Posts Tagged 'Millennium'

Panic Podcast – Ezekiel, Part 4

In today’s program, we bring to a conclusion our brief look at the Book of Ezekiel and an amazing, life giving river the will of the Millennial Temple.

 

Panic Podcast – Ezekiel, Part 3

Today we zoom into Ezekiel 34 to study the Good Shepherd.  Who is He?  What will He for His people?

 

Three Appearances, 5

BeFunky_JerusalemT.jpg

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, 4

BeFunky_highway.jpg

Most of are familiar with these song lyrics:

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway;
And more much more than this,
I did it my way.

Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley got a lot of mileage out that song, and it moved many people who heard it. Trouble is, it’s all wrong! It’s not the anthem of self-made winner, but rather the epitaph of a loser. Nobody wins when they “do it their way.” In the Bible, we read this well-worn verse:

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12 NKJV)

Nobody wins without God. The deck, as they say, is stacked against the unbeliever who feels like he has to live life his own way, without regard to God’s way.

The prophetic book of Isaiah is full of teachings that center on God’s way and the losing proposition of trying live your own way. Let’s look at what it’s like living God’s way.

The way of holiness, Isaiah 35:1—10

Chapter 35 of Isaiah describes a time in the future—our future. It will be a time when man’s dominion of the Earth will be over and God’s will have just begun. The time of God’s terrible judgment will be over and the peaceful reign of His Son will be under way. We have no frame of reference for what life will be like during the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ because that kind of society has never existed before. There has never been a “utopia” anywhere on Earth, nor will there be until Christ returns.

The Millennium will be marked joy and rejoicing.

Even the wilderness and desert will rejoice in those days; the desert will blossom with flowers. (Isaiah 35:1 TLB)

The prophet has Jerusalem in view, but there is the sense that this rejoicing will take place all over the world and the glory of the Lord will bring about some major physical changes to the Earth. Plants will grow in abundance, for example. The idea is that the Earth, parts of which may be dangerous and hostile to man, will be made habitable and useful. In essence, the curse of Genesis will be lifted and reversed. No wonder men the world over will rejoice!

But not only will the Earth be restored; man’s relationship with his fellow man will be restored:

Encourage those who are afraid. Tell them, “Be strong, fear not, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” (Isaiah 35:4 TLB)

No more war or fear of war; God will take care of His people.

God’s way is not only the way of rejoicing and peace, but of miracles:

The lame man will leap up like a deer, and those who could not speak will shout and sing! Springs will burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. (Isaiah 35:6 TLB)

God will heal both people and land during this dispensation. Miracles will be the norm, not the exception. It will be remarkable time for human beings! As wonderful as this may sound, verse 8 is the gem:

And a main road will go through that once-deserted land; it will be named “The Holy Highway.” No evil-hearted men may walk upon it. God will walk there with you; even the most stupid cannot miss the way. (TLB)

This is a stunning verse! From the Greek Old Testament, it reads something like this:

There shall be a clean way and it shall be called a holy way, and there shall by no means pass over there anything unclean, neither shall be there an unclean way. The dispersed ones shall proceed on it, and they shall in no wise be caused to err.

The name of God’s road or highway will be called “the way of holiness” because it will specifically for God’s people to travel on as they travel to God’s Holy City. The Hebrew word for “highway” or “main road” is maslul, suggesting a clearly marked public road.

Remember, we are reading about the future. This age isn’t here yet. In a sense, though, true believers are already walking on “the way holiness.” God has cleansed us from sin and is making us holy day by day as we submit to Him through obedience to the Holy Spirit within us. The “highway of holiness” we journey on is spiritual, marked by separation from the world and its ways.

The way to victory, Isaiah 43:15—21

God’s way is a holy way, both today and in the future—today spiritually; in the future practically. But God’s way is also the only way to victory. God is able to create His holy highway on land for His people to travel on, but He can also create way through the sea!

I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a path right through the sea. (verse 16 TLB)

God, through the prophet, is reminding his people of what He did in the past, because if He came through for them back then, what can prevent Him from doing it again? Indeed, God’s people have no reason to worry or fret! God working in history to accomplish His will is proof He can do it again. Nothing can stop God

But God not only worked in the past.

But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I’m going to do! For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to go home, and create rivers for them in the desert! (verses 18, 19 TLB)

The same God who dried up the waters in history for His people, has the power to do the opposite! He can supply water where it is needed; He can make a way for His people where no way exists. He did it during the Exodus, and He will do it again.

Once again, we are reading about a day in the future. This prophecy will become reality—a physical reality one day. But for now, it is a spiritual reality for believers. God, today, does these things for His people. He provides times of refreshing, like waters in the desert. God is able to make a way for His people—He opens doors, provides solutions, shows us the right way to go. We as believers don’t have to wait for the Millennium to enjoy the blessings of the Lord!

The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and ostriches too, for giving them water in the wilderness, yes, springs in the desert, so that my people, my chosen ones, can be refreshed. I have made Israel for myself, and these my people will some day honor me before the world. (verses 20, 21 TLB)

This is the word of the Lord to Israel; to His people. If chapter 43 teaches us anything, it’s that God is in no way finished with the nation of Israel. A great many churches think that God has disposed of Israel and replaced it with the Church is His program of prophecy. This “replacement theology” does great damage to God’s honor and integrity. He has made some very specific promises to Israel that have nothing to do with the Church, and if we have learned anything about God, it’s that He always keeps His Word! That very fact should give us as Christians great hope. Though we are not Jews by birth, we are by the Spirit—we have been adopted into Abraham’s family.

The road to restoration, Isaiah 49:7—15 and 62:10—12

Yet they say, “My Lord deserted us; he has forgotten us.”

“Never! Can a mother forget her little child and not have love for her own son? Yet even if that should be, I will not forget you. See, I have tattooed your name upon my palm, and ever before me is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins. (verses 14—16 TLB)

God’s people were despondent, and it is to them these words of encouragement were addressed. At this time in their history, Jerusalem was ruined and God’s people had become objects of scorn and derision. And yet, at the same time, they remained God’s people! In spite of the circumstances, these deflated, discouraged, depressed, and dispersed people were still God’s chosen people; He had not thrown them over; He was not finished with them.

Once again, Isaiah is offering a hopeful word of what it will be like for Israel in the future. When the prophet wrote these words, the people of Jerusalem had been hauled off into captivity; they were taken from their homes and resettled throughout the Babylonian empire. The future not only looked bleak to the captives, it must have looked like they had no future! They, like all people, tended to only see their immediate circumstances. Many had forgotten the eternal promises of the Lord. They took their eyes of the long game. It never pays to be that short sighted! God isn’t! He never forgot His people—then or now.

God’s purpose for the Earth—indeed His purpose for the universe—centers around the nation of Israel. When the people of God finally return to their land, both heaven and Earth will rejoice. Then, things in our material universe, so out of kilter today, will be set aright. God ought to blessing this world through His people, but He can’t. Satan and his demons should be in Hell, but they aren’t. Man should be free to serve the Lord and enjoy His presence all day, any way and every way, but there are forces arrayed against man today making that very difficult. However, when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, returns in power and glory, He will restore the people of God to their land and He will arrange the material universe the way the Creator intended it to be.

This thought is carried on and captured vividly in these verses:

Go out! Go out! Prepare the roadway for my people to return! Build the roads, pull out the boulders, raise the flag of Israel. See, the Lord has sent his messengers to every land and said, “Tell my people, I, the Lord your God, am coming to save you and will bring you many gifts.” And they shall be called “The Holy People” and “The Lord’s Redeemed,” and Jerusalem shall be called “The Land of Desire” and “The City God Has Blessed.” (Isaiah 62:10—12 TLB)

This paragraph is all about the future. Today, if you watch the news, it seems as though the whole world is pointing their guns at Israel, a tiny speck of nation. Those unfamiliar with Biblical prophecy wonder why. Why does it seem like everybody is against Israel? The fact is, Jerusalem can never experience true and lasting peace because her Messiah isn’t there. At the moment, Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God, waiting for the day His Father tells Him it’s time to go back to rule Israel in righteousness. Heaven and Earth, all of creation, is waiting for that day.

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. For all creation is waiting patiently and hopefully for that future day when God will resurrect his children. For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay—the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command—will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy. For we know that even the things of nature, like animals and plants, suffer in sickness and death as they await this great event. (Romans 8:18—22 TLB)

The restoration of Israel is the key part of God’s plan for His universe, and also the key ingredient in His great plan of salvation. And part of that great plan involves the salvation of national Israel. Today, Israel is not a redeemed nation, but when Christ returns and reveals His salvation to them, that nation will be transformed, just as the Earth will be. Then, and only then, will God’s people be called a “holy people.” The exact opposite is true today. What a marvelous day that will be.


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