Why I Stand With Israel


I believe that all Christians should stand with Israel. The very name “Christian” is undermined when we fail to do this, and standing with Israel is central to our faith.

Going further, I believe that all Christians should be united for Israel.

Proposal: The Israel that is beloved in the eyes of God, and which has significance for His people, is not a political nation in the Middle East. First and foremost, Israel is Jesus. Secondly, Israel is the church (the body of Christ), because we abide in Jesus and He abides in us. He extends this name, this status, and this reality to His followers.

Basis: Matthew, Luke, and John are among the New Testament authors who demonstrate that what was said of ancient Israel in the Old Testament is now said of Jesus, our Savior. Isaiah, at least once, made the same connection.

Testimonies of Isaiah and Matthew

 In Exodus 4:22, God instructs Moses to say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is My firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let My son go that he may serve Me.”’” In Hosea 11:1-2 we read, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols.” Who is Israel here? Clearly it’s that ancient nation that was established after Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt.

Yet look at how this verse is applied in Matthew 2:14-15, according to Matthew’s commentary here. An angel warns Joseph, the father of Jesus, to flee to Egypt with his family, because Herod was going to seek to destroy Jesus: “And he [Joseph] rose and took the child [Jesus] and His mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called My son.’”

Only 40 verses into the New Testament, we see that what was said of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament is now said of Jesus. By strong implication, Matthew communicates that Jesus is true Israel. Matthew does this to prove to his mainly Jewish audience that Jesus is the Lord’s servant spoken of throughout the Old Testament. In the book of Isaiah, we see quite a number of times when God describes the nation of Israel as “My servant” (e.g. Isaiah 41:8-10, 44:1-3).

But you, Israel, are My servantJacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, You are My servantI have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:8-10).

Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant, and Israel whom I have chosenThus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you: ‘Fear not, O Jacob My servantAnd you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring” (Isaiah 44:1-3).

Isaiah, speaking as a prophet on behalf of God, also repeatedly describes the coming Messiah as “My servant.” Matthew refers to these prophecies several times in his book, and we will look at a couple of those instances in just a moment. First, though, let’s examine an instance where Isaiah referred to God’s servant as “Israel,” when He was clearly describing Jesus:

And He said to me, You are My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’ Then I said, ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain; Yet surely my just reward is with the Lord, and my work with my God.’ And now the Lord says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and My God shall be My strength), indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth’” (Isaiah 49:3-6).

Albert Barnes (1834), Adam Clarke (1831), John Gill (1746), The Geneva Study Bible (1599), Jamieson/Faussett/Brown (1882), Matthew Henry (1708), The Pulpit Commentary (1880’s), and John Wesley (1754) all stand in agreement that Isaiah was speaking here of Jesus, and that Isaiah referred to Jesus as “Israel.” See their commentaries on verse 3, verse 4, verse 5, and verse 6.

Coming back to Matthew, we see in chapter 8 that Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, and that same evening He heals many other sick people and casts out many demons. Matthew says this fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy of a wise servant (Isaiah 52:13) who would sprinkle (or startle) many nations (52:15), suffer and be rejected (53:3), and carry our griefs and sorrows (53:4):

Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.  Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men; So shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; For what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider” (Isaiah 52:13-15). He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:3-4).

Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them. When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses‘” (Matthew 8:14-17).

In Matthew 12:15-21 we see Jesus withdrawing from a synagogue after He heals a man there with a withered hand. He heals others who followed Him, but tells them not to make Him known. Matthew says this fulfilled what was prophesied in Isaiah 42:1-3, where Isaiah described God’s chosen servant as delighting His soul, having His Spirit, and bringing justice to the nations:

But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory; And in His name Gentiles will trust‘” (Matthew 12:15-21; quote of Isaiah 42:1-3).

Luke’s Testimony

Luke follows the same pattern as Matthew. He speaks of the nation Israel as God’s servant (Luke 1:54), speaks of David in the same way (Luke 1:69), and then records Peter speaking of Jesus as God’s servant (Acts 3:13, 26):

He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever” (Luke 1:54-55).

And [God} has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets” (Luke 1:69-70).

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go… To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities” (Acts 3:13, 26).

In Acts 8:26-39, Luke records the story of Philip meeting the Ethiopian eunuch on the road out of Jerusalem. Philip finds him reading the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7-8 about God’s servant who would be led like a lamb to the slaughter and have His life taken away. Philip confirms to him that this servant is Jesus.

John’s Testimony

About a week ago, PJ Miller at Sola Dei Gloria posted an article titled, “Jesus Came to Fulfill What Israel Failed to Achieve.” At the beginning of her post, she pointed out several Scriptures from the Old Testament where Israel was referred to as God’s “vine” or “vineyard”:

You transplanted a vine from Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land” (Psalm 80: 8-9).

“’Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between Me and My vineyard. What more could have been done for My vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard; I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.’  The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines He delighted in” (Isaiah 5:3-7).

I planted you as a choice vine, from the purest stock. How then did you turn degenerate and become a wild vine?” (Jeremiah 2:21).

Then when Jesus came, He declared that He is the true vine:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:1-6).

What the nation of Israel was, Jesus is, and He will never become degenerate or bear bad fruit.

Isaiah also speaks of “a light to the Gentiles” and “a light to the nations,” and John reveals that Jesus is “the true light” and “the light of the world”:

I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house” (Isaiah 42:6-7).

“Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth’” (Isaiah 49:3-6).

Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3).

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world“” (John 1: 6-9).

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.’” (John 8:12)

This is a somewhat different case, as even leaders in the Christian Zionism movement often identify at least Isaiah 42:6 and Isaiah 49:6 as Messianic prophecies about Jesus. For example, David Parsons, the Media Director for International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), acknowledges that “Isaiah is speaking about a person of “light” – undoubtedly the promised Messiah.” Yet he goes on to say that “Israel has carried this magnificent light for generations.”

Wikipedia notes that various Jewish Rabbis during the 19th and 20th centuries began to revive the idea that the Jewish people are “a light unto the nations.” Then David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s primary founder and first Prime Minister, spoke of Israel as “a light unto the nations,” as did Benjamin Netanyahu in a 2010 speech at the Herzliya Conference, “Israel’s center stage for the articulation of national policy by its most prominent leaders.”

Daniel C. Juster, a pastor of 27 years, the co-founder of Messianic Jewish Biblical Institute, and the founding president of the (mainly US-based) Union of Messianic Jewish Congregation, authored a book in 2007 titled “The Irrevocable Calling: Israel’s Role As A Light to the Nations.” Juster says this in his own review of the book:

“It is written to answer a question. The Book of Romans tells us that the ‘gifts and call of God (to Israel) are irrevocable.’ However, few seem to know what this is. This book seeks to answer that question in terms of the priestly and intercessory role of the Jewish people and their inheritance of important specific promises such as their inheritance of the Land of Israel.”

It’s one thing when non-Christian, secular government leaders look to a political nation to be a light to the world rather than Jesus, but another matter when Christians do the same.

Similarities Between the Nation of Israel and True Israel, Jesus

The end of PJ Miller’s recent post also featured a list of similarities between ancient Israel and Jesus:

  • In the Old Testament, a young man named Joseph had dreams and went into Egypt to preserve his family alive (Genesis 45:5). In the New Testament we find another Joseph, who likewise had dreams and then went to Egypt to preserve his family (Matthew 2:13).
  • When the young nation of Israel came out of Egypt, God called that nation “my son” in Exodus 4:22. When the baby Jesus came out of Egypt, God said, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Matthew 2:15.
  • When Israel left Egypt, the people went through the Red Sea. The apostle Paul says they were “baptized unto Moses … in the sea.” 1 Corinthians 10:2. Jesus was also baptized “to fulfill all righteousness,” and immediately afterward God proclaimed Him, “My beloved Son” (Matthew 3:15-17).
  • After the Israelites went through the Red Sea, they spent 40 years in the wilderness. Immediately after His baptism, Jesus was “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness” for 40 days (Matthew 4:1, 2).
  • At the end of their 40-year wilderness wandering, Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy. At the end of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, He resisted Satan’s temptations by quoting three Scriptures-all from Deuteronomy.
  • In Psalm 80:8, God calls Israel a “vine” that He brought “out of Egypt.” Yet Jesus later declared, “I am the true vine.” John 15:1.
  • In the Old Testament, the name “Israel” first applied to one man, to Jacob. It represented Jacob’s spiritual victory over sin. Even so, in the beginning of the New Testament we discover that Jesus Christ is the new Israel who came “out of Egypt.” He is the one victorious Man who overcame all sin – A New Nation

Conclusion

At the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God had His perfect, new, spiritual and eternal Israel in His Son, Jesus; and the imperfect, old, natural, generally unfaithful, and temporary nation of Israel was marked for judgment, though God did save a remnant out of that nation. Nearly 40 years later judgment came, and it passed away in the sight of man. The majority of that nation was cut off from God’s people for their rejection of Jesus, true Israel, (Acts 3:22-23). The shadow (OT Israel) gave way to the sustenance and the fulfillment (Jesus). Israel didn’t cease. It just continued in Jesus. The fulfillment is here. The shadow doesn’t need to come back.

Because Jesus is the Israel of God, those who belong to Him are one with Him, and through Him we are also the Israel of God, as Galatians 6:16 says:

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:14-16).

(See this article for an excellent explanation of why Galatians 6:16 uses the phrase “the Israel of God” to refer to the Church.)

What about the promises made to Israel in the Old Testament? Are they reserved for national Israel, as many claim, to be fulfilled only or primarily among ethnic Jews and/or national Israel? The apostle Paul, in Galatians 3, is clear. Jesus is singularly the recipient of all of God’s promises (verse 16), and He extends those promises to His followers (verse 29), who are all one in Him regardless of ethnicity, gender, etc. (verse 28):

Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ… There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:16, 28-29).

Does Paul leave any room for those who are outside of Christ to be heirs of the promises? No, he doesn’t, not even for unbelieving Jews. Nor did Jesus (see, for example, John 8:31-47). We are collectively Abraham’s offspring only because Jesus is singularly Abraham’s offspring, and He makes us one with Him. As Paul says in II Corinthians 1:20, all of God’s promises are “yes” and “amen” in Jesus. What are they outside of Jesus? Meaningless and void.

I stand with Israel because He is my Savior, Lord, and Redeemer.

Daniel 2: The Kingdom Is Here


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 heavento 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)

To Review

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.

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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.”