The Upside Down World
"or as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).
We've all read how the LORD's ways are higher than our ways, even as various accounts showing the seeming illogic of the LORD's instructions are cited to support obeying His directives. Perhaps the most often cited account is that of Joshua's army besieging Jericho, wherein the troops were told to follow the priests who would blow their trumpets, and bring down the vaunted walls of the ancient city.
There are many such accounts like this in the Old Testament, and after reading about such things, we gradually learn the LORD's ways are to be trusted. However, things get considerably more complex when it comes to recognizing a Spiritual fulfillment in the Christian era, of what looks to be a literal promise made in the Old Testament era. An excellent example of this is the prediction that God will turn the world upside down.
In the words of the amazing prophet Isaiah, we find a prediction where the LORD says He is going to turn the world upside down:
"Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste,and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof" (Isaiah 24:1).
Having been taught for decades that most of the prophecies of this nature are literal, I always presumed that this verse described the Great Tribulation. Indeed, with Christ predicting in the Gospels how the stars will fall, and the sun will be turned black as the world approached the end of days, it never seemed incredible to me that the world would actually be turned upside down.
After all, in Revelation we're told every wall will fall down, the mountains and islands will all be moved, and even the atmosphere of the world will be ripped away:
"And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth…and the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places" (Revelation 6:13,14).
I might mention that, although I previously referenced such predictions as Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in a metaphoric sense in the New Testament, and just cited from Revelation, a large amount of Revelation's imagery originates in the Old Testament. For instance, just as Revelation promises all the walls of the world will fall, Ezekiel tells us the same thing:
"Surely in that day, there shall be a great shaking…and every wall shall fall to the ground" (Ezekiel 38:19,20).
Athough we could still see the end of the world occur in such a cataclysmic fashion, a literal read of most of these types of Scriptures is problematic. For instance, since stars are the equivalent of suns in adjacent systems, there is simply no physical way in which the stars could actually fall to the earth.
Unfortunately, I was also taught that anyone who seeks to take such prophecies in a figurative, or symbolic sense, was something of a liberal who failed to recognize the actual truth of Bible prophecy. To make matters worse, I observed that those who concluded that such prophecies are to be "Spiritualized" commonly rejected the idea of future prophetic fulfillment, and claimed there is no millennial reign of Christ yet to come. These believers, usually dubbed amillennialists (meaning no millennium), believe that the prophesied millennium is also a Spiritual fulfillment, and that we are now in that glorious time.
I have since learned that recognizing prophetic fulfillment through the media of metaphor is not only crucial to our understanding, such understanding does not preclude the doctrine of futurism – i.e. there are demonstrable and quantifiable descriptions of things yet to come in Scripture.
All of this returns me to how the prophecies which tell us the LORD will turn the world upside down. Isaiah actually mentions it more than once, and in that astonishing prediction, the prophet links it to the symbolic imagery also articulated byJeremiah as the potter and His clay:
"Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not?" (Isaiah 29:16).
Most believers recognize the similitude of the "potter's clay" as the identity of Israel, while the "potter" is easily seen as the LORD Himself:
"But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand"
"O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? Saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel" (Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 18:6).
Most of us have read about the "potter," and how He chose toreshape the clay vessel which was "marred" in his hand, but it is a rare believer who has recognized His reworking of the clay is "esteemed," even as it is connected with the LORD's "turning of things upside down" (Jeremiah 18:14, Isaiah 29:16).
However, if we fail to discern such an astonishing communication, we will have missed absolutely crucial aspects of the Gospel. In the present instance, in the book of Acts, theApostle Paul was preaching the Gospel in the face of fierce opposition and, coming to Thessalonica, his envious Jewish opponents were trying to stir up a mob to kill Paul and members of his company. Their accusation is very enlightening:
"But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy…and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason….And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also" (Acts 17:5,6).
One might be persuaded that it was just a coincidence the same figure of speech was utilized here, except for the connection between the turning of the world upside down, and the potter's clay. Very few people have recognized that this issue goes to the very core of the Gospel, for the reason the Jews were so angry at Paul was because he was teaching that the body of Christ had now superceded the Old Testament role of Israel, as the "potter's clay."
In other words, a clear understanding of how the LORD had "turned the world upside down" included a role reversal, as those who were previously the chosen people had become "not my people," and those who were previously "not my people" were now the chosen people of God.
"And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; that there they be called the children of the living God" (Romans 9:26).
-- James Lloyd
A further look at the true identity of the church as born again Israel is found in the new James Lloyd book entitled THE REMNANT OF ISRAEL REVISITED.