Israel's Kingdom Hope!
John D. LaVier
In previous lessons we have been considering the various messengers God has used and the differing messages they bore. We have noted the importance of discerning to whom these messages were addressed, lest we be acting on orders not given to us but to others. The two main programs in Scripture which must be distinguished have to do with (I) Israel with the law and the kingdom hope, and (2) the Church with its grace program and its heavenly hope. Many talk about the kingdom and pray for the kingdom to come but have rather vague ideas as to what it is they are referring. When we speak of the kingdom we are referring to the prophesied, millennial, messianic kingdom which is to be established upon earth. This is the hope of Israel and the nations; it is not the hope of the Church, for the hope of members of the Body of Christ goes far beyond this earthly scene and has to do with that realm far above all, the heavenly places. The word "heavenly" occurs several times in Scripture and has reference to that which is heavenly in origin or character, but this is not the case in Ephesians where five times, and only here, we have the phrase "in heavenly places." This expression, en tois epouraniois, refers to a place, the place where we arc to set our affections and "where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God" (Colossians 3: I), and the place to which we are bound and where our blessings arc to be enjoyed. Yet even though our hope is not terrestrial but celestial we do rejoice in the certainty of the coming kingdom; when earth will have its rest, and best of all when our blessed Lord Jesus will have His rightful place upon the throne as King and Almighty Sovereign and when every knee will bow before Him.
For the first four or five hundred years after their exodus from Egypt the nation Israel had no king. It was God's will there should be a theocracy, the nation governed by Him and directed by those who were divinely instructed and empowered. However, in the days of Samuel the people clamored for a king, desiring to be like the nations around them and forgetting that their glory consisted in being different from the others. Their faith was so small they could not trust in an unseen God but had to have a leader they could see like many Christians today who are so spiritually feeble they have to have a lot of religious trappings to look upon. Israel was warned of the treatment they would receive from a king, but they persisted and God allowed them to have their way. Their choice was Saul and we have the record of his failure. It was then that God raised up David and placed him on the throne. David is one of the truly great characters of the Old Testament, and one of the most lovable, a man after God's own heart.
In the seventh chapter of 2nd Samual we learn of David's desire to build a house for God, but he was told to leave that for his son to do, and instead God was going to build a house for David. In 7:16 God said, "And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee; thy throne shall be established for ever." Here we have the promise of the everlasting kingdom, and David's house and David's throne to be established for ever. Christ, as Son of David, will reign in the theocratic kingdom on earth, but there are many Scriptures that state that David himself will share in that reign. We quote a few of those Scriptures "But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king whom I will raise up unto them" (Jeremiah 30:9) "And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it" (Ezekiel 34:23-24). "And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd; they shall also walk in my statutes, and do them" (37:24-25). Many apply these words to Christ, but while Christ is called son of David, seed of David, root of David, he is never called David. Newell has written: "We must not confuse in our minds this situation. We must believe the plain words of God. David is not the son of David. Christ, as son of David, will be King; and David, His father after the flesh, will be prince, during the Millennium." Pentecost writes: "It would be concluded that in the government of the millennium David will be appointed a regent over Palestine and will rule over that land as prince, ministering under the authority of Jesus Christ, the King."
Not only by the prophetic word but in other ways as well the fact is brought before us in the Scriptures that a kingdom is to be established on earth. In the apostolic preaching it was referred to as the kingdom of heaven, the rule of heaven imposed upon earth. In Nebuchadnezzar's dream he saw a great image and then a stone cut out without hands that smote the image with all its component parts and reduced it to dust which the wind carried away. Then that stone became a great mountain which filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:31-35). At His first coming Christ came as a stumbling stone and Israel stumbled over that stumbling stone and fell. At His second coming He comes as the smiting stone bringing an end to the times of the Gentiles and setting up His rule over the nations. We read: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter; and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure" (Daniel 2:44-45). This kingdom of heaven will be as literal and material as any ever presided over by human monarchs, but it will have a spiritual side also for it will be characterized by righteousness, justice and peace. Further in Daniel is written: "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, and nations, and languages, should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (7:13-14) Here is Christ standing before the Almighty God and being invested with that kingdom which shall never pass away. All through the Old Testament, in story, type and prophecy, someone is coming, and that Someone is the King Himself, coming to establish His kingdom of peace and righteousness.
[n reading the gospel accounts one cannot escape the conclusion that the Lord Jesus Christ had come to earth not only to be a Saviour but also a King. The angel Gabriel, sent to the virgin Mary, told her she was to be with child by the Holy Ghost, that His name was to be called Jesus, that the Lord God was to give Him the throne of His father David, and that He was to reign over the house of Jacob for ever and of His kingdom there would be no end (Luke 1:26-33). When Nathanael met the Lord he said, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel" (John I :49). The Lord did not correct him, and the day is Israel's Kingdom Hope coming when the entire nation will give a like confession and acknowledge that He is their God and King. Sadly, at His first coming, the nation was not like Nathanael and would not receive Him. When Pilate brought Jesus to them and said, "Behold your King," what was the response? "But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar" (John 19: 15). His death followed, but God raised Him from the dead, having loosed the pains of death. Christ's suffering was now accomplished and according to the prophetic Word He was ready to be enthroned and to enter into His glory. The kingdom which was preached prior to the cross could now be definitely proffered. The disciples asked the risen Christ, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). The Lord did not really answer their question as the restoration would depend on Israel's response to the renewed offer of the kingdom. That there was a renewed offer there can be no doubt. In his very first message, on the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter stated that Christ had been raised from the dead to sit on David's throne and he called on the nation to repent. Some did repent, about three thousand, but the great majority of the nation with their leaders did not. In Acts the third chapter Peter stated that on condition of their repentance their sins would be blotted out and Christ would return to bring in the times of refreshing, the prophesied kingdom with its attendant blessings. This is the story of the book of Acts, with continued rejection on the part of Israel until they were finally rejected and set aside for a season.
The present dispensation was hid from the sons of men in other ages. It was hid in the mind and heart of God until He revealed it through the Apostle Paul. During this dispensation, Israel is off the scene, the kingdom is in abeyance, and God is calling out a company of believers, sinners saved by grace, who constitute the Church, the Body of Christ. Paul was the first member of this Church, followed by a great host even to this day. Those saved prior to Paul under the kingdom gospel did not become members of the Church of this dispensation. Those saved at Pentecost and subsequently, and also the circumcision apostles themselves, were all kingdom saints embracing a kingdom hope, and that hope will be realized in the kingdom when those twelve apostles will be sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Further, the writings of these kingdom saints (James, Peter, John, Jude) are not addressed directly to members off the Church of the mystery, the Body of Christ. It is in Paul's epistles that we find the marching orders for the Church. There may be some parallel lines of truth in the general epistles but that does not make them identical. Just as the Pauline epistles have their place of prominence and are applicable to God's people today, so the general epistles will have their place of prominence and be applicable to God's people in the future when God will again be dealing with Israel and with their kingdom program.
With the setting aside of the nation Israel the kingdom program was suspended and a new program was ushered in, the dispensation of the grace of God. Through a new apostle, Paul, it was revealed that the kingdom was postponed and that God would be reaching out in grace to all everywhere, saving sinners by His grace through faith in the redemptive work of His Son who died at Calvary, the Just One for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. The hope of these saved sinners, made members of the Church, Christ's Body, is not the earthly messianic kingdom which will some day be set up on earth. They have been brought into a spiritual kingdom. Paul wrote: "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Colossians 1:12-13). This spiritual kingdom is characterized by righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17). And our hope, as members of the Church, is not in the kingdom coming but in our going, caught away to be forever with the Lord.
The dispensation of grace ends with the removal of the Church from earth by way of the rapture, with every member caught away to be for ever with the Lord. Then follows the final chapter in man's day with the casting down of Satan, the appearance of his tool, the personal antichrist of the end-time, and the great tribulation. The kingdom will again be in view and in spite of satanic opposition there will be a great worldwide proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus predicted this in Matthew 24: 14. He said: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." The end comes with the personal return of King Jesus as the Rider on the white horse, followed by the heavenly army, and trampling His enemies beneath His feet. Then will be heard "great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11: 15) Heavenly beings fall on their faces in worship, saying, "We give thee thanks, 0 Lord God Almighty, which art, and was, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned" (11:17)
Yea, Amen, let all adore Thee, High on Thy exalted throne, Saviour, take Thy power and glory, Claim all kingdoms for Thine own.
Israels Future - John D. LaVier
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ead Acts 16L31 Romans 1:16, and 1. Corinthians 15:1-4
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