The Parallels of History – Part 2
The Period of Israel’s Exile and Return
and the Period of the Papal Exile and Return
By falling into faithlessness without repentance, the people of Israel failed to realize the ideal of God’s nation founded upon the Temple. To make another attempt at fulfilling this Will, God had the people suffer hardships as exiles in Babylon. This was similar to when God had the Israelites suffer as slaves in Egypt to restore through indemnity Abraham’s mistake in the symbolic offering.
In the period of the Christian empire, God worked through the pope and the emperor to establish a kingdom prepared for Christ at his Second Coming. God’s intention was that ultimately they would bequeath the empire and the throne to the Messiah when he would come as the King of Kings and build God’s kingdom13(Isa. 9:6)CEV|KJ|NI; (Luke 1:33)CEV|KJ|NI upon that foundation. Yet the emperors and popes became corrupt and did not repent. The popes did not lay the spiritual foundation upon which the emperors could stand as the central figures for the foundation of substance. Therefore, the foundation for the Second Advent of Christ was not established. To begin a new dispensation to restore this foundation, God allowed the popes to be taken into exile and suffer captivity.
In the earlier parallel period, nearly seventy years elapsed from the time King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took into captivity King Jehoiachin and his royal family, as well as prophets including Daniel and Ezekiel, priests, officials, craftsmen and many other Israelites, until the fall of Babylon and their liberation by the royal decree of King Cyrus.14(II Kings 24CEV|KJ|NI; 25)CEV|KJ|NI; (II Chron. 36)CEV|KJ|NI; (Jer. 29:10)CEV|KJ|NI; (Jer. 39:1-10)CEV|KJ|NI It then took another 140 years for the exiles to return to their homeland in three waves, until they fully reformed themselves as a nation united around the Will of God as proclaimed in the messianic prophecies of Malachi. Henceforth, they began to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. In the period of papal exile and return, which was to restore this period through indemnity in the form of substantial parallels, Western Christianity had to walk a similar course.
The popes and priests, sunk in immorality, gradually lost the confidence of the people. The authority of the papacy sank even lower due to the repeated defeats of the Crusades. The end of the Crusades saw the gradual collapse of the feudal system in Europe and the emergence of modern nation-states. As the power of secular monarchies grew, the conflict between the popes and the kings escalated. In one such conflict, King Philip IV, “the Fair,” of France imprisoned Pope Boniface VIII for a time. In 1309, Philip forced Pope Clement V to move the papacy from Rome to Avignon in southern France. For seventy years, successive popes lived there subject to the kings of France, until 1377 when Pope Gregory XI returned the papal residence to Rome.
After Gregory’s death, the cardinals elected an Italian, the Archbishop of Bari, as Pope Urban VI. However, a group of cardinals, mostly Frenchmen, rejected him, elected another pope, Clement VII, and established a rival papacy in Avignon. The Great Schism continued into the next century. To resolve this impasse, the cardinals from both camps held a council in Pisa, Italy, in 1409, which dismissed both the Roman and Avignon popes and appointed Alexander V as the legitimate pope. The two popes, however, refused to resign, creating for a short time the spectacle of three contending popes. Shortly afterwards, cardinals, bishops, theologians, royalty and their envoys gathered for the General Council of Constance (1414-1417). It dismissed all three popes and elected Martin V as the new pope, effectively ending the Great Schism.
The Council of Constance insisted that the general councils of the Church had supreme authority, greater than that of the pope and with the power to elect or depose him, and directed that subsequent councils be held at regular intervals. Thus, it sought to reorganize the Roman church as a constitutional monarchy. However, in 1431, when delegates gathered for the next council, held in Basel, Switzerland, the pope tried to adjourn the meeting. The delegates refused to leave and carried on in the pope’s absence, but to no effect; in 1449, they finally disbanded. The plan to institutionalize a constitutional monarchy within the Roman church came to naught, and the papacy recovered the authority it had lost in 1309.
The leaders of the conciliar movement in the fifteenth century had tried to reform the corrupt papacy by setting up a representative council composed of bishops and laymen and giving it supreme authority. Nevertheless, the papacy ended up reasserting its full authority, as it had not enjoyed since before its exile. Furthermore, these councils condemned more fundamental reforms as promoted by John Wycliffe (1330-1384) and Jan Hus (1373-1415), who was personally invited to attend the Council of Constance only to be burned at the stake. At that point, the die was cast for the outbreak of the Protestant Reformation.
This period of approximately 210 years ran from 1309, with the papacy’s seventy years of exile in Avignon, through the Great Schism, the conciliar movement and the restoration of papal authority in the Roman church, to the eve of the Protestant Reformation spearheaded by Martin Luther in 1517. Its purpose was to restore through indemnity, in the form of substantial parallels, the 210-year period of Israel’s exile and return – from Israel’s seventy years of exile in Babylon through the stages of the returning to Israel and the rebuilding of the Temple, until the reform of politics and religion under the leadership of Ezra, Nehemiah and the prophet Malachi.
The Period of Preparation for the Advent of the Messiah
and the Period of Preparation for
the Second Advent of the Messiah
Following the period of Israel’s exile and return, another four hundred years elapsed before Jesus came. This was the period of preparation for the advent of the Messiah. Likewise, Christianity is to meet Christ at his Second Advent only after passing through four hundred years of the period of preparation for the Second Advent of the Messiah, which had followed the period of papal exile and return. It should restore through indemnity in the form of substantial parallels the period of preparation for the advent of the Messiah.
During the four thousand years of God’s providence of restoration from Adam to Jesus, vertical indemnity conditions had accumulated due to Satan’s repeated defilement of dispensations to restore the foundation of faith through periods of forty for the separation of Satan. The period of preparation for the advent of the Messiah was intended to be the final period of providential history in which all these conditions would be horizontally restored through indemnity. Likewise, the period of preparation for the Second Advent of the Messiah is intended to be the final period of providential history, when all the vertical indemnity conditions which have accumulated during the six-thousand-year history of the providence of restoration since Adam’s day are horizontally restored.
Upon returning from the Babylonian exile, the Israelites established the foundation of faith by repenting of their past sin of idolatry, rebuilding the Temple15(Ezra 3:7-13)CEV|KJ|NI; (Ezra 6:1-15)CEV|KJ|NI which had been destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar, and reforming their faith based on the Mosaic Law under the guidance of Ezra the scribe.16(Ezra 7:1-10)CEV|KJ|NI; (Neh. 8)CEV|KJ|NI They then began to prepare for the coming of the Messiah according to the word of the prophet Malachi. Likewise, after the papacy’s return to Rome, medieval Christians established the foundation of faith by seeking to reform the Roman church; these efforts culminated in the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther. This movement pierced the gloom of medieval Europe with the light of the Gospel and pioneered new paths of faith.
One purpose of the period of preparation for the advent of the Messiah was to restore through indemnity in the form of image parallels the approximately forty years of Jacob’s preparation to enter Egypt. This was the period in his life from his return to Canaan from Haran until he and his family entered Egypt. The period of preparation for the Second Advent of the Messiah is to restore this period through indemnity in the form of substantial parallels. Accordingly, Christians in this period have had to suffer tribulations and hardships as Jacob’s family did until they met Joseph in Egypt, or as the Jews did before they met Jesus. Specifically, in the Age of the Providence of Restoration, people were justified before God by such external conditions as keeping the Mosaic Law and offering sacrifices. Therefore, during the period of preparation for the advent of the Messiah, the First Israel had to suffer external hardships at the hands of the gentile nations of Persia, Greece, Egypt, Syria and Rome. During the Age of the Prolongation of the Providence of Restoration, Christians have been justified before God by internal conditions of prayer and faith according to the teachings of Jesus. Hence, in the period of preparation for the Second Advent of the Messiah, the Second Israel has had to walk a path of internal tribulations. The ideologies of Renaissance humanism and the Enlightenment, as well as the call for religious freedom which arose from the Reformation, have created a profusion of philosophies and theologies, causing great confusion in the Christian faith and turmoil in people’s spiritual lives.
The period of preparation for the Second Advent of the Messiah has also been restoring, through parallel indemnity conditions of a substantial type, the internal preparations and external environment for the worldwide reception of the Messiah, which had first been set up during the four hundred years of the period of preparation for the advent of the Messiah.
In preparation for the First Coming of Christ, God sent the prophet Malachi to the chosen people 430 years beforehand to arouse in them a strong messianic expectation. At the same time, God encouraged the Jews to reform their religion and deepen their faith to make the internal preparations necessary to receive the Messiah. Meanwhile, among the world’s peoples, God founded religions suited to their regions and cultures by which they could make the necessary internal preparations to receive the Messiah. In India, God established Buddhism through Gautama Buddha (565-485 B.C.) as a new development out of Hinduism. In Greece, God inspired Socrates (470-399 B.C.) and opened the brilliant age of classical Greek civilization. In the Far East, God raised up Confucius (552-479 B.C.), whose teachings of Confucianism established the standard of human ethics. Jesus was to come upon this worldwide foundation of preparation, and through his teachings he was to bring together Judaism, Hellenism, Buddhism and Confucianism. He was to unify all religions and civilizations into one worldwide civilization founded upon the Christian Gospel.
Since the Renaissance, God has been creating the religious, political and economic environment conducive to the work of Christ at his Second Coming. This has been the age to restore through indemnity, in the form of substantial parallels, the earlier period when God had set up the worldwide environment to prepare for the coming of Jesus. Beginning with the Renaissance, progress in virtually every field of human endeavor, including politics, economy, culture and science, has increased at a rapid rate. Today, these fields have reached their zenith and have created a global environment conducive to the work of Christ at his Second Coming. In Jesus’ day, the Roman Empire ruled the vast domains around the Mediterranean Sea, integrated by an advanced and extensive transportation system reaching out in all directions. This was the center of a vast Hellenistic civilization founded on the Greek language. Thus, all the necessary preparations had been made for a swift transmission of the teachings of the Messiah from Israel, where Jesus lived, to Rome and the world. Similarly, in the present era of the Second Advent, the influence of the Western powers has expanded the democratic political sphere throughout the world. The rapid progress of transportation and communication has greatly bridged the gap between East and West, and the extensive contact among languages and cultures has brought the world much closer together. These factors have fully prepared an environment in which the teachings of the returning Christ can freely and swiftly be conveyed to the hearts of all humankind. This will enable his teachings to bring rapid and profound changes all over the globe.
The Providence of Restoration
and the Progress of History
The Kingdom of Heaven on earth is a society whose structure is formed in the image of a perfect person.17(cf. Creation 3.2) Likewise, fallen society may be regarded as formed in the likeness of a fallen person. We can better understand the history of societies built by sinful humanity by examining the inner life of a fallen person.
A fallen person possesses both an original mind, which prompts him to pursue goodness, and an evil mind, which fills him with evil desires and rebels against the promptings of the original mind. Undeniably, the two minds are constantly at war with each other, inclining us toward shifting and conflicting behaviors. Since human society is composed of individuals who are constantly at war within themselves, interactions among them cannot help but be full of discord and conflict. Human history has consisted of people’s conflict-ridden social relationships constantly changing with the course of time. Hence, it has necessarily unfolded in strife and warfare.
Nevertheless, in the midst of the persistent fight between the original mind and the evil mind, people are ever striving to repel evil and follow the way of goodness. As they gain ground in their striving, their efforts bear fruit in righteous deeds. Because of the activity of the original mind within himself, even a fallen person can respond to God’s providence of restoration and join in furthering the goal of goodness. Progress in history thus originates with individuals who, even amidst the vortex of good and evil, make determined efforts to reject evil and promote goodness. Therefore, the world toward which history is progressing is the Kingdom of Heaven, where the goal of goodness will be realized.
We must understand that conflicts and wars are interim phenomena to separate good from evil in the pursuit of this ultimate goal. Even though evil may triumph at times, God will use it to steer history toward the fulfillment of a greater good. In this respect, we can recognize that the progress of history toward goodness is driven by a process of constantly dividing good from evil according to God’s providence of restoration.
Meanwhile, on the basis of his relationship of blood ties with the first human beings, Satan has worked through fallen people to realize, in advance of God, a perverted form of the ideal society which God intends to realize. As a result, in human history we witness the rise of unprincipled societies which are built upon twisted versions of the Principle. At the end of human history, before God can restore the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, Satan will have built an unprincipled world in a distorted image of the Kingdom: this is none other than the communist world. This is an instance of how Satan, who had a head-start in the course of history, has always mimicked God’s plans in advance of God. In the course of the providence of restoration, a false likeness precedes the appearance of the true.18(cf. Preparation 3.2;Preparation 4.1) Jesus’ prophecy that false Christs will appear before the Second Advent of Christ19(Matt. 24:23-24)CEV|KJ|NI; (cf. I John 2:18)CEV|KJ|NI can be elucidated by this aspect of the Principle.
Some historians have held that the first society built by fallen people was a primitive collective society. From the viewpoint of God’s providence, the primitive societies which fallen people built were centered on Satan. Though Satan may have tried to build a collective society where people shared their possessions with each other, it would still have been only a defective imitation of the society which God intends to build through people of perfect character: a society characterized by interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values. Regardless of the form, this satanic primitive society could not have been free of struggle and division. If it had been, it would have perpetuated its existence forever without change, and God’s providence of restoration could never have been fulfilled.
In reality, the two minds at war within a fallen person give rise to internal conflicts which manifest themselves through his actions and cause him to be in conflict with others. Therefore, it would have been impossible for a satanic primitive society pursing the goal of collective living ever to maintain peace. As primitive societies evolved into larger-scale societies with different economic and social relations, these conflicts inevitably evolved in a corresponding manner. Due to the activity of the original mind calling people to respond to God’s providence of restoration, divisions between relative good and evil surely arose in primitive societies under satanic sovereignty.
When we examine the course of social development guided by Satan, we find that clan societies arose out of the divisions between individuals in primitive societies. These societies have tended to expand in scope, with clan societies developing into feudalistic societies and then into monarchic societies by increasing their territory and power. Satan preempted this pattern ahead of God, because he understood God’s plan to call good individuals out of the sinful world and have them build a good clan society, then expand to a good feudalistic society, and finally reach the stage of a good kingdom with territory and sovereignty sufficient for the Messiah to come and accomplish his work.
God called Abraham out of the sinful world to be the standard-bearer of goodness and blessed him with descendants who would uphold the Will of God. God raised up Abraham’s descendants into the first Israelite clan society. They entered Egypt as a clan society, but by the time they left Egypt for Canaan, they had grown into a tribal society. Israelite society in the period of the judges was a feudalistic society. A feudalistic society in this discussion refers to a society with a political system characterized by master-servant relationships of service and obedience and an economic system composed of self-sufficient units in small, isolated territories. In the period of the judges, Israelite society had such characteristics. When the Israelites entered Canaan, a portion of land was allocated to each tribe. The judges who ruled these territories played a role similar to that of bishops and feudal lords in early medieval Europe.
It is the nature of a feudalistic society that its people espouse the beliefs of their lord and obey his commands. As long as the lord remains faithful to the Will of God, his people will follow him and stand on God’s side. Living in a political system built on master-servant relationships and having a self-sufficient economy largely isolated from the outside world, they have considerable capacity to withstand Satan’s invasion from outside. The main reason that a clan society develops into a feudalistic society is to bring property and people, which had belonged to Satan, back to God’s side. By expanding the territory under God’s sovereignty, they are better placed to ward off Satan’s invasion. Understanding this divine providence, Satan tried to preserve his rule by preempting it and forming his own feudalistic societies many centuries earlier.
The providential purpose of the feudalistic society of early Israel was to lay a foundation for the establishment of a monarchic society with greater territory and more powerful sovereignty. The monarchic society amalgamated the smaller units of political and economic sovereignty secured by the earlier feudalistic society into a single territory with a large population, a strong economy and a well-defended sovereignty. This was done with the establishment of the united kingdom of Israel founded by King Saul.
Jesus was to come as the King of Kings.20(Rev. 11:15)CEV|KJ|NI God built the monarchic society in Israel to prepare a strong enough foundation for him to come as the Messiah and rule as King of Kings.
Long before this, Satan understood the providence to receive the Messiah behind the construction of the monarchy and had formed his own monarchic societies to block God’s providence. Many centuries before the founding of the united kingdom of Israel, the first dynasty of Egypt had been founded, and pharaonic Egypt continued through some thirty dynasties. The ancient kingdom of Babylon had ruled all of Mesopotamia during the reign of King Hammurabi in the eighteenth century B.C., and the Hittites ruled supreme over the Near East in the region of Syria during the fourteenth century B.C. Even within the satanic world, there was constant warfare between relatively good kingdoms and relatively evil kingdoms, resulting in the separation of good from evil. This drive toward goodness is rooted in the original mind, which responds to the call of God’s providence of restoration.
Had King Solomon served God’s Will until the end, he could have exercised his God-given political skills to unify the nations of the Near East. He could have assimilated the Egyptian, Minoan and Mesopotamian civilizations, which were weak at that time. He thus would have built a worldwide dominion to which the Messiah could come and realize God’s sovereignty on earth. Unfortunately, Solomon fell into idolatry. Consequently, God had to begin a dispensation to dismantle this monarchic society which He had so painfully built up.
Since the kings of the united kingdom of Israel did not lay the foundation for the Messiah, nor complete the groundwork upon which God could restore His sovereignty, God eventually divided the kingdom into two: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. When they continued to transgress against God’s Will, God let the northern kingdom of Israel be destroyed at the hands of the gentile nation of Assyria. The Assyrians in the eighth century B.C. had conquered the entire ancient Near East, including Egypt, to build the first world empire. The kingdom of Judah upheld God’s Will for a time, but then rebelled against Him. Hence, God allowed it to fall into the hands of the neo-Babylonian Empire, which had supplanted Assyria as the second world empire.
After the fall of Judah, God kept the throne of Israel vacant and put the Jewish people under the control of successive gentile empires for most of the period leading up to the coming of the Messiah. Most notably, God placed them in the Hellenistic cultural sphere, which laid the ideological framework for democracy. God fashioned Israel’s society in the form of democracy in order that when the Messiah came, he could be hailed as their king by the will of the people, who should have welcomed him wholeheartedly. However, the Jewish public did not so elevate Jesus. Without public support, he was crucified. Consequently, at the consummation of the providence which had begun two thousand years earlier with the calling of Abraham and his descendants out of the sinful world, its purpose was attained only spiritually.