Jonathan Welton, the author of the book “Raptureless,” has created a neat illustration of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s interpretation of it in Daniel 2. I very much agree with the main conclusion: “The kingdom is present; the kingdom is growing. We are in the kingdom age… and we are the King’s ambassadors.”
Daniel 2:44 is indeed a pivotal verse, as it states clearly the timing for the setting up of God’s eternal kingdom:
“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”
As many scholars agree, Rome was the fourth kingdom depicted in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision. Rome was preceded by Nebuchadnezzar’s own Babylonian kingdom (#1), Medo-Persia (#2), and Greece (#3). These were successive empires, and the Roman empire ceased to exist in 476 AD (Sources: BBC History, History Learning Site, Rome.Info, Wikipedia, About.com’s Ancient History). Daniel, a true and faithful prophet, recorded that God’s kingdom would be set up before all four of those kingdoms ceased to exist.
By the year 600 AD the final earthly kingdom revealed in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision had been gone for more than 100 years. By 1500 AD that fourth kingdom had already been gone for a full millennium (1000 years). What are we to make, then, of popular teachings which say that, as of the year 2014, God has not yet set up His kingdom? We are now 1538 years beyond the parameters of Daniel’s prophecy: “And in the days of these kings…” If God’s kingdom has not yet been established, it would seem that Daniel was not a true prophet.
The problem, however, is not with Daniel, but rather with premillennialism and any other school of thought which says that God’s kingdom is not yet here, or that when it comes it will take on earthly characteristics (e.g. a temple and a spiritual headquarters in Jerusalem, Israel) that the world has not yet seen.
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).
Daniel 7 Reveals the Timing of the Kingdom
Coming back to Daniel, he later had a vision of four beasts, the fourth of which was “dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong,” and having 10 horns (Daniel 7:7). Daniel also foresaw “One like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven” to the Ancient of Days – a picture of Jesus’ ascension.
“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).
In the rest of the chapter, Daniel sees or is told three times that the kingdom would be given into the hands of the saints:
“But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever” (verse 18).
“I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom” (verses 21-22).
“Then the saints shall be given into [the fourth beast’s] hand for a time and times and half a time. But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (verses 25-27).
Parallel to this is Revelation 13:1-8, where John also saw a beast with 10 horns speaking blasphemous things and making war with the saints and overcoming them for 42 months (which is equal to 3.5 years, and also equal to Daniel’s “time and times and half a time”). In our study of Revelation, we saw how this was fulfilled in Nero and his 3.5 year campaign of persecution against Christians in the Roman empire from November 64 AD – June 68 AD (see here and here). In Daniel 7 then, we first see that Jesus received the kingdom immediately after His ascension, and then we see that God’s kingdom was set up and given into the hands of His people during the days of the fourth kingdom/beast, Rome.
The Gospels Reveal the Timing of the Kingdom
John the Baptist and Jesus, in their day, repeatedly proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand. Then Jesus told His disciples (Matthew 16:27-28) and the crowds (Mark 8:34-9:1) that He would come in His kingdom while some of them were still alive.
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matt. 16:27-28; see also Matthew 10:23).
In Luke 21 Jesus described a series of events which were to occur before the temple would fall (Luke 21:5-7) and before His generation would pass away (Luke 21:32). According to Jesus, when His disciples saw those things take place, they could be sure that God’s kingdom was near.
“Then He spoke to them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near‘” (Luke 21:29-31).
Matthew 21: The Parable of the Tenants
The Parable of the Tenants (Matthew 21:33-46) is also important in regard to when God’s kingdom was to be established, and we see in this parable a parallel to Daniel 7. Jesus, speaking to the chief priests and elders of the people (Matt. 21:23), exposes the vinedressers (the stewards) of God’s vineyard for their long-term persecution, beating, and killing of God’s servants, and for finally conspiring to kill Him and attempt to seize His inheritance. Jesus continued the discussion in this way:
“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:40-44).
Jesus thus proclaimed that the kingdom would be taken away from the corrupt Jewish religious leaders at the time of their judgment for shedding the blood of God’s saints and God’s Son. (This judgment was to fall upon Jesus’ own generation, according to Matthew 23:29-37.) It was at this time that the kingdom would be given to a fruit-bearing nation, the church.
As in Daniel 2, Jesus is the rock that crushes His opponents. In this case, faithless Israel, except for a remnant, had set itself up in opposition to Him, and the Rock would fall and “grind him to powder.” This happened with the destruction of Jerusalem, Israel, and the temple in 70 AD. At the same time, Jesus is a mighty Rock and fortress for those who trust in Him.
Hebrews 12 Reveals the Timing of the Kingdom
The author of Hebrews spoke of the kingdom that his audience was receiving in the first century (Hebrews 12:28), and he pointed out that it was a kingdom which could not be shaken, unlike those things made with hands which could and would be shaken (verses 26-27). I believe this was a reference, in particular, to the temple in Jerusalem, the worship center for old covenant Judaism. The context bears this idea out. Ten verses earlier we read that the saints had not come to Mount Sinai, where the old covenant had been established (verse 18), but they had “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant…” (verses 22-24). If we compare this with Galatians 4:21-31, we see that earthly Jerusalem was in bondage and was about to be cast out (verses 25 and 30), but the heavenly Jerusalem is said to be the mother of God’s people (verse 26). Here is what Hebrews 12 has to say:
For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)
But 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 in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:18-29)
1. Daniel 2 reveals that God would set up His kingdom before Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome had all expired as kingdoms/empires.
2. Daniel 7 reveals that Jesus would receive His kingdom at the time of His ascension to His Father’s throne. It also confirms that God’s kingdom would be put into the hands of His people, the church, during the time of the Roman empire and immediately following a vicious campaign of persecution meant to eradicate the church.
3. John the Baptist and Jesus repeatedly proclaimed that the kingdom of God was near in their day. Jesus promised to come in His kingdom while some of His disciples were still alive, and He revealed that His kingdom would be given to His church at the same time it was taken away from rebellious Israel at the time of their judgment.
4. Hebrews 12 reveals that God’s people were receiving an unshakable kingdom in the first century, and that they would receive it at a time when all that could be shaken would be shaken.
The nation of Israel, as a whole, was found unworthy to steward God’s kingdom. Jesus, on the other hand, was perfectly obedient, laid down His life, rose again, and was found worthy to receive the kingdom. He came to take it out of the hands of Israel’s leaders, and He placed it into the hands of His church. We have been given the privilege of being the stewards of God’s kingdom. How much is the church being limited in its ability to spread God’s kingdom, and walk in its realities and power, because of the pervasive belief that it hasn’t even come yet?
God’s kingdom has come, and God’s kingdom will remain forever.
For the record, I agree with everything in Jonathan Welton’s illustration except for this statement:
“Since Jesus (the Rock) crashed into the feet of the statue in His first coming, the kingdom has been present and growing all the way until His second coming.”
32 thoughts on “Daniel 2: The Kingdom Is Here”
Well done and tidy. But, for the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Obviously, the kingdom is neither here nor now. The kingdom now argument simply never survives the premill critique which will stand until oranges are no longer compared to apples. When scripture builds up the prophecy with concrete kingdoms and an interpreter comes along and says it is replaced with some abstract subjective concoction, its fatal. This is just as obvious as feigners claiming to practice gifts today who simply do not. Anyone can make the claim, but the proof is in the actual and real pudding.
Thanks for your feedback, Ross. Could you please point some Scriptures that “build up the prophecy with concrete kingdoms”?
Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world, and that it doesn’t come with observation, and He never said that the opposite of that would one day be true. That holds a lot of weight with me.
Also, do you have any thoughts on the time statements in Daniel 2, Matthew 16, Hebrews 12, etc. regarding the establishment of the kingdom? Thanks.
This type of thinking lines up very nicely with Satan’s first question, “Did God really say?” God made many unconditional promises to Israel, and has gone to great lengths to bring this people and the Church to the “end of their strength.” Here is a verse that is currently holding my heart in awe of God. Jeremiah 32:40,41 “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. 41 I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.” That sounds amazing, sovereign, and unconditional to me.
I had to read your comment more than once in order to try to understand what you were saying (and why you were saying it in relation to this post). I could be wrong, but it seems that you zeroed in on the section where I focused briefly on the Parable of the Tenants in Matthew 21, and Jesus’ promise to take the kingdom away from the leaders of Israel and give it to the church.
Assuming that’s what led to your comment, I’d just like to make the following points:
1. Jesus, the rightful heir of the kingdom, made this statement. It wasn’t me. It was Jesus.
2. There were and are Jewish people in the church. For a while, the church was exclusively Jewish, made up of Jews from the nation of Israel who trusted in Jesus.
3. All of God’s promises are “yes” and “amen” in Jesus (II Corinthians 1:20), including the beautiful promise you quoted from Jeremiah 32. Jesus is true Israel, and He grants to His followers the same status, regardless of our ethnicity.
4. There are numerous instances where a time frame was given for the establishment of God’s kingdom. When those time statements are disregarded, and people say that God hasn’t yet set up His kingdom (despite those time markers being in our rear view mirror), it is as if they are asking the question, “Did God really say…?”
This article lists the four concrete real kingdoms: Babylonian, Medo-Persia, Greece, and the Roman empire. Each with a capital, administrators, etc. which anyone could visit, touch and see.
Of course, the origin of the Lord’s king and kingdom is not earth but is rather heaven, that does not preclude its existence here though.
Dan 2: God’s kingdom will supplant men’s kingdoms on earth. Certainly do not see that now.
Mat 16:27-28 was fulfilled in 17:1-2
Heb 12: They are looking forward to the shaking which has obviously not happened. (“Receiving” is a participle in the Greek and so its timing is relevant to the time of the shaking which is yet future.) This would make the context that of the Day of the Lord in which He returns to inaugurate the new covenant and kingdom and in which the new Jerusalem comes down to earth (13:14; Rev. 21:2). Then we will all be able to visit Christ’s kingdom capital and touch it and personally interact with its administrators, which is of course not possible today.
Thank you for responding again, and for listing the concrete kingdoms you were referring to. I agree with you that God’s kingdom is to exist on earth, and I believe that it does now exist on earth. However, Jesus was clear that His kingdom would not come with observation. He never said anything like, “It’s not going to be observable in the near future, but one day it will be observable.” He said it would not come with observation. Whether we believe Him or not is another matter.
I understand the point you’ve made about Daniel 2:44-45, and why you feel that way. My understanding is this: The four kingdoms spoken of in Daniel 2 dominated God’s people for a time, politically. With the birth of the church, the gospel spread throughout the known world, the Roman empire. The kingdom that God has set up and given into the hands of the church transcends political powers, earthly authorities, national borders, etc. It’s the highest mountain that Isaiah saw in his visions.
That final Roman kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision is gone, and God promised to set up His kingdom before that happened. He kept His word. His kingdom has been established, and it’s here.
In Matthew 16:27-28 Jesus said that “some” of His disciples would not experience death before He came in His kingdom. This implied that some would die, but others would not die, by that time. NO ONE died in the six days between that conversation and the Transfiguration event recorded in Matthew 17. At the Transfiguration, Jesus also did not bring recompense for evil deeds, nor did He come with many angels. I don’t believe that Matthew 17 comes anywhere near to fulfilling Matthew 16:27-28.
To me, it really is obvious that the shaking of Hebrews 12 has happened. Those things which could be touched and could be shaken were removed. The old covenant system and the temple, the epicenter of old covenant worship, were shaken, destroyed, and removed. I believe Jesus inaugurated the new covenant, by the way, at the time of His death and resurrection. The new Jerusalem was already a reality when the book of Hebrews was written (Hebrews 12:22). God’s kingdom and the new Jerusalem were shown to be IN CONTRAST to “the mountain which may be touched,” a mountain which the church had NOT come to (Hebrews 12:19).
Luke 17 says the kingdom would not come with observation, as you noted. What is this “observation” but a careful and constant vigilance in looking for it lest you miss it. Christ goes on to explain that it would be as obvious as when the lightning flashes from one end of the sky to the other so such vigilant watching would not be needed because no one would miss it. IT will appear right smack dab in the middle of you. I see some irony here in that the Pharisees were then rejecting the king of that kingdom who was indeed in their midst!
When you say, “The kingdom that God has set up and given into the hands of the church transcends political powers, earthly authorities, national borders, etc.,” I am not sure what you mean by that. What do you mean that the kingdom has been given into the hands of the church? When you say that it transcends powers, authorities, and borders, are you saying it will not have any? I understand Daniel when he says:
–a kingdom which shall never be destroyed
–shall not be left to other people (that would have to mean Israel and not someone or something else like the church)
–it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms (that means it is dealing with displacing political powers, earthly authorities, national borders, etc. and can only meaningfully be defined in at the least such terms.)
I agree that Rome is the fourth kingdom. But Daniel says that God’s kingdom would be set up in the days of the kings represented by clay mixed with iron which comes at some point after iron-only Rome.
You said, “In Matthew 16:27-28 Jesus said that “some” of His disciples would not experience death before He came in His kingdom.”
No, it says some of them would not die before “they see” the Son of man coming in His kingdom.
And then you say, “This implied that some would die, but others would not die, by that time. NO ONE died in the six days between that conversation and the Transfiguration event recorded in Matthew 17.”
One is free to infer such a conclusion but that does not mean that it is correct nor does the passage have to imply any such thing. It was this vision to which Jesus referred. Thus, Rev 10:1 strikes me as quite precise. Also see 2 Peter 1:16.
You said, “To me, it really is obvious that the shaking of Hebrews 12 has happened. Those things which could be touched and could be shaken were removed. The old covenant system and the temple, the epicenter of old covenant worship, were shaken, destroyed, and removed.”
It began in the house of God but the end of it is yet to come. And yet we wait for for the city as does Abraham (13:14; Rev 21:2). And all of creation waits yet for its redemption and the revelation of the sons of God (Rom 8:19-22). 2 Peter 3:7, 10-12. The new heavens and new earth will come with the new covenant in which righteousness dwells. There is a lot of shaking yet left to do.
The new covenant will be implemented but it is not yet. The most obvious indication is that Israel has not yet been restored nor its kingdom.
Can one really read these passages about the “shaking” and not see them as referring to the LORD’S future glorious coming in which he saves His own and pours out His wrath on the infidels?
Joel 3:16 (NKJV)
16 The LORD also will roar from Zion,
And utter His voice from Jerusalem;
The heavens and earth will shake;
But the LORD will be a shelter for His people,
And the strength of the children of Israel.
Haggai 2:3–10 (NKJV) vs 7 quoted in Heb 12
3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? 4 Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts. 5 ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’
6 “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. 8 ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts. 9 ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
Revelation 6:12–14 (NKJV)
12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.
Isaiah 34:1–8 (NKJV)
34 Come near, you nations, to hear;
And heed, you people!
Let the earth hear, and all that is in it,
The world and all things that come forth from it.
2 For the indignation of the LORD is against all nations,
And His fury against all their armies;
He has utterly destroyed them,
He has given them over to the slaughter.
3 Also their slain shall be thrown out;
Their stench shall rise from their corpses,
And the mountains shall be melted with their blood.
4 All the host of heaven shall be dissolved,
And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll;
All their host shall fall down
As the leaf falls from the vine,
And as fruit falling from a fig tree.
5 “For My sword shall be bathed in heaven;
Indeed it shall come down on Edom,
And on the people of My curse, for judgment.
6 The sword of the LORD is filled with blood,
It is made overflowing with fatness,
With the blood of lambs and goats,
With the fat of the kidneys of rams.
For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah,
And a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
7 The wild oxen shall come down with them,
And the young bulls with the mighty bulls;
Their land shall be soaked with blood,
And their dust saturated with fatness.”
8 For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance,
The year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
Mark 13:24–27 (NKJV)
cf. Matt. 24:29–31; Luke 21:25–28
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.
Jesus said that His kingdom does not come with observation, “nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ The kingdom is within us, He said. It’s spiritual. It’s not physical, political, or earthly. I agree with you about the irony of the Pharisees rejecting the King of the kingdom in their midst.
The language in the latter half of Daniel 2:44 is a bit hard to decipher, admittedly, particularly where it says that God’s kingdom “shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” All “these kingdoms” is a reference to Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Yet Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece were gone (i.e. no longer kingdoms) by the time John the Baptist and Jesus came along declaring that the kingdom of God was at hand. The main contrast is between their temporary nature (Rome’s too) and the eternal nature of God’s kingdom. Man’s kingdoms come and go, but God’s kingdom endures forever. All the kingdoms of men put together are nowhere close to being equal in power and glory to God’s kingdom, nor are they like His kingdom. His kingdom is different, greater, and stands forever.
When I say that the kingdom has been given into the hands of the church, I’m drawing on the language of Daniel 7, where it was prophesied several times that the kingdom would be given into the hands of the saints. Likewise, Matthew 21:43 says that the kingdom would be given to a people who would bear its fruit.
The iron and clay mixture of Rome was to say that it would be partly strong and partly fragile, but it would still be a kingdom (Daniel 2:42). This took place during Rome’s time as a kingdom, and one could say this well described the Roman empire during the Roman-Jewish War of 67-73 AD.
What is the difference between some of the disciples “seeing” Jesus come in His kingdom, and Jesus coming in His kingdom, while those certain disciples were still alive?
I’m surprised that you would say the new covenant isn’t here yet. What covenant are you under? I’m grateful to be in and under the new covenant that Jesus established. The nation of Israel was a type and shadow, and Jesus is the fulfillment. The nation of Israel doesn’t need to be restored, as we don’t need to go backwards in redemptive history. Jesus is an excellent fulfillment and embodiment of all of God’s promises, and the nation of Israel could never outdo Him if it were to be given a second go-around. The kingdom of God is not promised to be given back to the nation of Israel.
Christ did not say the kingdom was within us, He was speaking to the Pharisees who were not believers and so we must ask ourselves in what sense can the kingdom be somehow spiritually within unbelievers then. Well, it can not. So the question assumes a false premise. No Christ Himself was in the midst of those unbelievers.
You said, “It’s spiritual. It’s not physical, political, or earthly.” When you say it that way you are pitting spirituality against physicality. I can only deduce that you then deny the physical existence of Jesus Christ since He was spiritual. Now if you can affirm that Jesus was both spiritual as well as having a physical existence, then you can’t deny the kingdom its real existence either.
Matthew 21:43 says that the kingdom would be taken from the then chief priests and Pharisees and be given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. The church is not a nation; Israel is a nation. Jesus meant that the kingdom would be taken away from the priests and Pharisees and given to an Israel free from them and bearing the fruit of the kingdom. And as per Daniel, such would be considered saints indeed. This is precisely what the circumcision apostle Peter confirms in 1Peter chapter 2 to the circumcision saints.
Daniel 2 symbolizes each kingdom by a different metal. The mixed clay and iron is a different composition and thus a different entity and in fact it is one with ten kings. It is not Rome then.
The transfiguration allowed some of the disciples to see Christ in His kingdom power and glory while the rest would die before ever seeing it because they would not see the kingdom restored to Israel.
We are not under a covenant today, we are rather under grace. While that grace was made possible by the blood of Christ shed for us, which same blood makes possible a future new covenant with Israel, it is not the same thing. We have grace now and later Israel will have its kingdom restored to it through their returned Messiah. And when Israel is restored, it will not be a reversal of redemptive history, it will rather be a precise fulfillment of it moving forward. All of the OT promises the kingdom to Israel and if God does not fulfill His word, then He is a mere figment of our vain imaginations. God is a God who can be trusted and not one who pulls a bait and switch on Israel. Jesus is no doubt the fulfillment of all promises and Israel looks forward (ought to anyway) to the long promised restoration of the kingdom.
I agree that the visitation of God prophecies had their near fulfillment but that does not allow us to deny the clear-cut references to the yet future return of the Messiah to restore the kingdom to Israel at which time Israel is saved and all the oppressors of Jehovah’s bride and wife will suffer the wrath of God. Then the capital city of Israel, which John describes as the bride of the lamb, will come down to earth and then that city’s Groom will finally sit on David’s throne and rule His kingdom, as well as, all the nations of the earth. A feat never achieved by Babylon or any of her derivative empires.
Yes, it’s very much possible to read the passages you quoted (Joel 3, Haggai 2, Isaiah 34, Mark 13, Revelation 6) and to see them as already fulfilled. Isaiah 34, for example, was a prophecy against ancient Edom (verse 5). As the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary (1882) says,
“When Judah was captive in Babylon, Edom, in every way, insulted over her fallen mistress, killed many of those Jews whom the Chaldeans had left, and hence was held guilty of fratricide by God (Esau, their ancestor, having been brother to Jacob): this was the cause of the denunciations of the prophets against Edom (Isa 63:1, &c.; Jer 49:7; Eze 25:12-14; 35:3-15; Joe 3:19; Am 1:11, 12; Ob 8, 10, 12-18; Mal 1:3,4). Nebuchadnezzar humbled Idumea [Edom] accordingly (Jer 25:15-21).”
The rolling up of the heavens and the falling of the host of heaven (Isaiah 34:4) was common language used to describe local judgments. Note the language used, for example, in Psalm 18, in describing David’s rescue from the hands of Saul. The earth was shaken, the hills were moved out of their places, God rode on a cloud, there was hail and coals of fire, etc.
Please look carefully at Mark 13. Everything Jesus said in His reply to His disciples was a sign that the downfall of the temple was ABOUT TO OCCUR. The temple did fall in 70 AD. Those things were to take place first, and they did.
Revelation 6 uses the same earth-shaking language that was used to describe events in David’s life and in numerous other local judgments, as do the other passages you quoted. Haggai 2 further illuminates how all the nations would be impacted by what God would do, and how they would be drawn to “the Desire of all nations.” It’s a beautiful prophecy.
Thank you for your careful analysis of Luke 17:20-21. I stand corrected. It’s true, as you said, that Jesus was speaking only to the Pharisees when He stated, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Some translations say “among you” or “in your midst.” I was wrong to say that Jesus told us in that passage that His kingdom is within us. He did indeed tell the Pharisees that the kingdom of God was among them because He was among them.
At the same time, Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers that Jesus would dwell in their hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:17). Since God’s kingdom is wrapped up in Jesus, and Jesus dwells in the hearts of His people, does that count for the kingdom being within us? 🙂
I do affirm the physical existence of Jesus. He was both in the flesh and spiritual, just as we are. We can disregard my statement that the kingdom is not physical, if you’d like, and simply maintain my stance that Jesus never spoke of His kingdom as being earthly or political. What I meant, though, was that Jesus never spoke of His kingdom in such a way as to say it would be marked by physical structures or headquartered in a certain geographical location on this planet (as I was taught to believe by premillennialist teachers).
The church is God’s holy nation. Peter, for example, addressed Christ’s followers as “a holy nation” (I Peter 2:9). The church also bears the fruits of God’s kingdom, and has done so for the last 2000 years. This role of bearing fruit for God’s kingdom is not waiting for Israel to repent as a nation and carry it out.
If Daniel’s fourth kingdom wasn’t Rome, who do you believe it was/is? Rome was divided, however, into 10 Senatorial provinces during the time of Christ’s ministry and the ministry of the apostles. Each province had its own ruler that reported to the emperor.
God has fulfilled His OT promises to give the kingdom to Israel. Who is Israel, though, according to the New Testament? It’s Jesus and those who abide in Him.
Jesus made the old covenant obsolete and established a new covenant built on better promises. There is no 2000 year gap between the dissolution of the first covenant (with faults) and the establishment of the new covenant. Hebrews 8 couldn’t be more clear. I don’t see the distinction that you’ve made between being under grace and being under God’s new covenant. Grace is the basis for His new covenant.
“…By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: ‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’ Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’ And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin” (Hebrews 10:14-18).
Sorry my way of wording things is not clear, face to face is better than words on a page, but I will keep trying. I was putting my statement of “Did God really say?”, together with the fact that your way of thinking says very forthrightly that God is done with Israel and Jerusalem and the land. God is determined to have His promises seen as sovereign and true. He has made many promises that He will have Israel, in that Land, Holy and set apart for Him one day, incredibly a nation of priests serving Him with their whole hearts, every one of them knowing Him. Scriptures for that, you ask? Jeremiah 31 The entire chapter., (some of which is quoted in Hebrews) and is without a doubt referring to Israel, Jews, and the land. Yes, it is not the “old covenant” of the law, it is the covenant of grace, but God is giving this covenant to us, ON THE WAY TO giving it to them as a nation. I could give many, many, more scriptures that promise an entire nation of Jewish people, in the land, living for and serving God. However, i don’t want to assume that I know how you will respond to this chapter (Jeremiah 31) before I move on. Jeremiah was a Jew, speaking to Jewish people in the land of Israel about planters planting ON THE HILLS of Israel, Rejoicing in EPHRAIM, “I am a Father to Israel, Ephraim is my firstborn.” “Once again they will speak this work in the LAND OF JUDAH.” “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” This is the plain and literal reading of the word. There is no need to “spiritualize” all of these amazing promises to the nation of Israel. YES we get some of this, we are grafted into their vine. (Romans 9-11) but it is still their vine! Did God really say, that He would choose this people and that His call and election are NOT withdrawn? Why yes Satan indeed He did!
That’s understandable, and thanks for continuing to try. I actually don’t believe that “God is done with Israel and Jerusalem and the land.” I believe that Jesus is Israel (and all of God’s promises are wrapped up in Him), that God’s people are the new (heavenly) Jerusalem (the city of God), and that the land promises were conditional but are realized (fulfilled) in the heavenly city that we have inherited (see, for example, Hebrews 11).
God is not looking to our future to once again have a nation of priests. He has that nation right now – it’s us, His church, made up of Jews and non-Jews who trust in Christ:
You said that “God is giving this covenant [spoken of in Jeremiah 31] to us, ON THE WAY TO giving it to them [Israel] as a nation.” I don’t see anywhere in the Old or New Testaments where God reveals such a sequence. Jesus established the new covenant, and His followers walk in that covenant.
Jesus has already made the New Covenant with Israel. This New Covenant was announced in the Garden, that the Seed of the Woman would crush the head of the Serpent. This New Covenant was them announced to Abraham, that all nations would be blessed through this Seed. Paul makes it clear that this Seed is Jesus, NOT Israel. Jesus, NOT natural Israel, is the inheritor of all of the promises given to Abraham. Those who are in Christ by faith are co-heirs with Christ.
The early Church was the chosen remnant of Israel. The Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone. Through the cross, Jesus made Jew and Gentile “one new man,” Gentiles are grafted into the believing remnant of Israel.
Jesus is the Vine, NOT Israel. The call and election of God are irrevocable. God chosen people are still, Israel, but “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, nor are they children of God.
You don’t seem to understand the biblical principle of “first the natural, then the spiritual.” Natural Israel is a type and shadow of spiritual Israel. There is no going back to the shadows. The Light has come.
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Just read Romans chapter 9 to chapter 11 for the whole picture that God is painting. It is not helpful to quote one verse from such a powerful section that displays the glory of God as He keeps all of His promises to His called and chosen people… and He does it all without devaluing the work of Jesus in any way. If you would ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you through these three chapters that would make me so happy!
Yes, I have read Romans 9-11. To Paul, it at first seems as if God’s Word had failed. How could those whom God had chosen, reject Him? Paul gives the answer. Not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. It is NOT THE CHILDREN OF FLESH, but the CHILDREN OF PROMISE, who are Abraham’s seed. “Consider the kindness and sterness of God, sterness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided you continue in that kindness.” God’s glory is seen in both His choosing and His hardening.
The PreTrib rapture teaching devalues the cross because it teaches that Israel and the so-called “tribulation saints” can be saved apart from the cross, apart from being baptized onto the death of Christ.
Israel was a child under tutors and schoolmasters. In the fulness of time, Israel grew up into the SON. Jesus is the ONLY inheritor of the promises made to Abraham. They are “yes, and amen” in Him.
Read Hebrews 11 and you will see that the Old Testament saints were saved by the same Gospel through which New Testament saints are now saved. “And scripture, forseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, preached the Gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, in your Seed, all nations will be blessed.” In fact. the Gospel was preached to the nation of Israel in the Wilderness. “For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the Word preached did not profit them because they did not believe who heard it.” Heb 4
Hebrews 11 tells us that the Old Testament saints did not receive the promises because God had something better. In fact, Abraham, seeing through eyes of faith, understood that the physical land of Israel was merely a type and shadow of the true. That which is physical is not the substance. It is temporary, and passing away. The spiritual is real, and eternal. And Abraham desired a better country, that heavenly country which God had prepared for Him.
“All the Old Testament saints, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they, without us, should not be made perfect.”
In other words, the Old Testament saints are made perfect along with the New Testament saints. This perfection came through the cross. “For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever, those who are being made holy.” Heb 10
So, is the Kingdom here now? Speaking of New Testament saints as well as Old, the writer of Hebrews tells us:
“But you have come to Mount Zion, and unto the City of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, amd to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn, which are written in Heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of a New Covenant, and to the sprinkling of blood that speaks a better word than that of Abel.”
“…now He has promised, saying, Yet once more I will shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And those word, Yet once more, signifies the removal of those things which can be shaken, as of things that are made (THAT IS, THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE PHYSICAL), that those things which cannot be shaken may remain (THOSE THING WHICH ARE SPIRITUAL)
“Whereby we are receiving a Kingdom (THE ONE JUST MENTIONED! THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM) which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably…”
First the natural, then the spiritual. The spiritual has come. There will be no going back to the natural, to the types and shadows.
God’s promises are for those who see with spiritual eyes, not the eyes of flesh. For this reason, flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom, but only those born of the Spirit.
As for Jeremiah 31:36, it is not referring to the physical descendants of Israel. It is referring to the spiritual descendants, to those who live by faith. These are God’s children.
Romans 9-11 takes the reader on a journey with Paul who starts out grieving deeply that his physical brothers, the Jews, were not all coming in, then he progresses to seeing that it is indeed God’s plan to bring in the gentiles and to use the salvation of the gentiles and their willingness to lay their lives down for the Jews as a witness to them, resulting in “all Israel” speaking of the physical people, being saved. This recognition and revelation of the amazing plan of God to work out the salvation of the Jew as result of fullness of the Gentiles and the blood of Jesus Christ… causes Paul to break out at the end of 11 in an exuberant ecstatic hymn of exultation of God. I am not pre-trib at all and we have common ground in seeing that the ‘church’ is grafted into the promises of the Jews and they experienced the same new birth by faith in the gospel as we do. Like Paul I long for the extravagant promises of God like Isaiah 62:4, Jeremiah 32:41, Ezekiel 36 (the whole thing), Amos 9:15, Ezek. 47:14. I know I am swimming upstream on this site, so I will stop for now.
It is true that “all Israel” will be saved, but during the journey which Paul takes us on, he informs us that “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. It is NOT the children of flesh who are Abraham’s seed, but rather the children of promise. THEREFORE, “all Israel CANNOT refer to the physical descendants of Israel. It is a reference to the spiritual descendants. And those spiritual descendants are “even now, at this time,” being saved. Paul tells us that “though they be as the sands of the seashore, only a renmant will be saved. Paul insists that he is part of that chosen remnant, and that the Redeemer has indeed come out of Zion, and is even now turning godlessness away from Jacob. The grafting in of Jews is happening now, for there is no difference. God does not show favoritism. He is building up Jew and Gentile as ONE NEW MAN to be a habitation for God. Israel was NEVER set aside. They experienced a partial hardening. God gave some eyes that could not see and eyes that could not hear. God took the kingdom away from those in Israel who were merely of the flesh, and gave it to those who were of the promise, those who lived by faith. According to Hebrews 12 there is a great cloud of witnesses who are part of this heavenly kingdom, and Gentiles are grafted in by faith.
Jesus began building the Kingdom at His first coming. He was the seed planted in the ground which grows into a Tree where all kinds of birds perch to find rest. That Kingdom is being built as we are raised up and seated with Him in Heavenly places. The Kingdom is not a Jewish Millennium that happens in the future. It is a spiritual Kingdom which descends out of heaven to fill the new earth. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom, nor can eyes of flesh see it.
A careful reading of the verses preceding “all Israel will be saved” will indicate that Paul is contrasting Jew and Gentile and so the “all Israel” is the physical Jewish people, unless you rip it out of context and put on your “I only see this as spiritual” glasses. In doing that you lose so much of the greatness of God to keep His promises despite our failures. I trust in His goodness, His faithfulness and His sovereignty. I know this sounds harsh and I am admittedly frustrated with the reasoning that goes on on this blog. In Romans 11:25 God is contrasting Jew and Gentile and then in the next sentence He says, “all Israel” will be saved. So at that point is He referencing the physical Jews he was talking about one sentence prior? I would say yes, you would say no. On what planet would he be expecting the reader to go back to Chapter 9 for teh contextual understanding of “all Israel”? The all Israel is not Israel in chapter 9 is just being used to point out His faithfulness at that time to preserve a remnant, but now in Chapter 11 he is coming to a crescendo to show His amazing faithfulness in bringing in all Israel. This is immediately followed by an ecstatic hymn of praise to God who has by His sovereign power moved “heaven and earth” to bring about the fulfillment of these promises. The context of what is being quoted in Isaiah 59:20,21 is a physical people with physical offspring. The context of the promise of Jeremiah 31:33,34 is a physical people. So God our amazing God fulfills all His promises, in His way, in His time, for His glory. No promise is left undone… and with that I rest, I hope someone who reads this is open to this truth.
“shall not be left to other people (that would have to mean Israel and not someone or something else like the church)”
Good and true word from Ross. I am enjoying this exchange.
Regarding to whom the kingdom would or wouldn’t be left, we see three times in Daniel 7 that the kingdom would be given into the hands of the saints:
Genesis 13:14-17 is an unconditional promise to Abraham and his physical descendants, about the physical land. Some promises are conditional, some promises are fulfilled in Christ and the church, but, but, but, some are simply and truthfully unconditional, “I will” promises from God to the physical people in a physical land.
Both Joseph and Mary trace their genealogy, their lineage, back to David. The New Testament takes up where the Old Testament left off, with national Israel awaiting its Messiah. The angel who visited Mary said “And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:31-33). It is hard to believe that some say these verses refer to the Church! The angel of God was not mistaken! Jesus came to physically sit on the “throne of David” and “reign over the house of Jacob forever.” Christians are in no wise excluded from these promises, but should not reapply them to something other than what is plainly taught in God’s Word. Redeemed Israelites will yet constitute restored national Israel.
Jeremiah 31:36 “If this fixed order departs
From before Me,” declares the Lord,
“Then the offspring of Israel also will cease
From being a nation before Me forever.”
[…] of previous posts, I’ve highlighted two such illustrations by author Jonathan Welton, one on Daniel 2 and the kingdom of God and another on John’s use of “ge” (land) versus “kosmos” (world) in […]
Hi Adam, I have an opportunity to respond here now in between all else that comes down the pike. I don’t have a problem with the King being in our hearts but it isn’t a kingdom until we are on His real estate too.
Now Jesus affirmed Daniel’s prophecy and Daniel certainly speaks of the kingdom as earthly and political seeing as it is the same one taken from the four prior kings and from the ten future kings. Furthermore I don’t see Jesus rebuking anyone for understanding the kingdom in those terms. Sure, they had some misconceptions but the Lord says nothing paradigm changing exploding what the prophets originally said.
The church is nowhere called a nation. Peter was addressing a specific subset. He was addressing believing Jews who will make up the future Israel and will then be ministers.
As far as bearing fruit, it was time to harvest it from Israel and it bore none to God’s satisfaction and the axe was applied. But the other nation is constituted from the believing remnant of Israel, i.e., the true Israel who were part of the new church but not all of it. The NT never confuses national Israel with the international church. So there has to be another season then before another harvest is attempted. I could see a harvest being reaped out of the nations now in a sense but this is not the final harvest when the kingdom is established on earth.
Hebrews does not say the NC is now. It uses language that sees it coming in the future along with specifics that are obviously not operational now such as no need to teach and laws set in their minds and written on Hebrew hearts. The new covenant is BASED on better promises and the blood of Christ but will not be operational till Israel is restored in God’s time. Of course, our present blessings such as the seal of the HS are based on the same blood and better promises too, distributed to us under grace and not under covenant by a sovereign executor who is free to do so. I am sure we will participate with Israel in the New Covenant when Israel is restored since we Gentiles are joint-heirs with them in Christ.
When you say that we will be on the King’s real estate too, do you mean Israel (in the Middle East)? I’m trying to figure out what you mean, but that’s my guess.
Also, where does Daniel say that God’s kingdom would be “taken from the four prior kings and from the ten future kings”? I see what Daniel 2:44 says – “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” And I see what Daniel 7:14 says regarding Jesus when He stands before His Father’s throne – “Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.”
I also see what Daniel 7 says about the saints receiving the kingdom – “But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever… I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom… Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (verses 18, 21-22, 27).
Am I missing anything? I don’t see in these texts what you said you see.
I’ve heard that view once before from someone who left a comment here, that Peter was addressing only believing Jews in his epistles. I’m not convinced that this is true, but I’m not ready to die for the view that he was addressing both Jews and Gentiles. Here’s one person’s reasons for believing that non-Jews were among the recipients of Peter’s epistles (see the second section titled, “Recipients of the First Letter of Peter”):
Whoever his first recipients were, they were also his second recipients (II Peter 3:1).
When John wrote the book of Revelation in the first century, he told the seven churches that God “has made us a kingdom and priests to His God and Father” (Revelation 1:6). Not only is this a declaration that they (Jews and non-Jews alike) were already God’s kingdom, but what is the difference between a spiritual kingdom (as John referred to them here) and a spiritual nation?
You said that “Hebrews does not say the NC is now” and “will not be operational till Israel is restored in God’s time.” Hebrews 8 says that the old covenant was made obsolete (verse 13), and that Jesus “has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises” (verse 6). The text says nothing about the new covenant being established, but not operational.
Regarding the specifics of this covenant, which you say are “obviously not operational now,” consider one of the two examples you brought up – “no need to teach.” I realize this is a reference to Hebrews 8:11, which is quoted from Jeremiah 31 (“None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them”). This is very much operational now. Compare this to what John wrote in his first epistle:
“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him” (I John 2:27).
John told his first century audience exactly what Jeremiah said would be true in the new covenant: “You do not need that anyone teach you.”
Further evidence that the new covenant was established and operational at this time is found in Paul’s statement that he and his fellow ministers were “ministers of the new covenant” (II Corinthians 3:6). Paul, of course, was known as the apostle to the Gentiles. He equates being a minister of the new covenant to being a minister of the Spirit (II Cor. 3:8).
I apologize for not being clear. I was referring to Dan 7:21-27 Where the kingdom is taken away from the one king who overcomes the 3 kings that were among the ten kings who arose from the fourth kingdom. So the fourth kingdom either devolves into a further succession of 10 kingdoms or just breaks up into 10 contemporary kingdoms. It would seem to me to be clear that they succeed the fourth kingdom but are not the fourth kingdom themselves. Then the one king overcomes three others which would make sense to me to count as another kingdom. It is this kingdom that Daniel says is taken away from that king and given to the saints.
The article states my position:
“To God’s elect sojourners scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 1 Peter 1:1
“Peter addressed the recipients as strangers, sojourners, exiles in the diaspora, or dispersion. The term diaspora came into use during the Old Testament era after the Jews were taken as captives to Babylon, a time known as the Babylonian Captivity. Diaspora denoted those Jews who were dispersed and scattered among the nations away from their Jewish homeland of Israel.
“Peter’s use of the term diaspora has led some to think that he wrote to Jewish Christians, not to Gentile Christians. In support of their opinion they point to the fact that Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles while Peter was the apostle to the Jews, as stated in Galatians 2:7-9.”
This is clear, lucid, perfectly sensible. Thus arguments that try to make it figurative appear totally strained, weak, and tendentious. There simply is no reason to take Peter at his word here.
Some take Revelation to be totally future. In any case, like Jesus Christ, they are kings in exile until the kingdom is given to the saints when Christ establishes His rule on Earth. The difference between spiritual nation and spiritual kingdom is not much…that nation will have a special status in that kingdom when it is established at Christ’s return. God being the power behind, in, and throughout this kingdom then makes the kingdom of a spiritual and heavenly quality.
I think a careful reading of Hebrews 8 shows that all provisions for the NC to become operative have been made, but it also does not say it is yet operational. This would comport with all the prophetic passages that identify its operation as contemporary with Israel’s restoration to the kingdom.
You said, “John told his first century audience exactly what Jeremiah said would be true in the new covenant: “You do not need that anyone teach you.”” and that Paul makes the statement about being “ministers of the new covenant” with regard to the ministration of the Spirit (cf. Eph 3:7 as well). Also, the writer of Hebrews (ch 6) mentions “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.” I admit this is a good point but given the fact that we do not see this going on today, an explanation is definitely called for. An explanation must be given for why an appeal was still going out to the nation of Israel during the Acts period. This goes on until Acts 28, then they are given up on. It is during this period that we see the kingdom powers exercised but then vanish! The gifts and kingdom powers were building the church but they were also serving as a sign to the Jews confirming the ministers (1 Cor. 1:22, Mark 16:20, John 4:48, 6:30, Acts 5:12, Rom. 15:19, 1 Cor. 2:4, 5, 2 Cor. 12:12, Heb 2:4). For the Jews, Christ’s work concerned individual salvation, but furthermore established the basis upon which the kingdom would be established and operated under the NC. National Israel rejected God and God finally put them aside by the end of Acts (Acts as a literary device but A.D. 70 historically). We find the explanation for this in Romans particularly in ch 9-11. There we see the continuing appeal made to Israel was a provocation to jealousy which was not successful then yet the promise is made there of their restoration.
So the gifted ministers carried out a NC ministry while also building the church. Furthermore, the fact that we are sealed by the Spirit until the redemption of all things binds the church’s destiny to the future NC too. Upon Israel being set aside, and the believing remnant accepting Gentiles as joint-heirs, and the church being established, the gifts vanish as Paul said they would. Besides, the established church is then in a better position to propagate itself in a mature state with more effective and appropriate equipment. The HS made His statement and has given all necessary proofs and I see it as He has rested his case.
Getting back on track. The ministers were NC ministers because our hope is the return of Christ and the establishment of the kingdom ON earth.
Jesus is a King in exile?????? Huh?????
My Bible says that He is seated at the right hand of God, that all authority in heaven and earth is given to Him, that God highly exalted Him and gave Him a Name which is above every other name, and that at that name every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and of the earth, and of those things under the earth. Revelation 3 tells us that He overcame and sat down with His Father on the throne. Exiled kings do not sit on thrones. The book of Ephesians tells us that God “raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principaly and power and might and dominion, and every name that is name, not only in this age, but in the age to come. And He has put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church.”
According to the apostles, Jesus is reigning on the throne of David now. “…God had sworn with and oath to him, that the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.. He seeing this before, spoke of the resurrection of Christ…”
John the baptism called the children of Israel to repent becuase the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. After the death of John, Jesus declared that “the time was fulfilled,” and that “since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it.”
The New Covenant has already been fulfilled. It was fulfilled at Passover. Writing to Jewish Christians, the writer of Hebrews tells us that “…for this reason Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgression that were under the First Covenant, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance…
“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God, from thenceforth waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool. For by one offering he has perfected forever them who are sanctified. Wherefore the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us, for after that He had said before, this is the New Covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord; I will put My laws in their hearts, and in their minds write them…”
Jesus announced to the Jews who were seated before Him, that “this is the blood of the New Covenant in My blood, which is shed for the many,” and that New Covenant was ratified and made operational when Jesus died!
Contrary to what many teach, Israel was not “set aside.” The fact is that not everyone who was descended from Israel was considered by God to be His children, or Abraham’s seed. Though they be as the sand of the seashore, God chose to save only a remnant. That remnant is even now being saved. And it is through their New Covenant that they are being saved.
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“Hebrews does not say the NC is now. It uses language that sees it coming in the future along with specifics that are obviously not operational now such as no need to teach and laws set in their minds and written on Hebrew hearts.”
The New Covenant most assuredly is now. Listen to what Scripture says regarding those who, having believed, receive the Spirit:
“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that any man teach you. But as the same anointing teaches you all things, and is truth and no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in Him.” I John 2
“Indeed, when the Gentiles, who do not have the Law, do by nature those things required by the Law…they show that the requirements of the Law are written on their hearts…” Romans 2
“And now the Lord says –
He who formed Me in the womb to be His Servant
to bring Jacob back to Him,
and gather Israel to Him,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord
and My God has been My strength –
‘It is too small a thing for you to be My Servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make You a Light for the Gentiles,
that My salvation may reach the ends of the earth.'”
The New Covenant is the promise made in the Garden and to Abraham. “Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, announced before the Gospel to Abraham, saying, in your Seed all nations will be blessed.” Jesus has indeed brought the New Covenant to Israel. If He hasn’t, Gentiles cannot not be grafted into her. There can be no “one new man” made out of Jew and Gentile. If Israel has not received the New Covenant, then Gentiles could not be saved. As it is written, “To the Jew first…”
Jesus made the New Covenant in His blood to the chosen remnant of Israel. It was that chosen remnant who then, brought the Gospel to Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all the Jesus began to do and to teach until the day He was taken up to heaven, after given instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen. After His suffering, He presented Himself to them and gave them many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the Kingdom of God.”
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all in one place…Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven…”
“Then Peter stood up with the eleven, raising his voice and addressed the crowd: Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you…this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out My Spirit on all people…”
“Fellow Israelites…the patriarch David…was a prophet and knew God had promised on oath that He would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah…exalted to the right hand of God…”
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this, that god has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
“Indeed, beginning with Samuel, ALL THE PROPHETS WHO HAVE SPOKEN HAVE FORETOLD OF THESE DAYS. AND YOU ARE HEIRS OF THE PROPHETS AND OF THE COVENANT GOD MADE WITH YOUR FATHERS.
“Many who heard the message believed , so the number of men who believed grew…”
“The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead…God exalted Him to His own right hand as Prince and Savior, that He might bring Israel to repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things…”
“Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”
“The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”
To say that Israel still waits for the New Covenant to be fulfill is contrary to what the New Testament scriptures teaches. Jesus is the New Covenant. The Redeemer has already come and is presently turning godlessness away from Jacob. He has restored David’s Tabernacle, and He is now sitting on David’s throne.
“In that Day I will raise up the fallen tabernacle of David, and wall up its breaches; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may posses the remnant of Edom…”
“Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His Name. With this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written. ‘After these things I will return and will rebuild the Tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My Name, says the Lord who makes these things known from long ago.”
“I will restore it SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND may seek the Lord.”
If the Tabernacle of David has not been built by Christ, Gentiles cannot now be saved.
But indeed, it has been built. And Christ is that Tabernacle.
Jesus has received the Kingdom, and that Kingdom is advancing. As many “press into it,” they are being translated from the Kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God.
The promises made to Abraham were not about inheriting a tiny piece of real estate in the Middle East. God had something better for us…nothing less than a new heavens and a new earth.
Many claim that Jeremiah 32: 40 and 42 are referring to a restoration of Israel in earthly Jerusalem. If true, then you must also concede that “in all the cities thereof, shall be a habitation of shepherds, causing their flocks to lie down,” and that “the priests and Levites shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to prepare sacrifices continually. You must also concede that God will “multiple the descendants of David,” and “the Levites who minister.”
I am just wondering how God will “cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against [Him]” and “pardon all their iniquities” and “transgressions.” Who will be the High Priest of this supposedly restored Levitical Priesthood? It cannot be Christ, since He is not descended from Levi and has already received an eternal priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. And there is no salvation through the Levitical Priesthood. Will there be two High Priests officiating over two priesthoods during this supposed future Kingdom?
As for Isaiah 59, yes, a Redeemer has come to Zion, to those who turn from transgression in Jacob. “He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him.” He came as “a rushing stream”, as Living Water “which the breath of the Lord drives.”
And yet, to those in Jacob who refused to turn from transgression, according to their deeds, He repaid and put on “garments of vengeance.” To those who rejected Him, Jesus declared that their house would left desolate, and that the destruction of their Temple would be a time of vengeance in fulfillment of all that had been written.
So, regarding whether God has made the New Covenant with Israel already, or whether it is something “on the way,” this is what Paul has to say:
The New Covenant is the Gospel, which teaches righteousness through faith. That Gospel was preached to Abraham: “Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, preached the Gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, In your Seed all nations will be blessed.”
The Gospel was also preached to Israel in the wilderness: “For we also have had the Gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message did not profit them, because they did not share the faith of those who believed.”
Now, Paul states: “Moses writes about the righteousness that is by the Law: ‘The person who does these things will live by them.’ But the righteousness that is by faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, who will ascend into heaven? (that is to bring Christ down) or who will descend into the deep? (that is , to bring Christ up from the dead).’ But what does it say, that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim. If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with the heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth and you confess and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
“How then can they call on Him whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
“But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message? Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is hear through the Word of Christ.
“But I ask: Did they not hear? OF COURSE THEY DID:
“Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.
And Isaiah says boldly:
I was found by those who did not seek Me, I revealed Myself to those who did not ask for Me.
But concerning Israel He says,
All day long I have held My hands out to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
“I ask then, Did God reject His people? By no means!”
“God did not reject His people whom He foreknew.”
“What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain, but the elect did…”
Clearly, Paul believed the New Covenant had come to Israel, but most refused to believe. It was NOT “given to the Gentiles ON THE WAY to being given to Israel.”
Israel, the Firstfruits, received the Covenant first. If they hadn’t, then Abraham’s Seed could not bless the nations.
Good stuff Rossc
I wrote: “There simply is no reason to take Peter at his word here.”
I meant to write: “There simply is no reason not to take Peter at his word here.”
If we start taking things figuratively, where does it start and where does it end? Let the apostle say what he means especially since it makes perfect sense.
I am amazed someone could believe the New Covenant is still future!
The New Covenant, like the Old Covenant, is a blood covenant (Matt. 26:28). The blood of this covenant effects the forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness of sins was available at Pentecost (Acts 2:38).
When the OC was first established, it was established with the shedding of blood. The first Jews to enter the OC did so by verbal confession and having the blood of the covenant sacrifices sprinkled upon them (Exo. 24:3-8). Likewise, in the NC, the blood of the covenant is sprinkled upon us when our bodies were “washed with pure water,” when we confessed Christ and were baptized into Christ (Heb. 10:22-23). So those who have been baptized into Christ have entered the NC and have received the forgiveness of sins.
After the inauguration of the OC, people were then on born into the OC by virtue of being born to Jewish parents (to a Jewish mother, specifically, Gal. 4:4). Likewise, people are born into the NC, only the birth isn’t a physical birth, but a spiritual rebirth. One must be “born of water and the Spirit,” which happens at baptism (John 3:5).
People are baptized into His name (Matt. 28:19), upon His name (Acts 2:38), calling on His name (Acts 22:16), and are clothed with Christ when we are baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27). It is significant that baptism is when it is said Christ clothes us, because providing clothing is the husband’s obligation to his wife (Exo. 21:10-11). The OC was God’s marriage covenant with Israel (Jer. 31:32). Likewise, the NC is Jesus’ marriage covenant with His bride, the church. When do we become the bride of Christ and enter into the NC? When He cleanses us “by the washing of water with the word,” again at baptism (Eph. 5:25-32).
If you are not in the New Covenant, then you are not married to Christ. If you are not married to Christ, then you are not in His church. If you are not in His church, you are not saved.