased”; and the principle set forth in Genesis 12:3 will still apply: “I will . . . curse him that curses you.”)
A Modern-Day Saturation
An interesting situation pertaining to God’s chastening His son, Israel, because of continued disobedience has developed during modern times. And this is something that affects not only Israel but the surrounding Gentile nations as well.
Israel has sought to return to her land, while, at the same time, remaining in disobedience. And, attempting to return after this fashion is not only attempting to return before the time but also attempting to reverse that which God has decreed concerning Israel’s sickness and desolation. It is attempting, through humanistic means, to bring about a change in an “empty, swept, and put in order” house, the house of Israel. And an attempt of this nature can only result in seven other spirits, more wicked than the first, entering into the house.
The principle has been established — given by God through Moses, and reiterated by Christ — and it cannot be broken.
With an existing Jewish nation in the Middle East, in the eyes of man, Israel has seemingly succeeded in that which the nation attempted (return to the land, and change that which God had previously decreed). But, in the eyes of God, though an Israeli nation presently exists in the Middle East, matters are viewed from a quite different perspective. According to Scripture, all of the efforts put forth by Israel — seeking to bring about a change in an “empty, swept, and put in order” house — can only have one end. Conditions for the nation can only become worse.
One need only look at a decaying Middle East situation to see what is really happening. Intensifying trouble exists throughout the Middle East. The whole area is like a powder keg, with a lit fuse, waiting to explode. And the nations (Israel and the Gentile nations, including the United States) are desperately, though vainly, seeking to defuse the situation.
But neither Israel nor the Gentile nations have any understanding at all of that which is happening. They have no understanding of the nature of the problem, why it exists, or how to deal with it. And, even if they did understand all the ramifications of the existing problem, they couldn’t even begin to deal with it. God alone is the only One who can possibly deal with it. The whole of the existing problem is a matter between God and Israel, and the whole of the solution is also a matter between God and Israel.
But a solution will not be forthcoming until a full-end to the decreed “seven times” or “seven other spirits,” in relation to Israel’s chastisement, has come to pass. And the nations, awaiting the full-end to a problem and situation that they can’t even begin to understand or with which to deal, don’t have a clue concerning which way to turn.
Various plans are being studied and considered, and concessions are being made that were unheard of only a short time back. But all of man’s best efforts will fail. This is simply something that man has no control over and cannot deal with.
And where is it all headed? From a Scriptural standpoint, there is only one possible answer. It is all headed toward a climactic, desolate end — an end seven times worse than it would have been had the Jewish people not persisted in their disobedience and sought, themselves, to bring about a change in a “empty, swept, and put in order” house.
(For additional information on the preceding, refer to the author’s books, Esther, Appendix 1, “The Death of the High Priest,” and The Time of the End, Appendix 1, “The Intractable Middle East Problem.”)
A Man Seemingly Possessing the Answer
In the immediate future, a man is going to appear in the Middle East with the seeming solution to the insoluble problem. And he will undoubtedly be received with open arms by the world at large, for he will appear to have the answer to the intractable problem.
But though his solution for Middle East peace will appear to work for awhile, the end result will be exactly as stated by Christ in Matthew 12:43-45. Instead of one wicked spirit in the house, in the end, seven spirits more wicked than the first will be found therein.
Israel will seek to be cured of her sickness through an association with this man — the man of sin, the Antichrist. But he will be unable to effect a cure. The Lord wrought Israel’s sickness, and only the Lord can effect the nation’s cure (Hosea 5:13, 14).
The matter of a Jewish nation, a remnant in the land today, is as Jonah out of the Lord’s will, on board the ship, out of the sea. This remnant in the land today, out of the Lord’s will, is no longer scattered among the nations. They are in their own land, seemingly completely removed from the sea.
(The “sea” is used in Scripture referring to the Gentile nations and to death. And though the remnant in the land is no longer scattered among the nations, they are spiritually dead. Though removed from the sea in one sense, they have not been removed from the sea in another.)
In Jonah’s case, the sea raged so long as this condition persisted — Jonah on board the ship, out of the sea. But once Jonah was cast into the sea, the sea became calm (Jonah 1:3-15). And Jonah had to remain in the sea, in the place of death (typifying, as well, being scattered among the nations), for two days, until the third day. Only then could Jonah be removed from the sea and be placed back in the land (Jonah 1:17-2:10).
Israel’s place, out of the Lord’s will, can only be in exactly the same place that Jonah occupied out of the Lord’s will — in the sea, i.e., in the place of death and scattered among the Gentile nations. This is the place where God dealt with Jonah in the type, and this is the place where God has decreed that He will deal with Israel in the antitype.
And Israel, as Jonah, has to remain in this place and condition (in the sea, in the place of death, scattered among the nations) until the third day. Any attempt by either Israel or others to bring about a change in the nation’s condition and situation is not only doomed to failure but is also destined to make matters worse than they previously existed.
And this, in itself, will reveal the only possible future for the present existing nation of Israel in the Middle East. An attempt has been made to remove Israel from the sea, through humanistic means, before the time. An attempt has been made, through Zionistic endeavors, to reenter an “empty, swept, and put in order” house.
What is going to happen according to Jonah? The sea is going to rage; the Gentile nations are going to be in turmoil. And this scene from the book of Jonah will address the whole of what is happening in the world today in relation to Israel and the Gentile nations.
What is going to happen according to Matthew? Exactly the same thing! Conditions will only become worse for Israel; and the Gentile nations, inseparably connected to Israel’s destiny in this respect, will fare no better.
And that’s where the world presently finds itself. Everything is unalterably tied to Israel and that which Scripture reveals about the nation’s destiny. Israel finds herself in dire straits, the Gentile nations surrounding Israel are in turmoil, and an eluding Middle East peace is desperately being sought at practically any price.
Peace though will not be forthcoming, and conditions will only become worse as time goes on. The man of sin, who will shortly appear and seemingly have the solution to the problem, will fail; and matters will become even worse. In fact, the whole of man’s efforts will end with the darkest time in Jewish history, immediately before “the Son of Righteousness” arises “with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:1, 2).
The remnant presently in the land, comprising the present nation of Israel, is not only going to be uprooted and “led captive into all nations” (Luke 21:20-24), but at least twice as many Jews will be killed worldwide in less than half the time as were killed in Europe during World War II, from 1939 to1945 (Zechariah 13:8). All of this is according to the clear revelation of Scripture; and, try as man might; he is completely powerless to change the course of that which has been set in motion.
Scripture clearly reveals Israel’s destiny, not only during her approaching darkest hour, but also during and following that time when the Jewish people cry out to the God of their fathers. Until the latter occurs, there can be nothing but intensifying trouble; but following the occurrence of the latter, the whole of the matter will be reversed. Then, and only then, will peace exist in the Middle East and the world at large.
And all of this foretold calamity is the setting for Christ’s departure from the house, His going down by the sea, and His beginning to speak in parables in Matthew chapter thirteen. Israel’s climactic rejection (Matthew 12) and Christ’s subsequent action (Matthew 13) anticipate the removal of the kingdom from Israel (Matthew 21:33-43), Christ’s condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees, and Christ’s announcement concerning the house being left desolate (Matthew 23:1-39).
And all of this anticipates the Church being called into existence (to be the recipient of that which Israel rejected), the entire present dispensation (in which the house lies desolate, while God calls out a bride for His Son), and the coming Tribulation (when Israel’s desolation will reach an apex, as the nation enters her darkest hour).
And, as well, all of this anticipates Israel ultimately returning to the One who has torn and smitten, the only One who can bind her wound. It will be in that day alone that healing will occur, with Israel being raised up to live in God’s sight (Hosea 6:1, 2; cf. Isaiah 1:4-2:5).
Similarities Seen in Jewish History
There are a number of parallels that can be seen through viewing Israel during both the days of Moses and the days when Christ was on earth the first time. A theocracy was in the offing in both instances, a Magna Charta for the kingdom was seen in both instances, there was a climactic rejection in both instances, and the same consequences followed in both instances.
1. Moses’ Day
During Moses’ day, the people were delivered from Egypt following the death of the firstborn, with a view to realizing the rights of the firstborn in an earthly land, separate from Egypt. After their deliverance from Egypt, prior to entering the land, the Magna Charta for the theocracy — the constitution, the law, the rules and regulations governing the people — was given through Moses. Then the march was to Kadesh-Barnea, where the people of Israel were to enter the land, conquer the inhabitants, and rule the nations within this theocracy.
At Kadesh-Barnea, prior to the nation entering the land, twelve men — leaders from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, one from each tribe — were chosen to enter the land first in order to derive information concerning the land and its inhabitants (Numbers 13:1ff). These men traversed the land from one end to the other for forty days and nights, deriving this information; and they returned at the end of this time, not only with this information, but also with fruits from the land for the people to see (Numbers 13:21ff).
Then, after all twelve of the Jewish leaders had delivered their report “to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel,” exhibiting the fruits of the land, they concluded with two diametrically opposed statements. Two of the men concluded with a positive statement, but the remaining ten concluded with a negative statement. Two of the men delivered a good report, but the remaining ten delivered an evil report (Numbers 13:26ff).
The two, Caleb and Joshua (with Caleb speaking for both), said,
“Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30; cf. Numbers 14:6).
But the remaining ten said,
“We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:31).
And the people listened to and gave heed to the ten with the evil report rather than the two with the good report.
Unbelief on the part of Israel in this respect was unbelief in God’s ability to see the matter through to its completion. God had supernaturally delivered His people from Egypt and had supernaturally provided for them thus far (Exodus 14:13-31; 16:1ff; 17:1ff). And now He was to allow them to possess the land through supernaturally delivering those inhabiting the land (a land previously covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) into their hands (Deuteronomy 1:30; 4:38; 7:1, 2, 16, 22-24; 28:7). But the people, through their unbelief, stayed God’s hand.
And, because of this unbelief, Israel, at Kadesh-Barnea, fell away after such a fashion that a return to their former state was no longer possible. They had crossed over the line; and because of this, the entire unbelieving generation, twenty years old and above, save Caleb and Joshua, was to be overthrown in the wilderness (Numbers 14:29, 30). They were to be overthrown on the right side of the blood (the death of the firstborn back in Egypt) but on the wrong side of the goal of their calling (entrance into the land to realize the rights of the firstborn).
After God had dealt with the ten leaders who delivered an evil report to the people (Numbers 14:37), the entire unbelieving generation was progressively overthrown during the next thirty-eight and one-half years. Those comprising this generation were led away from the Promised Land, into the wilderness land of Esau and Lot, down by the sea; and this entire unbelieving generation died in this wilderness land (Deuteronomy 2:1-14).
And there was nothing any one of them could do about it. They were completely, totally powerless to bring about a change. They had fallen away at Kadesh-Barnea after a fashion that made a return to their former state impossible.
2. Christ’s Day
During Christ’s day, exactly the same thing can be seen, though from a different perspective. The death of the firstborn was past (the people of Israel were still sacrificing the paschal lamb year after year [though they were about to sacrifice the Paschal Lamb, presenting the beginning of a different series of events that would be culminated at the time of Christ’s return]).
But, rather than deliverance from one earthly land to another, as during Moses’ day, deliverance from the earth to a heavenly land was in view. Then, with a view to the Jewish people entering this heavenly land, the Magna Charta for the theocracy (again, the constitution, the rules and regulations governing the people) was given through Christ. This is what the message was about that Christ delivered on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.
And, though the message surrounding the kingdom had previously been proclaimed to Israel (Matthew 3, 4), only after the Magna Charta for the kingdom had been delivered (Matthew 5-7) could the full force of the offer come into view (Matthew 8ff).
But the religious leaders in Israel led an unbelieving generation to do exactly the same thing that the leadership in Israel had led the people to do during Moses’ day. These religious leaders had no interest in entering the kingdom, and they did everything within their power to see that those comprising the remainder of the nation didn’t enter either (Matthew 23:13).
They had heard the report (from John, Jesus, and the Twelve), and they had seen the fruits of the land (the various signs being manifested, showing that which Israel could have if the nation would repent). But they wanted nothing to do with the matter. And Israel’s religious leaders, exactly as had been done during Moses’ day, presented an evil report, leading the nation into a rejection from which there could be no return.
Events of Numbers 13, 14 and Matthew 12 (ref. Chapter 1 of this book) parallel one another in this respect. Both have to do with climactic points of rejection, with a theocracy in view; and both present the nation, because of its leadership, being brought to a point of no return.
After they had been brought to this place, only one thing lay in store for both generations: an overthrow, on the right side of the blood, but on the wrong side of the goal of their calling.
A Similarity Seen in Christendom
In Christendom, things are little different concerning the message surrounding the coming kingdom of Christ. Not only is the message being rejected, but Christians, as the Israelites during both Moses’ day and Christ’s day, can reach a terminal point in their rejection. That’s what the third of the five major warnings in the book of Hebrews is about.
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
This section in Hebrews warns against a falling away after such a fashion that, once the individual has fallen away, he will be unable to find a place of repentance. And, contextually, the warning is drawn from the type seen in the previous warning — the Israelites under Moses (chaps. 3, 4).
Under Moses, the Israelites fell away at Kadesh-Barnea after they had heard the report of the Twelve and had seen the fruits of the land. Their falling away had to do with a rejection of that which lay before them; and once they had fallen away, no place of repentance could then be found.
“Repentance” simply means a change of mind. And the thought has nothing to do with the Israelites changing their minds. This is something that they did the very next day, but to no avail (Numbers 14:39-45). They changed their minds and sought to go into the land set before them and conquer the inhabitants in accordance with God’s previous command. But God, because of their previous unbelief upon hearing the report of the Twelve and seeing the fruits of the land, had already told them that they would not be allowed to do that which they were now attempting to do. Instead, the entire unbelieving generation was destined to be overthrown in the wilderness.
The repentance in view in the type was on the part of God, not on the part of the Israelites. God, because of that which had occurred, was not going to change His mind. And there was nothing that the Israelites could do to alter the existing situation.
The matter would be similar to Esau’s forfeiture of his birthright and that which occurred following Isaac bestowing the blessing of the firstborn on Jacob. Esau, realizing for the first time the value of the birthright and realizing the gravity of that which had occurred, sought to get his father, Isaac, to bless him as well. But Isaac couldn’t now bless Esau after this manner. He had already bestowed the blessing of the firstborn on Jacob, and the matter could not be reversed.
Esau’s forfeiture of his birthright constitutes the fifth and last of the five major warnings in Hebrews. And this warning concludes by stating that Esau “found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears” (Hebrews 12:16, 17).
Esau repented; he changed his mind. But Esau couldn’t get his father to repent; he couldn’t get his father to change his mind. Isaac couldn’t change his mind. It was too late. He had already bestowed the blessing of the firstborn on Jacob. And, realizing not only the gravity of the situation but the finality of the matter, it is recorded that “Esau lifted up his voice and wept” (Genesis 27:34-38).
Though the forfeiture of one’s birthright would be in view in the third warning in Hebrews, as well as the fifth warning, the third warning is drawn from the experiences of the Israelites at Kadesh-Barnea under Moses. And this is the point in Scripture where one must center his attention if he is to properly understand this warning.
A falling away in the antitype would require that an individual not only first hear the message but that he also have some understanding of the subject. It would require Christians to be placed in exactly the same position as the Israelites under Moses, who both heard the report and saw the fruits of the land.
Note how Hebrews 6:4, 5 is worded, keeping in mind that the matter has to do with “the powers of the age to come [the Messianic Era]” (v. 5b):
The individuals in this passage had been “enlightened,” they had “tasted the heavenly gift,” they had been made “partakers [‘companions’] of the Holy Spirit [note that the primary function of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the world today is the search for the bride (Genesis 24)],” and they had “tasted the good Word of God.”
All of these things have to do with that which is in view in the type. All of these things have to do with entrance into the land and realizing the rights of the firstborn therein.
And a person finding himself in this position, then falling away in the antitype of the Israelites falling away at Kadesh-Barnea (turning from, rejecting that which is set before him), will find himself in exactly the same position as the unbelieving generation under Moses found itself. He will find himself in a position where it will be impossible to be renewed again to repentance.
God didn’t change His mind relative to an unbelieving generation during Moses’ day, He didn’t change His mind relative to an unbelieving generation when Christ was on earth the first time, and He is not going to change His mind relative to unbelieving Christians. God’s people didn’t then, nor will they today or yet future, find a place of repentance.
But God Honors Faithfulness
During Moses’ day, Caleb and Joshua were set apart from the unbelieving generation. They had believed the Lord, and God honored their belief. They were subsequently allowed to enter the land, conquer the inhabitants, and realize the goal of their calling.
Caleb and Joshua form a type of faithful Christians (in the same fashion that the unbelieving generation of that day forms a type of unfaithful Christians). And God will honor faithfulness among Christians today, exactly as He honored faithfulness during Moses’ day. Faithful Christians will be dealt with in a parallel fashion to the way God dealt with Caleb and Joshua.
Following the crossing of Jordan, the conquest of Jericho, and numerous subsequent battles, Caleb realized his inheritance. And upon realizing his inheritance, Caleb said:
I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart.
Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt/span>, but I wholly followed the LORD my God.
So Moses swore on that dayy, saying, “Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.”
And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said . . .
Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day . . . . (Joshua 14:7-10a, 12a).
Joshua then blessed Caleb and gave him “Hebron . . . as an inheritance” (vv. 13, 14).
Then Joshua’s inheritance in the land is spoken of at a later time, after the land had been divided and things had been put in order:
When they had made an end of dividing the land as an inheritance according to their borders, the children of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun.
According to the word of the LORD they gave him the city which he asked for, Timnath Serah in the mountains of Ephraim; and he built the city and dwelt in it. (Joshua 19:49, 50; cf. Luke 19:15-18).
And therein lies the difference between faithfulness and unfaithfulness to that which God had commanded during Moses’ day, which would be exactly the same for Christians in the antitype.
It was/is being allowed to realize an inheritance in a land flowing with milk and honey on the one hand, or it was/is being overthrown in the land of Esau and Lot on the other.
One thing alone is seen as the deciding factor.
This one thing was stated by Caleb before he realized his inheritance, something upon which he based the whole of his claim to the inheritance:
I wholly followed the LORD my God (Joshua 14:8b; cf. v. 9).
And this one thing was stated again following Caleb realizing his inheritance, showing the whole of that upon which the reward of the inheritance was based:
Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb . . . because he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel (Joshua 14:14).