Earth's Great Jubilee

Ransom and Restitution --
How Long, O Lord?

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."—Acts 3:19-21

Richard Doctor

"My claim is that, like all other apes, humans are not the work of God, but of thousands of millions years of interaction among highly responsive organisms." So asserts Professor Lynn Margulis of Amherst College, 1996 keynote speaker at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual convention.[1] This claim may not seem naive to those who advocate the operation of blind evolutionary forces in nature. But can this claim be proven by the scientific method?

The answer is no. This pronouncement serves no purpose but to diminish God while elevating unconscious process. If man came to his present state through the blind operation of evolution, there is no God providentially watching over him. Restitution—a restoration to what was lost in Eden—clearly would not be a blessing.

We should welcome the marvelous progress in the life sciences. However, the province of science must properly be limited to determining the "how" of nature’s workings. We must turn from science to other and higher sources for the answers to "why" of nature’s workings. From this perspective let us examine several "why" questions related to the Bible’s claim that perfection and peace with God on earth under conditions of blessing once were man’s natural possession.

Adam—Connected to the Life of the Earth

Why is "Adam" named after the redness of the soil from which he is formed?[2] "The [red] blood is the life" (Deuteronomy 12:23). Might it be that the redness shows that man in his very nature is connected to the earth and all the living creation entrusted to his care? As Professor Margulis admirably points out, man is one of the threads woven into the tapestry that draws together "the series of interacting ecosystems that compose a single huge ecosystem at the Earth’s surface."[3] But these are not blindly woven threads; man has a God-given purpose—that of the wise and loving dominion over the earth:

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them."—Genesis 1:26,27

All the promise and potential for the beauty and blessing of the interconnected life on earth was placed into Adam’s care. The living creation and man share a common design, common genetic make-up, and common biology. Today, even for the inorganic creation, we speak of it being knit together with life in "biogeochemical" cycles. Man and earth are inseparably linked. Man is blessed with a consciousness of himself and, at the same time, spiritual yearnings that transcend the temporal: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? . . . For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor . . . thou hast put all things under his feet"—Psalm 8:3-6.

The apostle Paul adds an important footnote to this psalm. He observes that it contains as yet unfulfilled earthly promises of restitution: "But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man"—Hebrews 2:6-9.

The scriptures in Genesis 3 record that life, the fellowship between man and his Creator, and mankind’s dominion were lost through deliberate and unwise disobedience to God. Indeed, we would remain aliens from God were it not for God’s own dear son dying as our ransom (1 Timothy 2:5,6). In the broadest sense, the humiliation, pain, suffering and ultimately death that our Savior endured held forth a promise. Through Jesus there is peace with God and life to all who are willing. However, in the most technical and narrow legal sense, the apostle Paul explains that the ransom—the purchase back of a perfect human life with a perfect human life—is the payment of Christ for "Adam," the "red-man" linked to the life-blood of the earth (Romans 5:17-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22).

Paradise Recovered—Our Common Hope

Why does Paul say, "the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God?" (Romans 8:19-23). Could this refer to the misty remembrance of both the fall and the promise of restitution permeating world cultures? After tracing the belief in restitution through the mythology of the ancient world, and then across Africa, Asia, and Polynesia, noted University of Chicago Historian of Religion, Mircea Eliade observes that mankind is obsessed with this promised restoration. He summarizes his observations this way: "[Mankind] desires to live in the world as it came from the creator’s hands, fresh, pure, and strong . . . the religious man of primitive societies . . . is above all a man paralyzed by the myth of the eternal return [to this state]."[4]

Late in life Carl Jung, the Swiss founder of Analytical Psychology, placed the basis for a belief in restitution at a deeper level than cultural transmission. To Jung, our souls seek for restitution with the same instinctive expectation we seek for a mother and father. That is, restitution falls into the special and select class of "collective images" which are inborn in our hearts. "Undoubtedly," he concludes, "the Christian tradition . . . found in Acts 3:21 . . . [concerning the] restitution of the origin of the world . . . [is a] collective image."[5]

Why has there been such resistance to this doctrine among Christians? The great scientist and Bible scholar Sir Isaac Newton observed nearly three hundred years ago: "So then this mystery of the restitution of all things is to be found in all the prophets: which makes me wonder with great admiration that so few Christians of our age can find it there."[6]

Is it the craving for the spiritual above all else that explains the exclusive focus on the heavenly promises? Is it the belief that, "The Father seeketh such to worship him" (John 4:23)? Let us all take a delight in the earthly creation as did our Heavenly Father when he made it. God’s promises through all his holy prophets for making the earth glorious are sure through the ransom of Christ Jesus and the restitution blessings that will flow from it (Isaiah 60:13).

Why the delay?

Before the restitution blessings linked to Christ’s ransom sacrifice can come, the call and development of the church is necessary. The church’s call places special demands upon the ransom merit—that is, the value of the ransom entrusted to the Father’s hands. If this were not the case, restitution blessings could well have begun at Pentecost. The church’s call is not to give an additional ransom-price, nor to add to that which Jesus gave. The church’s invitation is to demonstrate that they have the same spirit and disposition that Jesus had. This disposition seeks to do the Father's will at any cost—even unto death. Those sanctified in Christ thus may be accepted of the Father as members of a Royal Priesthood, of which Jesus is the Head.[7]

Daniel 12:4 speaks of both the blessings and tribulations of this tumultuous "Time of the End." Both prophetic and secular evidence supports the view that mankind entered these times in AD 1799 at the dawn of the industrial revolution. God is preparing the hearts and minds of mankind for the kingdom blessings—though these be ushered in through judgments against wrongs of the religious, political, social, and economic systems in the great troubles of our day.

The fifty-year Jubilee feature of the Law in Leviticus 25 was intended for the renewal and restoration of the land. As such, it served as a figure for the Times of Restitution. While Israel found itself without the strength to keep the Jubilee feature of the law perfectly, the Lord had already foreseen their weakness and employed the Jubilee system to point forward to the great work of restitution—Earth’s Great Jubilee.[8] The method of reckoning this Great Jubilee opens wonderful results to us. They assure us that we have the correct key and are using it as was intended by him who formed it. Fifty times fifty years gives the long period of twenty-five hundred years (50 x 50 = 2500) as the length of that great cycle.

We know that such a cycle must have begun to count when the type ceased. If not one jot or tittle of the Law could pass away without a fulfillment at least commencing, then the Jubilee type, which was far more than a jot or tittle, indeed it is a large and important feature of the Law, would not have been permitted to pass away until the right time for its antitype to begin. Hence, the 2500th year, which would be the great fiftieth Jubilee, must be the antitype, the real Jubilee or Restitution. The testimony of the Jubilee cycle points to October AD 1874 as the beginning of the Earth’s Great Jubilee.[9]

Chronology, Justice, or Grace?

Yet while the finger of chronology points forward to our day as the dawning of the long-waited restitution epoch, has restitution begun?

Since A.D.1874, the dramatic regathering of Israel in preparation for the future pouring out of God’s spirit is certainly an element of "restoration" (Acts 1:6), where the same Greek verb is used that is translated "restitution" in Acts 3:21. At the same time, the giving of law with its blessings and curses was an act of Grace not linked to what was lost by Adam in Eden (John 1:16-17, NEB). In the narrowest sense, from the standpoint of God’s justice, evidences which point to the restitution blessings should be considered as manifestations of God’s grace. These should be a source of joy and encouragement. God’s divine acceptance of the Great Atonement Day sacrifice, when justice is satisfied, shall be manifested to all. Then shall the blessings freely flow:

"And there came fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt-offering and the fat, which, when all the people saw, they shouted and fell on their faces"—worshiped. This is the same thought expressed in another form. The fire symbolized God's acceptance; its recognition by the people showed that the world will realize the sacrifice and its value in God’s estimation as the price of their liberty from death and the grave, and when they realize it they will worship Jehovah and his representative, the Priest.

That this is not yet fulfilled is evident. God has not yet manifested his acceptance of the great Atonement Day sacrifice, by fire; the people have not yet shouted and fallen on their faces in worship of the Great King and his representative.

No, the world still lieth in wickedness (1 John 5:19); the god of this world still blinds more or less nearly all mankind (2 Corinthians 4:4); darkness still covers the earth—gross darkness the people (Isaiah 60:2). Nor need we look for the great restitution blessings prefigured in this type until all the members of the Church, the "Body" of the great High Priest, shall have first gone beyond the Second Veil (actual death), into the Most Holy, by resurrection change. Nor will this "blessing" of the type be fulfilled until after the great time of trouble. Then, chastened, sobered, humbled, the world of mankind will very generally be "waiting for" and "looking for" the great Christ, the Seed of Abraham, to bless them and lift them up."[11]

In examining the question of restitution, many of the Lord’s dear people focus on the exactness of God’s justice. Others focus on the exactness of God’s chronology. Both are correct, yet both need to broaden their vision to see that the outworking of God’s grace knits together ransom and restitution, chronology, and God’s justice into one harmonious whole.

This is reasonable for even before the ransom was consummated on Calvary and the precious merit was deposited in the hands of justice, evidences of grace were sufficient in answer to the Lord’s dear ones. These manifestations of God’s grace were not the outworking of justice. "Are you the promised Messiah, or should we look for another?" queried John the Baptist from prison: "Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."—Matthew 11:4-6. The things reported to John are only a tiny foretaste of the great restitution blessings that will be to all people in Christ’s coming kingdom.

REFERENCES

1. Margulis, L., Symbiotic Planet—A New Look at Evolution, Sciencewriters, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1998, p.4

2. Tregelles, S.P., Gesenius Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1979, #126, 127

3. Margolis, op.cit., p.120

4. Eliade, M., The Sacred and the Profane—The Nature of Religion, translator W. Trask, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, 1987, p.92, 93

5. Jung, C.G., Man and his Symbols, Doubleday, NY, 1964, p.72-74

6. Manuel, F., The Religion of Isaac Newton, Oxford, 1974, p.126

7. Russell, C.T., The Atonement Between God and Man, Forward, p. iv

8. Russell, C.T., The Time is at Hand, Study VI-Earths Great Jubilee, p.173

9. Russell, C.T., The Time is at Hand, Study VI-Earths Great Jubilee, p.181-183

10. Russell, C.T., Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices, p.89, 90

11. Frey, Anton, Notes on the Tabernacle, p. 546