Posts Tagged 'Millennial Kingdom'

Panic Podcast: The Story of the New Testament, Conclusion

Here it is, Friday.  It’s the end of another wonderful week, and the end of another Bible study series.  As we wrap up The Story of the New Testament, we’ll take a really quick survey of the Book of Revelation, mostly in terms of the glorious Second Advent of Christ.

Next week, and for the foreseeable future, there will be TWO podcasts a week, one on Monday and one on Friday.  In the spring, we’ll back to three a week.  I’ll be a tad busier as our church gears up for the spring and summer activities, and I don’t want to short change it or you.  So do bear with me.

In the meantime, crack open those Bibles, pour yourselves a brew (as they say in Australia) and let’s study the Word together!

 

Three Appearances, 6

millennial-kingdom

The Glorious Reign of Christ

God’s plan for His kingdom on Earth takes up a pretty hefty body of Scripture. In spite of that, there are a great many interpretations and explanations as to the nature of the Millennial kingdom. To some, the kingdom program of God is the same as the eternal state – heaven, the believer’s final destination. To them, God’s Kingdom has nothing to do with anything on Earth. There are others who think the Millennial kingdom is a spiritual thing – the kingdom is in the heart of each believer; that Jesus is king of that spiritual kingdom as He rules from the throne of our hearts. And there are others who see the kingdom as something man achieves on Earth through his efforts. As more and more Christians are elected to positions of power, they will change the cultures of the world and at some point, society will make the leap to its utopian state. And then there are those who see the kingdom as a sort of patriotic movement within the nation of Israel and then there are some who view the kingdom as synonymous with the organized, visible church on Earth, so that at some point the Church evolves to become the kingdom of God on Earth, making the kingdom partly spiritual in nature and political at the same time.

Because I view the Bible as a revelation of God to man, I take its words literally whenever and wherever possible, understanding  that there are portions of the inspired Word meant to be taken as allegorical; things like parables, for example, are not meant to be taken literally, although their meanings are. Even within the words of Bible prophecy, care must be taken to arrive at an interpretation that honors the integrity of Scripture and the writer’s original intent.

God does not want His people ignorant, especially where His plan for their future is concerned. The phrase, “God’s people,” takes in the nation of Israel, saints from the Old Testament on, Christians who have passed on and those alive today. God wants us all to know what our future holds. He doesn’t want us to be fearful or confused about what may or may not happen to us or our children. Most of all, God wants all of His people to know that He has a plan for them and for this planet.  God wants us to know that He created us and our world for a purpose – His purpose, not ours. He wants us to have hope in His plan and faith in His purpose. So, while what the Bible has to say about the Millennial Kingdom may seem difficult to understand, there is a great reward in the effort. Naturally, there is a great value in reading and studying all of the Bible, but God has a special reward in store for those seeking to understand the words of prophecy:

If you read this prophecy aloud to the church, you will receive a special blessing from the Lord. Those who listen to it being read and do what it says will also be blessed. For the time is near when these things will all come true. (Revelation 1:3 TLB)

Let’s get blessed as we study the reign of Jesus on Earth.

Jesus will be the King

For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder. These will be his royal titles: “Wonderful,” “Counselor,” “The Mighty God,” “The Everlasting Father,” “The Prince of Peace.” His ever-expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule with perfect fairness and justice from the throne of his father David. He will bring true justice and peace to all the nations of the world. This is going to happen because the Lord of heaven’s armies has dedicated himself to do it! (Isaiah 9:6, 7 TLB)

Almost everybody knows these verses; they are recited and sung ad nauseam every Christmas. But beyond the first couple of phrases, “for unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given,” these “Christmas” verses have nothing to do with why we celebrate Christmas, but everything to do with Jesus’ Second Coming when He inaugurates the Millennial Kingdom. He will establish His government, but it won’t be done in grace.

“I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ” (Psalm 2:7 – 9 NKJV)

There isn’t much grace there! Jesus came in grace and mercy the first time, but when He comes back the second time, it will be in justice and judgment.

Choirs also sing this verse at Christmastime:

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31 – 33 NKJV)

Once again, as with the Isaiah passage, only the first sentence concerns the first coming. Verses 32 and 33 haven’t happened you. Verse 31, a prediction when Mary heard it, is history to us. She did have a Son and she did call Him Jesus. But the next two verse are prophecies; they haven’t happened yet. But they will! When Jesus comes back verses 32 and 33 will happen just as surely as verse 31 did.

Our Lord isn’t on the throne yet. He may be on the “throne in your hearts,” but He’s not on the throne of “His father David.” He is not reigning over the house of Jacob yet. But He will.

The sphere of Jesus’ reign

So just how big will Jesus’ kingdom be? Big!

And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day there shall be one Lord—his name alone will be worshiped. (Zechariah 14:9 TLB)

“But my name will be honored by the Gentiles from morning till night. All around the world they will offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name shall be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 1:11 TLB)

The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:10 TLB)

Get the picture? The prophetic book of Revelation puts it like this:

For just then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting down from heaven, “The Kingdom of this world now belongs to our Lord, and to his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 TLB)

You can be forgiven if you want to burst out in song as you read that verse. Handel put it in his Messiah. But it hasn’t happened yet. It will. King Jesus will rule over the whole world. Our world will become His kingdom and Earth will know peace for the first time in its history. For a thousand years, Jesus will reign as king.

Nature of His kingdom

It’s an interesting fact of history that a nation will rise or fall to the moral level of its leaders. I’ll reserve my comments about the present state of America and its current administration. But I will say this: When Jesus is King; when He is the final moral authority, His subjects – the nations of this world and their citizens – will rise to the moral level of His authority. Consider these facts:

Deliverance from the power of Satan.

He seized the Dragon—that old Serpent, the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years, and threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so that he could not fool the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterwards he would be released again for a little while. (Revelation 20:2, 3 TLB)

Can you imagine a world without an outside evil force? During the Millennium you won’t have to imagine it; it will be a reality! Satan will be forcibly bound during almost all of Jesus’ reign on earth. Finally man will be at peace with his neighbor.

But at last the whole earth is at rest and is quiet! All the world begins to sing! Even the trees of the woods—the fir trees and cedars of Lebanon—sing out this joyous song: “Your power is broken; no one will bother us now; at last we have peace.” (Isaiah 14:7, 8 TLB)

Universal harmony

There will be peace and there will be harmony all over the world.

He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4 TLB)

Low information Christians think that’s the UN talking, but it’s God’s Word through His prophet Isaiah. Jesus will “judge between the nations and rebuke many people.” While Satan is bound, man will still have his sinful nature. This is the Millennial Kingdom on Earth, not the eternal state. Jesus will keep the peace like no nation could. There will be no more war. No more armies.

Prosperity

There will be an abundance of grain in the earth, on the top of the mountains; its fruit shall wave like Lebanon; and those of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth. (Psalm 72:12 NKJV)

There will be food enough for all the people on Earth. Of course, there’s plenty of grain today, but political pressures keep farmers from selling it to those who need it. Once all those regulations are gone, grain and produce will flow around the world. There will be earth-changes, too. The planet will simply produce more food.

Man will live longer

But he won’t be taking pills to make it happen! Look –

No longer will babies die when only a few days old; no longer will men be considered old at 100! Only sinners will die that young! (Isaiah 65:20 TLB)

The people of Israel will no longer say, “We are sick and helpless,” for the Lord will forgive them their sins and bless them. (Isaiah 33:24 TLB)

You can’t imagine that, can you? A day when lifespans will be greatly increased because Jesus will be King. Of course, people will die. Human beings don’t live forever. Again, this isn’t Heaven; it’s not the eternal state. But the Bible makes it clear that man will live longer during the Millennium.

Salvation for the lost

There will be unsaved people all over the Earth during the Millennium. Not everybody under the rule of Jesus will be true worshippers. But, salvation will still be available to those who need it.

O kings and rulers of the earth, listen while there is time. Serve the Lord with reverent fear; rejoice with trembling. Fall down before his Son and kiss his feet before his anger is roused and you perish. I am warning you—his wrath will soon begin. But oh, the joys of those who put their trust in him! (Psalm 2:10 – 12 NKJV)

The implication is that during the Millennium, all people and all nations will “serve the Lord,” to the extent that they will live in obedience to Jesus’ laws. Even then, though, there will be those who will be obeying by their actions but not with their hearts. To those, the word of the Lord is “fall down and kiss Jesus’ feet.” Even during the Millennium, the unsaved will be called to make a decision to serve Jesus with their whole hearts.

Honor for the saints and glory for the Savior

Blessed and holy are those who share in the First Resurrection. For them the Second Death holds no terrors, for they will be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6 TLB)

Don’t you know that someday we Christians are going to judge and govern the world? So why can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? (1 Corinthians 6:2 TLB)

Those are Christians – Jew or Gentile believers, it doesn’t matter. Followers of Jesus Christ will rule with Him.

His name will be honored forever; it will continue as the sun; and all will be blessed in him; all nations will praise him. (Psalm 72:17 TLB)

Jesus is coming again. He will establish His kingdom. The nations of this world will be judged. These things will happen. We looked at a tiny portion of the hundreds of verses of Scripture that talk about these future events. It’s very easy forget about these glorious prophecies. When times are good, we don’t worry about the future. When times are bad, we get all discouraged and frustrated. Christians need to know that their God is in control, He has a plan, and this world is moving inexorably to the fulfillment of that plan.

Three Appearances, 5

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Eschatology is the study of last things; the events of the last days. It’s by no means settled theology. Within the bounds of orthodox Christianity, opinions vary greatly as to the order of the events of the last days, or even if some of those events will be real or not. I’ve already mentioned the doctrine of the Rapture, the great snatching away of the Church just prior to the the revelation of the Antichrist and the Tribulation. Many Christians believe this will happen. I’m one of them. Yet at the same time, some Christians do not believe in the Rapture. They allegorize and spiritualize certain passages of Scripture that proponents of that doctrine take literally. In the end, though, whether or not you believe that a rapture will take place is for you to decide yourself, after you yourself study the what the Word has to say. Believing it or not doesn’t impact your salvation one wit.

The same “controversy” surrounds the personal reign of Jesus Christ. All believers must believe in the literal, physical, visible return of Christ to the earth. That’s a primary doctrine. But the idea of a literal Millennial kingdom, like the rapture, is a source of some contention. Those who think that God is done with Israel (many in the Reform camp think this) don’t see a literal Millennium. The rest of us see the Millennial reign of Christ as an absolute imperative because of the many promises God made to the nation of Israel – promises of ultimate deliverance and restoration.

There are many prophecies in the Old Testament foretelling this future reign of Christ. Chief among them is what Zechariah had to say. His visions and prophecies are messianic and millennial. Take a look –

Zechariah 2:10

“Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. (Zechariah 2:10 | NIV84)

“Daughter of Zion” is another way of talking about Jerusalem. Elements of the Christian church have appropriated this verse (and ones like it) for themselves. “Zion,” they say, is really the Church. However, this is God talking through His prophet, and God spoke of Zion. The normative way to read “Zion” is not to replace it with “the Church,” but to leave it alone. God is not talking about the Church, He is talking about Zion, a hill in Israel associated with Jerusalem. This is a prophecy given to God’s people and the way to read it is to read it the way they would have read it.

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21 | NIV84)

So this word of prophecy, then, concerns a time when the Messiah will come to Zion, Jerusalem, to live among His people. This is not a “spiritual coming,” but a literal one. One day, our Lord will return to earth and He will return to Jerusalem and He will live – at last – among His people. This obviously hasn’t happened yet. This can’t be referring to His first coming.

Zechariah 6:12, 13

Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’ (Zechariah 6:12-13 | NIV84)

This passage speaks of an actual event in Zechariah’s time. Three men had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon after the end of the Jewish captivity there. What’s interesting about these three men is that they returned all on their own; they were not part of either of the two groups that would constitute the remnant that would rebuild Jerusalem. Their names were: Heldai (“robust”), Tobijah (“God’s goodness), and Jedaiah (“God knows”). Jewish names are always important, especially here, given what was about to happen. If we link these names together, as God intended us to do, we learn something important: God knows that through His goodness He intends to put His king upon the throne, and He will do it in a robust, powerful manner.

Here’s what Zechariah was to do:

Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. (Zechariah 6:11 | NIV84)

This is a bizarre verse for a couple of reasons. First, the high priest Joshua was to be the first king after the Babylonian Captivity. Funny thing is, it was Zerubbabel, not Joshua, who was in the line of David. Originally, only descendants of David were to be kings of Judah. Yet, here God told Zechariah not to anoint a descendant of David’s but another. Why? It’s because the next descendant of David to sit on the throne will be The Lord Jesus Christ after He returns to earth to establish His kingdom.

The other bizarre aspect of this verse is that God expressly told the Israelites not to combine the offices of high priest and king, and yet here God intended Joshua the high priest to also be the king. What’s that all about? Zechariah didn’t know it, but he was really foreshadowing the fact that one day, the true High Priest would return to earth as King of Kings. The then-high priest Joshua, a variant of the name Jesus, is representative of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest today. This fact is borne out in Hebrews.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15 | NIV84)

Jesus is our great High Priest right now, today. After His death and resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven and is function as our High Priest in God’s presence now.

Here’s something really interesting. In the three appearances of Jesus, we see not only the three aspects of our salvation, but also His three-fold ministry. At His first appearance, Jesus came to earth to minister as God’s prophet – He came to speak for God; He Himself was the Word of God even as He revealed God in human form. At His second appearance, in heaven, Jesus is working as our High Priest, ministering for us before God the Father. At His side, Jesus intervenes for us when we sin; He prays for us to His Father. And one day, at His third appearance, He will come back to earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Zechariah 14:3, 4

Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. (Zechariah 14:3-4 | NIV84)

Chapter 14 is the last chapter of Zechariah and it is wholly prophetic. The prophecies in this chapter have never been fulfilled – not historically in Israel, not in our present day. These are true “last days” prophecies. When we read Zechariah 14, we are reading about events yet to occur, events that will usher in the end of time as we know it. You will find many liberal Bible scholars who reject the prophetic word; who will allegorize and spiritualize these prophecies. To people like that, prophecy is anathema. They fight tooth and nail strip the supernatural from the Bible. When you do that, you open the door to all manner of strange interpretations.

A good rule of thumb is to take the words of the Bible – even words of Biblical prophecy – literally whenever and wherever possible. Read the Bible in the normal way; the way the original readers would have read it. Understand it as they would have. Make sure you know its context. In other words, know what came before and after the passage or verses you may be looking at.

Looking at 14:3 this way, we see a picture of Israel’s great Deliverer who will come to fight for His people. When our Lord returns to earth, this is how He will come and this is why all those Jews who are looking for their Messiah will recognize Him.

Verse 4 is a thrilling verse for Christians and Jews alike. It will literally happen. Just look at the specifics; these are real places, real locations. Our Lord will return exactly as prophesied here. When Jesus returns, He will touch down and stand on The Mount of Olives.

Zechariah 14:9

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name. (Zechariah 14:9 | NIV84)

Well, it can’t be any plainer than this. When Jesus returns, He will be King. When he comes back, there will be one Lord. Do you understand what that means? No false religions. No more death cults. Only Jesus.

Then will I purify the lips of the peoples,that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder. (Zephaniah 3:9 | NIV84)

This verse tells us what will happen after the dark days of judgment. It means that with Jesus as King, there will be no blasphemy. There will be no profanity or vulgarity or repulsive, offensive speech. The language spoken on earth when Jesus is King will be pure. Not only that, man will serve the Lord. In other words, there will be no rebellion against God or the things and people of God.

This Millennial kingdom of Christ’s – a true theocracy – will be a wondrous place to live. Earth will finally have its “utopia.” Man has always wanted to build his utopia, by the way. Gene Roddenberry’s vision of utopia took place in the twenty third century. On Star Trek, nobody needs money and earth is at peace. But the idea that man will evolve all the badness out of himself and that technology and knowledge will make money a thing of distance memory is preposterous; it  just isn’t possible. Because even in the twenty third century, man will still need to use the bathroom and not every citizen of earth will be the captain of a starship. Somebody will to clean the toilets, and what if that janitor doesn’t want to? Peace and harmony will only be possible when God makes it possible, dealing with the stain of sin in man. It’s not man’s environment that makes man a sinner.  More on that next time.

Isaiah, 5

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It’s a terrible thing when, at 50, you can’t see as clearly as you did when you were 20. But that’s life. What’s worse than wearing glasses to improve your eyesight is when you lose that eyesight altogether. It is estimated that almost 50,000 Americans go blind every year. One person every eleven minutes moves from a world of light to a world of darkness.

Worse still is living in spiritual darkness, a way of living that has afflicted the majority of people, not just in America, but all over the world. These people are incapable of having any kind of relationship with God and they are unable of seeing themselves and their world with any kind of clarity. Not so with Christians, though.

But you are not like that, for you have been chosen by God himself—you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own—all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9 TLB)

And yet, sometimes Christians feel as though they are spiritually blinded. Sometimes your prayers go unheard. And sometimes those prayers go unanswered. Sin is what causes this. Spiritual problems are never God’s fault, they are ours. God is always listening and always ready to give the best answer possible to every one of our prayers; He is always at the ready to deliver and do whatever He needs in order to make life better for us. But sin—our sin—will stop Him.

What is true of individuals is also true of nations. Isaiah deals with this spiritual blindness in chapters 59 and 60. Let’s look at the prophet’s conclusions.

Sin = Spiritual Darkness, Isaiah 59:1, 2, 8—13

God’s power is not lacking

When God withholds answers to prayer or blessings or when it seems as though God is MIA, we might be tempted to think God cannot answer those prayers or is incapable of do that which we are asking of Him. This isn’t so. God is able; His power is never lacking.

Listen now! The Lord isn’t too weak to save you. And he isn’t getting deaf! He can hear you when you call! (Isaiah 59:1 TLB)

In Isaiah’s day, Israel remained in its quagmire of sin and went unsaved not because it was too difficult for God to help them, but because Israel stubbornly refused repent.

Sin separates

But the trouble is that your sins have cut you off from God. Because of sin he has turned his face away from you and will not listen anymore. (Isaiah 59:2 TLB)

The distance between God and man is like the distance between man and an ant. That distance is great, but it is eliminated by faith in Jesus Christ. That profound theological truth is expressed by Gordon Jensen’s very simple song lyrics:

In the very thought of Jesus, His presence may be found,
He’s as close as the mention of His name.
There’s never any distance between my Lord and me,
He’s as close as the mention of His name.

In my hour of struggle, so many times I’ve found,
He’s as close as the mention as His name.
Just to breathe the name of Jesus can turn everything around,
He’s as close as the mention of His name.

But all that is true only as long as your sin has been dealt with and is being dealt with by the both the Lord and you as you live in submission to Him and in obedience to His Word.

Israel’s constant sinful actions had driven a wedge between themselves and God—an impassible chasm had been established by Israel. God’s people had deluded themselves into thinking all they had to do was offer sacrifices and throw God some change from time to time and that would be good enough. It wasn’t nearly good enough for God.

For all people, Christians included, this is a serious thing. Sin always separates man from God. It will always be that way; there are no exceptions. We may try to rationalize our sinful behavior and invent cute slogans to excuse it (“Be patient, God’s not finished with me yet.”). God does not condone or excuse your sin; He does not understand why you do it, nor does He buy your excuses. The only thing God knows is that if you are stuck in sin, you can’t get close to Him.

Sin = Spiritual Blindness

No wonder you grope like blind men and stumble along in broad daylight, yes, even at brightest noontime, as though it were the darkest night! No wonder you are like corpses when compared with vigorous young men! (Isaiah 59:10 TLB)

What a horrible picture of the man who is out of favor with God. It’s sad, but the best people in the world; the nicest people you’ll ever meet, if they don’t know Jesus, this how they really are: blind, and as Isaiah said, “like corpses.”

When a nation or an individual becomes spiritually blind, they forfeit the blessings of God they may have been used to. Those blessings include things like: peace, wisdom and knowledge, and ultimately hope evaporates.

The reason a spiritually blind nation has no peace is because they have lost all sense of justice. Note verse 8—

You don’t know what true peace is, nor what it means to be just and good; you continually do wrong and those who follow you won’t experience any peace either. (TLB)

Verse 11 paints a really pathetic picture of how sinful men appear to God:

You roar like hungry bears; you moan with mournful cries like doves. You look for God to keep you, but he doesn’t. He has turned away. (TLB)

In other words, these sinful people complained to God, even prayed, but found no relief. Moffatt observed,

By comparing themselves to the growling of the bear and to the sighing of the dove, the Israelites let it be understood that both the strong and the weak, each in his own way, longed to be righted, but all in vain. No rescue is in sight.

And the reason no rescue was forthcoming was because their hearts were in darkness. They prayed because, to them, it was just the thing to do.

Sin multiplies guilt

For your sins keep piling up before the righteous God and testify against you. Yes, we know what sinners we are. We know our disobedience; we have denied the Lord our God. We know what rebels we are and how unfair we are, for we carefully plan our lies. (Isaiah 59:12, 13 TLB)

Sin multiplies and mocks. This verse reminds us of another in the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament:

Fools mock at sin… (Proverbs 14:9 NKJV)

In the end, though, sin mocks the fool because sin testifies against the sinner. Sin is never your friend, no matter how good it may feel at the time. Furthermore, we learn something of the insidious nature of sin here: the latest sin is always larger the previous one.

Israel’s real state is made obvious in these two verses. These people had become complete hypocrites in their “worship,” they were engaged in open apostasy; they didn’t even try to hide their false gods anymore, and they constantly sinned against the truth and against justice. The deeper the people sank into their sin, the greater their guilt became.

Light Dispels Darkness, Isaiah 59:19—60:3

Man may not care about God and he may disregard his fellow man. He may walk all over the truth, grinding it into the ground, but God never stops caring about him.

The redeemer

Then at last they will reverence and glorify the name of God from west to east. For he will come like a flood tide driven by Jehovah’s breath. He will come as a Redeemer to those in Zion who have turned away from sin. (Isaiah 59:19, 20 TLB)

These verses seem like a dramatic turn-about, and they are.  Sort of. God never stops caring for and working out His plan for His people. Though Israel has gone astray and though God has meted out His judgment, He is not finished with them. He has not tossed them away like a soiled hanky. Indeed, God is ready to do battle for them. He is ready come to be Israel’s Redeemer and Restorer.

Verse 19 is a difficult verse to translate, but the sense of what the prophet is trying to convey is one of hope. Though the enemy is all around, God is still there. We have the assurance that at the right time, the Lord will be roused to action.

God’s covenant

“As for me, this is my promise to them,” says the Lord: “My Holy Spirit shall not leave them, and they shall want the good and hate the wrong—they and their children and their children’s children forever.” (Isaiah 59:21 TLB)

Though large swaths of God’s people will leave Him, some will remain faithful, and to those this covenant is made. God’s word and anointing will never fail. Plumtre wrote,

The new covenant is to involve the gift of the Spirit that writes the Law of God inwardly in the heart, as distinct from the Law, which is thought of as outside of the conscience, doing its work as an accuser and judge.

Isaiah’s basis for a hopeful, blessed future has absolutely nothing to do with his faithless people but everything to do with the faithfulness of God and of the power of His living Word at work in every generation.

Light in the darkness

Arise, my people! Let your light shine for all the nations to see! For the glory of the Lord is streaming from you. Darkness as black as night shall cover all the peoples of the earth, but the glory of the Lord will shine from you. All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see the glory of the Lord upon you. (Isaiah 60:1—3 TLB)

This chapter of Isaiah powerfully illustrates the glorious future of Jerusalem. We as Christians are always tempted to take these verses out of their natural context and apply them to the glory of the church. This glorification of God through His people is His gift to Israel, specifically Zion. For multiplied chapters, the prophet had painted a bleak picture of Israel in misery and sin, but now hope dawns. The triumph of grace will dispel the darkness.

God calls His people to “wake up” or “stand tall” as they radiate His glory for all to see. Once they were in shame, but now all that has changed. The splendor of the eternal God will have been awakened in His people. There is a contrast between the brightness of God’s glory and the gloomy darkness of the surrounding nations. During the Millennial Kingdom, Zion will become the very center of the world; the epicenter of spirituality in the New Order.

All nations will be drawn to the Light that beams out of Jerusalem. This is a vision of the future. As we look at Israel today, it scarcely seems possible that one day in the future, Israel will become the prominent, dominant nation on earth. But it will; it will be culmination of generations upon generations of promises made by the Lord to His people.

it is even more wonderful when the Jews come to Christ. It will be like dead people coming back to life. (Romans 11:15 TLB)

This is how Paul saw the glorious future of His people. The greatest revival in the history of revivals is yet to happen. It will be the literal resurrection of the nation of Israel. What a glorious event that will be.

God always keeps His promises. To the Jew, some of these unfulfilled promises are so old, they have become part of a past long forgotten in the mists of antiquity. But to those faithful few who remember them and long for their fulfillment, and to those of us who take God at His Word, we eagerly await for His glorious return.


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My Conservative Identity:

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