This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
We’re going to continue with the third and last session of this seminar on “Israel and the Church.” We’ll do as we did in the previous session. We’ll briefly review the material we covered in the last session. If you have your note outline, we spoke about our inheritance in Christ. we said there’s no wall of division between Jew and Gentile. We are all equally entitled to the inheritance. But I pointed out that there are still some differences between male and female, between slave and master, between Jew and Gentile.
And then we looked at four passages in Romans where Paul uses the word Israel (of Israel not reconciled with God through the Messiah) to distinguish them from believing Gentiles. My point was that Paul does not use Israel as a synonym for the Church, but he uses it as a word to distinguish people who are not part of the Church.
And then we went on to what I call the practical application of the conclusions above: first of all, that Old Testament prophecies about Israel still refer to Israel and mean exactly what they appear to mean. And we looked at some examples which we will not repeat.
Second conclusion: that we may expect unfulfilled prophecies of the Old Testament to be fulfilled in just the same way as those which were fulfilled in the New Testament, which is exactly the way they’re written. And we looked at eleven specific examples of Old Testament prophecies which were fulfilled in the life and person of Jesus, and every one of them was fulfilled if you want to use the word “literally.”
My dear wife pointed out to me that I omitted to read number 8, He was offered vinegar to drink. That was an oversight on my part, but let me say it was literal vinegar that He was offered to drink. There was nothing metaphorical about it.
And then we continued with two further sections, section 11 and 12, pointing out that Israel’s destiny is based on God’s sovereign election, not on Israel’s merits, but this doesn’t make Israel any different from the Church because the Church’s destiny is likewise based on God’s sovereign election and not on the Church’s merit.
And then I pointed out that in the New Testament the Church is introduced as something entirely new which nobody even knew about except God Himself, until it was manifested in the New Testament. Whereas Israel was recognized and had been in existence for something like fifteen centuries. So there’s a vital difference between Israel and the Church.
Now by oversight, I omitted the third conclusion. I didn’t do it because I was clever, I simply did it out of oversight, but I do believe the Lord overruled, because I believe it’s very appropriate to begin this closing section by going back to conclusion number 3, which I will now read out. I hope you’re with me.
It says Fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the New Testament makes it even more sure that the remaining prophecies will be fulfilled likewise. It does not set aside those prophecies; it even more certainly guarantees the fulfillment of the unfulfilled prophecies. They therefore require our earnest attention, and Peter states this very explicitly in 2 Peter chapter 1which I want to turn to. I hope you’ll turn with me. Second Peter chapter 1, we’ll turn to the last part of the chapter, we’ll begin briefly in verse 16.
Peter is speaking now about the coming of the Lord in glory. The standard Greek word which many of you have probably heard is parousia. It’s a special word used for that particular event. And he said, “We want you to know that it isn’t just something that we thought up that He’s coming in glory. On the contrary, he said, we actually had a preview of His glory when we were with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration, and we actually saw it, so we have some concept of what it will be like when He comes in His glory.” We’ll read that passage and then we’ll go on to the second part of that section. Verse 16:
For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming [parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
And that word majesty is particularly used about the transfiguration. I suppose there’s something about the transfiguration that evoked that word majesty.
For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
So Peter says, “We’re not thinking something up. This is something we experienced. We were there with Him. We saw it.” Then he goes on to make a very significant statement. But he said, “That’s not the greatest guarantee of His coming in glory. The greatest guarantee is the prophetic word. That’s even more authoritative than our personal testimony.”
Just as I pointed out this morning, that although there were more than five hundred eyewitnesses of the resurrection, the primary authority for the resurrection was that it had been predicted in the Old Testament. That takes precedence even over human witnesses. So authoritative is the prophetic word of God.
Now he goes on, and this is the passage we’re leading on to:
We also have the prophetic word made more sure, . . .
Why was the prophetic word made more sure? Because they’d seen so many fulfillments of the prophetic word already in the life and ministry of Jesus. So the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in the life of Jesus and in the New Testament does not set aside the remaining unfulfilled prophecies. On the contrary, it makes them even more sure. All right.
We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
The authority behind all true prophecy is the authority of God the Holy Spirit. I’d like to dwell for a moment on verse 19 which has become very significant for me.
[And so we have also] the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed…
It is wrong to ignore the prophetic Scriptures, and we ignore them at our own cost, because the New Testament says “you do well to take heed to them.” And it compares them to a light that shines in a dark place. I believe it would be less than realistic to deny that the world we live in today is a dark place, and in my opinion getting darker. But in this dark place with all its pressures and its problems and its agony, God has provided a light, which is the prophetic word. And if you’re troubled and pressured by events in the world, they should cause you to turn to the prophetic word of God for light, for assurance, and for hope.
And then we have a most beautiful picture which I will try to interpret for you.
… [this light] shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
Now I checked this with two Greek lexicons of the New Testament Greek because I want to be absolutely sure that I was right. The morning star, each of them agree, is not the sun, but it’s the star that rises immediately before the sun. I am no astronomer, but probably some of you are much better informed than I am. You know there is one star which at a certain season rises in the west just after the sun sets, and it’s called Venus. Okay, there is another star, but it’s the same star but at a different season, which rises in the east just before the sun rises, and it’s called Aurora or the Dawn Star. But it’s the same—it’s not a star, it’s a planet. Okay? That’s what Peter is talking about. He’s talking about the Morning Star rising in the east just before the sun rises.
Now this is very vivid to me because through no choice of mine, I endured three years of hardship in the North African desert. I’m smiling because I just heard a promotion put on by a local radio station in Miami, advertising me, and I have to say they did a tremendous job. It wasn’t all completely accurate, but it certainly was designed to advertise me, because my program is on the station. And one of the things they said was that I’d chosen the spot in life in the desert. Well, it was a spot in life but I didn’t choose it. I had no options. Anyhow, in the desert we had at that time no artificial light, so basically when the sun went down we went to sleep, and we slept on the desert most nights, and when the sun got up we woke just like the birds. And that’s not the way I live today. But in that situation I learned about the Morning Star by watching it. At a certain point, just before dawn, if it’s a clear sky—which it usually is in the desert—the whole eastern horizon becomes luminous, and you think The sun’s coming. But it isn’t the sun, it’s the Morning Star. It’s amazingly bright in that setting. But when you see the Morning Star, you know what’s going to happen next, don’t you? The next thing that’s going to happen, the sun’s going to rise. So He’s the harbinger of the sun, and what Peter is saying, I believe, is this: “If you will really give heed to the prophetic word, you’ll have an experience in which the morning star rises in your heart. He’s not talking about the actual coming of the Lord, but he’s talking about this inner witness, “The Lord’s coming.”
Has that Morning Star risen in your heart? One thing I think is obvious objectively about New Testament Christians, they live in continued excited anticipation of the Lord’s return, and that was the greatest motivation for holy living that’s presented in the New Testament. The Morning Star had risen in their hearts, and I have to say by the grace of God, I believe the Morning Star has risen in my heart. It’s not just theology for me. All of us probably, theologically, believe the Lord is coming back, but theology is one thing, confident expectation is another. And He’s only coming back in that sense for those who eagerly await His return, so it’s very, very important that the Morning Star arises in your heart and you’ll live differently when it does. You’ll have a different focus and a different set of values. This is a provision of God. You cannot afford to neglect the revelation of the prophetic word. You need it. I need it. We need it.
Let me give you a little advice. Spend less time in front of the television and more time with an open Bible, and you’ll be a different person, because the Morning Star doesn’t rise through watching Dallas. Nothing against that program, but it just doesn’t produce that result. It’s a question of what you want. Do you want God’s best or do you want to just scrape by? And I’m not sure that people who are content to scrape by will scrape by, incidentally. I’ve often said—I haven’t said it lately—but I think people who don’t make heaven their number one priority won’t end up there. I can’t believe that anybody will drift into heaven. I simply cannot think it’s credible. So I want to emphasize the importance of giving heed to the prophetic word. You are depriving yourself of one of the most precious provisions of God if you don’t do that.
Now, we’re going to look at some of the things this prophetic word reveals tonight. We’ll go on with our outline, section 13 which is headed: Differing Destinies and it begins with an if: If Israel and the Church are Not Identical, Then How Do Their Destinies Differ? See, it’s taken me two sessions to get to that conclusion because of all the, I would have to say, theological garbage that got piled up over the well. Ruth and I have just been reading about Isaac returning to the area where his father, Abraham, had dug the wells and the Philistines had stopped them all up. And he had to go patiently digging open the wells that his father had dug that had been stopped up the Philistines. And there’s a lot of that in the church. Our forefathers opened a lot of wells which the Philistines have stopped up. And what we’ve really been doing, actually, is digging out the garbage to open up the well.
Now we can face the question: How do the destinies of Israel and the Church differ? My suggestion is, and this is a suggestion, it’s what I’ve come to believe. I’m not saying you’ve got to believe it, but I believe we find the key to the answer in the prophetic revelation about Abraham’s descendants that they would be like two things—the stars and the sand. I suggested that the stars prefigure the Church through its faith in Jesus the Messiah. The sand prefigures the destiny of Israel. The stars are heavenly, the sand is earthly. And I believe God through His people is going to take over both heaven and earth. The Church’s destiny is in the heavenly; Israel’s destiny is on earth. Between them they’re going to occupy territory that has long been occupied by the enemies of God.
There’s one Scripture in Isaiah 51:16 which seems to me to predict this. Isaiah 51:16. I don’t want to go into the background of this. It’s not absolutely clear to whom these words are addressed. I think in all probability they’re addressed by God the Father to the Messiah, but you could take another view. But this is what the Lord says:
“And I have put My words in your mouth;
I have covered you with the shadow of My hand,
That I may plant the heavens,
Lay the foundations of the earth,
And say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’”
Now, if you have any other translation but the King James, Old or New, you won’t have the word plant there. If you have the nasb the word plant is in the margin. But let me tell you that the word used in Hebrew is the standard Hebrew word for “to plant” and it’s used with that meaning at least fifty times in the Old Testament. I think probably the modern translators changed the word or looked for another word because they couldn’t understand how the heavens would need to be planted. I think it’s very clear. I think the heavens have got to—, their present tenants have got to be evicted, and the Church has to take their place. That’s my simpleminded understanding. God is going to plant the Church in the heavenlies, through the Church. He’s got to lay the foundation of the next age on earth through Israel. God’s purpose includes both heaven and earth.
There’s a teaching in Judaism which I find rather convincing. I don’t accept all teachings of Judaism by any means, but this teaching is that when God has made a thing to fulfill a certain purpose, before that thing is finally abolished it has to fulfill that purpose. And I believe that’s true of Israel. He created Israel to fulfill certain purposes. Up to this time they haven’t. So He can’t remove them—or He won’t remove them—until they have fulfilled His purposes. He created the earth for a certain purpose. I believe this earth is one day going to be done away with, but it’s not going to be done away with till it’s fulfilled its divine purpose. To me that makes sense.
All right now, I’m going to develop this theme first of all by pointing out aspects of the Church that are heavenly. And in making this study I really got a new understanding of how heavenly the Church is.
Now we’ve had a kind of attitude for some years that heaven doesn’t matter much. What matters is earth. There’s a certain truth in that, but I don’t believe the Church can fulfill its God-appointed task on earth from the earth. It has to take its place in the heavenlies—not to escape what’s happening on earth, but to direct what’s happening on earth. So I’m not taking the attitude we’re all getting ready to escape. I’m taking the attitude we can’t fulfill our destiny until we take our place where we belong.
There’s a number of Scriptures listed there which we’ll look at, but before that I’d like to look at one that I didn’t list. It’s in Luke 14:33, Jesus has told a couple of parables which we don’t need to go into now. He gives the application, Luke 14:33:
“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
There’s one of the cannots. You cannot see the kingdom of God unless you’re born again. That’s a cannot. Here’s another cannot. You cannot be Christ’s disciple unless you forsake all that you have. I’ve heard a lot of teaching on discipleship, like many of you, but strangely enough that verse is very seldom quoted, and it’s the basis. It’s the starting point.
Now many of us here have forsaken all that we have, and I’m not going to pick on people. I’d like to simply say both Ruth and I at different times in our lives came to the point where we forsook all that we had. It happened to me in 1946. It happened to Ruth maybe in 1975. It doesn’t mean we’re never going to have anything after that. It means what we have after that, we don’t own. We’re stewards. God may make you a steward of much more than you had before. In my case, He has. But my forsaking was totally real, believe me. Once you’ve forsaken, then God can decide what He’s going to give you. As long as you’re clinging on to what you have, you can’t get what God has for you.
Now I started here because I think because the Church is a heavenly people we have to say good-bye to our earthly possessions before we can take our heavenly destiny. Understand, I’m not saying we’re all going to walk around as mendicant friars after that, because, as a matter of fact, Jesus said, “Anybody that forsakes father and mother and sisters and brothers and husbands, will receive a hundredfold in this age, and in the age to come, life everlasting.” I’m not preaching a poverty message. I’m preaching a message of forsaking and being made a steward. Do you understand? But the reason why I emphasize this verse is I don’t think you can inherit in two different—, on two different levels at the same time. If you want your heavenly inheritance, you have to kiss good-bye to your earthly inheritance. Okay?
Now you say, “Well I’m not sure I’m ready to do that.” Let me give you a piece of information. You cannot do it. It’s not your decision. It’s His. The disciples that followed Jesus forsook all, but Jesus said, “You didn’t choose Me. I chose you.” He wasn’t talking about salvation. He was talking about discipleship. Don’t worry; don’t get nervous. Because if you get nervous the Lord will pass you by. He’s not looking for volunteers. I hope I’ve communicated this. I hope you understand the reason why I’m saying this, because you can’t, shall we say, live on both planes at the same time. And that, I have to tell you dear people, is the problem with many of you. Honestly, to tell it like it is, you’ve got one foot in heaven and one foot on earth and it’s very uncomfortable. You just have to make up your mind where you’re going to belong. It seems agonizing, but once it’s over, it’s marvelous. I would never go back to the old life. By the standards of the world I gave up a lot. I gave up a Professorship at Cambridge, I gave away my money, I gave away my right to return to my home country, I took on a lot of strange responsibilities including eight adopted daughters, and being an only child, I mean, I didn’t know what made girls tick. They were a completely strange… God didn’t ease me gently into it. He just dropped me in the middle of it. And you could talk to the girls. They could tell you some their shocks, too. But get my message. I hope you’ve got it. You can’t own property on both levels. If you own in heaven, you’ve got to be a steward on earth. And stewards, you know, what’s the key word about stewards? They’re accountable, faithful and accountable.
All right. Now let’s look at this list of Scriptures that deal with that heavenly aspect of the Church. We’ll go rather quickly. First Peter chapter 1 verses 3 and 4, 1 Peter 1:3 and 4:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, . . .
Begotten us again. I think one of the new translations says “Caused us to be born again.” So that’s the rebirth. We’re born again to something. Look at the next verse:
to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved [where?] in heaven for you, . . .
Where is our inheritance? In heaven, that’s right. You can’t inherit both levels. Philippians 3:20:
For our citizenship is in heaven, . . .
We are not citizens of this earth. What are we here? We’re pilgrims and strangers.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, . . .
Now, if your citizenship is in heaven, I believe you will be eagerly waiting for the Savior. So if you’re not eagerly for the Savior, it’s probably evidence your citizenship isn’t in heaven. And let me add again He’s only coming back for those who eagerly wait His coming.
Ephesians, now we go to Ephesians. We have five Scriptures in Ephesians because one of the key words in Ephesians is this word heavenly, which occurs five times, and it’s appropriate because Ephesians is the primary revelation of the Church. It’s appropriate that the word heavenly should occur five times. First of all in chapter 1 verse 3:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, . . .
Where are our blessings? In heavenly places. You say, “God doesn’t seem to bless me much.” You’re living in the wrong level. Okay.
Same first chapter, verses 20 through 23. Without going back to the beginning of the sentence:
which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.
Where is our head? In heaven. Where is our headquarters? I didn’t get a very certain answer. We cannot have our head in one place and our headquarters in another. Isn’t that right? See, that’s one major problem with the Church. Many groups have got their headquarters somewhere different from their head, which tells us really He isn’t their head. We pass on to Ephesians 2:6:
[He has] raised us up together [in Christ], and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, . . .
I like the translation that says “He’s enthroned us.” That’s the place of rule and authority. Where is it? In the heavenlies. So if we’re living on the earthly plane, we don’t have that authority. We have no right to exercise it. It’s exercised from the throne. Ephesians 3:10, we won’t go into the background of this because it’s a complicated sentence.
to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, . . .
Our message is a revelation to the principalities and powers in the heavenlies. They see the manifold wisdom of God in us. The earth doesn’t. The earth regards us as foolish, but the heavenly creatures, they know much better than that. They know we’re the demonstration of God’s wisdom. So our exposure is in the heavenlies.
Ephesians 6:12, the fifth use of heavenly:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Our wrestling match or our warfare is in the heavenlies. The whole revelation of Ephesians places us in the heavenlies. We’re not in the heavenlies, we’re out of our place. And all the things that God has provided for us are not available to us. All the spiritual blessings are not on the earthly level. They’re in the heavenlies. Turn to Hebrews, Hebrews chapter 3:
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, . . .
All right. Our calling is heavenly. It doesn’t come the earthly level. It comes from above. It’s an upward calling. Paul calls it in Philippians 3, “For the prize of the upward calling of God.” Every Christian should feel something drawing him upwards. We should never feel at home in this earth. The biggest problem of American Christians is that, in one sentence. I don’t say that to be critical. It’s natural, because God has so blessed American Christians. We really don’t know what persecution is, we don’t know what need is, we don’t know what shortage is. We’ve got such an abundance of everything that we’ve settled down to be at home in this level. God can change that very quickly. I’ve noticed in some of my dealings with people, the most joyful Christians are the ones often who have the least on earth, because our joy is a heavenly joy. Sometimes we get so much pleasure, entertainment, excitement on the earthly level that our joy is corrupted. Now I’m now saying seek persecution, but I am saying if it comes it might do you good.
Going on in Hebrews 6—it might do us good, let me not omit myself from that. Hebrews 6:4 and 5:
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, . . .
That’s speaking of believers such as us. Without filling in the rest of the sentence, it’s a heavenly gift we’ve tasted. And in tasting the heavenly gift, we’ve tasted the powers of the age to come.
See, in the age to come, supernatural power will be natural. We won’t have to walk places, we’ll just get there. If those of you that persevered with me through Hebrews, I think you will remember that there were three key words that indicated the direction of Hebrews. How many of you can remember them? The first begins with a “P” perfection: rest, inheritance. That’s right. Rest is in our inheritance and that’s where we fin perfection. The whole message of Hebrews is: Don’t get bogged down. And it was written to people who were bogged down in their religious practices. All right, Hebrews 12:22:
But you have come [that’s believers in Jesus] you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered [where?] in heaven, [that’s right] . . .
You have to be registered where your citizenship is. Everybody knows that. So if your citizenship is in heaven, you’ve got to be registered there.
Just pause, or let’s not go further. “You’ve come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,” and I like the alternative division of the text which reads this way:
to an innumerable company of angels in festal assembly [or festal array], and to the assembly of the firstborn…and to the spirits of just men made perfect, . . .
That’s our legacy, perfected believers of the Old Testament. So really when we meet together in divine order we’re not meeting in an earthly setting, we’re meeting on a heavenly plane and the angels are there, the saints of the Old Covenant, God the Father, Jesus the Son. You see, if we really grasp that fact we’d come to church with a lot better preparation. We wouldn’t drift in and hope that somehow “I’ll get in the Spirit when I hear the message,” because primarily you’re not coming to hear a message, you’re coming to meet with all the denizens of heaven. I believe, and this is just not a desire to be controversial, that’s why I believe, it’s my personal opinion, I don’t want to enforce it on anybody, but that’s why I believe Paul says “Let ladies have their heads covered for the sake of the angels.” Most ladies coming to church don’t think they’re going to meet with angels. If you really did, there’d be a lot of difference in your attitude, believe me, some of you. Now I’m not saying that to push anything on anybody, but I’m just trying to point out that’s it’s very different when you realize that you’re in your spiritual nature you are living on a heavenly plane. This earth is not our home.
My daughters, years back when they were young, always used to sing a chorus, “This World Is Not My Home, I’m just a-passing through.” I got a little tired of it, but I tell you, it’s true. We super-sophisticated Charismatics, we laugh at the poor simple Pentecostals, but when all is said and done, they had something and they still have.
All right, now I’m going on. And I just point out there what I said, the Bible speaks of a heavenly Jerusalem and a heavenly Zion, but never of a heavenly Israel. Now that you’ll have to check for yourself, but it’s completely consistent with the whole biblical revelation.
From its heavenly position, the Church is called to play a decisive role in earth’s affairs. See, I want to get away from the impression I’m talking about escaping. What I’m talking about is finding a place of effective authority. Let’s look at just a few of these Scriptures. We don’t even need to look at all of them. Psalm 103 verse 19:
The Lord has established His throne [where?] in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all.
There’s nothing that isn’t under God’s kingdom, but where does He rule from? Heaven. If we’re going to rule with Him, where are we going to have to rule from? Heaven. That’s right. Where is His throne established? Heaven. If Jesus is sitting on His throne and we’re enthroned with Him, where is that? Heaven. That’s right. There’s no doubt about that. Colossians 1:12 and 13:
giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. [Where’s our inheritance? I didn’t hear you—in the light, but where else—in the heavenlies. So we are partakers of an inheritance that’s in the heavenlies. How did He do that? The next verse tells us.] He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
Where’s His kingdom? In heaven, that’s right. We were in the domain of darkness but through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and our faith in Jesus, we’ve been removed from the domain of darkness. We’re no longer in that domain, but we’re in another kingdom, a heavenly kingdom, a kingdom which rules over all.
Well, let’s just look at Revelation 1:6. Many of these Scriptures I’m not going to look at because you’ve got all the references there. If you’re interested, you can look them up for yourself. Revelation 1:6, this is in the middle of a sentence. If you want to go back:
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood [that’s Jesus. Because we’ve been washed in His blood from our sins, or an alternative translation is “loosed us from our sins” it doesn’t make any difference] and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, [alternative translation: “He has made us a kingdom and priests”] . . .
Where’s that kingdom? In the heavenlies, that’s right.
Now one of our specific tasks as the Church is to pray for God’s kingdom on earth. Let’s look in Matthew 6 verse 10 which is part of the Lord’s Prayer,
“Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.”
The first thing we’re told to pray for after we have acknowledged God our Father is for the coming of His kingdom on earth. That’s the purpose of God. And in the same chapter, verse 33, it says get your priorities right.
“But seek first [His] kingdom . . . and His righteousness . . .”
Now I’m sure everybody here is kind of some way interested in the kingdom of God. But that is not enough. It has to be priority number one, and you’ve got to determine that. On that basis, the Lord says God will take care of your needs. “Seek first the kingdom and His righteous, all these material things will be added to you.” And I have to say, to the glory of God, I’ve proved it true. I’m not boasting, but I just have to say God has proved Himself faithful in my life. In fact, I’m overwhelmed by His faithfulness.
By contrast to the Church, Israel’s inheritance is earthly. Okay? The interesting thing about the Jewish people in their natural condition until they are renewed by the Holy Spirit, they are the most earthly-minded people you will ever meet. I don’t say that to be critical. In a way, I respect it. And it’s part of their destiny.
Now when Jewish people believe in the Messiah that’s different. I’m talking about Jewish people in their natural, unregenerate condition. Most Jewish people today, if you talk to them, they really don’t believe in a life after death. Their whole focus is on this life and this world. Now I’m not justifying that. I think it’s a tragedy, but nevertheless, built into it is their destiny. And we can talk in sweet terms about “the heavenly Jerusalem,” but the Jewish people have a passion for the earthly Jerusalem. That’s part of their destiny. Even Jews who have no religion are passionately attached to Jerusalem because it’s part of their destiny. They don’t see it that way, but that’s the way it is.
Now let’s look at what God promised to Abraham in Genesis 17 verses 7 and 8. We’ve looked at this before, but I want you to see again, concerning Israel’s inheritance.
“And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; . . .”
That’s as clear as any language can be, and in case you should be foolishly tempted to spiritualize Canaan, the Lord excludes that possibility because He says “all the land in which you are presently a stranger.” Now there’s only one land that answers to that description. It’s not a heavenly Canaan. I don’t believe there is a heavenly Canaan, but that’s by the way. It is the land that is today the land of Israel.
It’s impossible for me to understand how anybody can make that mean anything else than what it says, and it’s a covenant “for an everlasting possession.” So either God is to be trusted or He isn’t. Psalm 105 again beginning at verse 8, and this leads right on from the previous Scripture.
He [the Lord] has remembered His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac,
And [He] confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel for an everlasting covenant, . . .
Now it so happens in my particular text that’s the bottom of the page so I don’t know what’s coming. Just let’s pause for a moment and look at all the words that are piled up to emphasize God’s total commitment. I do not know of any other passage in the Bible in which there are so many words describing a commitment of God so close together dealing with one theme. I doubt that you can find such a passage. Look at them.
“He has remembered His covenant forever.” All right, the first word is covenant.
“The word [that’s the word of God] which He commanded for a thousand generations.” In that one verse we have covenant, word and commandment.
Then it repeats, but it’s supplied in the text, “the covenant which He made with Abraham and His oath to Isaac.” The next thing we get is an oath.
Now the writer of Hebrews says that God sometimes give His oath in addition to His word that “by two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie,” we might have strong confidence. So God first gave His word, then He gave His oath. All right, so we now have covenant, word, commandment and oath.
And then it says, “And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,” for a law. And it’s summed up with the words “an everlasting covenant”: “To Israel as an everlasting covenant.”
I actually cannot believe there is any passage anywhere in the Bible where God is more emphatic about anything than that. What’s it all about? A little piece of real estate at the east end of the Mediterranean. Isn’t that amazing? I mean, it amazes me every time I look at it, but I still believe it, even if it’s amazing. Because I’ll tell you one thing, God is continually amazing me. You know, somebody said to Smith Wigglesworth once—, I hope you know who Smith Wigglesworth was; Saint Smith Wigglesworth. Somebody said to him, some lady, “Mr. Wigglesworth, you’re an extraordinary man.” And he said, “Madam, I’m an extraordinary man and I serve an extraordinary God.” And that’s the truth, He is an extraordinary God. He is no ordinary God.
Now what’s the commitment of God? Verse 11:
Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
As the allotment of your inheritance,” . . .
All that emphasis is on the land of Canaan, and in case we should be attempted to spiritualize it, as I’ve pointed out, in the previous passage to which refers in Genesis 17, He says “the land of Canaan in which you are a stranger.” I cannot see that there would be any possible way for words to make an issue more clear than that. And I’m glad, for me it’s clear. I’m not confused. For me the issue is settled.
All right, we’re going on—section 16. Now this is a belief of mine, you may disagree with it, you still continue to be blessed of God. All right.
Both Israel and the Church Will Have to Gain Their Inheritance by Fighting after the Pattern of Joshua and Canaan. God said in Joshua chapter 1 verse 2, “I give you the land.” In verse 3 He said, “I have given you the land,” and they had to fight for years to get it. Okay. And that is a pattern for God’s people to obtain their inheritance.
All right, let’s look at Israel first. Turn to Jeremiah 51 verse 19:
The Portion of Jacob is not like them,
For He [the Lord] is the Maker of all things;
And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance.
The Lord of hosts is His name.
All right. The Lord is Israel’s inheritance and Israel is the Lord’s inheritance. And then the Lord speaks to Israel, His inheritance, and He makes some remarkable statements.
“You are My battle-ax and weapons of war:
For with you I will break the nation in pieces;
If you’ve got a New King James I want to tell you that’s a misprint. Where they have nation it should be nations. I’ve checked every other translation, I’ve checked the original—it’s plural. I suspect they just have a typographical error. If you want to do them a service, just write and tell them I said so. You know—did you know this—that there’s a law in England, I don’t think it’s ever been rescinded, that if anybody prints the Bible, the authorized version, if there’s any misprint in it, it costs the printer five pounds, five English pounds. Well, that was a lot of money years back. It’s an interesting fact, because it is the authorized version. Okay. Going back to verse 20:
“You are My battle-ax and weapons of war: [You being Israel.]
For with you I will break the nations in pieces;
With you I will destroy kingdoms;
With you I will break in pieces the horse and its rider;
With you I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider;
With you also I will break in pieces man and woman;
With you I will break in pieces old and young;
With you I will break in pieces the young man and the maiden;
With you also I will break in pieces the shepherd and his flock;
With you I will break in pieces the farmer and his yoke of oxen;
And with you I will break in pieces governors and rulers.
Israel is the Lord’s battle-ax. Maybe you didn’t know the Lord had a battle-ax. Well He’s the Lord of Hosts.
Look in Micah chapter 4 verse 11 through 13, the theme being that Israel has to fight. Being on an earthly level they fight an earthly battle. Micah 4 beginning at verse 11:
Now also many nations have gathered against you,
Who say [of Zion], “Let her be defiled,
And let our eye look upon Zion.”
But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord,
Nor do they understand His counsel;
For He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor,
[All the nations have come against Israel and Jerusalem are being gathered by the Lord like sheaves to a threshing floor.]
“Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion;
For I will make your horn iron,
And I will make your hooves bronze;
You shall beat in pieces many peoples;
I will consecrate their gain to the Lord,
And their substance to the Lord of the whole earth.”
And in Micah 5:7 through 9:
Then the remnant of Jacob
Shall be in the midst of many peoples,
Like dew from the Lord,
Like showers on the grass,
That tarry for no man
Nor wait for the sons of men.
[That’s blessing, but the remnant of Jacob in the next verse:]
And the remnant of Jacob
Shall be among the Gentiles,
In the midst of many peoples,
Like a lion among the beasts of the forest,
Like a young lion among flocks of sheep,
Who, if he passes through,
Both treads down and tears in pieces,
one can deliver.
So Israel will both be the instrument of blessing and the instrument of judgment. Whether it will be blessing or judgment will be determined by the attitude of nations toward Israel. Whichever way it is, God will use it. Zechariah 12:6, God is speaking, He says,
“In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left [the right hand is south, the left is north because you’re facing east—], they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place—Jerusalem.”
We cannot take more time on that theme; I think it’s very clear. Now let’s look at the Church’s conflict which is very interesting especially because it concerns us directly. Second Corinthians 10:3 and following:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. [We war, but not in the fleshly realm.] For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [they’re not fleshly, they’re not material] but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, . . .
So our warfare is spiritual, our weapons are spiritual, our objectives are spiritual. One phrase that’s really gripped me in verse 5 is “casting down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” Now this is my thought and you’re welcome to consider it. There is one supreme high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God. What is it? Satan, yes, but Satan’s kingdom, I think. Satan has a kingdom in the heavenlies which is the highest thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. I believe it’s the church’s job to cast that down. Now that’s my personal opinion. It could be wrong. It’s happened before. Ephesians 6:12:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the [where?] heavenly places.
Now look at what I believe, in a sense, is the prophetic consummation of that revelation, in Revelation 12:7 through 11. And this version is rather interesting. At the beginning of verse 7 it says that war broke out in heaven. That’s a different picture of heaven from what some Christians have, isn’t it? There was years when I couldn’t understand that. I could not understand how there could be war in heaven, and then the Lord opened my eyes to see that Satan’s strongholds are in the heavenlies. That’s where his headquarters are. That’s where his kingdom is, and he’s got to be dislodged. And this is how it happens, I believe.
There are so many different ways of interpreting Revelation, but my personal feeling is this is a prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled. It’s a vision that’s presented in the past tense because John saw the vision, but the actual historical outworking of it I see to be in the future. Now not everybody believes that.
War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon [who is the devil]; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”
Now that, I believe, is an angelic voice in heaven, the angels were involved. When the angels speak of “our brethren,” whom are they referring to? I believe the believers on earth. Now notice the next verse,
“And they [the believers on earth] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
It seems to me that the Church is to play a major role in dislodging Satan from his kingdom in the heavenlies. Now, for some people that’s all metaphorical, but not for me. All right. I also point out angels will share in the conflict.
As time is running out I’ll just leave the references with you. We’ve just seen in Revelation 12, angels. If you read Daniel 12:1, it speaks about the end time, tribulation of Jacob, it says, “Daniel, the great prince will stand up.” Basically, whenever you read about Daniel you can be sure that Israel are on the center of the stage. He is their particular guardian angel. Did I say Daniel? Thank you for correcting me—Michael. You know what Michael means? How many of you know? “Who is like God?” I think that was very appropriate, because you know there was another archangel who thought he was like God, and he made a big mistake. So, I don’t know whether Michael’s name was always Michael, but at any rate I’m sure he was glad his name was Michael after that.
Now, a very important statement. Final victory will come through the personal intervention of the Lord Jesus. Let’s look quickly at these Scriptures, very important fact. Psalm 110 verses 5 and 6. Now you need to look back. This is the great Messianic revelation where God the Father says to Jesus, the Son of David, the Messiah, “Sit at my right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” But the culmination of this is in verses 5, 6 and 7, where there is an intervention in the affairs of earth by the Messiah. And notice, there’s a change of relationship, because He was sitting at the Father’s right hand. Now it says, “The Lord is at His right hand.” See that?
The Lord is at Your right hand;
He shall execute [or shatter] kings in the day of His wrath.
He shall judge among the nations,
He shall fill the places with dead bodies,
He shall execute [or shatter] the heads of many countries.
There is a very clear intervention by the Lord against the rebellious rulers of earth. I see no reason to spiritualize that. Let’s look in Zechariah 14, which I suspect describes basically the same situation, verses 3 through 5. This is pictured Jerusalem surrounded by Gentile nations attacking it, and then it says in verse 3:
Then the Lord will go forth
And fight against those nations,
As He fights in the day of battle.
And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,
Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
From east to west,
Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north
And half of it toward the south.
Now let me say, I hope I’m not overdoing this. It is impossible for me to spiritualize that. Anybody that is familiar with Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives would have to admit that it’s an exact description of one unique place on the face of the earth. And it doesn’t describe any other place. It’s either about that or it’d meaningless. I mean, the Word of God and the prophet have been very careful to be specific. It’s the Mount of Olives which is on the east of the city of Jerusalem. And it speaks about the northern half moving north and the southern half moving south. Anybody that’s— I lived in that particular area for one year in my military service. It answers the description perfectly. You couldn’t really doubt what’s going to happen if you believe the Bible. You could not take that Scripture and apply it to any other place. Going on.
Then you shall flee through My mountain valley,
For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal.
Yes, you shall flee
As you fled from the earthquake
In the days of Uzziah king of Judah.
Thus the Lord my God will come,
And all the saints with You.
That either means what it says or it’s just not worth wasting time with it.
Now we move on to the New Testament which is absolutely in line. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 17.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,
Not somebody like Him, but the Lord Himself. There are certain places where the Bible is so emphatic. Acts 1:11, when the angels promised the return of the Lord, they said, “This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as you’ve seen Him go.” I mean, words could not be more specific. Here it says:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Again, that’s a very clear specific prediction. A lady came up to me at the end of a message I preached once and I think she thought I was a heretic. So she said, “What do you think about the rapture?” So I said, “I’m looking forward to it.” She said, “Oh,” and walked away.
Now we have to be a little bit careful. Some people use the phrase “the rapture,” they really know, but this is the Scripture that gives rise to that phrase. The word rapture means “to be caught up.” Okay. So when it says, “We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them,” that’s the rapture.
Now whether it’s to be secret or open is not stated here. You can pay your money, take your choice. But one thing is stated, “we shall be caught up.” You know what I believe? “We shall be caught up.” That’s what I believe. So I believe in the rapture. A lot of people want to nail you down. Are you orthodox? Do you believe in a secret rapture? Do you believe in an open rapture? Pre-millennial? Post-millennial? Pre-trib? Mid-trib? Post-trib?
I’m not committing myself in all that. But I do believe we shall all be caught up. And I’m looking forward to it. I wasn’t bluffing that lady when I said, “I’m looking forward to it.” I am looking forward to it.
All right, 2 Thessalonians 1:6 through 10. It’s in the middle of a sentence. It’s like many of my quotations.
since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
Now there’s many details in that, but the plain fact is He’s coming in flaming fire. I think everybody is going to know when that happens. And He’s going to take vengeance on the wicked. You see, it’s going to take the Lord to finish the job off. That’s my personal opinion, and I’m pretty content to let the Lord deal with the antichrist. I’m not going to be St. George going out with my sword and shield to meet the antichrist. I think by that time I’ll feel I’ve done my share. I don’t believe there’s anybody capable of finishing the job off except the Lord Jesus Christ.
All right, now we come to section 17 which we need a lot of time for, and we haven’t got a lot of time, but let’s at least just look through it.
Now we’re talking about the setting up of God’s kingdom on earth, the thing that we’re told to pray for. “Thy kingdom come to earth.” And I point out there eight facts about setting up the kingdom.
Number 1. The restoration of Israel to their land must prepare the way for setting up of the kingdom—and will indicate the approach of the close of the age. Now I would make this observation and you can check for yourself. I find that all the prophecies in the Bible that relate to the close of this age assume one thing—the presence of Israel as a nation in their own land. Before 1948 none of those prophecies could have been fulfilled. Since 1948 the stage is set for the fulfillment of all of them. Look in Jeremiah 30 for a moment, and you could find fifty Scriptures for these facts. Jeremiah chapter 30, verse 1 and following.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “Thus speaks the Lord God of Israel, saying: ‘Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you. [In other words, make a permanent record because there’s going to come a time when people will need this record.] For, behold, the days are coming’ [that’s the time], says the Lord, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.’” [Again, I cannot interpret those words “the land that I gave to their fathers,” as any other place but the land of Israel.] Now these are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah. [These are the words he had to write down.] “For thus says the Lord:
‘We have heard a voice of trembling,
Of fear, and not of peace.
[In other words, the restoration of Israel to their own land will not immediately bring peace. On the contrary, it will bring increased conflict, which is precisely what’s happened.]
Ask now, and see,
Whether a man is ever in labor with child?
So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins
Like a woman in labor,
And all faces turned pale?
[There’s coming a day when strong men are going to behave like women in labor.]
Alas! For that day is great,
So that none is like it;
And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble,
But he shall be saved out of it.’”
There is a time of trouble ahead such as the world has never yet seen. And Jesus Himself makes that very clear. In Matthew He says, “Then there shall be tribulation such as there never was in the history of the earth.” And when you think of all the tribulations that the world has already seen and include the Holocaust, it should give everybody pause for reflection.
Let’s look in the New Testament. Somebody might say, “Well, that’s just Old Testament,” but Luke 21 verses 24 through 28:
“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be lead away captive into all nations. [That happened in a.d. 70.] And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Notice, it’s not going to be forever. If Jerusalem is not going to be any longer trampled by Gentiles, who is going to be there? There’s only one alternative. The only alternative to Gentiles is Jews, so at the end of the age, Jerusalem will again be taken over and ruled by Jews, and then look what’s going to happen next. There isn’t much left after that.
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
So the restoration of Jewish governmental control over Jerusalem is just about two steps away from the return of the Lord in glory. That’s why it’s such a significant event.
Second item on setting up God’s kingdom: A “remnant” of Israel, preserved through the Great Tribulation, will form the nucleus of the kingdom. Now let’s look at these Scriptures quickly. I’m trying to go fast. Romans 9:26 through 29, Romans 9:26 through 29, Paul is quoting Old Testament prophecies.
“And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”
To whom is that addressed? To Israel. Where was it said to them, “You are not My people”? In their own land. Where will it be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God”? In the same place.
Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel:
“Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea,
The remnant will be saved.”
The remnant. And Paul points out elsewhere that the word remnant suggests a remnant by divine grace and election. The chosen remnant.
For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness,
Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth.”
I’ve asked my wife, Ruth, to give us verse 28 in the niv. Could you do that?
For the Lord will carry out His sentence on earth with speed and finality.
That’s a pretty powerful translation. And then verse 29:
And Isaiah said before:
“Unless the Lord of Sabaoth [that’s the Lord of Hosts] had left us a seed,
We would have become like Sodom,
And we would have been made like Gomorrah.”
So, Paul is emphasizing that Israel will go through experiences such that only a remnant will be left. In the light of the Holocaust, I think no one should dismiss that as fanciful. But in 11, Paul says, verse 25 and 26,
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that [blindness] in part has happened to Israel until…
Whenever God speaks in His Word about the desolation of Jerusalem or the exile of Israel, He always introduces the word until—always.
…until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved…
Put Romans 9 and Romans 11 together and you’ll find out that “all Israel” will be the remnant that’s been preserved—the remnant that God brings through. Let’s look at just two other Scriptures, Joel 2:32:
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the Lord has said,
Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.
Okay, so it’s a remnant preserved because the Lord called them. It’s a remnant by divine election. We looked into that this morning, the theme of divine election. Okay. And Micah 4:7 and 8:
“I will make the lame a remnant,
And the outcast a strong nation; [It will be a kind of pathetic remnant that will survive.]
So the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion
From now on, even forever.
And you, O tower of the flock,
The stronghold of the daughter of Zion,
To you shall it come,
Even the former dominion shall come,
The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.”
So the kingdom will be restored to Israel to the Jewish people but it will be a very weak remnant, because the Lord uses the weak to confound the strong. And I think there’s a principle there. When we think we are strong, we are not ready for what God wants to do. Some of you’ve been going through experiences where you’ve learned you’re not as strong as you thought you were. Praise the Lord for it. You may be pretty close to being ready for what God wants to do. God in His mercy won’t let you do it when you’re strong because you’d take all the credit and then He’d have to bring you down.
All right third fact: The center for worship and administration will be Jerusalem. We’ll look at Isaiah 2, and not bother with, or let’s look at Micah and not bother with Isaiah, because they’re almost identical. Since we’re in Micah, let’s go back to Micah 4, beginning at verse 1.
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And peoples shall flow to it.
[How will that happen? The answer is there’s going to be an earthquake and the level of the hills in that area will be substantially changed.]
Many nations shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion the law shall go forth,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
[So it will be a center for worship and a center out of which teaching will go to other nations. It will also be a center of judgment. Verse 3:]
He [the Lord] shall judge between many peoples,
And rebuke strong nations afar off;
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 any more.
At the present all the nations on the earth are learning war. Zechariah 8:20 to 23. What does that say? Let’s find out.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts:
‘Peoples shall yet come,
Inhabitants of many cities;
The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying,
“Let us continue to go and pray before the Lord,
And seek the Lord of hosts.
I myself will go also.”
Yes, many peoples and strong nations
Shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem,
And to pray before the Lord.’
[And then you get this beautiful picture of the nations hanging onto a Jew because they find He’s got the answer.]
Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” ’ ”
Beautiful isn’t it? Now we have to go rather quickly. We’ll go onto section 4. The Returned Messiah will be King. Isaiah 24:23, that’s too good miss out, Isaiah 24:23. You know there’s what they call the “Little Apocalypse” in the middle Isaiah—did you know that, chapter 24, 25, 26 is a kind of miniature Apocalypse. See, chapter 24 begins pretty frightening:
Behold, the Lord makes the earth empty and makes it waste,
Distorts its surface
And scatters abroad its inhabitants.
[That’s part of the judgment, but the culmination is in verse 23:]
Then the moon will be disgraced
And the sun ashamed;
For the Lord of hosts will reign
On Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
And before His elders, gloriously.
Why will the sun and the moon be ashamed? By comparison to the Lord’s glory they’ll so pale. Jesus said when He comes back, I think it’s in Luke 9:23, “The Son of Man will come in the glory of the Father and His angels and His own glory.” So there’ll be a triple glory. It’s a staggering thought. You know what we call a halo—you know what we mean by halo? That thing that… I’ve see haloes around people. I’ve seen some men preaching with haloes around them. But I wanted to mention this in Scandinavian languages, I think probably in German also, it’s called “a glory.” So it’s a kind of recognition—that is, a visible manifestation—of the Lord’s glory. But that’s just a little foreshadowing of what will be around Jesus when He comes. All right.
And also Zechariah 14:8 and 9. We need to look at that, it’s good. Zechariah 14:8 and 9:
And in that day it shall be
That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem,
Half of them toward the eastern sea [that’s the Dead Sea]
And half of them toward the western sea; [that’s the Mediterranean]
In both summer and winter it shall occur.
Now if you bear in mind the prophecy we read in Zechariah 14 earlier about the earthquake which would divide the Mount of Olives so as to make a very great valley, that’s the valley through which the water will flow down to the Dead Sea. See, the whole thing answers the topography absolutely perfectly. The interesting thing is that up till now Jerusalem has never had its own water supply. It’s dependent on water piped in from other areas. So only when the Messiah returns will Jerusalem be a giver of water instead of a receiver. Isn’t that beautiful?
Then it’ll be in summer and in winter. And when you know what water means in Israel, that’s a significant statement. Verse 9:
And the Lord shall be King over all the earth.
In that day it shall be—
“The Lord is one,”
And His name one.
[Ruth, would you give us verse 9 in the niv?] “The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.”
I think that’s a more vivid translation, but at least it’s very clear who’s going to be king, and everybody’s going to know it.
All right the fifth point: Israelites will be its priests on earth. Its earthly priests. Isaiah 61:4–6. As we go through this just bear in mind that these prophecies were written by many different men in different places at different times. They didn’t all sit down and work out some prophetic system that they were going to foist on the world. I mean, it’s important to see that, because it’s almost inconceivable that it could have happened except by inspiration. Isaiah 61 verses 4 through 6:
And they [that’s the returned Jewish people] shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
[At the moment they’re very busy doing that. There are at least nine ruined cities that they have restored.]
Strangers [non-Jews] shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of the foreigner
Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
But you shall be named the Priests of the Lord.
[They] shall call you the servants of our God.
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast.
You see, Israel’s calling has always been a nation of priests, and when they find their calling, their provision will be taken care of. That’s one of the Scriptures on which Project Kibbutz is based. Verse 5 “Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks.” And so the Christians in Project Kibbutz, about a hundred, no, about two hundred now, in Israel in various kibbutzim. The kibbutz leaders say, “Why do you come?” Well they say, “This is it, Isaiah 61:5. We’re going to do the work for you so you can be the priests.”
All right, number 6: The earth will at last know true peace. You can read Isaiah 9:6 and 7 for yourself, but let’s read Psalm 72, it such a beautiful passage. Now the king here, without a doubt, is a picture of the Messiah.
Give the king Your judgments, O God,
And Your righteousness to the king’s Son.
He will judge Your people with righteousness,
And Your poor with justice.
[One thing God is always concerned about is justice for the poor.]
The mountains will bring peace to the people,
And the little hills, by righteousness.
He will bring justice to the poor of the people;
He will save the children of the needy,
And will break in pieces the oppressor.
They shall fear You
As long as the sun and moon endure,
Throughout all generations.
He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass,
Like showers that water the earth.
In His days the righteous shall flourish,
And abundance of peace,
Until the moon is no more.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.
[The river is the Euphrates. Notice it has a geographic location.]
Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him,
And His enemies will lick the dust.
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles
Will bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba
Will offer gifts.
Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him;
All nations shall serve Him.
Isn’t that a beautiful picture? My personal opinion is there is no other solution for earth’s problems. Man has not got it in himself to find the solution. So when we’re praying for the coming of the Lord we’re praying the best prayer we can pray for the people of this earth. Earth will celebrate its long awaited Sabbath. Hebrews 4:9:
There remaineth therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
Many, many Christians believe that there’ll be six millennia of agony, the seventh millennium will be the Sabbath. And the Jewish calendar year is now at 5,740 something—approximately. They’ve just kept going as they reckoned from the creation.
Point number 7: Nations will be admitted, or excluded, on the basis of their treatment of “the brothers of Jesus.” Let’s look in Joel 3 for a moment, the first three verses.
“For behold, in those days and at that time,
When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem [this is the restoration time]
I will also gather all nations,
And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
And I will enter into judgment with them there
On account of My people, My heritage Israel,
[Notice that judgment is the way that they’ve dealt with Israel.]
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
They have also divided up My land.”
Notice God calls it “My land.” What’s the modern English word for dividing up the land, partition, which is what the Gentiles have done, and I am sorry to say my good British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, is the one really responsible. He cut Jordan off and simply made it a separate nation.
“They have cast lots for My people,
Have given a boy in exchange for a harlot,
And sold a girl for wine, that they may drink.”
They have treated Israel with cruelty, with contempt, they’ve acted as if the land was not the Lord’s land or His people’s land. God says, “I’m going to judge them for all that.”
Now you can see the New Testament equivalent in Matthew 25, just look at the first words of Joel 3 and then compare them with Matthew 25 verse 31.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. [And] all the nations will be gathered before Him, . . .”
It’s exactly the same scene as in Joel chapter 3, and if you read the rest of the chapter which is familiar, I’m sure, to most of you, it’s the division into sheep and goats. The sheep are those who have treated the Jewish right, the goats are those who have not treated them right. And that is the criterion for whether they will be excluded from the kingdom or admitted to the kingdom. It’s a consistent picture; it hasn’t changed from the Old Testament to the New.
There’s a Christian—, I believe that people’s destiny is settled by their relationship to Jesus Christ. But I cannot see how you can claim to love Jesus and hate His brothers. But the primary point is: What’s your relationship to Jesus? Secondly, What’s your relationship to the Word of God? Are you opposing it or flowing with it? Because God’s Word says He’s going to re-gather Israel. Are you working with Him? Or are you opposing Him, working against Him? Jesus said, “He that is not with Me is against Me. He that gathereth not with Me, scattereth abroad.” There is no neutrality. There will be no fence between the sheep and the goats that anybody can sit on. Everybody will be one category or the other.
All right. We come to the final section of that—8: Those who have served Jesus in this age will be the heavenly administrators of His kingdom on earth. We’ll look at just two passages. They’re several more you can look at for yourself. Matthew 19 verses 27 through 30.
Then Peter answered and said to [Jesus], “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
You’ve never been so carnally minded as to think that way. I tell you, it’s not carnally minded to consider what your reward is. The Bible encourages us to consider what the reward will be. Moses had respect to the recompense of the Lord, that’s why he was obedient. Don’t be too spiritual.
So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, [the coming forth of the kingdom of God on earth] when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
So that’s going to be the position of the apostles. Let’s look at Luke 22. This will be the last Scripture that we look at in this context, verse 29 and 30. Jesus said to His faithful disciples:
“But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, [do you believe that we’re going to eat and drink in the kingdom? I surely do. No indigestion afterwards, no need for Alka-Seltzer. All right, but that’s not the end of the sentence.] and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
So you know why we’ll be there? Because we will have deposed Satan, who at the present moment is trying to rule the world from the heavens.
Okay. Now one more statement, this 18th section which is the final one, and I just say this to cover myself in case I should be misunderstood. However, the Kingdom Thus Established on Earth Will Not Be the Final Phase of God’s Purposes. Revelation 21, verses 1 through 5 makes that quite clear. On the other hand, it’s part of God’s purpose and it’s going to happen. And as I said, I believe the rabbis have supplied us with one key which is that when God brings anything into being, before it’s done away with it has to fulfill its purpose. Revelation 21:
[Now] I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them.”
Dwell is rather misleading, because it’s the same word that’s used as “tabernacle.” “The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will tabernacle with them.” It’s the word that’s used for the booths that Israel dwelt in in the wilderness. I don’t believe God’s going to give up His residence in heaven, but He’s going to have a summer home on earth, that’s the way I understand it.
“…and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, [who can say Praise God for that?] for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
I always have the idea that John hesitated. He thought that was too good to be true. The Lord said, “No, it’s all right. You can write it all down. It’s all going to happen.”
Amen. Praise God.