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Bible verses about Remnant, Spiritual
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ezekiel 5:1-5

The prophecy in this passage, explained in verse 12, seems to confirm that Israel is tithed, but what about the pinch of hair bound in the edge of the garment? It is an even smaller fraction of the whole—an almost insignificant number. More intriguing is that nothing further is mentioned of them. They are a small remnant of people in Israel—possibly the spiritual remnant?—who are protected in God's hip pocket. If these hairs do represent the spiritual remnant, then it is a very small number indeed.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Remnant


 

Ezekiel 5:1

God's instruction to Ezekiel is that he was to shave his head and beard, and then the hair was to be precisely divided. It was not a matter of, "Well, divide it into three piles." No, He told Ezekiel to use balances, and what He wanted was for each of the piles to weigh exactly the same amount. So we have a very precise division or separation of the hairs of his head, which represent the population of the nations of Israel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 1)


 

Ezekiel 5:1-4

The hair represents the people of the nations of Israel. Most of the church is in the nations of Israel, primarily the United States and Canada. The church is represented in the "small number"—represented by the hair that he puts into his pocket—taken from the third group, which goes into captivity and is thrown to the "four winds," showing a measure of protection. However, he then takes a part from that group and throws it into the fire. Now hair is the most flammable part of the body, and surely, the fire must indicate death.

This can be connected with the fifth seal of Revelation 6: the martyrdom of the saints. One can also connect it with Revelation 3:10 and the "Philadelphians" who are kept from the hour of trial that comes upon the whole earth. The group that he took out of his pocket and threw into the fire (and are therefore consumed in the fires of tribulation) represents the Laodicean church. It surely seems to indicate that very few, if any, of them will survive through the Tribulation. Five separations are indicated here in Ezekiel 5, but only one very small amount is protected in the fold of his skirt.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 1)


 

Daniel 12:7

In the larger context of end-time events, "the holy people" refers to God's chosen nation, Israel. The church, however, can also be alluded to here in antitype: Peter calls the church "a holy nation, His own special people" (I Peter 2:9). Both of these groups, Israel and the church, seem to be in the process of having their power "completely shattered."

This expression in the Hebrew has the primary meaning of "broken in pieces," "scattered," or "dispersed by force." It can mean something akin to "explode." When an object explodes, its pieces fly apart, and it can no longer do what it was made to do. The individual pieces are powerless to accomplish what the whole object did. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This must be part of the meaning of the verse because the word power is really the Hebrew word for "hand." The hand symbolizes a person's ability to do work, to accomplish, to act. The translators have taken it to mean the more abstract "might" or "power," but they could have rendered it as "ability," "strength," or "effectiveness."

If this is so, we can expect the church's ability to do an effective work to decline still further because our power is not yet completely shattered. That is why it is so important that we make use of the abilities still left to us: to prepare ourselves for God's Kingdom. As an encouraging Jewish proverb reminds us, "When God shuts a door, He opens a window." We can take other avenues in the meantime while the road ahead is blocked for doing a public work.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Remnant


 

Matthew 13:31

The common interpretation of the Parable of the Mustard Seed is that the mustard seed represents the Kingdom of God, which begins tiny, and over time, expands or grows into a worldwide system, becoming the home for many nations or many people. They dwell there in peace, safety, and harmony. This looks good and true on the surface, but after analyzing the symbols, we will see that it is incorrect. It does not hold water.

Verse 31 is very clear. Everyone agrees that the man - the sower - is Jesus Christ, as in the Parable of the Tares. Again, the field is the world. Did God not pull us all out of the world?

However, the "mustard seed" is a bit more controversial. We learn in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares that a seed is the means by which a plant grows and reproduces itself. It makes no sense to say that the Kingdom of God grows by means of the Kingdom of God. The mustard seed cannot be the Kingdom of God. It is instead an agent of the Kingdom of God at work to make the Kingdom of God grow and expand.

Notice Jesus does not say, "The Kingdom of God is a mustard seed," but it is "like a mustard seed." It is an analogy, and as in all analogies, the correlation is not exact. The comparison between "the mustard seed" and the "Kingdom of God" is not so close as to be identical, but it is a representation that explains a certain aspect of God's Kingdom.

What is the mustard plant? In the Greek, the word for it is sinapi, the common word for "mustard." Black mustard grows all across America, which is used to make the mustard that we put on our hot dogs, hamburgers, and sandwiches. Normally the mustard plant grows to be four to six feet tall with spindly branches. However, it is not a tree; it is a mustard plant. A mustard plant, if it is planted in a perfect spot with perfect nutrients, perfect light, perfect irrigation, etc., has been found to grow up to about 15 feet (5 meters) tall. That is almost twice the height of most ceilings.

But even if it grows to fifteen feet, does the mustard plant become a tree? No. The mustard plant is always a shrub. It does not grow a thick trunk and large branches. Most of the time, it does not grow past six feet.

We know about the mustard seed. This is one point that people always get from this parable - that it is among the smallest of cultivated seeds. Its smallness, then, is really our only clue as to what the parable is teaching. The mustard seed represents something small that does its part in expanding God's Kingdom. What could it be?

In Matthew 7:13-14, Christ says the way that leads to eternal life is difficult and narrow, and there are few who find it. Matthew 20:16 reiterates this by saying that few are chosen. In Luke 10:2, when He sends the seventy out, He says the laborers are few. In Luke 12:31-32, He refers to His church as a little flock.

Just before the day of Pentecost in AD 31, Acts 1:15 puts the number of disciples - or perhaps families - at about a hundred and twenty. Not very many for three-and-a-half year's work - it was a little flock. Romans 9:27 quotes Isaiah saying that the remnant will be saved. Consider also the small pinch of hairs that Ezekiel stuck in his pocket, and then he took some of them out and burned them in the fire too! I Corinthians 1:26-29 says that God called the weak and the base of the world to put to shame the mighty and the noble.

What, then, is the mustard seed? Simple - it is His church: the few, the small, the weak, and the base. He is referring to those who voluntarily submit to God's dominion (the Kingdom of God), and they are absolutely few indeed at this point in time - compared with fifty billion people who have lived on this earth.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 1): The Mustard Seed


 

Romans 11:2-5

What is important to us here is the principle Paul extracts from the incident. The words "even so then" draw our attention to God's calling and election.

In Elijah's day, Israel was almost totally idolatrous. The prophet challenged Israel, saying "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but Baal, then follow him" (I Kings 18:21). He contested the 450 priests of Baal, and he counted Jezebel, Israel's queen, as a personal enemy. Elijah became discouraged, feeling totally alone in fighting these battles. To encourage him, God tells him He had divinely preserved seven thousand men from idolatry, bringing them to the knowledge of the true God. He had done this, not because they were special, but solely by His influence and agency. Elijah was not even aware of them!

In like manner—even so—there is today a remnant according to the election of grace that God has reserved for Himself, not because they are special, but solely by His influence and agency. There is no indication anywhere that God chose us because we already had faith or any other redeeming quality that forced His hand to call us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Seven


 

Romans 11:5

This spiritual remnant is what several New Testament writers term "the elect," those who have been called and chosen by God through grace. These "elect" have received what Israel did not: spiritual redemption, salvation, a relationship with God, and so forth.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Remnant


 

Galatians 6:15-16

Walk according to this rule means "understand and apply this principle."

After Jacob's name was changed to Israel, through the centuries Israel gradually became a code name for the called and chosen of God who had made a covenant with Him. Here in Galatians 6, that code name is transferred openly and clearly to the church, and Paul attaches the prepositional phrase "of God" to show possession to differentiate it from the physical nation also named "Israel." God is creating a new nation—a New Covenant people—whose citizenship is in heaven and whose people owe their loyalty to the Kingdom of God, its laws, and its purposes.

The Israel of God—the remnant, the elect, the vessels of mercy, the children of promise—is a spiritual body, the Body of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18). There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female. In one sense, there is no nationality, for we are being transformed into a new "nationality"—the Kingdom of God! God is doing a new thing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Revelation 12:7-17

These verses give us a play-by-play of end-time events centered on the spiritual remnant. Satan, enraged that he has been cast down to earth, will seek to persecute the elect, a small group of believers under God's personal protection. Who comprises the faithful, protected remnant, and where are they protected?

In Isaiah 33:14, "the sinners in Zion" pose a question: "Who can survive the coming persecution?" God supplies the answer in verse 15—the righteous will survive it—and in verse 16, He explains where He will protect them—in a mountainous fortress where they are supplied food and drink. Verse 17 may indicate that the King, Jesus Christ, will teach them in the place of safety.

It is interesting to note that the letters to the Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia churches in Revelation 2 and 3 mention a remnant: "the rest in Thyatira" (Revelation 2:24); "a few names even in Sardis" (Revelation 3:4); and implied in the direct promise, "I also will keep you from the hour of trial" (Revelation 3:10). Laodicea, though, must go through the fire (Revelation 3:18-19).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Remnant


 

Revelation 12:17

Verse 17 contains the first allusion to the church. The woman, who is called here a "remnant," keeps the commandments and has the testimony of Jesus Christ. Now we can clearly see Revelation is describing the church.

Concerning the word "remnant," the marginal reference says "offspring." This is being used in the same sense as the woman giving birth to the Christ child. The overwhelming bulk of the church is in Israel. However, if we understand Revelation 12 properly, there is a portion of the church that will go to a place prepared with the nation Israel.

The woman is clearly identified right within the context of the chapter as not being the church until verse 17. Where it says, "which keep the commandments of God and has the testimony of Jesus Christ," further identifies who the remnant is. It identified the offspring as being the brothers and sisters of the Child that was brought forth by the woman, because Israel does not keep the commandments and does not have the testimony of Jesus Christ. The only part of Israel that keeps the commandments and has the testimony of Jesus Christ is the church within it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 3)


 

Revelation 12:17

It is not until verse 17 that the church clearly and directly comes into the picture by being identified as Israelthe woman remnant. This is how it is translated in the King James:"with the remnant of her seed." This means her "offspring." The offspring are identified in verse 17 as "those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ," who was born to the woman earlier in the chapter. Israel the nation does not keep the commandments of God, nor does it have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Therefore, in the last half of verse 17, the subject has shifted from Israel the nation to the Israel of God—the church.

The Messiah, who was born of the woman, most definitely kept the commandments of God. The remnant that was born of the woman (identified as her offspring, just like the Messiah), is also clearly distinguished and separate from her, and they too keep the commandments and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Now putting verse 17 together with verses 7 through 12 shows that the church (the woman's offspring) will undergo some measure of persecution within Israel (the woman, the nation) before Israel the nation flees. This is very clear, because verses 7 through 11 come before verse 14 in time. If this is not true, then why does verse 11 say that "they overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and they loved not their lives unto death"? That indicates a pretty harsh persecution within Israel the nation.

The whole subject of chapter 12 is Israel the nation, except for those mentions of keeping the commandments, the blood of the Lamb, and having the testimony of Jesus Christ, which appear in verses 11 and 17. So what do we learn from this chapter? That through the great expanse of time—from the time that woman [the nation] flees into the wilderness until verse 17 (an expanse of about two thousand years), Israel the church [the Israel of God] is within Israel the nation, wherever it is. This is not at all unusual.

Verse 17 then clearly infers that the dragon leaves the woman [the nation] who fled and goes some place else to persecute those who keep the commandments and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. It is at this point that a switch occurs between Israel the nation and the Israel of God (the church). Otherwise, why would it say that Satan leaves the woman that he is persecuting and goes to persecute those who have the testimony of Jesus Christ and keep the commandments? By this time, in verse 17, they have separated from one another. The nation and the church are in different locations at the time verse 17 takes place. If I can speculate, the church has gone to its place of safety that is different from where God caused the nation to flee.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 4)


 

 




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