Romans 15 Shows That Isaiah 11 Is Fulfilled


The wolf is now dwelling with the lamb, and this has been true for two millennium. Is this a surprising statement? While this is not true in the animal kingdom, it is most certainly true in Christ, for His Church. I’m referring, of course, to two well-known parallel passages in Isaiah 11 and Isaiah 65:

[Isaiah 11:1-10] There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit… The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

[Isaiah 65:25] “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.

PHOTO SOURCE: TERRY CROPPER

On what authority do I say that this is a present reality? The authority I stand on is the New Testament, which interprets the Old Testament far better than I ever could. Specifically, I would point to the testimony of the apostle Paul in Romans 15. The short study that follows already exists on this blog, but it’s buried in a longer post regarding Revelation 20 and the millennium. It’s a valuable study, so I’d like to re-post it here on its own. Terry Cropper has also posted this study on his “New Jerusalem Community” site (at this link). As Terry says, “Seven centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, the prophet Isaiah peered into the future and depicted the glorious nature of the Messianic era with these words.” Here’s the study as it appears on Terry’s site:

In what sense is the wolf now dwelling with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6), the cow and the bear grazing together (verse 7), the nursing child playing over the hole of the cobra (verse 8), and the earth full of the knowledge of the Lord (verse 9)? Good question—let’s ask the apostle Paul. He quoted the next verse as being fulfilled in his own lifetime: “IN THAT DAY the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of Him shall the nations inquire, and His resting place shall be glorious” (Isaiah 11:10). Romans 15:12, where Paul cites this verse, reads this way: “The root of Jesse will come, even He who arises to rule the Gentiles, in Him will the Gentiles hope” (Romans 15:12).

The context of both Isaiah 11 and Romans 15 suggests a bringing together in Christ the remnant of God’s people from among both the Jews and the Gentiles. Isaiah uses figurative language; Paul in Romans is more straightforward. Why not? The “mystery of God” spoken of by the prophets had been revealed and was about to be fulfilled in Paul’s day (compare Ephesians 3:6 with Revelation 10:7).

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6). There is no Jew or Gentile in Christ Jesus (Romans 10:12-13; Galatians 3:28, 5:6, 6:15-16); “the dividing wall of hostility” has been broken down (Eph. 2:14).

The wolf (Gentiles), so to speak, now dwells safely with the lamb (Jews), i.e. among those who belong to Christ. The Gentile nations which were deceived and dwelling “far off” (Ephesians 2:11-22; Romans 9:22-26) prior to Christ’s work on the cross are now brought near (so that without distinction “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”; Romans 10:12-13).

To expand a little bit on this, Paul states in Romans 15:8 his purpose for quoting Isaiah 11:10 four verses later in Romans 15:12.

For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.

Clearly, then, Isaiah’s prophecy was confirmed (fulfilled) when Jesus came to earth to be a servant even to the point of going to the cross on our behalf. This also brought about a great harvest among the Gentiles. Isaiah 11 goes on to immediately say this:

In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, fromHamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.

Did this not occur on Pentecost, when Jews from “every nation under heaven” were gathered to hear the gospel preached through the mouth of Peter?

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:5-11)

Paul’s application of classic “premillennial passages” (Isaiah 11 and Isaiah 65) to his own lifetime (Romans 15) is not an isolated incident in the New Testament. Many of these passages have been arbitrarily equated with the millennium (spoken of solely in Revelation 20), thrust into our future and declared to be unfulfilled, when the New Testament says otherwise. Simply put, a lot of Old Testament passages taken by premillennialists to refer to a future, physical/earthly kingdom centered around earthly Jerusalem actually have to do with a present, non-physical/earthly kingdom centered around the New Jerusalem, the Church (Gal. 4:24-27, Heb. 12:22-24).

Let us rejoice that God’s kingdom, marked by “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17), is here with us now.

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Getting Personal & Meet My Fiancee


A couple of readers have encouraged me to get more personal from time to time in my posts. So, by request, I’ll do that briefly in this post.

I grew up in Canton, Ohio, home of the Football Hall of Fame. I’m the oldest of five boys. Here’s a picture of all of us, along with my parents (I’m in the blue shirt and white shorts next to my mom), in 2005:

After high school, I spent three years earning an Associates Degree at a college in Dallas, Texas. I then lived in Malaysia for nearly six years (2001-2007), teaching English in two different language centers for most of that time. I love the people there, the food, the culture, the incredible hospitality, and the weather (hot and humid). When possible, I loved spending time in the villages, and I got involved in a couple of different Village Homestay programs, to the point of helping coordinate with groups of westerners who were open to staying in village homes. With God’s help, I became (and remain) fluent in the Malay language. Here I am with my first host family in a village in late 2001 (and the same family again in 2004):

Since late summer 2007 I’ve been living in Minneapolis. In addition to working and completing course work through Northwestern College (off and on, admittedly), I got involved for a while in tutoring Somalians in English through a program called SALT (Somali Adult Literacy Training). [There are more Somalians, Hmong, Liberians, and Oromos (from Ethiopia) in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/Saint Paul) than anywhere else in the United States.] At this time, I’m beginning to volunteer again with a group of people who are reaching out especially to refugees in Saint Paul (a significant number of Somalian Muslims live across the street from a Drop-in Center that opened up there in November 2011).

From the 4th quarter of 2010 through the 3rd quarter of 2011 I experienced the toughest ordeal of my life, something I would never wish on anyone. God knows the details, as do some family members and friends. I alluded to this briefly in one post back in April. Some recovery is behind me, and some is yet ahead, especially financially. Yet I’m grateful to God for the deliverance that He brought about, and the grace that He showed me throughout that time.

Among my hobbies and interests are sports, writing, international foods and culture, and traveling (it’s been too long since I’ve done that, aside from driving to and from Ohio a couple times a year).

Last but not least, I’m now (since mid-November) engaged to be married to Jasmine, a girl who is beautiful on the inside and the outside. She’s a true blessing and a gift from God. We are from the same hometown in Ohio, and actually met for the first time about 11 years ago. Perhaps she and/or I will share more on this blog about how God brought us together in a relationship last year, at a time when both of us were facing some tough circumstances. For now, here are a couple of recent pictures of the two of us:

Jasmine is now an author on this blog, and plans to contribute some posts beginning in the very near future, with topics ranging from spiritual to lifestyle.

When this blog began in August 2009, four of us from a home-based Bible study group (Dave, Rod, Mike, and I) contributed to a series on the book of Revelation. Mike is not likely to post anything else in the future, Rod may or may not, and Dave will probably post from time to time (here’s his most recent post regarding his prosthetic leg, titled “Running With Hope“). Presently, there are three other guys in the Bible study group: Aby (from India), Pat, and Brian. None of these three are into blogging. One other friend, Mark, who lives near Oakland, California, has been designated as an author on this blog, though his future posts remain only in the planning stage.

Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.

Adam

John Hagee and Benny Hinn: Warmongering for the Wrong Kingdom


For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Those who follow Christ are citizens of God’s kingdom. One of its characteristics, says Paul, is peace. This truth and others concerning God’s kingdom seem to be completely lost on some of today’s most popular teachers, as we will see shortly. According to Jesus, His kingdom is also not earthly or political, not even observable by the human eye:

Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst [or ‘in you’]” (Luke 17:20-21).

John the Baptist and Jesus both preached the nearness of God’s kingdom during their time, repeatedly saying that this kingdom was “at hand” (e.g. Matthew 3:2, 4:17). In Mark 1:15, Jesus even prefaced His statement by saying “The time is fulfilled.” Did His assurance on this point reflect any time statements in the Old Testament regarding the kingdom? The writings of the prophet Daniel are most helpful in this regard. Daniel 7:13-14 pictures Jesus ascending to His Father and receiving an everlasting kingdom that would never be destroyed (“…behold with the clouds of heaven there came One like a son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom…”).

At this point, Daniel looks to a subsequent time when the saints would soon possess this kingdom forever (Daniel 7:18, 22, 27). This would occur following a time when “the fourth beast” would make war with the saints “until the Ancient of Days came” (verses 21-22). Many say that this has not yet happened. We know, however, that Jesus promised to come [1] in His kingdom [2] in the glory of His Father [3] with His angels [4] and in judgment while some of His disciples (Matthew 16:27-28) and some people among His larger audience (Mark 8:34-9:1) were still alive, i.e. in the first century AD. This timing is further substantiated when we see that Jesus, in the Parable of the Tenants, told the religious leaders of Israel that the kingdom of God would be taken away from them and “given to a people producing its fruits” (Matthew 21:43-45), i.e. the Church, or in Daniel’s words, “the saints of the Most High.” This was to take place in their generation, as Jesus outlined in great detail in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21).

Yet another indication of this timing can be seen clearly earlier in the book of Daniel, when he interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream: “And in the days of those kings* the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people” (Daniel 2:44). [*Biblical scholars hold a virtual consensus that the four kingdoms in Daniel’s vision were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Since Rome was destroyed in 476 AD, we know that, for this prophecy to be true, the kingdom was set up before that time.] A first century fulfillment fits; a 21st century fulfillment doesn’t.

So the meaning of all this is that God’s kingdom is now fully present (and has been for many centuries), it is spiritual and not physical, and one of its characteristics is peace. Similarly, God’s people now belong to Jerusalem, not the earthly one, but rather the heavenly one. Observe what the author of Hebrews wrote to his first century audience:

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…” (Hebrews 12:22). This truth does not await a future fulfillment, but again has been a present reality for the body of Christ for many centuries. An overview of Hebrews 12:18-28 equates the heavenly Jerusalem with [1] the new covenant (verse 24) and [2] a kingdom that cannot be shaken (verse 28), and contrasts it with the old covenant given through Moses at Mount Sinai (verses 18-21), represented by things that were about to be shaken and removed at that time (verses 26-27). This was accomplished during Israel’s great tribulation (67-70 AD), at which time God’s kingdom was also fully established and set up. This same comparing/contrasting of the two covenants (new and old), and the two Jerusalems (earthly and heavenly) can be seen in Paul’s great allegory of two women (Galatians 4:21-31). Most interestingly, two women are also pictured in the book of Revelation, [1] the adulterous harlot known as “Babylon the Great” and [2] the bride of Christ. One is thrown out, the other is chosen forever. The striking similarities between Galatians 4, Hebrews 12, and Revelation regarding the covenants, Jerusalem (above and below), and God’s kingdom are no coincidence.

The blessings of God belong to those who are His by faith in His Son Jesus, and not according to ethnicity, another truth lost on some of today’s most popular teachers who insist that ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people. Paul couldn’t have been more clear about this (e.g. Galatians 3:16-29).

Enter two of America’s most influential teachers and televangelists, John Hagee and Benny Hinn. In this incredibly sad and disgusting video clip, John Hagee, hosted by Benny Hinn, openly prays (see the 1:05 mark) for God to lead the United States into war against “the enemies of righteousness” (apparently Iran), for the alleged benefit of Israel:

Keeping in mind that peace is one of the traits of God’s kingdom, recall Jesus’ famous and powerful words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). PJ Miller well points out the excellent commentary on this verse by Albert Barnes (in 1834):

Those who strive to prevent contention, strife, and war; who use their influence to reconcile opposing parties, and to prevent lawsuits and hostilities in families and neighborhoods. Every man may do something of this; and no man is more like God than he who does it. There ought not to be unlawful and officious interference in that which is none of our business; but without any danger of acquiring this character, every man has many opportunities of reconciling opposing parties. Friends, neighbors, people of influence, lawyers, physicians, ministers of the gospel, may do much to promote peace. And it should be taken in hand in the beginning. “The beginning of strife,” says Solomon, “is like the letting out of water.”

I’m not sure if it’s possible to more blatantly contradict Jesus’ teaching on being peacemakers than what we see in this video. Furthermore, Iran should not be considered the enemy of God’s people who live in America or Britain. Yet, even if we could (hypothetically) say that Iran fills this role, we come face to face with these very powerful words of Jesus, also found in the Sermon on the Mount:

But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

Unless I’ve missed something in the news, how is Hagee so confident that the United States WILL go to war? He says this twice, at the 1:33 mark and again at the 1:55 mark in this video. The way he prayed this “prayer,” one would think he was a close presidential advisor equipped with key inside information that most don’t yet have. His use of the phrase “against the enemies of righteousness” implies that the whole of the United States is righteous and outsiders are not. The angels of heaven even allegedly go before the US army, and Britain’s army as well (2:00 mark).

Just as John Hagee seems to care nothing about the Christian Palestinian population (instead “favoring” mostly unbelieving Jews**), he also implicates the Christians in Iran with his warmongering schemes that would result in their demise, if he could have his way. According to some, Iran is quietly experiencing its greatest revival ever in terms of people coming to Christ:

John Hagee is warmongering instead of seeking peace, and he’s doing so for the wrong kingdom, one that is earthly instead of heavenly, visible instead of spiritual. The Christian Zionist movement he so openly represents is also deeply concerned with (in a distorted way) the wrong Jerusalem, again the earthly one instead of the heavenly one. My hope is that blatant displays of disobedience to God’s word like this will cause even more people to question and turn away from Christian Zionist theology.

John Hagee and others who hold to futurist, dispensationalist teachings tend to believe and proclaim that this generation is ripe for worldwide judgment, that we’re on the precipice of great doom and destruction and decline, that we’ll soon see the end of world history, etc. I believe this generation is pivotal for reasons that are quite the opposite. Many are awakening to the truth that God’s kingdom is already fully established, and that His people are called to advance it in peaceful and spiritually powerful ways. If this generation of God’s people turns away from the doomsday message of teachers like John Hagee, and instead embraces the truth of the New Testament and walks in the realities of the New Covenant established by Christ, great things can happen in the near future and in generations ahead of us. May it be.

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**John Hagee, who many might think deeply cares for Jews, raises millions of dollars to bring them to Israel, where, according to his teaching, two (2) out of every three (3) Jews will one day soon be slaughtered in a tribulation that is greater than anything the Jews experienced in 67-70 AD or during the Holocaust of the last century.