The Parallels of History – Part 1
The Parallels between the Two Ages
in the Providence of Restoration
Since the ultimate purpose of the providence of restoration is to lay the foundation for the Messiah, if it is prolonged, the dispensations to restore this foundation must be repeated. We know that to establish the foundation for the Messiah, a central figure must make a symbolic offering acceptable to God by employing an object for the condition and passing through a required time period. In addition, he must lay the foundation of substance by making an acceptable substantial offering upon fulfilling the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature. In the course of the providence, the repetition of dispensations to restore the foundation for the Messiah has meant, in effect, the repetition of dispensations to restore through indemnity the symbolic offering and the substantial offering. The historical record illuminates the parallels between providential periods caused by the repetition of dispensations to restore through indemnity the foundation for the Messiah. The Age of the Prolongation of the Providence of Restoration was to restore the Age of the Providence of Restoration through parallel indemnity conditions of a substantial type. Let us examine the comparable characteristics of each providential period from this standpoint.
First, however, we need to identify what groups of people have had the central responsibility for God’s providence and the historical sources which can shed light on their history. Human history consists of the histories of countless peoples. Nevertheless, God has specially chosen certain people to walk the model course of restoration to lay the foundation for the Messiah. God puts them at the center of His providence and guides them by His Principle. Their history, in turn, steers the course of human history as a whole. A nation or people entrusted with such a mission is called God’s chosen people.
God’s first chosen people consisted of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had established the family foundation for the Messiah. Therefore, the nation centrally responsible for God’s providence in the Age of the Providence of Restoration was Israel. The Old Testament, which records the history of Israel, provides the source material with which to study the history of the providence in that age.
However, from the time that they rejected Jesus, the Jewish people lost their qualification to be centrally responsible for God’s providence. Foreseeing this, Jesus uttered the parable of the vineyard, saying:
St. Paul said in anguish over his kinsmen, the Jewish people:
For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants . . . it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants. –Rom. 9:6-8CEV|KJ|NI
Indeed, the people who became centrally responsible for the providence in the Age of the Prolongation of the Providence of Restoration were not the Jews, but rather the Christians. They assumed the mission to accomplish God’s unfulfilled providence of restoration. Accordingly, the history of Christianity provides the source material for understanding providential history in this age. In this sense, the descendants of Abraham in the Old Testament Age may be referred to as the First Israel, and the Christians in the New Testament Age may be called the Second Israel.1(Tit. 2:14)CEV|KJ|NI; (I Pet. 2:9-10)CEV|KJ|NI
When we compare the Old Testament to the New Testament, the five books of the Law (Genesis to Deuteronomy), the twelve books of history (Joshua to Esther), the five books of poetry and wisdom (Job to the Song of Solomon) and the seventeen books of prophecy (Isaiah to Malachi) in the Old Testament correspond to the Gospels, Acts, the Letters of the Apostles and Revelation, respectively. However, while the books of history in the Old Testament record most of the two-thousand-year history of Israel, the Book of Acts records only the history of the earliest Christians in the generation after Jesus’ death. To find historical records pertaining to God’s work of restoration in the New Testament Age with a scope comparable to those found in the Old Testament, we must consult in addition the entire history of Christianity from Jesus’ time to the present day. On this basis, we can compare the histories of the First and Second Israels and their impact on the character of each period in the two providential ages. Recognizing a pattern of parallel periods, we come to know more clearly that history has been shaped by the systematic and lawful providence of the living God.
The Period of Slavery in Egypt
and the Period of Persecution in the Roman Empire
After Jacob entered Egypt with his twelve sons and seventy kinsmen, their descendants suffered terrible abuse at the hands of the Egyptians for four hundred years. This was for the restoration of the four-hundred-year period from Noah to Abraham – a period for the separation of Satan – which had been defiled due to Abraham’s mistake in his offering. The corresponding period of persecution in the Roman Empire was to restore this previous period through parallel indemnity conditions. Jesus’ twelve apostles and seventy disciples were the first of many generations of Christians who suffered severe persecution in the Roman Empire over a period of four hundred years. By enduring this suffering, they were restoring through indemnity the four-hundred-year period of preparation for the advent of the Messiah – a period for the separation of Satan – which had been defiled due to the Jewish people’s mistake in not honoring Jesus as a living sacrifice but leading him to the cross.
In the period of slavery in Egypt, the chosen people of the First Israel kept themselves pure by circumcision,2(Josh. 5:2-5)CEV|KJ|NI by making sacrifices3(Exod. 5:3)CEV|KJ|NI and, as they left Egypt, by keeping the Sabbath.4(Exod. 16:23)CEV|KJ|NI During the period of persecution in the Roman Empire, the Christians as the Second Israel lived a life of purity by performing the sacraments of baptism and holy communion, offering themselves as sacrifices, and keeping the Sabbath. In both periods, they had to follow this way of pure faith to separate Satan, who was constantly assailing them due to the condition of previous mistakes by Abraham and the Jewish people.
At the end of Israel’s slavery in Egypt, Moses brought the Pharaoh to his knees by the power of the three signs and ten plagues. He then led the Israelites out of Egypt and set out for the land of Canaan. Likewise, toward the end of the period of persecution in the Roman Empire, after Christians had drunk the cup of persecution to the fill, Jesus increased the numbers of believers by moving their hearts with his power and grace. By stirring the heart of Emperor Constantine, Jesus led him to recognize Christianity in 313 A.D. Jesus inspired Theodosius I in 392 A.D. to establish Christianity as the state religion. Christians thus restored Canaan spiritually inside the Roman Empire, the satanic world. In the Old Testament Age, God worked through the external indemnity conditions set by the Mosaic Law; likewise, God had Moses defeat the Pharaoh through the external power of miracles. In the New Testament Age, when God worked through the internal indemnity conditions of faith, He manifested His power internally by moving the hearts of people.
When the period of slavery in Egypt was over, Moses on Mt. Sinai received the Ten Commandments and God’s Word revealed in the Law, which formed the core of the Old Testament Scriptures. By setting up and honoring the tablets of stone, the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle, he paved the way for the Israelites to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. Likewise, at the conclusion of the period of persecution in the Roman Empire, Christians gathered the writings which had been left behind by the apostles and evangelists and established the canon of the New Testament. Based on these writings, they sought to realize God’s ideals spiritually, ideals which had been enshrined in the Ten Commandments and the Tabernacle in the Old Testament Age. They built up churches and expanded their foundation to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. After Jesus’ ascension, the resurrected Jesus and the Holy Spirit guided Christians directly. Hence, God did not raise up any one person as the central figure responsible for His entire providence, as He had earlier.
The Period of the Judges and the Period
of Regional Church Leadership
Upon inheriting the mission of Moses, Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan. For the next four hundred years, fifteen judges governed the Israelite tribes: thirteen judges from Othniel to Samson recorded in the Book of Judges, as well as Eli and Samuel. The judges filled the various responsibilities of prophet, priest and king, which became separate offices in the later periods. Israel in this period was a feudalistic society with no central political authority. In the New Testament Age, the period of regional church leadership was set up to restore the period of the judges through parallel indemnity conditions. In this period, regional church leaders – patriarchs, bishops and abbots – led Christian society. Like the judges of the Old Testament Age, they had duties similar to those of prophet, priest and king. As in the time of the judges, Christian society in this period was a feudalistic society under these local authorities.
In the age before Jesus, when God was working with the First Israel to establish a national foundation for the Messiah both spiritually and physically, politics, economy and religion tended to have a national focus. On the other hand, in the age after Jesus, Christians were building a spiritual kingdom under the leadership of Jesus, who stood upon the spiritual foundation for the Messiah. Their loyalty transcended national barriers, for they were serving the resurrected Jesus as the King of Kings. Therefore, the spiritual kingdom of Jesus was not confined to any one nation, but expanded to the far-flung corners of the globe.
The period of the judges began after the Israelites were liberated from slavery in Egypt and the younger generation united solidly under the leadership of Joshua and Caleb to enter the land of Canaan. They parceled out the territory among their clans and tribes. Settling in villages united around the judges, the people consolidated into a chosen nation and established a simple feudalistic society. Likewise, the period of regional church leadership in the Christian era began after the liberation of Christianity from the persecution of the Roman Empire, the satanic world. Christians spread the Gospel to the Germanic peoples, many of whom had migrated to Western Europe in the fourth century to escape the invading Huns. In their new land of Western Europe, God raised up the Germanic tribes as a new chosen people and established an early form of feudal society, which later matured into the feudalism of the Middle Ages.
As we discussed earlier, when the Israelites set out for Canaan, they first built the Tabernacle as the symbol of the Messiah and the object for the condition to decide who would stand in the position of Abel for the foundation of substance.5(cf. Moses and Jesus 22.214.171.124) In the period of the judges, the Israelites should have exalted the Tabernacle and remained obedient to the direction of the judges. However, instead of destroying the seven Canaanite tribes, the Israelites lived among them and were influenced by their customs. They even took to worshipping their idols, thus bringing great confusion to their faith. Likewise, in the period of regional church leadership, the Christians were supposed to exalt the Church, which was the image of the Messiah, and follow the directions of its bishops and monastic leaders. The Church was the object for the condition to determine who would have the position of Abel. However, they became influenced by the religion and culture of the pagan Germanic tribes, which brought great confusion to the Christian faith.
The Period of the United Kingdom
and the Period of the Christian Empire
When the period of the judges came to a close and the First Israel entered the period of the united kingdom, the functions of the judge were apportioned to the offices of prophet, priest and king. The prophets received instructions directly from God, the priests kept charge over the Tabernacle and later the Temple, and the king governed the nation. Each carried on their distinct missions in guiding Israel to accomplish the goal of the providence of restoration. The purpose of the period of the Christian empire was to restore the period of the united kingdom through parallel indemnity conditions. Thus, when the period of regional church leadership came to a close, the missions of these leaders were apportioned to the offices of monastic leaders corresponding to the prophets, the pope corresponding to the high priest, and the emperor, who ruled the people. They were responsible to guide the Second Israel to accomplish the goal of the providence of restoration. In the previous period, the Christian Church had been divided into the five patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople and Rome, with Rome dominant in the West. The pope, as the Roman patriarch was called, supervised all the bishops and abbots in Western Europe.
In the period of the united kingdom, the kings established the kingdom of Israel around the Temple, thereby manifesting the ideal of Moses’ Tabernacle which was first conceived at the time of the Exodus. This was the image course for building the Kingdom of Heaven ruled by Jesus, which he would one day come to establish as the King of Kings.6(Isa. 9:6)CEV|KJ|NI Likewise, in the period of the Christian empire, Charlemagne’s empire realized the ideal of the Christian state as set down in The City of God by St. Augustine – who lived when the Christians had just been liberated from the oppression of the Roman Empire, a time parallel to that of Moses. Once again, this was the image course for building the Kingdom of God, which Christ, as the King of Kings, will one day return to establish. Accordingly, in this period, the emperor and the pope were to realize the ideal Christian state by uniting wholeheartedly to follow the Will of God. The spiritual kingdom ruled by the pope, which had been founded upon the spiritual foundation for the Messiah, and the temporal kingdom ruled by the emperor should have united based on Christ’s teachings. Had they done so, religion, politics and economy would have harmonized, and the foundation for the Second Advent of Christ would have been established at that time.
In the period of the united kingdom of Israel, the king was the central figure for restoring the foundation of faith. He was responsible to carry out the Word of God, which was given through the prophets. Before the king was anointed, the prophet and the high priest were to represent and teach the Word of God, and thus they stood in the position of Abel. Their mission, as required by the providence of restoration, was to restore the physical world from the position of the archangel, representing the spirit world. However, after they laid the foundation upon which the king could stand, and anointed and blessed him as the king, they were to take the role of Cain before him. The king was to rule his kingdom according to the guidance of the prophets, and the prophets were to obey the king as his subjects and counselors.
About eight hundred years after Abraham’s descendants entered Egypt, by God’s command the prophet Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel.7(I Sam. 8:19-22CEV|KJ|NI; 10:1-24)CEV|KJ|NI King Saul stood upon the foundation of the four hundred years under the judges. Had he completed the forty years of his reign in accordance with God’s desires, he would have stood in the position of having restored through indemnity the four hundred years of slavery in Egypt and Moses’ forty years in the Pharaoh’s palace. Thereupon, King Saul would have fulfilled the dispensation of forty for the separation of Satan and laid the foundation of faith. If, upon this foundation, King Saul had built and exalted the Temple, the image of the Messiah, he would have then stood in the position Moses should have occupied had he not failed in the first national course to restore Canaan, but had built the Temple in Canaan and glorified it. If the Israelites had then stood upon this foundation of faith and faithfully followed King Saul as he honored the Temple, they would have laid the foundation of substance. The foundation for the Messiah would have been established at that time.
However, because King Saul disobeyed the commands of God given through the prophet Samuel,8(I Sam. 15:1-23)CEV|KJ|NI he was in no position to build the Temple. Upon his failure, King Saul found himself in the same position as Moses after he had failed in the first national course to restore Canaan. As was the case with Moses, the providence of restoration through King Saul was extended. Forty years of King David’s reign and forty years of King Solomon’s reign would pass before the foundation of faith was laid and the Temple built. Furthermore, as we discussed earlier, King Saul was also in the position of Abraham. In the same manner that the Will entrusted to Abraham was finally brought to pass through Isaac and Jacob, God’s Will to build the Temple through King Saul had to be continued through the reign of King David and was finally realized during the reign of King Solomon. Nevertheless, King Solomon left the position of Abel for the substantial offering when he fell into lust with his many foreign wives, who turned him away from God.9(I Kings 11:3-7)CEV|KJ|NIHence, there was no way for Israel to establish the foundation of substance. The foundation for the Messiah, which should have been laid in the period of the united kingdom, was not realized.
In the period of the Christian empire, all the conditions pertaining to the united kingdom had to be restored through parallel conditions of indemnity. Once again, the central figure to restore the foundation of faith was the emperor. He was responsible to actualize the Christian ideals set forth by the leading monastics and the pope. The pope, for his part, stood in a position comparable to the high priest of Israel, who received God’s commands through the prophets. He was responsible to lay the spiritual foundation upon which the emperor could realize the ideal Christian state. After crowning and blessing the emperor, the pope was to obey him as one of his subjects in temporal matters. The emperor, in turn, was to lift up and further the spiritual work of the papacy in his realm.
Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne and blessed him as the first emperor of Christendom in 800 A.D. Charlemagne stood upon the foundation of the four-hundred-year period of regional church leadership, which restored through indemnity, in the form of substantial parallels, the four-hundred-year period of the judges. Therefore, like King Saul, he stood upon the foundation of a dispensation of forty for the separation of Satan. By faithfully living according to the teachings of Jesus in his work to realize the Christian ideal of the state, he was to establish the foundation of faith. Indeed, when Charlemagne was crowned emperor, he achieved this foundation. Had the Second Israel absolutely believed in and followed Charlemagne, the foundation of substance would have been laid, and thereby the foundation for the Messiah would have been established. In other words, the spiritual kingdom led by the pope and the earthly kingdom led by the emperor were to fully unite upon the existing spiritual foundation for the Messiah. Christ would then have returned upon this solid ground and built his Kingdom. However, the emperors did not remain obedient to God’s Will and left the position of Abel for the substantial offering. Neither the foundation of substance nor the foundation for the Second Advent of the Messiah was established.
The Period of the Divided Kingdoms of North
and South and the Period of
the Divided Kingdoms of East and West
Because King Solomon was led by his wives and concubines to worship idols, the united kingdom of Israel was divided upon his death, having lasted only three generations.10(I Kings 11:5-13)CEV|KJ|NI The kingdom of Israel in the north, which was founded by ten of the twelve tribes, was in the position of Cain, while the kingdom of Judah in the south, which was founded by the two remaining tribes, was in the position of Abel. This was how the period of the divided kingdoms of north and south began.
The Christian empire also began to divide in the third generation. Charlemagne’s grandsons partitioned it into three kingdoms: the East Franks, the West Franks and Italy. The descendants of Charlemagne were in bitter and constant conflict with each other. The remnants of the Christian empire soon coalesced into two kingdoms, with Italy reverting to the rule of the East Franks. The kingdom of the East Franks flourished greatly under Otto I and came to be called the Holy Roman Empire. Claiming to be the heir of the Roman Empire, it ruled parts of Western Europe and sought to secure dominion over both politics and religion. The Holy Roman Empire stood in the position of Abel in relation to France, as the kingdom of the West Franks came to be called.
The northern kingdom of Israel was founded by Jeroboam, who had lived in exile in the days of King Solomon. It was ruled by nineteen kings over some 210 years. Through repeated assassinations, its short-lived royal families changed nine times; not one king was righteous in the sight of God. Nevertheless, God sent the prophet Elijah, who prevailed in the contest with 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah on Mt. Carmel when God sent down fire upon the altar.11(I Kings 18:19-40)CEV|KJ|NI Other prophets, including Elisha, Jonah, Hosea and Amos, spread the Word of God at the risk of their lives. Yet since the northern kingdom continued to worship foreign gods and did not repent, God had the Assyrians destroy them and took away their qualification as the chosen people forever.12(II Kings 17:7-23)CEV|KJ|NI
The southern kingdom of Judah was established by Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. Its royal house continued in one dynastic line from David to Zedekiah, producing many righteous kings out of the twenty who ruled the kingdom for its nearly four hundred years of existence. Nevertheless, a succession of evil kings, combined with influence from the northern kingdom, led to much idolatry and corruption. Consequently, the people of the southern kingdom were taken into exile in Babylon.
In the period of the divided kingdoms of north and south, whenever the Israelites violated their covenant with God, straying from the ideal of the Temple, God sent many prophets – such as Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah – to admonish them and move them to repentance and internal reform. However, because the kings and the people did not heed the warnings of the prophets and did not repent, God chastised them externally by sending gentile nations such as Syria, Assyria and Babylon to attack them.
During the parallel period of the divided kingdoms of east and west, the papacy was corrupt. God sent prominent monks such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis of Assisi to admonish the papacy and promote internal reform in the Church. Since the papacy and the Church did not repent, but sank further into corruption and immorality, God chastised them externally by letting their people fight the Muslims. This was the providential reason behind the Crusades. While Jerusalem and the Holy Land were under the protection of the Abbasid Caliphate, Christian pilgrims were received with hospitality. After the Caliphate collapsed and the Holy Land was conquered by the Seljuk Turks, cries of alarm went out that Christian pilgrims were being harassed. Outraged, the popes raised the Crusades to recover the Holy Land. There were eight Crusades, beginning in 1095 and continuing sporadically for about two hundred years. Despite some initial success, the Crusaders were defeated again and again.
The period of the divided kingdoms of north and south came to an end when gentile nations took the people of Israel and Judah into exile. They put an end to the monarchy in Israel. Likewise, at the close of the period of the divided kingdoms of east and west, the papacy had completely lost its prestige and credibility after the repeated defeats of the Crusades. Christianity thus lost its center of spiritual sovereignty. Moreover, since the lords and knights who had maintained feudal society were decimated by the Crusades, feudal society lost its political power and vigor. Since the papacy and the feudal lords had spent enormous funds to pursue these unsuccessful wars, they were left impoverished. Monarchic Christianity began to erode.