Tribulation and Israel’s Expectation – Part 4

This is the fourth article in a series that looks at Israel’s expectation for the tribulation, the end of their exile, and the establishment of an everlasting kingdom centered around them. As outlined in the introductory article, these expectations are derived from the writings of Jewish scribes and commentators during the Late Second Temple Period.

In this article we’ll look at two of the expectations that show the tribulation preceding two important events familiar to New Testament authors; an eschatological kingdom and a final judgment.

  1. The tribulation precedes the final judgment
  1. The tribulation precedes the coming of an eschatological(1) kingdom

The Kingdom and Judgment Follows Tribulation

A primary theme that is highlighted in these two expectations and runs through all fourteen is that the expected tribulation occurs before the advent of the Messiah. Keep in mind that this claim would be true for those in Israel who’ve overlooked the first advent of the Messiah, Yeshua the Christ. I’ve covered this in some depth in previous articles in this series(2).

Aside from that, the occurrence of a period of tribulation for Israel and Judah before Messiah’s advent is completely in alignment with what Christ taught, the Holy Spirit inspired through revelation, and biblical authors recorded in scripture. However, because many modern Christians are taught to disconnect the work of Christ in the church from what he’s doing in Israel and Judah, it’s easy to discard the insight and continuity provided in scripture and understood by Late Second Temple scholars regarding the tribulation and events which follow it.

Yet I claim, as New Testament writings reveal, without understanding the relationship between Israel and Judah and Gentile believers, one is left viewing the work of God in Christ from a purely Gentile perspective. There are many reasons why this proves ineffective, but a primary reason is that it blinds Gentile believers to the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! (Romans 11:32-36)

Understanding the relationship between Israel and the Church of God is vital to understanding the full scope of the work of God in Christ now and in the future. This becomes more evident when one compares the description of the kingdom of God expected by Israelites and the millennial reign of our Lord on earth expected by Christians. It’s also evident in the timing proclaimed by both – the advent of the Messiah. The significant difference in their expectation is that one sees it as Messiah’s first advent, while the other sees it as his second. This significance grows when we realize the initial rewards afforded them according to which expectation they hold to.

Want to learn more about the relationship between Israel and the body of Christ? Read more.

Called into a Physical Kingdom

We’ve already shown briefly that Israel and Judah’s current tribulation comes as a means of correction(3), a correction that doesn’t end until the Messiah sets foot on the Mount of Olives. We must not forget that Israel as a nation(4) was originally called to be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:4-6), and the Apostle Paul reminds us that the calling and election of Israel is irrevocable (Romans 11:28-32). God has not completely rejected his people (Romans 11:1-2a), and intends to provide the means of salvation to all (Romans 11:25-27). For the majority of Israel and Judah, those still dwelling in unbelief, will not be confronted with that means of salvation until our Lord descends to the earth to intervene on behalf of Judah and Jerusalem(5) (Zechariah 14:1-4). It’s at this time that their expectations for the kingdom, which they glean from the Old Testament prophets, begin to manifest. An office of rulership was established in Abraham by the promise that he and his descendants would possess the gates of their enemies.

Genesis 22:15-18

  • This righteous rulership comes as a blessing to the nations
  • This ruling house was established through faith
  • It is passed on through Isaac and Jacob (Israel) and given to Judah, from whom it will not depart (Genesis 49:10)

The Son of Man, a descendant of Judah, is clear evidence of this connection and continuity of faith. The prophets of old anticipated this righteous king and ruler.

  • He is the source of righteous judgment (Isaiah 16:3-5; 26:7-9)
  • He is the source of rescue and comfort (Isaiah 51:1-3,12-16; 52:7-10; 66:10-14)
  • He brings salvation to those who follow him (Isaiah 25:6-9; 45:14-17,22-25)
  • He is ruler (Isaiah 9; 11)
  • He is the servant of the Lord (Isaiah 40-55)
  • He will free them from captivity (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Clearly this occurs in spite of Israel’s disobedience as Paul declares in Romans 11. Zechariah also declared that it is the faithfulness of God which will accomplish this. It will not come by the might or the righteousness of the people, but by waiting on the Lord in the midst of their suffering (Zechariah 10:9-10; Lamentations 1-3). In his faithfulness the Lord will ultimately lead them to salvation (Lamentations 3:22-26).

As king, the Lord will use his power to:

  • Judge foreign nations (Isaiah 2:1-4)
  • Deliver his people from calamity (Isaiah 31:4-9)
  • Restore his people to their land (Jeremiah 16:14-15; 30; 33)

The king will ultimately assert his authority over all nations of the world (Zechariah 12-14; Malachi 4:1-6).

Called Into a Glorious Kingdom

The expectations of the faithful remnant in Israel and Judah are aligned completely with those of New Covenant believers of which they are a part (Romans 11:2b-7). They too have been called to be a kingdom of priests (1 Peter 2:9-10), but the kingdom they’re called to is a glorious and heavenly kingdom (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; Romans 8:16-17,29-30). This kingdom, inaugurated by the Messiah, has gone unseen by the world since its inception through the covenant of faith with Abraham.

Unbeknownst to the saints of old, their calling included greater blessings and the seed of a new creation through God’s Holy Spirit. These blessings were hidden throughout the ages, but revealed in the Messiah, the Son of Man, and his faithful disciples since. To them and through them, the mystery of God for the new creation in Christ is made manifest, and will be revealed to the world when our Lord comes a second time to establish his kingdom upon the earth.

Interested in Christ’s kingdom-building work now and in the future? Read more.

During this earthly Kingdom of the Son, both his glorious and redeemed servants, and the restored remnant of Israel and Judah called into covenant with him, will rule the nations of the world for 1000 years with Christ. Together they will work to bring all nations into the obedience of faith. Only after all the enemies of God have been destroyed will the son hand over the kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:22-26). In order to complete that kingdom, all must be confronted with the righteous judgment of Christ. This includes all those dead in the grave.

Final Judgment for Israel and Judah

Israel’s perspective on future judgment focused primarily on the disobedient nations who oppressed them. As a whole, their own self-righteousness prevented them from seeing the judgment they were under as a result of their own idolatry and faithlessness. Christ’s own indictment of the unfaithful in Judea was that if they had known the Father, and that is who they actually worshipped, they would have recognized the son (Fourth Gospel 8:12-20).

When the son establishes the rulership of that kingdom on earth, he begins by redeeming and glorifying a faithful remnant from Israel, the 144,000, as an example to the rest (Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5). This faithful remnant of Israel experienced the righteous judgment of Christ through faith; a righteous judgment which leads to eternal life (Fourth Gospel 3:16-21).

Yet there is a time spoken of by the prophets and confirmed by Christ himself when the unbelieving in Israel will know him and they will know the Father (Jeremiah 23:3-6). When we look at the details of how that awareness and knowledge of God and his Christ comes about for Israel, we can see that God’s righteous judgment exists to reveal who and what he really is.

Isaiah 49:8-23
8 Thus says the Lord:
    “In a time of favor I have answered you;
    in a day of salvation I have helped you;
    I will keep you and give you
    as a covenant to the people,
    to establish the land,
    to apportion the desolate heritages,
9 saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’
    to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’
    They shall feed along the ways;
    on all bare heights shall be their pasture;
10 they shall not hunger or thirst,
    neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them,
    for he who has pity on them will lead them,
    and by springs of water will guide them.
11 And I will make all my mountains a road,
    and my highways shall be raised up.
12 Behold, these shall come from afar,
    and behold, these from the north and from the west,
    and these from the land of Syene.”
13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
    break forth, O mountains, into singing!
    For the Lord has comforted his people
    and will have compassion on his afflicted.
14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me;
    my Lord has forgotten me.”

15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
    Even these may forget,
    yet I will not forget you.
16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are continually before me.
17 Your builders make haste;
    your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you.
18 Lift up your eyes around and see;
    they all gather, they come to you.
    As I live, declares the Lord,
    you shall put them all on as an ornament;
    you shall bind them on as a bride does.

19 “Surely your waste and your desolate places
    and your devastated land—
    surely now you will be too narrow for your inhabitants,
    and those who swallowed you up will be far away.
20 The children of your bereavement
    will yet say in your ears:
    ‘The place is too narrow for me;
    make room for me to dwell in.’
21 Then you will say in your heart:
    ‘Who has borne me these?
    I was bereaved and barren,
    exiled and put away,
    but who has brought up these?
    Behold, I was left alone;
    from where have these come?’”

22 Thus says the Lord God:
    “Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations,
    and raise my signal to the peoples;
    and they shall bring your sons in their arms,
    and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.
23 Kings shall be your foster fathers,
    and their queens your nursing mothers.
    With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you,
    and lick the dust of your feet.
    Then you will know that I am the Lord;
    those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.”

Because the grace of God is greater-than the sin of man, he will lead the descendants of Israel through their correction, or even death, and into his righteous judgment which leads to life.

Joel 2

  1. (vs 1-11) Joel introduces the Day of the Lord. Up until that time their correction has come in part from the nations, in part from the wrath of Satan, and finally the Lord himself will correct them. Ultimately this correction is not for their destruction but for their redemption; to lead them to repentance (Ezekiel 33:11, 17-19; Jeremiah 3:6-12; Ezekiel 34:28-31).
  2. (vs 12-17) In the midst of the Lord’s correction is the call to repentance – to return to the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They’ve witnessed that the gods they’ve followed were not able to save them (Jeremiah 3:12-13).
  3. (vs 18-27) Yet the Lord is full of grace and extends mercy to his people. He will bring them back to their own land and bless them. This is the greater exodus spoken of in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 3:14-18; 23:1-8; Ezekiel 34:11-24; 37:20-28).
  4. (vs 28-31) Finally, the Lord will make a new covenant with them. With his Spirit he will write his law on their hearts; and they will be his people, and he will be their God (Ezekiel 37:11-14, 22-28; Isaiah 61:5-11; 62).
  5. (vs 32) All those who call upon the name of the Lord Yeshua will be saved. These the Lord will call from among the survivors.

This process involves a second exodus, a greater exodus, not out of Egypt, but out of the world; from all the nations where the Lord dispersed them. Then they will know that he alone is the God who saves. He will give them a new heart and a new spirit so they will carry his law in their hearts faithfully. In this new covenant they will find the same hope offered to their brethren, the firstfruits of salvation. This is a hope that leads to life eternal for those willing to surrender to the obedience of faith and the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

Not only will there be an exodus for the descendants of Israel from the world, but there will also come an exodus from the grave (Isaiah 26:1,16-19; Ezekiel 37:11-14). These too will be confronted with the righteous judgment of Christ and be given the opportunity to enter into a new covenant with him; a new covenant which leads to life eternal.

Final Judgment for the Nations

God’s judgment upon the nations, which occurs at the return of our Lord with his appearance in the heavens, comes in two forms. First there is the wrath of God which serves to punish the wicked and disobedient. This includes especially those nations to whom he dispersed Israel and Judah, because the nations treated them with cruelty and shame. To each of these nations God has prepared humiliation and destruction as payment for their pride and arrogance, but this doesn’t mark their final end. (Ezekiel 36;1-7; 35)

Yet through all God’s wrath a call to repentance is echoed around the world as his angelic servants watch continually for the repentance of the proud. This call to repentance, which began in the seven churches(6) and continues through to the fifth bowl of God’s wrath, reveals an underlying purpose behind his wrath; to lead the proud and wicked to repentance, but they would not relent. (Revelation 9:20-21; 14:6-13; 16:10-11)

In the final battle of the nations against our Lord’s army their fate is certain – death (Revelation 19:17-21). Though the Beast and the False Prophet, who are possessed by the spirit of evil (Revelation 16:13-14), are cast into the lake of fire, their army is destroyed and the birds are gorged on their flesh.

The Resurrection to Judgment

Yet even for them death is not the end. For it is given for all men to die once and then the resurrection to judgment – Christ’s righteous judgment (Hebrews 9:27). In the final days of our Lord’s reign on earth a time of judgment is declared – the Great White Throne judgment.

Revelation 20:11-13
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.

Let’s review the nature of this final judgment. Recall that Christ’s goal is to harvest those willing to surrender to the obedience of faith. This was the fruit of his work in Israel and Judah, as well as the fruit of his work with the Gentiles. All those now acclaimed righteous (Revelation 20:4-6) were called out of disobedience, and mercy was poured out on them (Romans 11:32). They were unique only in that they were the firstfruits of salvation, but being the first implies there are others to follow. In what way would Christ’s righteous judgment for those now resurrected differ from the judgment extended to disobedient Israel and Judah?

  • The great white throne of God is the seat from which all judgement is ultimately administered.
  • The dead, small and great in stature, are raised from the sea, the grave, from death – and stand before the throne.
  • These resurrected dead are judged by the books that were opened. Other scriptures clearly indicate these are the books of the gospel by which men are judged(7).
  • The outcome of this judgment is to determine who’s name is to be written in the book of life and those who will choose life in the covenant with Christ.
  • Those rejecting Christ and his gospel will not find their names in the book of life and will ultimately be destroyed in the lake of fire. The final judgment of the law of sin and death is the second death.

Those in this latter resurrection are obviously resurrected to flesh and blood since the lake of fire consumes them and they die a death from which there is no hope of a future resurrection. If they were resurrected with a spirit body, like the righteous as some suppose, the second death would have no power over them (vs 4-6).

When all is said and done what is God left with? Those who’ve chosen life over death are given life – everlasting life. Those who’ve chosen death over a life in Christ are destroyed in death – the only penalty for their sin (Ezekiel 18:4,20; Romans 6:22-23), but a second and final death which is permanent and everlasting. Lastly, even death and the grave are cast into the lake of fire – signifying there is no further purpose to either of them (vs 15).

Conclusions

When viewed from a larger context, the covenant which started with Abraham does in fact blossom into a blessing for the nations. Israel and his descendants were called into a covenant which was not intended for them alone. The Messiah, whom they failed to recognize, killed, and rejected, was the very source of God’s reconciliation for the world. Rather than being the only people called into reconciliation with God, Israel and his chosen descendants were just the first. However, only a faithful remnant in Israel and Judah would respond to the truth in Christ. To make them jealous, grace would also be offered to the Gentiles that they too might glorify Christ in the appointed time.

The tribulation experienced by Israel and Judah as a whole was a result of God’s judgment upon them for their idolatry and unfaithfulness, but it wasn’t to be their final state. Christ died for their disobedience just as he died for ours. God would ultimately lead them through correction and even death to reveal himself as their only source of life. This would include a new covenant in Yeshua, the Christ. In a relationship with Christ, they can now grow in his righteousness through faith just as we have. Though they won’t have a part in the first resurrection, the result of Christ’s righteous judgment will still lead them to eternal life.

If we look deep enough, we can see the same pattern of redemption for disobedient Israel being applied to the disobedient nations as well. Whether dead or alive, all will be judged by Christ’s righteous judgment. For those willing to surrender to the obedience of faith, they can hope for a future glory in the kingdom of God. For those unwilling to surrender to the truth and obedience to Christ, their fate is death. As God’s command to Adam promised – in dying you shall surely die. Their death will be a final death from which there is no hope of resurrection.

After all God’s enemies have bowed down to the Son of Man, then, and only then, does the son hand the glorified kingdom over to the Father. What is spoken of in Revelation 21 is then fulfilled – And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”


There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

To discover more about the plans Christ has for his body of believers, for the descendants of Israel and Judah, and for the world, read my recent book –

The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View


Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does. (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. The work of Jesus Christ and the will of God unites the faithful of the first covenant with the faithful of the new covenant. (Ephesians 2; 3; Romans 5; 8; 9; 10; 11)
  3. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  4. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity.
    • A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    • Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    • All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  5. The divinity and supremacy of the Son of God – the creator and finisher of all things. He alone is given authority to judge in righteousness according to the will of God (Fourth Gospel 1:1-5; Psalm 96:10-13; Isaiah 11:1-5; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:5-11; Revelation 5; 19:11-16)
  6. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death. The death spoken of in God’s command to Adam – in dying you shall surely die does not refer to spiritual death, but the second death – which results in separation from God and from which there is no hope of resurrection. (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:16-21; 5:24; 6:40; 17:1-3; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6)

Footnotes:

  1. Meriam Webster defines eschatological as: a) concerned with the final events in the history of humanity, b) beliefs concerning death, the end of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humanity.
  2. For an in-depth and thorough discussion of the tribulation, its timing, and its relationship to Israel, Judah, Gentile believers, and even the world, see my recent book: The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View.
  3. See the articles in this series; Part-1 and Part-3 for details.
  4. When I refer to Israel, like the authors of Scripture, I’m referring to the descendants of Jacob (renamed Israel). This does not fit the description of the modern nation of Israel, which consists of people from many assorted nationalities. In the near future, God will call to himself, for a specific purpose, descendants from all twelve tribes as part of his kingdom-building process (Romans 9:4-5; 11; Revelation 7:4-8).
  5. The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View, Gerard Majella (2021), Chapter 4 – Does the Time of Jacob’s Trouble Span the Great Tribulation and God’s Wrath?
  6. The subject of continued repentance is raised eight times within these seven church judgments (Revelation 2; 3).
  7. The dead are judged by those things written in the books. These are the very books by which all who are to dwell in Christ are judged – the gospel, the scriptures, the word of God (Fourth Gospel 12:48; Romans 2:16).

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Tribulation and Israel’s Expectation – Part 3

This article is the third in a series that looks at Israel’s expectation for the tribulation and the end of their exile as outlined in the introductory article. Recall that these expectations are derived from writings by Jewish scribes and commentators during the Late Second Temple period.

In this article, we’ll look at number seven of the fourteen expectations(1) with the understanding that they are derived from a period prior to and including the time when Jesus of Nazareth was delivering his gospel of the kingdom of God.

  • The tribulation has two stages: 1) the preliminary stage, and 2) the Great Tribulation.

Although we as Christians can relate to the idea of these two periods of varying tribulation, we must set aside our understanding and expectations so that we can attempt to see it from the perspective of Jews of this period. Their understanding of scripture, and their definition of tribulation is going to be applied from a considerably different supposition than that prophesied by Christ, and later by some of his apostles.

Here’s another consideration that complicates viewing tribulation from the perspective of the Jews of that day. Generally, the definition of tribulation would involve the suffering of the righteous at the hands of the unrighteous. Though Jews of this period clearly recognized they were under exile, having been under the oppression of numerous kingdoms; the Babylonians, the Persians, and now to be under the oppression of the Romans, they would consider themselves the righteous. This was apparent by their treatment of the Messiah upon his advent. They were blind to their own sin, and though repeatedly corrected by the Son of the God they claimed to worship, they refused to recognize their error.

The importance this plays in our effort to view tribulation from their perspective, is that they wouldn’t be considered the righteous in this case. The very fact of their exile indicates a time of correction for Israel and Judah. If they failed to see their own sin and idolatry, then they wouldn’t properly understand the tribulation they were seeing within the Old Testament scriptures, and how it applies to them; not tribulation due to their righteousness, but tribulation as a means to correct and humble them. Yet when we look carefully, we’ll see that God will even use their correction for their benefit and the benefit of others.

A View from Reality

Since I don’t have the benefit of Pitre’s book or all the references from which he derived these fourteen expectations, I’m going to look at these expectations from the perspective of what scripture shows to be the reality, rather than from what was the perceived reality. This is appropriate, since my goal is to first understand God’s perspective in a matter, then use that as the basis for understanding Israel and Judah’s perspective.

Let’s begin my noting some overall observations made by the apostle Paul concerning Israel. Keep in mind that Paul had the benefit of direct revelation from the Spirit of Christ. It is this special revelation, through God’s Spirit, that enabled him to connect the OT scriptures with the current work of God in Christ our Lord; something Paul often refers to as the mystery of God. One thing that Paul and the Jewish scribes of the Late Second Temple Period would have agreed upon is what the Messiah meant for the salvation of their people. Where their understanding will differ, as we’ll see, is how that salvation is to come about.

For an introduction to the Mystery of God and what it means for the faithful, the descendants of Israel, and even for the nations,
Discover more.

  • Isaiah observed that although the children of Israel numbered like the sands of the sea, only a remnant would remain when the Messiah comes (Romans 9:27-29; 11:2b-7; Isaiah 1:1-20).
  • The descendants of Judah will stumble over the very Messiah they seek (Romans 9:31-33; Isaiah 8:13-15).
  • A partial hardening has come upon Israel with the advent of the Messiah to open the way for the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled (Romans 11:7-10,25; Deuteronomy 32:15-22).

Only a Remnant will Remain

First of all, Isaiah understood well the circumstances that brought Judah and Jerusalem to this point in their history. He also understands the part this will play in their future.

Isaiah 1:1-17

  • They are a rebellious people
  • Israel doesn’t know the God who formed them
  • They are laden with iniquity, the offspring of evil-doers
  • They have forsaken and despised the Holy One of Israel, and are therefore estranged from him
  • They are unsound from foot to head
  • Foreigners devour your desolate land, your cities burned with fire
  • You are likened to the rulers of Sodom and the people of Gomorrah!
  • If the Lord of Hosts had not left you survivors, you should have been like Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • Your filthy religion is a detestable thing

God does not leave them in a state of condemnation, but in his faithfulness, makes the way for them to repent and return to him.

Isaiah 1:18-20
18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you shall eat the good of the land;
20 but if you refuse and rebel,
    you shall be eaten by the sword;
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

The apostle Paul’s assessment of their condition pulls from Israel and Judah’s past and the indictment brought upon them by prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others. An indictment that continues even to Paul’s day and beyond.

In Roman 9 – 11, Paul shows the relationship between the work our Lord was doing in Israel then and the work he continues to do, an inclusive work; calling some, a remnant, from Israel to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles (Greeks).

The remnant that remains are similar to the remnant who returned from the captivity of which Isaiah spoke, and were later called to rebuild the physical city and the temple (Isaiah 45:1-13). A new remnant, who walk in the Spirit of Yeshua the Christ, are born of the same faith, but are called to take part in building a better temple and an everlasting kingdom, not made with human hands.

Romans 11:5-7
5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,

Now Paul contrasts these two groups throughout Romans 9 – 11:

  • The faithful and the unfaithful
  • Those broken off and those who remain attached to the root, or are grafted in
  • Those formed as vessels of honor and those formed for dishonorable use

Yet in all this, both the honorable and dishonorable are formed to make known the riches of God’s glory, not only to show his mercy upon the vessels of honor (Romans 9:23-24), but to show his mercy to all (Romans 11:32).

The Obstinate Stumble

Though the disobedient and unfaithful in Israel would desire that the Messiah come and save them from the nations that have oppressed them, they are blind to the sin and idolatry that is the real source of their oppression (Isaiah 8:19-22; 9:8-17).

Although a Messiah is promised, a Wonderful Counselor and a Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:2-7), he will only be thus for the faithful, those with eyes to see and ears to hear. To the rest he will be a rock of offense and a stone of stumbling (Isaiah 8:13-15).

Romans 9:30-33
30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Paul, like the God he serves, remains faithful regarding those without faith; my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved (Romans 10:1). Yet Paul clearly understands the reason for their stumbling and the distress they experience.

Romans 10:2-4
2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Paul understands that Israel is without excuse. Not only did they have the general revelation available to all (Romans 1:19-21), but they received special revelation about God through Moses and the prophets.

Romans 10:19But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

Moses, even then, makes it clear the character of these people called out and chosen by God.

Deuteronomy 32:15-22
15 “But Jeshurun (Israel, the beloved one) grew fat, and kicked;
    you grew fat, stout, and sleek;
then he forsook God who made him
    and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.
16 They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods;
    with abominations they provoked him to anger.
17 They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
    to gods they had never known,
to new gods that had come recently,
    whom your fathers had never dreaded.
18 You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you,
    and you forgot the God who gave you birth.

19 “The Lord saw it and spurned them,
    because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters.
20 And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them;
    I will see what their end will be,
for they are a perverse generation,
    children in whom is no faithfulness.
21 They have made me jealous with what is no god;
    they have provoked me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;
    I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
22 For a fire is kindled by my anger,
    and it burns to the depths of Sheol,
devours the earth and its increase,
    and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

Is the vengeance of the Lord the final fate for the unfaithful in Israel, or will his mercy and grace exceed their sin and disobedience (Deuteronomy 32:36-39)?

Unfaithful are Hardened

Paul seems to understand God’s perspective regarding his chosen people Israel – all day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people! (Romans 10:21) Paul also understands that this is according to God’s will and purpose, and especially his timing, by which his work is done in Israel. It does not depend on human will or exertion.

Romans 9:15-18
15 For he (God) says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

So God hardens some, the disobedient; those seeking their own righteousness apart from the righteousness of God (Romans 10:1-4). If we look back at Deuteronomy 32, we can see an underlying purpose for the hardening of Israel and how it relates to the Gentiles.

Deuteronomy 32:16,19-21
16 They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods;
    with abominations they provoked him to anger.
19 “The Lord saw it and spurned them,
    because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters.
20 And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them;
    I will see what their end will be,
for they are a perverse generation,
    children in whom is no faithfulness.
21 They have made me jealous with what is no god;
    they have provoked me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;
    I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.

God would respond to them similarly to how they treated him. They made him jealous by going after other gods who were not God. He in turn will go after a people who were not a people. He had originally chosen the descendants of Jacob (Israel) to be a kingdom of priests to the nations (Exodus 19:1-6), but since the vast majority of them chose other gods to trust, God would call people from the nations who did not know him (Isaiah 65:1).

Paul then fills in the gaps in Romans 11 as to how this temporary rejection of Israel works to the inclusion of all.

Romans 11:7-10
7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,
   “God gave them a spirit of stupor,
   eyes that would not see
   and ears that would not hear,
   down to this very day.”

9 And David says,
    “Let their table become a snare and a trap,
    a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
    and bend their backs forever.”

Yet in spite of all Israel and Judah’s rejection of God and his Christ, God will remember them. Not according to their many sins, but for his name’s sake does he lead the unfaithful to salvation, just as he leads the faithful to salvation. (Psalm 23:1-4; 25:11-14; Isaiah 48:1-11; Ezekiel 20:33-44)

We should not miss that both the righteous and the unrighteous come to him, though through different paths, through disobedience and tribulation. In this way, not only is all Israel saved (Romans 11:25-27), but all the world is saved.

Romans 11:28-31
28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.

Unless we understand the dual application of tribulation, we cannot fully understand the complete work of God in Christ; the tribulation of the righteous confirms their faithfulness, while the tribulation of the unrighteous ultimately leads those who are willing to repent into righteousness as well (Romans 11:12,15,19-24).

Romans 11:32 – For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

Until the Time of the Gentiles is Fulfilled

Now Paul makes it clear that this temporary rejection of disobedient Israel, those cut off due to unbelief, continues until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. It is at that time when the exile and their tribulation will end. We can get a sense of that timing from Christ’s very own prophecy regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). The Seventy Weeks prophecy of Daniel, referenced by Christ, showed the destruction of their temple(2), which became obsolete after the Lamb of God became the way, the truth, and the source of life eternal. This work in Yeshua, the Christ, is what God promised to all through Abraham.

To get the time frame for how long the exile for Judah (and by extension Israel) continues, we must go to Luke’s account of Christ’s discourse on general tribulation and great distress. Yeshua has just described the destruction of the Herodian temple, which occurred later in A.D. 70. This “abomination of desolation” upon Jerusalem and the temple is multi-faceted in the roles it plays for the righteous and the unrighteous alike, and time prevents a deeper dive. Yet Yeshua gives us a key characteristic of this event – for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.

Recall that Paul described the exilic state of disobedient Israel was to continue until the fullness of the Gentiles is achieved. Luke goes on to describe the nature of God’s correction upon disobedient Israel and Judah specifically.

Luke 21:23b-24
For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

There are several points Christ makes about the Father’s plan for Judah (this people) that we don’t want to overlook. They involve the scope of correction for Judah and Jerusalem.

  • These are days of vengeance to fulfill all that is written
  • There will be wrath against this people
  • They will fall by the sword
  • They are led captive among all nations
  • Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by Gentiles

As we know from other prophecies concerning Israel and Judah, this period of tribulation and exile which is upon them doesn’t represent their final state. Paul, based on his understanding of the Old Testament, knows that their exile will end. We’ll discuss the end of their exile in a subsequent article. Realize now, that God, through his grace and faithfulness, will lead them through tribulation and exile for their correction, and ultimately for their salvation. It’s only at that time when they will finally acknowledge Yeshua as Christ – The Lord is our righteousness.

Jeremiah 23:5-6
5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

Jeremiah 30:8-11
8 “And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. 9 But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.

10 “Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the Lord,
     nor be dismayed, O Israel;
for behold, I will save you from far away,
     and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
     and none shall make him afraid.
11 For I am with you to save you,
     declares the Lord;
I will make a full end of all the nations
      among whom I scattered you,
      but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
      and I will by no means leave you unpunished.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Conclusions

Though I haven’t fully distinguished between the two periods of tribulation, which I will do in a subsequent article, it was important to establish the basis for why the view of tribulation for Israel and Judah, as a whole, cannot be related directly to the general expectation of tribulation by the faithful and the righteous.

The tribulation experienced by disobedient Israel and Judah has spanned the majority of their history, and according to our Lord, will continue until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. There have been varying degrees of distress upon Jerusalem and Judah since the time of Christ and the destruction of both the city and the temple. Over the last two thousand years that distress has been significant at times, and even though they’ve successfully reestablished their national statehood, they have yet to meet the fullness of God’s promises for their restoration. We’ll delve into this in more detail later as well.

Because God has promised and will certainly fulfill his faithfulness to Israel and Judah, we can rest assured that their struggles have, and will in the future, serve to lead them ultimately to the Lord their Righteousness, where he will be their God and they will be his people.


There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

To discover more about the plans Christ has for his body of believers, for the descendants of Israel and Judah, and for the world, read my recent book –

The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View


Footnotes:

  1. Dr. Michael S Heiser’s – The Naked Bible Podcast, Number 101: Jesus, the Exile, and the Tribulation   and blog post: https://nakedbiblepodcast.com/podcast/naked-bible-101-jesus-the-exile-and-the-tribulation/
  2. Desolation of the Temple and Messianic Enthronement in Daniel 11:36-12:3, Jason Thomas Perry, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 54.3 (September 2011, pages 485-526)

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Tribulation and Israel’s Expectation – Part 2

This is the second in a series of articles that discusses Israel’s expectation for the tribulation as outlined in the the introductory article. Recall that these expectations are derived from writings by Jewish scribes and commentators during the Late Second Temple period. We’ll continue to view the next two expectations(1) with the understanding that they are derived from a period prior to Jesus of Nazareth delivering his gospel of the kingdom of God, and they relate to both Israel(2) and Judah(3):

  • The righteous suffer and/or die during the tribulation. This sometimes includes the suffering and/or death of a messianic figure.
  • The tribulation is tied to the coming of a Messiah, sometimes referred to as the “Son of Man.”

As we did in Part 1, let’s outline the expectations given in these two points:

A) A Messiah is coming and is sometimes referred to as the Son of Man
B) During the tribulation, the righteous experience suffering and death
C) Included in this suffering and death is a messianic figure

A Messiah is coming . . .

The expectation of a Messiah arising from among those living in Judea, before and after the time of Christ, was alive and well. Well known among them were the prophesies that established this expectation, especially those of Daniel’s Seventy-Weeks prophecy which set the timing for the arrival of an anointed one, a prince (Daniel 9:24-27)(4). What we can notice from those whom Yeshua, the anointed one, encountered is the variation in their expected role of the Messiah.

  • Some saw only the restoration of the two kingdoms of Israel and the end to their exile (Isaiah 45:14-17,25; Jeremiah 30; 31:1-30)
  • Others, a righteous and faithful remnant (Romans 11:2-7), understood a broader role for the Messiah as a rock of offense and the suffering servant of God to bear the sins of many (Isaiah 8:14-15; Isaiah 53).

 Free Us from Oppression

So ingrained into the culture of the Jews of Yeshua’s day was the desire for the restoration of Israel and Judah that it often blinded them to anything else. Even the twelve, called by God and his Christ, had difficulty letting go of this expectation. Repeatedly they sought to know his plans to release God’s people from the oppression of the Romans.

In one example, Peter recognizes the identity of the Messiah as the Son of the Living God in one moment, and in the next moment shows his lack of mindfulness surrounding the role of the Son of God at that time (Matthew 16:13-17,21-23; Mark 8:27-30,31-33). Again when the disciples were boasting about the glory of the temple in Jerusalem, and Yeshua responds by suggesting its future destruction (Matthew 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6), there was no lack of questions about the timing and indicators of this event.

One of the indicators Christ gave to them was the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel (Daniel 11:36-12:3). Little did they realize he was speaking of an event to occur in their own lifetime, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. By the Romans. This and many other things were to occur before the restoration of Israel could take place.

Yet even after Christ’s death and resurrection, they could not let go of this expectation for Israel’s restoration and the end of the exile. When the eleven were assembled with Christ just prior to his public ascension, they are still focused on this expectation; wanting the Messiah to remain and setup his kingdom (Acts 1:6-7). In spite of all they’ve seen and heard from the Messiah, they’re unable to let go of this expectation.

It wasn’t until after the apostles received God’s Holy Spirit did the mystery of God in Christ become clearer, and they finally bridged their expectations for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. Now they were partakers of an everlasting kingdom, which, when finally established, would extend beyond the borders of Israel, beyond the limits of earth, into the farthest reaches of the heavens, and to the very throne of God Almighty (Revelation 21:1-4).

For an introduction to the Mystery of God and what it means for the faithful, the descendants of Israel, and even for the nations,
Discover more.

 Recognize the Suffering Servant

When we examine Christ’s interactions with his other disciples, like Lazarus and his sisters, we can see they are operating from a deeper knowledge, understanding, and especially a deeper faith than many of those around them, even the twelve. As part of the faithful remnant of Israel, which Paul speaks about later in Romans 9 and 11, they’ve attained through faith what others in Israel have not. This is one of the reasons that I can see why Yeshua might express love and affinity for them; their faithfulness.

Lazarus, and by extension his sisters, since they would have been trained by their brother or another man in their lives, understood the very thing which the High Priest Caiaphas unknowingly prophesied; that one should die for Israel.

Fourth Gospel(5) 11:47-52
47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

In this case, Caiaphas was prophesying in their day, but where in scripture might Lazarus and his sisters understood that the Son of Man, and the Son of God, might suffer even unto death. Isaiah the prophet speaks of God’s suffering servant.

Isaiah 52:13-15
13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
    he shall be high and lifted up,
    and shall be exalted.
14 As many were astonished at you—
    his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
    and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15 so shall he sprinkle many nations.
    Kings shall shut their mouths because of him,
    for that which has not been told them they see,
    and that which they have not heard they understand.

Isaiah 53 continues with greater detail describing the will of God for his suffering servant and the role he plays in accounting righteousness to many. From this and other scriptures, Lazarus and his sisters understood that the Messiah in their midst would suffer as the servant of God for many. This understanding impacted their behavior toward him.

Fourth Gospel 12:1-3,7-8

  • At Lazarus’ house for dinner, Martha serves and Mary anoints the Lord’s head and feet with nard (spikenard) ointment. (Matthew 26:1-2,6-13; Mark 14:3,7-9)
  • This she did in preparation for his burial

As we can see, Lazarus and his sisters were among those who saw and understood this broader role for the Messiah as the suffering servant; placing the cross before the crown. What they could not have expected, but were later shown, was the resurrection to glory. This is what Lazarus realized at the tomb (Fourth Gospel 20:8-9), and the others didn’t believe until Christ appeared to them; Yeshua is the resurrection and the life, the source of eternal life and immortality. This is a key component of the mystery of God hidden in ages past, but now revealed in Yeshua, the Christ.

During the Tribulation, the Righteous Suffer

There are few who would argue that tribulation is viewed as the suffering and death of the righteous at the hands of the unrighteous. Christianity has recognized and traditionally taught that tribulation and difficulty should be the expectation for most followers of Christ. Because the world was hostile and cruel to the Son of God, it will certainly be hostile toward those who follow him (Fourth Gospel 15:18-25). This has been the experience of many Christians since Yeshua inaugurated his kingdom of firstfruits here on earth over two thousand years ago(6).

In addition, our Lord warned his faithful followers about the events that would characterize this expected tribulation, which would begin with them and increase until he returns to redeem his righteous elect out of it (Matthew 24:4-13; Mark 13:5-13; Luke 21:8-19).

  • False Christ’s come to deceive
  • War, famine, and pestilence among the nations
  • Earthquakes
  • Martyrdom of the faithful
  • Increased lawlessness, decreased love

These initial events are what Christ refers to as the beginning of birth pains. Notice that he makes it clear these events will continue until the end. That is the duration of time these birth pains are to be endured (Matthew 24:13-14; Mark 13:13).

Note also the impact these events will have personally on his followers (Matthew 24:9-12; Mark 13:9-12; Luke 21:12-19).

  • You will be delivered up and killed
  • You will be hated by all for my name’s sake
  • You will endure betrayal and hatred
  • You will be led astray from the truth by false prophets
  • The love of many will grow cold due to increased lawlessness
  • You will have an opportunity to bear witness before them, and I will give you a mouth to speak wisdom

If we step back and look at the history of Christ’s body of believers, we can see these events and their impact on the followers of Christ have occurred for millennia. Today they continue to increase, especially the lawlessness. We would also be negligent if we failed to see that similar things impacted the saints of old, those who likewise died as a result of their faithfulness and loyalty to the Lord their God. (1 Kings 19:9-18; Matthew 5:11-12; 23:29-36; Luke 13:33-35; Acts 7:51-54)

The Son of Man Suffers Tribulation

Thankfully for all those who suffer according to righteousness, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is faithful to those who trust in him, even unto death (1 Samuel 2:6-10). So faithful is he that he gave his only beloved son as a ransom for many, and to complete his workmanship in them (Ephesians 2:1-10). Yet this Son of God, Yeshua, was not ignorant of the fruit his suffering and sacrifice would bring for many, but gladly laid down his life for all that he might raise it up again as a source of hope for all.

Fourth Gospel 10:17-18
17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.

Romans 5:12,15-21
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned . . .

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In times past, God made known the fate of his suffering servant through the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 53

  • He is despised and rejected by men
  • He is a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief
  • He is pierced for our transgressions
  • He is crushed for our iniquities
  • His chastisement is the source of our peace
  • By his wounds we are healed (made whole)
  • Upon him is laid the iniquity of us all
  • He is the lamb led to the slaughter, yet opens not his mouth in defense
  • By oppression and judgment he was taken away, though he was innocent
  • Yet it was God’s will to crush him; his soul and offering for grief and to bear the iniquities of many
  • His soul is poured out to death, and numbered with the transgressors
  • Yet he bore the sin of many and intercedes for the transgressors

Though some knew of his suffering, they did not perceive the full fruit of his sacrifice – the reconciliation of the world (Fourth Gospel 3:16-17). This was hidden from them in ages past, but revealed through the mystery of God in Christ, our Redeemer (1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Ephesians 3:1-12).

Colossians 1:24-28
24 Now I (Paul) rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Conclusions

Again we can see that these expectations from the Late Second Temple period alignment well with the work Christ was engaged in. The Lamb of God foresaw tribulation and death for himself in the process of redeeming the world, and for his chosen people as they continue in the power of the Holy Spirit as the firstfruits of salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). In this work our Lord continues to turn death into glory (1 Corinthians 15:53-57; 2 Corinthians 3:7-8).


There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

To discover more about the plans Christ has for his body of believers, for Israel, and for the world, read my recent book –

The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View

Footnotes:

  1. Dr. Michael S Heiser’s – The Naked Bible Podcast, Number 101: Jesus, the Exile, and the Tribulation   and blog post: https://nakedbiblepodcast.com/podcast/naked-bible-101-jesus-the-exile-and-the-tribulation/
  2. When I refer to Israel, like the authors of Scripture, I’m referring to the descendants of Jacob (renamed Israel). This does not fit the description of the modern nation of Israel which consists of people from many assorted nationalities. In the near future, God will call to himself, for a specific purpose, descendants from all twelve tribes as part of his kingdom-building process (Romans 9:4-5; 11; Revelation 7:4-8).
  3. The modern reference to Jews is often understood to represent the entirety of the people of God, but in fact represents only one of the twelve original tribes of Israel, Judah. Even here, the reference is to a single tribe, but in the time of Christ consisted of individuals from other tribes, like Benjamin (Acts 13:21).
  4. Desolation of the Temple and Messianic Enthronement in Daniel 11:36-12:3, Jason Thomas Perry, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 54.3 (September 2011, pages 485-526)
  5. Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.
  6. Technically, the inauguration of the kingdom of God could be said to have begun with God’s covenant with Abraham, the father of the faithful. That covenant of faith has been the basis for the covenant at Sinai and the new covenant in Christ. Faith in God through Christ our Lord is the essential pillar by which the sons of God inherit the kingdom and its glory (Ephesians 2:4-10).

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Tribulation and Israel’s Expectation – Part 1

This article is the first in a discussion of the fourteen expectations outlined in the introduction. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you start there to properly grasp the context for this series of related articles. These fourteen points represent expectations of Jewish scribes and commentators during the Late Second Temple period. The important things to remember are that these expectations;

  • Predate Jesus Christ delivering his gospel of the kingdom of God, and
  • They can apply to Israel(1) and/or Judah(2).

We’ll begin by delving into the first two points noted from Pitre’s findings as enumerated by Dr. Michael Heiser(3).

  1. The tribulation is tied to the restoration of Israel and the End of the Exile.
  2. A righteous remnant arises during the tribulation.

These two points comprise three related expectations:

A) During the tribulation, a righteous remnant arises
B) The tribulation is tied to the end of the exile (for Israel and Judah)
C) The tribulation is tied to the restoration of Israel

Leading Presupposition

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll understand the importance of presuppositions and the role they play in fully understanding the author’s intent. In this series of articles I will be applying a key presupposition through which these expectations are being viewed. This presupposition – the already, but not yet aspect of Christ’s kingdom – comes from New Testament insight, but is applied in hindsight to the expectations of Late Second Temple commentators. The reason for this, as stated in the introduction, is the general blindness that existed in Israel and Judah at that time regarding the mystery of God in Christ.

Had those in Judea and Samaria known that Yeshua was coming first to inaugurate that kingdom, then later at his return, establish the promised kingdom of God on earth, they would not have expected the Messiah to remain and overthrow their Roman oppressors.

For an introduction to the Mystery of God and what it means for the faithful, the descendants of Israel, and even for the nations,
Discover more.

Already, But Not Yet

With the benefit of hindsight and the instruction of the Holy Spirit, we can see the distinction and progression of Christ’s kingdom-building work. In his Letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul outlines this progression and what needs to happen before Yeshua completes the kingdom.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26

  • To establish the firstfruits of the new creation, a kingdom of priests to rule with Christ(4).
  • To establish dominion over all the nations of the earth along with powers and dominions in heaven. Bringing into subjection all of God’s enemies. Christ’s work will ultimately bring all intelligent beings to his feet and all will recognize his Lordship. However, not all will voluntarily surrender to that Lordship(5).
  • Once completed, this earthly phase of the kingdom is transformed and handed over to God the Father(6).

That believers in Christ our Lord, whether Jew or Gentile, constitute the initial phase of that kingdom should be evident. We also recognize that God’s promise for our inheritance of that kingdom is certain and established by the gift of his Holy Spirit, even though we don’t take full possession of that kingdom until Christ returns. That is the basis for the already, but not yet theology we see in Christ’s gospel message for both Jew and Gentile alike.

To learn more about the distinctions in the three kingdoms of God, Read more.

 A Larger Scope to the Tribulation

If we now look at the three expectations noted earlier and overlay them with the already, but not yet perspective, we can begin to see a larger scope to the tribulation Israel and Judah were subject to, and clearly see the progressive work of kingdom-building God is engaged in through Yeshua, the Christ.

Keep in mind that already relates to the work God has or is achieving in Christ now as the basis for something greater. The not yet indicates the fullness of that greater work in Christ is not manifested until some point in the future.

AlreadyNot Yet
Righteous endure tribulationTo receive a crown of glory
A righteous remnant from Judah arises as recipients of a New Covenant in Yeshua, the Christ.
(Fourth Gospel(7) 14:6-7,23-24,26-27; Joel 2:28-29; Romans 11:2-7)
These are later redeemed from the earth when our Lord appears, the firstfruits of salvation.
(Joel 2:30-31; Revelation 6:12-14; 7:9-17; Luke 21:25-28; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; James 1:12,17-19)
In the latter days, a subset of all the descendants of Israel (Jacob) will be called into Christ and set apart by God.
(Revelation 7:1-8)
These too are redeemed from the earth as our Lord descends from the sky to intervene on behalf of Jerusalem.
(Revelation 14:1-5; Isaiah 31:4-6; Zechariah 9:9-17; 14:1-9)
 
This remnant has attained through faith what Israel as a whole did not. (Romans 11:2-7; 10:1-4)
Unrighteous endure correction/exileExile ends for those who repent
Those in unbelief continue in exile, their temple destroyed. These are days of vengeance until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24)
As enemies of the gospel, they continue in disobedience (Isaiah 59:1-13), awaiting the mercy of God (Romans 11:28-32).
 
Though some in Israel were cut off for a time (Romans 11:17-21), there is purpose in their rejection (Romans 11:11-15).
Though they were unfaithful to God, he will remain faithful to them for his name’s sake. Yet he will not leave them unpunished.
(Romans 11:25; Ezekiel 20:40-44; Jeremiah 30:8-11)
These remain in unbelief until called to repentance (Romans 11:11-12,15,23-24; Ezekiel 36:22-32), and all the descendants of Israel will be called to repentance (Joel 2:12-17).
 
After Christ returns, God will bring all of Israel’s and Judah’s descendants back to their own land for his name’s sake. (Psalm 14:7; 53:6; Jeremiah 3:14-18; 23:1-8)
 
All Israel will be saved (Romans 11:25-27) and offered a new covenant.
(Isaiah 59:20-12; 61:5-11; 62; Ezekiel 37:11-14,22-28)
Conclusions

From this overview, hopefully you can begin to see that these first few expectations from the Late Second Temple period are in alignment with the work God and his Christ are engaged in for his chosen people – the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel).

A) Through the work of the Lamb of God, the Root of Jesse, and the Lion of Judah, God has raised a faithful remnant loyal to the Son of God from the descendants of Israel and Judah. They, together with chosen Gentiles, are the recipients of a new covenant that forms the basis and inauguration of an everlasting kingdom(8).

B) To see the end of the exile for all Israel and Judah, we must await the return of their king in power and glory. Though they currently dwell in unbelief, God is able and will turn their unbelief into belief(9). God will bring an end to their exile and the correction they brought upon themselves, and he will pour out mercy and grace upon them as they repent from the heart.

C) After the return of Yeshua, the Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 33:15-16), all the tribes of Israel will experience a greater exodus out of the world than that which occurred out of Egypt (Jeremiah 3:14-18; 23:1-8; Ezekiel 34:11-24; 37:20-28). The Lord will bring them back to their land, the land he swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There he will enter into a new covenant with them. He will remove their heart of stone, and give them a heart of flesh. He will place his laws in them and give them his Holy Spirit to guide their lives into righteousness. They will enjoy the fruits of their land as never before, and he will be their God and they will be his people; an example to the nations.

The apostle Paul, who was led by the Holy Spirit to understand the connection between these expectations and the work of Yeshua, grasped the awesome depth and scope of the wisdom of God which will ultimately unite all the people of the world in his kingdom. When realized, we too can join Paul in his praise.

Romans 11:33-36
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.


There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

To discover more about the plans Christ has for his body of believers, for Israel, and for the world, read my recent book –

The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View

Footnotes:

  1. When I refer to Israel, like the authors of Scripture, I’m referring to the descendants of Jacob (renamed Israel). This does not fit the description of the modern nation of Israel which consists of people from many assorted nationalities. In the near future, God will call to himself, for a specific purpose, descendants from all twelve tribes as part of his kingdom-building process (Romans 9:4-5; 11; Revelation 7:4-8).
  2. The modern reference to Jews is often understood to represent the entirety of the people of God, but in fact represents only one of the twelve original tribes of Israel, Judah. Even here, the reference is to a single tribe, but in the time of Christ consisted of individuals from other tribes, like Benjamin (Acts 13:21).
  3. Dr. Michael S Heiser’s – The Naked Bible Podcast, Number 101: Jesus, the Exile, and the Tribulation   and blog post: https://nakedbiblepodcast.com/podcast/naked-bible-101-jesus-the-exile-and-the-tribulation/
  4. Peter 2:9-10; Romans 8:18-23, 29-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Hebrews 5:7-10; James 1:17-18
  5. Psalm 8; 72; Daniel 4; 7:13-14,19-27; Micah 4:1-5; Matthew 13:41-43; 24:27,30; Ephesians 6:12-13; Philippians 2:9-10; Colossians 1:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 1:7; 19:11 – 20:6; 22:12
  6. Fourth Gospel 18:36; Luke 4:42-44; 19:11-27; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Revelation 21:1-4
  7. Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.
  8. Technically, the inauguration of the kingdom of God could be said to have begun with God’s covenant with Abraham, the father of the faithful. That covenant of faith has been the basis for the covenant at Sinai and the new covenant in Christ. Faith in God through Christ our Lord is the essential pillar by which the sons of God inherit the kingdom and its glory.
  9. The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View, Gerard Majella (2021), chapter 6 (pg-114), What Christ’s Arrival Means for Israel – For Israel and those in Jerusalem the arrival of the Savior of the world is the signal of their pending restoration; the Root of Jesse, the Lion of Judah (Isaiah 11:10-12; 49:22-23; Revelation 5:5). The Lord has waited to be gracious to Israel, a rebellious people. Yet he will repay their disobedience with mercy. This is the justice and righteous judgment of God (Isaiah 30:18-19; Romans 11:32-34).

    Isaiah 30:18-22
    • The Lord gave you adversity and affliction so as to not leave you unpunished (Jeremiah 30:8-11)
    • But now your Teacher stands before you
    • You will repent and cast your foolish idols away

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The Scope of the Tribulation – An Introduction

When considering the scope of the tribulation of the latter days, there are many directions one can take as to how to approach it. There are the aspects of timing as it relates to the return of our Lord, the various people-groups and how they are affected by it, or the goals and purposes it serves as part of God’s will in achieving redemption for all humanity through Christ our Lord. Each of these I’ve covered in some detail in my book The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View.

In the next series of articles I’d like to take a different approach which broadens the perspective and focus from that of a mostly New Testament expectation, and work from that of an Old Testament one as well, one developed from the writings of Jewish scholars during the inter-testament period. This would only be useful if their perspective in that period, which includes the time of Christ and the Jewish disciples he called, impacted the expectation of these participants regarding the fulfillment of God’s covenant to bring an end to their exile as a people.

In order to review these expectations, it will be necessary to combine several sources. The first source of these writings comes from the work of a modern author, Brant Pitre, in his book entitled Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile(1). Here Pitre provides a detailed overview which shows a relationship between the expectation of an eschatological tribulation in Late Second Temple Judaism, its part in early Jewish eschatology, and its connection to the events surrounding Jesus of Nazareth(2).

However, at the current time Pitre’s book is out of print, so I will have to rely on a review of these expectations by Dr. Michael S. Heiser from his podcast – The Naked Bible Podcast, Number 101(3). In it, Dr. Heiser points out that what Pitre’s work does is to bring out the relevance of Second Temple literature to the subject of an eschatological tribulation. What Heiser concludes is that New Testament authors were aligned with the Jewish eschatology of their day. He derives this conclusion, in part, from the list that Pitre finds in his research. This list will be the basis for future articles as we delve into their direct relationship to the work and gospel of Jesus Christ.

  1. The tribulation is tied to the restoration of Israel and the End of the Exile.
  2. A righteous remnant arises during the tribulation.
  3. The righteous suffer and/or die during the tribulation. This sometimes includes the suffering and/or death of a messianic figure.
  4. The tribulation is tied to the coming of a Messiah, sometimes referred to as the “Son of Man.”
  5. The tribulation precedes the final judgment.
  6. The tribulation is depicted as the eschatological climax of Israel’s exilic sufferings, often through the imagery of the Deuteronomic covenant curses.
  7. The tribulation has two stages: (1) the preliminary stage, and (2) the Great Tribulation.
  8. The tribulation precedes the coming of an eschatological kingdom.
  9. An eschatological tyrant, opponent, or anti-Messiah arises during the tribulation.
  10. Typological images from the Old Testament are used to depict the tribulation.
  11. The tribulation is tied to the ingathering and/or conversion of the Gentiles.
  12. The tribulation has some kind of atoning or redemptive function.
  13. The Jerusalem Temple is defiled and/or destroyed during the tribulation.
  14. The tribulation precedes the resurrection of the dead and/or a new creation.

What’s important to keep in mind is that these expectations predate Jesus Christ’s gospel of the kingdom of God.

One Appearance or Two?

Before delving into a description of the inter-testament expectations for tribulation, we must first add a New Testament perspective that guides our thinking. Normally this practice would be frowned upon, but in this case it’s necessary in order to add clarity to the very thing Christ’s disciples were confused about; their expectation for the restoration of Israel and their homeland.

Repeatedly, Christ’s disciples, and those who heard their message, revealed their expectation that the Messiah was to remain, free his people from their current oppression and reestablish their national prominence. That expectation came from the scriptures, the Old Testament, and these Late Second Temple commentaries. It’s one reason they had difficulty accepting Christ’s revelations about his pending death and resurrection. It’s as though God’s work in Christ, through his death and resurrection, and the focus of his initial incarnation in the world, was hidden from them – a mystery.

In fact, the mystery of God in Christ is the primary reason for the confusion his Israelite and Jewish disciples experienced. With the purpose for their Messiah’s initial revelation hidden from them, their expectation leaned toward those activities God intended for his second appearance to the world; his appearance in power and glory, and the Day of the Lord. For some, like Judas, or the Jewish leaders of the time, that clash of expectations was tragic.

Interested in the scope, origin, purpose, and fulfillment of the Mystery of God? Discover more.

All of Christ’s disciples had to work through their incomplete expectations as Christ slowly revealed the mystery to them. This is at the root of the story we see being worked out in the four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The credit to them is that the majority of them got it. They made the transition from looking at their lives and the world around them through their learned expectations, and grew to see it all through God’s work in Yeshua, the Christ.

As we’ll see, when the work of God in Christ goes out to the Gentiles they do not respond with the level of hesitancy expressed by many in Judea, but with great anticipation and praise. One primary reason for this is that they are not hindered by presuppositions and well-established expectations. As they’re called by God, their minds are free to accept our Lord based on his deeds and actions, his words of life, and his gift of the Holy Spirit. To them, the gospel of the kingdom of God was a glorious answer to a question that left their lives incomplete and without hope. Many responded with praise and thanksgiving then, and continue to respond in the same way today.

The work of God in Christ was, is, and will continue to be the hope which satisfies our hearts, our minds, and our mortal lives, as people are called and led into the obedience of faith in Christ our Lord.


There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

To discover more about the plans Christ has for his body of believers, for Israel, and for the world, read my recent book –

The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View

Footnotes:

  1. Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile: Restoration Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement, Brant Pitre, First published December 30, 2005 by Mohr Siebeck. Later edition published on March 1, 2006 by Baker Academic. Future digital version available here: https://verbum.com/product/206799/jesus-the-tribulation-and-the-end-of-the-exile-restoration-eschatology-and-the-origin-of-the-atonement
  2. Ben Pascut’s book review blog: https://dtsbookcenter.wordpress.com/2008/05/23/jesus-the-tribulation-and-the-end-of-the-exile/
  3. Dr. Michael S Heiser’s – The Naked Bible Podcast, Number 101: Jesus, the Exile, and the Tribulation   and blog post: https://nakedbiblepodcast.com/podcast/naked-bible-101-jesus-the-exile-and-the-tribulation/

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What’s the purpose in Christ revealing himself to the world?

Part of the answer lies within the question itself; to reveal to the world the Son of God whom they’ve rejected or have not seen. Yet it goes deeper than that. Aside from the obvious purpose to redeem his saints, the firstfruits of salvation, Christ also comes to seal (mark) a faithful remnant from the descendants of Israel, the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation 7. That leaves two large groups of people who are not expecting his appearance that Christ comes to confront:

  • The disobedient of Israel and Judah who’ve been cut off from the root of the olive tree which is Christ our Lord (Romans 11)
  • The disobedient Gentile nations

To get a general glimpse of this purpose, we can enumerate some of the many scriptures that focus on Christ’s return. In this case we’ll note those scriptures that impact these two groups.

ScriptureParaphraseImpacts
Daniel 2:44-45Establish an everlasting kingdom.Humanity
Daniel 7:9-14Establish his kingdom upon the earth . . . an everlasting dominion which shall never pass away.Humanity
Zechariah 14:1-15Usher in the “Day of the Lord” to fight against those gathered against Jerusalem and IsraelJerusalem, Israel
Isaiah 31:4-9The Lord comes down to fight for mount Zion, to deliver, rescue, and help in JerusalemIsrael, Jerusalem
Matthew 13:41-43The final judgement upon the worldHumanity
Matthew 24:27,29-30To reveal himself to the world, who will see him coming in great power and glory.Humanity
Jude 1:14-15Come with tens of thousands of his saints to execute judgment and to punish all who are ungodly.Humanity
Revelation 1:7Come and reveal himself to all, even those who pierced him, and all nations of the earth shall mourn over him.Humanity
Revelation 19:11-21He returns on a white horse in righteousness
He judges and makes war
To smite the nations and rule with a rod of iron
To execute the wrath of Almighty God
Humanity
Revelation 22:12Coming to repay each according to his workHumanity
Christ’s Goals at his Return for Israel, Jerusalem, and the World

Clearly these are not in any particular order, and represent some of the things Christ will accomplish upon his return. Let’s start with the most relevant to the question.

Matthew 24:27,29-30
27 “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

So significant is the visual appearance of our Lord, that preceding it is a great earthquake which will darken the skies, the sun, and the moon, and shake the earth like a fig tree shaken by a gale-force wind (Revelation 6:12-14). With the backdrop of the heavens darkened, the glorious appearance of our Lord, brighter than lightening, appears for all the world to see.

For those who’ve been looking for their Lord’s return, this is the fulfillment of their hope for glory; the glory of their Lord displayed, and the glory which he brings for them (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; Colossians 3:4; 1 Peter 1:3-9). But is the glory of our Lord intended only for these firstfruits of salvation? What of the rest of humanity, the two groups remaining? We’re probably certain from our expectations of judgment upon the disobedient and wicked, what the Lord intends for the world. But is that viewpoint a complete one? Not if we consider a broader context.

In Christ’s prayer to the Father before his death, he speaks of the unity for those God has called to himself, to see and receive the Son of Man as the Son of God. Yet in that prayer, deeply immersed in the will of the Father, is another realization often overlooked. (Fourth Gospel 17)(1)

Fourth Gospel 17:20-26
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

In this prayer of our High Priest a contrast is drawn between those whom God has called to know him and the world which doesn’t know him. Those called by God to know him are called into a unity with Christ that ultimately leads them to dwell in the fullness of Christ and his glory through the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:16-19,42-50).

If we read more intently, we can see that these firstfruits of salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13) are not the only intended recipients for the knowledge of who and what God is in Christ. The firstfruits of salvation are simply the first example of this reality. We’re told who the secondary recipients of this knowledge will be:

  • so that the world may believe that you have sent me (vs 21)
  • so that the world may know that you sent me (vs 23)
  • and that you did love them, the chosen, just as you loved me (vs 23)

Clearly the destruction of the disobedient and wicked brought through God’s wrath is not the primary goal, but the revelation of God in Christ is. Christ’s judgment of the nations begins when he establishes his kingdom on the earth, a kingdom with no end. The disobedient and wicked in the world must come to realize that Christ’s righteous judgment, which leads to life eternal, is only true for those willing to surrender to God’s will and Christ’s Lordship personally. For many, that realization will only come on the other side of death, when they are resurrected to mortal life and confronted with Christ’s righteous judgment. This is when the books are opened. (Micah 4:1-5; Romans 5:18-21; 8:32; 16:25-27; Revelation 20:11-13)

God’s Plan for Israel

The plans God has for Israel as a people are extensive, so we won’t go into much depth in this article, but we can focus on a few highlights. The primary focus, however, is God’s intention to fulfill his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s descendants in spite of their unfaithfulness. He remains faithful even though they did not. This is one of the methods God will use to reveal the truth about himself, so that they too will know who alone is the Lord.

 A Time of Correction 

To get an understanding of where that plan is at now and how the appearance of Yeshua, the Christ, relates to it, we can start with Luke’s account of Christ’s warning to the rulers and authorities in Jerusalem of their pending fate. Their rejection of the Messiah sealed their fate for millennia to come. In addition, Yeshua was well aware of the change he was bringing to the nature of Godly worship (Fourth Gospel 4:21-26), and how the physical forms of worship were insufficient to the spiritual result God intended. The pending destruction of the temple in A.D.70, proclaimed by their Messiah (Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6), is just the beginning.

Luke  21:20-24
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

There are several points Christ makes about his plans for Judah (this people) that we don’t want to overlook. They involve the scope of correction for Judah and Jerusalem, and when that correction comes to an end.

  • These are days of vengeance to fulfill all that is written
  • Wrath against this people
  • They will fall by the sword
  • They are led captive among all the nations
  • Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles

Note the important range of time that Christ gives for this correction; from the time the temple is destroyed until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Though a remnant of Israel and Judah have been called into Christ, the majority remain, what the apostle Paul calls, enemies of the gospel due to unbelief (Romans 11:17-24,28).

To discover more about the plans Christ has for Israel, when the times of the Gentiles ends, and its relationship to the mystery of God, read my recent book –
The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View

Paul also clarifies that Israel as a whole, if it does not remain in this state of unbelief, can be grafted again into the olive tree that is rooted in Christ our Lord (Romans 11:11-12,15,23-24). This understanding comes from the promises made to them as God’s chosen people. Promises which God intends to fulfill in spite of their disobedience.

To Lead Israel & Judah to Repentance

Israel and Judah’s disobedience became the means by which God would open the pathway to righteousness through faith in Christ to the Gentiles. That serves to unite the two through their disobedience (Romans 9:30-33; 11:28-31). More importantly it will unite them together in God’s grace – For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all (Romans 11:32).

To lead disobedient Israel and Judah into repentance, there are a couple of realizations they will need to come to see, and the Lord will lead them to see it:

  • Your idols cannot save you (Jeremiah 2:26-28; 10:11)
  • Your salvation is in the Lord your Righteousness

For the religious leaders in Jerusalem and Judea of Christ’s day, their own oral tradition had become an idol, leading them further from the truth of God, preventing them from embracing the Messiah sent to them (Matthew 5:20-38; 21:23-27,42-46; Fourth Gospel 5:18,37-47).

Even before their time, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah of a future time when they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, but only after they’ve been disciplined.

Jeremiah 30:8-11
8 “And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. 9 But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.

10 “Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the Lord,
    nor be dismayed, O Israel;
for behold, I will save you from far away,
    and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
    and none shall make him afraid.
11 For I am with you to save you,
declares the Lord;
I will make a full end of all the nations
    among whom I scattered you,
    but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
    and I will by no means leave you unpunished.

Yet the Lord intends good for them after they’ve recognized their sin, and he will make them prosperous again in their own land.

Jeremiah 23:5-6 (Jeremiah 33:14-16)
5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

This will lead to the return of dispersed Israel and Judah to their own land from the many nations where the Lord has driven them; a greater exodus than that from Egypt.

Jeremiah 23:7-8 (Jeremiah 30:3; 32:37-38)
7 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 8 but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”

To Give Israel & Judah a New Heart 

There is a time yet future when the Lord will be the God of all the clans of Israel and Judah, and all their cities shall dwell together in peace. The Lord will watch over them to no longer pluck up and break down, but to build and to plant (Jeremiah 31:1-30).

Yet the blessing of the Lord will not stop there, for he intends to go beyond the covenant he made with their forefathers, and make with them a covenant which leads to eternal life in Christ, their Messiah.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Israel and Judah will no longer endure the shame of the nations because the Lord will turn their shame into honor and glory (Joel 2:18-27), and they will be an example to the nations at a time when the Lord our Righteousness rules (Isaiah 49:22-23; 66:18-23; Joel 3:17-21).

God’s Plan for the Nations

In an effort to redeem his name among the nations, God repaid Israel and Judah with wrath (Ezekiel 20:33-39; Luke 21:22-24), but in the end he will have mercy on them (Ezekiel 20:40-44). Ezekiel goes so far as to record repeatedly the connection between God’s redemption of Israel and the restoration of his name among the nations.

Ezekiel 36:22-28
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

In cleansing Israel from her ungodliness and restoring her amidst his favor, God will demonstrate to the nations the faithfulness of his covenants, not only with Israel, but with all humanity. It seems a reasonable question to inquire as to why God is concerned about his name among the nations if his final judgment upon them is destruction?

Ezekiel 39:21-24
21 “And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. 22 The house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day forward. 23 And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt so treacherously with me that I hid my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword24 I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions, and hid my face from them.

If we recall from our Lord’s prayer prior to his death (Fourth Gospel 17), he was reflecting God’s will when he claimed who the secondary recipients of the knowledge of the Father would be:

  • so that the world may believe that you have sent me (vs 21)
  • so that the world may know that you sent me (vs 23)
  • and that you did love them, the chosen, just as you loved me (vs 23)

By showing his willingness to correct his disobedient, chosen people, God also confirms his faithfulness in forgiving their sin when they acknowledge it, and more than that he will pour out mercy and grace with abundance in this life, and hope for their future. It doesn’t take a converted heart to recognize the example God is setting for the nations in his treatment of Israel (Ezekiel 36:21-28,33-36; Isaiah 62). It’s a necessary process as his son, Yeshua, leads the world into the truth and knowledge of God (Fourth Gospel 17:6-26).

Ezekiel 37:24-28
24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

To achieve this feat of leading the nations to obedience to God, Yeshua will repeat a similar process with them that he has with Israel:

  • To correct the nations by avenging the blood of the saints and the oppression of Israel
    (Isaiah 14:1-11,22-23,24-27; Isaiah 34)
  • To break the pride of the nations and lead them toward repentance
    (Psalm 9:11-20; Isaiah 2; 13:9-22; 24; Jeremiah 25:15-38)
  • Make the Son of God known in all the earth
    (Psalm 67; 110; Isaiah 41; 42:1-9; 52:13-15)
  • Redeem the earth and his people
    (Isaiah 25; 42; 45:18-25; 49:6; Jeremiah 3:17-18)

All this God will accomplished when the Lord rules upon the earth (Psalm 22:27-31; 46:6-10; 47; 96; 98; 102:12-22).

Conclusions

The work of God in Christ was first to redeem all humanity through his death and resurrection. The work that remains isn’t one of judgment for the sake of vengeance, but for the completion of the kingdom to be handed over by Christ to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:20-26). Sin has been resolved, so that when our Lord returns it will be to complete his work to lead Israel and the nations into obedience to God. This involves humbling those who would oppose God, yet always providing the opportunity for repentance (Revelation 2; 3; 8; 9; 14)

Romans 16:25-27
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.



There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

To discover more about what the work of God in Christ Jesus tells us about the fall of Adam, look for my coming book –

The Mystery of God in Christ Jesus: the New Creation from Beginning to End

Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  2. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity
    1. A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    2. Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    3. All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  3. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death.
    1. The death spoken of in God’s command to Adam – in dying you shall surely die does not refer to spiritual death, but the second death – which results in separation from God and from which there is no hope of resurrection.
      (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:14-21; 5:24; 6:40; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6, 14-15)
  4. God is not calling the entire world to repentance at this time – the time of the Gentiles. (Luke 21:23-24)
    1. It is only given to some to hear and believe (Matthew 13:10-13; Mark 4:10-12; 1 Corinthians 1:22-24; Ephesians 1:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10)
    2. The elect of God are a subset called out of the world (Matthew 24:22,31; Romans 1:1-6; 8:28; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2)
    3. Some are created as vessels of dishonor at this time (Romans 9:14-15, 20-24; Luke 23:35)
    4. God’s elect are the first to be saved. Those who are the firstfruits are not the only ones who will be led to obedience in Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:9-10; Ephesians 1:11-13; Romans 8:23,29; Hebrews 12:22-24; James 1:17-18; Revelation 20:4-6)
    5. Israel’s descendants will receive the new covenant that leads to everlasting life after Christ sets up his earthly kingdom. (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 11:17-20; Joel 2:1, 28-32; Romans 11:11-15, 25-27)

Footnotes:

  1. Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.

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How is eternal life inherited, Don’t we already have immortality?

This is a challenging and difficult question to approach in a simplistic manner. The subject of an immortal spirit in man has numerous presuppositions associated with it. Entire books have been written arguing the two primary viewpoints. Rather than try to address all the aspects of this topic, I will simply review a couple of scriptural references that bring out some characteristics that can’t be ignored by proponents on either side of the argument. This gives the reader someplace to start their own investigation into the depths of the truth brought to the world through the work of Jesus Christ, our savior.

A Simple Question

Let’s begin with a young man who asked Jesus the same question, as recorded in Matthew 19. Jesus had been teaching in the region of Judea where he would encounter primarily other Jews (Israelites) familiar with Judaism.

Matthew 19:16 (ESV) Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?

There are a couple of presuppositions associated with this question that we must consider. First, note the young man, clearly an Israelite (vs 20), was asking in the context of a works-based theology – what good deed must I do? The young man expects to gain it by his own efforts. This is consistent with the thinking and teaching of Judaism in Christ’s day.

Second is the young man’s expectation toward eternal life. He recognizes that eternal life (immortality) is something to be inherited, not something one already possess. It’s almost certain that the young man would have heard Christ’s teaching on the kingdom of heaven previously. Perhaps a teaching suggesting that a person can enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5), or the admonition to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6), or a more recent admonition to humble oneself like a child if one seeks to be great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18, 19). Either way, the idea of a glorified or eternal salvation was not a traditional teaching in Judaism, which makes the young man’s question genuine.

The idea of a glorified salvation where one inherits eternal life, what a Christian refers to as the new creation in Christ, was a revelation of the mystery of God manifested to the world in the work of Christ our Lord. It was not an expectation in Judaism. Though the scriptures clearly teach otherwise, Israel, and the Jews especially, focused on the kingdom and the salvation that accompanied it as a collective national matter.(1) Restoration of their national prominence was fundamental to their thinking.(2) This was especially evident in the relationship of Christ and his disciples. The Jews expected one thing from their Messiah, but were shown something altogether different.

Interested in the scope, origin, purpose, and fulfillment of the Mystery of God? Discover more.

Continue in Mathew 19 to see how Christ responds to the young man.

Mathew 19:17-22

  • First, Christ defers the adjective good to his Father alone. This indicates the good needed to have eternal life rests only with God who gives it.
  • Christ then begins with something the young man would understand, the law of Moses; do not steal, do not murder, etc.
  • The young man, though he has kept all these things, recognizes they are insufficient to attain immortality, and seeks to know what more he lacks.
    • This is a genuine perspective, looking beyond the law.
    • On another occasion Christ rebukes the Scribes and Pharisees for not seeking beyond the law, thinking it was in the scriptures they would find eternal life (Fourth Gospel 5:31-40).
  • Then Christ transitions to those things that would ultimately lead the young man to eternal life;
    • Let go of your trust in material wealth
    • Come and follow me

The first thing Christ suggests might seem obvious, but why have the young man come and follow Him as a means to gain eternal life?

Does Christ offer what you already possess?

Yeshua, the Son of Man, offers the young man the only solution, or way, to attain eternal life and immortality – Christ himself. He makes this very clear as recorded in the fourteenth chapter of the Fourth Gospel(3), where he claims – I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Christ alone was begotten and born from the seed of God. He came from heaven. Christ alone has been resurrected to glory and has ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father (Fourth Gospel 3:5-8, 13).

This same inheritance is what Christ promises and entrusts to those faithful and trusting in him, through the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, which leads them to eternal life (Colossians 1:11-14, 15-23).

It is only in Christ Jesus, the source of eternal life that we are called out of the domain of darkness, which only leads to death, and are transferred into his kingdom of life everlasting (Colossians 1:12-13).

The Contrast between Death and Life

The Apostle Paul, throughout his writings, does an excellent job of contrasting the two states that interest humanity most; the state of death which enslaves us all, and the hope for the future state of eternal life and immortality in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 2:10-15; Titus 1:1-3; 3:4-7).

And nowhere is this contrast better enumerated for us than in 1 Corinthians 15.

1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 34-36
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame…. 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.

My observations:

  • Death came by one man – Adam
  • Eternal life (immortality) comes by another man – Jesus Christ
  • This is essential knowledge of God
  • Death is part of the transition to eternal life

1 Corinthians 15:42-47
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.

My observations:

  • Eternal life (immortality) is not inherent in the natural which dies. It is perishable.
  • Eternal life comes through, not just death, but the resurrection.
  • What is sown on earth is perishable, but it can be resurrected imperishable.
  • The natural (mortal) body, the man of dust, a living being, comes first.
  • The spiritual, heavenly man, only comes later at the resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:48As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.

My observations:

  • The man of dust is the earthly man, mortal and perishable (dies) (vs 42, 44, 54)
  • Jesus Christ is the heavenly man, similar to those dwelling in heaven, imperishable

1 Corinthians 15:49-50
49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Paul shows quite convincingly that we now bear the image of the earthly man of dust, mortal and perishable. Through Christ and the resurrection we shall also bear the image of the heavenly man, because the earthly man who is flesh and blood cannot inherit the heavenly kingdom of God.

Christ, who is the imperishable one, ultimately swallows up death for the perishable ones (1 Corinthians 15:51-55). This is the will of God.

Want to dig deeper into when Christ delivers this inheritance to his faithful chosen? Discover more.

Conclusions

The whole promise of the good news of the kingdom of God is manifest in Christ our Lord. He is the source of eternal life and immortality, and it is only through him and his resurrection do we attain it. The contrast throughout all of scripture, old and new, is between death for those made from the dust of the ground and the hope of immortality made available to all in the work of Yeshua, the Christ. That work comes through death, and is manifested for his faithful servants at the resurrection of the firstfruits of salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). Blessed are those who have a part in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6).



There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

To discover more about what the work of God in Christ Jesus tells us about the fall of Adam, look for my coming book –

The Mystery of God in Christ Jesus: the New Creation from Beginning to End

Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. God is faithful and will fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel 1:9-13)
  3. Faith, which is a gift of God, is the basis of the hope of salvation for all those committed to the Lord. (Romans 11; 1 Peter 1; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Jude 3)
  4. Christ’s work results in a new creation (Fourth Gospel 3:1-21; Romans 8:28-31; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 6:14-18)
  5. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death. (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:16-21; 5:24; 6:40; 17:1-3; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6)

Footnotes:

  1. The Lion of Judah, Rabbi Kirt A. Schneider (pg 145)
  2. Jeremiah 50:17-20; Ezekiel 34:25-31; Daniel 2:44-45; Zechariah 10
  3. Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.

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When is the inheritance promised to the saints delivered?

This question reaches to the core of some very challenging presuppositions, and the answer is vital to every Christian desiring to be faithful to our Lord and Christ. So to begin, let’s see how scripture defines and characterizes the inheritance we seek. We can begin in 1 Peter 1.

1 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Here are my observations:

  • Our living hope comes through the resurrection of Christ, a resurrection from the dead.
  • The inheritance we hope for is an imperishable one, undefiled and unfading. The language is similar to the Apostle Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 15:24-49.
  • It is kept in heaven and guarded faithfully.
  • To be revealed at some future time. Does this mean it’s not revealed at our death?

Let’s continue to see what Peter is saying.

1 Peter 1:6-7, 13
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

My observations:

  • Any suffering we experience now will result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Christ.
  • Likewise the fullness of God’s grace is not experienced until then also (Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-28; Revelation 6:12-17).

We can see that he clarifies, and even repeats, that the full grace associated with our inheritance doesn’t come about until the revelation of Jesus Christ. He also clarifies exactly what we can expect at that time.

1 Peter 1:8-9
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

So the salvation some claim today as being received when we die, contradicts what Peter is saying here. He makes it very clear that our expectation of inheritance should be focused on the return and revelation of Jesus Christ, not before.

He finishes up the chapter in the same tone with respect to our inheritance. Here he’s contrasting the perishable seed of Adam, from which we all descend, with the imperishable seed of God, in which our hope is based (1 Peter 1:21-25). The perishable seed is:

  • Like grass that withers
  • Like flowers that fall and die
  • Yet the word and promise of God remains and is trustworthy; to complete the new creation in us what He’s already done in Christ.

The implication from Peter’s letter is that our inheritance, the imperishable salvation of our souls, occurs when Christ appears to the world. Though not consistent with current traditional or denominational Christian teaching, which insists your inheritance of salvation is acquired at death and each believer ascends into heaven, one is forced to ask if what Peter claims is consistent with New Testament scripture?

Look to the Gospel Preached

When we look to the gospel preached in the first century, we see a different focus from what is preached today. Yet it is to the original authors of the scriptures that we must look, since the insight they gained from experience and revelation from Christ, provides a more unfiltered view of the work of God in Christ for us and in us.

 Peter’s  Message

When delivering the first gospel message, Peter outlines clearly the process of death and resurrection exemplified in Christ. We can see this outlined in Acts 2.

Acts 2:22-39

  • This Jesus, though crucified and killed, God raised him up from the dead
  • Through resurrection, he gained victory over death, and in immortality he could no longer be held by death’s grip.
  • King David prophesied this:
    • David’s mortal flesh dwelt in hope – of what?
    • That his soul, his mortal life, would not be left in the grave. David foresaw God’s Holy One.
    • God will not let his Holy One, the Messiah, see corruption in the grave
    • Through this Holy One is the path to life (everlasting life)
    • Those who ultimately dwell in his presence are full of gladness
  • King David died and is buried. His body did see corruption in the grave, but his hope is in the Holy One.
    • David did not ascend into heaven at death (vs 34)
    • This is consistent with the claim made by Christ himself – No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
  • King David foresaw the resurrection of Christ
    • That the Holy One was not abandoned to the grave
    • That He would not see corruption (in the grave), being the Son of God (1 Peter 1:3a).
    • God raised him from the dead
  • King David did not ascend into heaven at death, nor has any man
    • Yet the resurrected Lord sits at the right hand of God
    • Until such time that his enemies kneel before him
  • This Jesus is both Lord and Christ

According to Peter’s understanding and expectations for the Messiah, Yeshua the Christ was delivered up according to the plan and foreknowledge of God that Christ would attain victory and power over death for all (vs 23-24, 37-39). In this Peter shows that the significance of Christ is in his resurrection.

This seems fitting when we look at the example set forth in Christ, the firstborn of many brethren. At what point in the work of Christ did he ascend into heaven?

  • Was it in the midst of his suffering?
  • Was it at his death?
  • Was it during his burial, being in the grave for three days?
  • It was after his resurrection to glory!
Paul’s Message

The Apostle Paul provides a similar example in Acts 13. Though the rejection of the gospel message by the Jews is consistent (and prophetic), Paul was certain it was a necessary step (vs 26, 46-47). What we should find compelling is the response of the Gentiles – the unbelievers who did not know God. They were not considered the people of God, and whose only context for knowledge of God is what they might have heard through association with the Jews.

Acts 13:47-49

  • Paul first clarifies the underlying purpose to which he is committed – the good news of the gospel (vs 30-33).
    • This “begotten Son of God” is made a light for the Gentiles
    • That God may bring, and they therefore receive, salvation to the ends of the earth

And how did the Gentiles respond?

  • They began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord
  • And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region

What was the word of the Lord that they heard from Paul?

Acts 13:26-32 – First many witnessed to the work God did for us in the man, Jesus the Christ

  • He is the fulfillment of the message of salvation (even among the Jews, though they did not recognize him)
  • Though innocent, they put him to death
  • After his death they buried him in a tomb
  • But God raised him from the dead
  • And he appeared to many around Jerusalem, and these are his witnesses
  • This is the good news that God promised to their forefather. He has fulfilled it.

The word that these Gentiles heard was of the faithfulness of God in the death, burial, and resurrection of this man, Jesus. This is the redemptive work of God. Paul then goes on to answer – who is this man Jesus?

Acts 13:33-39

  • This man, Jesus, is the Son of God
  • Begotten by God
  • Though he died he did not see corruption
  • God promised this through his servant David
  • David himself is dead and buried, and saw corruption
  • But he whom God raised from the dead did not see corruption
  • It is through this man, Jesus, that forgiveness of sins is proclaimed
  • Everyone who believes is given freedom (reconciliation)

Later, Paul contrasts the current reality of mortal mankind and death which has power over them, with the eternal life that Christ has accomplished through his sacrifice and resurrection to eternal life. The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 is dedicated to the subject. What Paul makes clear is that without the resurrection of the dead there is no hope for humanity. They will all perish.

1 Corinthians 15:12-18
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

The Message of Scripture

Is this resurrection from death to immortal life the consistent theme throughout scripture? A review of the New Testament reveals nearly three dozen references supporting this same concept introduced to the world by men of faith. I’ll provide a sampling of these.

Fourth Gospel 6:40(1) (41-51)For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Romans 6:4-5, 8-9
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

2 Corinthians 4:11-14
11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

Philippians 2:16holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Philippians 3:10-11, 20-21
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Colossians 3:3-4
3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Titus 2:11-13
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Hebrews 9:15, 27-28
15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

1 Peter 1:3-9, 13
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. . . . 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 5:1, 4
1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: . . . 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Conclusions

When faced with the overwhelming evidence of the work in Christ for us and in us, which is to be completed at his return and appearance in glory to the world, one has an obvious choice to make. Do we continue in the traditional and denominational teaching of salvation delivered at death and our ascension into heaven to dwell with Christ, or do we accept the clear teaching of the first-century disciples of Christ?

This was the challenge I was faced with many years ago, and I encourage all those faithful in Christ to invest the time to dig deeper. Does this answer all the challenging questions relating to what happens at death and our hope of glory? No, but it does lay the foundational presupposition from which these other questions must be viewed and answered. Fortunately, God has given us his Holy Spirit to serve as a guide.


Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. God is faithful and will fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel 1:9-13)
  3. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity.
    1. A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    2. Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    3. All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  4. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death. (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:16-21; 5:24; 6:40; 17:1-3; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6)

Footnotes:

1) Due to the dispute over the authorship of the fourth gospel, typically attributed to John the brother of James and author of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ, I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved. I will therefore refer to the book as the Fourth Gospel.

The Kingdom of the Father

This article continues the series by describing the third phase of Christ’s kingdom-building process, what scripture calls the Kingdom of God. Most Christians will recognize early that this is the core of the gospel message Christ brought first to Israel and Judah, and then to the Gentile nations. In the previous articles (Do You See the Three Kingdoms? and What is the Kingdom of Priests?), we saw how the kingdom Christ spoke of exists in various stages; the kingdom which is amongst us, Christ’s future earthly kingdom, and the glorious kingdom to be delivered to the Father. This article will focus on the last of the three – the culmination of the work of Christ.

Christ’s Revelation to Paul about the Kingdoms

Let’s continue in 1 Corinthians 15. Recall that in this part of Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church Paul is discussing the essential nature of the resurrection from the dead to the work of Jesus Christ. As we’ve shown previously, the resurrection from the dead to eternal life is a key promise included as part of a mystery for those who will inherit the kingdom of God (vs 50).

The mystery Paul is referring to is called the Mystery of God. Discover more.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26 (ESV throughout)
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Let’s focus on just one of the things to be achieved before Christ hands his earthly kingdom over to the Father; in Christ shall all be made alive. We’ll see that this is a necessary part of the process.

All Made Alive in Christ

We know that the inheritance of those called into Christ and the new covenant is glorification; eternal life. And this glorification comes through resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:42-50
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Paul is describing a unique resurrection of the dead, a resurrection to glory in the Spirit for those who’ve received the Spirit of God. This is why he proclaims that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

But as we saw in the previous article about the kingdom of the Son, there is an order and progression to the resurrection of the dead (vs 23). At Christ’s appearance at the end of the tribulation, he first redeems his faithful servants who’ve died and are buried, and they ascend into the heavens(1) (Matthew 24:30-31; Mark 13:26-27; Luke 21:27-28).

Immediately after their resurrection, any of Christ’s faithful servants who are alive at the time are changed from mortal to immortal (vs 53-54) in the twinkling of an eye as the command of Christ goes out like a trumpet blast to his angelic host (Matthew 24:30-31).

Yet these are not the only ones to be redeemed at his return. As Christ intervenes on behalf of Jerusalem and Judah, he will bring 144,000 of the descendants of Israel with him. These also have been redeemed as firstfruits of salvation, and will serve the Lord during his earthly reign (Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5).

These two groups comprise those spoken of in Revelation 20, who’ve been seated on thrones with authority to judge. They will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with him for a thousand years in his earthly kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).

But notice an important characteristic of their resurrection – Over such the second death has no power. As inheritors of eternal life (immortality) and the glory of our Lord, death no longer has any hold or power over them. So they inherit the kingdom of God in the manner described in 1 Corinthians 15, but do so at the beginning of Christ’s earthly reign – at his appearance and arrival to earth at Mount Zion.

The Resurrection to Judgment

We’re told in Revelation 20:4-6 that the rest of humanity’s dead did not come to life until after the thousand years were ended. Little detail is provided, but an outline is given later in this chapter:

  • A great white throne is revealed and Yeshua the Christ sitting to judge the nations (Fourth Gospel(2) 5:21-23)
  • All the dead, great and small, were brought back to life, mortal life(3).
  • They were all judged out of the books of God’s word, that they might consider what they’ve done.
  • If anyone’s name is not written in the Book of Life, they are cast into the lake of fire.
  • This is the second, and final death.
  • Death and Hades (the grave) are also cast into the lake of fire and destroyed. This indicates they no longer serve a purpose in God’s will and purpose for humanity.

The Kingdom of the Father

Notice the outline Paul provides in 1 Corinthians 15 and its similarity to Revelation 20.

1 Corinthians 15:24-26

  • Christ is going to deliver a kingdom to the Father
  • Notice that occurs at the end (of the age)
  • But only after doing some things first:
    • Christ will reign in heaven and on earth
    • Destroying every rule, authority, and power that opposes God
    • Until he has put all God’s enemies under his feet
    • The last enemy he will destroy is death

As a result of Christ’s righteous judgment, any of these resurrected to mortal life(3) who surrender to Christ will find their name written in the Book of Life. Though it’s not detailed here in Revelation 20, it should be clear the glorified end that awaits those willing to repent.

At the end of Christ’s earthly reign we see all that he set out to accomplish for the Father fulfilled. Christ will succeed in putting all God’s enemies under his feet. This will take two possible forms:

  • As a life willing to kneel and surrender to the will of the King
  • As ashes burned up in the lake of fire

The end result will be the countless millions of glorified children, led into obedience to Christ through faith and the grace of God poured out on many.

Revelation 21:1-4 (ESV)
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

At this point, there is a new heavens and a new earth – and the kingdom of God comes down out of heaven. This is the kingdom Christ spoke of when he said to Pilate – My kingdom is not of this world. This is the kingdom Paul spoke of when he said – flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

The Kingdom of God in Three Phases

Conclusions

Our goal in this series of articles was to show the relationship between, what only appears to be, three distinct kingdoms. Clearly they are one kingdom, the Kingdom of God, distinguished only by how they are made manifest to the world. First the preparatory stage of the new creation – building a body of faithful believers into a kingdom of Christ-centered leaders. Once fully redeemed they will rule with him in his earthly kingdom for 1000 years. This too is a preparatory stage for the Kingdom of God – leading the world, once deceived to the point of death, into the truth and life that is in Christ Jesus. At the dawning of a new age with a new heavens and new earth, the glorified earth becomes the centerpiece of God’s realm, the place from which he will rule all things seen and unseen.

This is truly the good news of the kingdom of God which Yeshua brought to the world (Luke 4:17-19, 43).

There is much more to learn about each of these topics, and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.


Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. God is faithful and will fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel 1:9-13)
  3. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  4. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity.
    1. A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    2. Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    3. All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  5. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death. (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:16-21; 5:24; 6:40; 17:1-3; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6)

Footnotes:

1) Our resurrection and glorification follows the model of that set by Christ. Christ died and was buried in the tomb (grave), and three days later was resurrected. It was not until after this resurrection that he ascended into heaven (Fourth Gospel 20:1, 11-18). Christ was given the privilege of not seeing corruption in the grave because he was the Son of Man from above (Fourth Gospel 3:13). We, however, do not get that privilege. Like King David, we are of the dust and mortal (Acts 13:36-37; 1 Corinthians 15:53-54). Our ascension into heaven, like Christ’s, comes after our resurrection, not before.
2) We adhere to the belief that the authorship of the Fourth Gospel has been misrepresented. Typically this authorship is attributed to John the brother of James and author of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved. Due to this, I will refer to the book as the Fourth Gospel.
3) We can conclude the mortal nature of the resurrection of the dead, great and small, because their judgment can result in the second death. Those previously resurrected to immortality were no longer subject to the second death; it has no power over them.


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The Kingdom of the Son

This article continues the discussion about the three manifestations of the Kingdom of God. The first article – Do You See the Three Kingdoms? provides an overview. The second article – What is the Kingdom of Priests? delves into Christ’s kingdom-building process in the current age with his called, chosen, and faithful body of believers. This third article continues from there and shows how Yeshua the Christ, after he returns to earth, will work to deliver a kingdom to his Father.

Let’s begin with a brief review of Paul’s outline for the work of Yeshua in his coming kingdom, and what he intends to achieve. Pick it up in 1 Corinthians 15:20-26.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26 (ESV throughout)
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

These seven verses are fundamental to Paul’s viewpoint of the gospel and the work that God the Father and Christ his Son are engaged in, a presupposition. For now let’s focus on what is said regarding the kingdom.

My observations:

  • Christ is going to deliver a kingdom to the Father
  • Notice that occurs at the end (of an age)
  • But only after doing some things first:

1) Christ will reign in heaven and on earth
2) Destroying every rule, authority, and power that opposes God
3) Until he has put all God’s enemies under his feet
4) The last enemy he will destroy is death (Revelation 20:14-15)

Next, Paul addresses those who belong to Christ. They too are referred to as the first; the first to hope and trust in Christ, the firstfruits of salvation. These are the elect of God who look to Yeshua and his return for the fulfillment of the promise entrusted first to them. (Ephesians 1:11-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:1,13-14; James 1:18)

The Purpose for Christ’s Reign on Earth

To grasp fully the reason behind Christ’s reign on earth, we need to delve into each of the four activities outlined above. For this article, we’ll focus on just the third one, taken from verse 25 – he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (Isaiah 45:22-23). This will come in one of two forms:

  • as someone surrendered and committed to living under Christ’s rule, or
  • as ashes under the feet of those faithful to him (2 Peter 2:6; Malachi 4:1-3).

By recognizing the relationship between disobedience and being an enemy to the truth of God (Romans 11:25-32), we’ll see that another way of saying 1 Corinthians 15:25 is that Christ will lead all into obedience to God. Let’s look briefly at how this process works for those called into Christ now. In Paul’s introduction to the Romans, he points out that Christ’s goal for him is to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. He also clarifies that we come to that faith through God’s grace (Romans 1:1-7). Later in Romans 5, Paul outlines the contrast between the disobedience that existed since Adam, and how Christ’s obedience leads to righteousness for those who’ve surrendered to him.

Romans 5:17-19
17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

This disobedience is something we’re all guilty of, and a primary reason for God’s work in Yeshua the Christ. Though there is much wisdom here to delve into, let’s focus on the underlying goal in Christ’s redemptive work – by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. The fruit of that work is shown in those now called into Christ. They too were once disobedient, but have chosen to be slaves of Christ’s righteousness.

Romans 6:16-18
16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Paul goes on, through the rest of his letter to the Romans, to detail the work of God in Christ. First for the benefit of those called, chosen, and faithful – both Jew and Gentile, but also for the disobedient in Israel. As he closes his letter, Paul goes so far as to suggest that God’s work in Christ will benefit the nations as well.

Romans 16:25-27
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Though their respective paths from disobedience to obedience occurs at separate times, we’ll see as we continue that Yeshua the Christ will achieve this not only for those chosen now, but for the disobedient in Israel also. As Christians we should well understand the obedience that set Christ apart and that we’re called to imitate.

There’s more to learn about Christ’s called, chosen, and faithful. Discover more.

Christ Set Apart by Obedience

We should be well aware that God glorified his son specifically because he was willing to suffer for the redemptive work and will of the Father (Romans 5:19); he put the cross before the crown. Let’s look at one example, expressed by Christ himself, of what set him apart.

Fourth Gospel(1) 17:4-5
4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

If we read further in verses 6-14, he details some of that work:

  • I manifested your name to the people you called out of the world
  • I gave them your words of life
  • I have revealed to them your truth

It was Christ’s joy to do the will of the Father, and for this he is beloved of the Father (Matthew 17:5). From the very moment that he began his ministry, after demonstrating where his loyalty lies (Luke 4:1-15), he continued in the power of the Holy Spirit to do the Father’s will as outlined in scripture.

Luke 4:16-19, 43 – Christ is anointed by the Father

  • To proclaim good news to the poor
  • To proclaim liberty to the captives
  • To restore sight to the blind
  • To provide liberty to the oppressed
  • To proclaim the time of God’s favor
  • For this purpose he was sent into the world

The Firstfruits of Salvation are Marked by their Obedience

The work of the Holy Spirit indwelling within us leads one out of darkness and into Christ’s All this Christ has done and is now doing for his firstfruits of salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13). They are called out of the world by God; called out of darkness and into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Yet before God’s calling, we too were the disobedient of the world, enemies of God.

1 Peter 2:10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

So it was while we were enemies God’s grace came upon us, and we were reconciled through Christ, the source of our salvation.

Romans 5:6-11
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

What were the instruments Christ used to lead his called, chosen, and faithful out of darkness and into his glorious light? Was it not the grace and mercy of God poured out on us that we might abide in faith?

Romans 3:23-26 – God’s righteousness comes through faith

  • The righteousness of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
  • Though all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (believers) are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
  • It was to show God’s righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

This is precisely what we saw early in Romans 5:19 – For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Through the work of Yeshua the Christ, God is able to turn disobedience into life eternal by his grace and mercy.

Titus 3:3-7
3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

God’s plan for the new covenant isn’t restricted to just this current age. It’s also Christ’s work in his earthly kingdom to come. What he’s done and is now doing for the firstfruits of salvation (Romans 8:29-30), he also intends to do for Israel and the nations.

Romans 11:32 (NKJV) – For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

Israel and Judah led into Obedience

Let’s not forget that as a people, the descendants of Jacob (Israel) were God’s chosen people. When he assembles them at the foot of the mountain, God reveals his underlying intent and purpose for redeeming the descendants of Jacob and gathering them as his people.

Exodus 19:1-6 (ESV)
1 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, 3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

God’s intent for Israel as a people was to continue in the covenant he made with their forefather Abraham. They were established by God, even before Abraham, to be his portion among the nations(2) (Deuteronomy 32:8-14). Through them God would fulfill his promise that Abraham’s descendants would be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 22:15-18). Those blessings were always contingent upon the terms of the covenant (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). This too was to be an example to the nations of the trustworthiness of God and the faithfulness of his word (Deuteronomy 29:24-28).

Yet Israel strayed from the path and from the covenant, and went after foreign gods who were not God. In response, God fulfilled his covenant with them and dispersed them among the nations as he promised (Deuteronomy 32:16,19-21). God would mete out to them the same disregard which they exhibited toward him(3). As his chosen people, they went after other gods. He, as their true God, would go after other people; the Gentiles (Romans 10:19-21; 11:11-12).

Now some would claim that Israel is rejected by God and has been replaced by the church. Yet this idea is contrary to Christ’s teaching and his revelation to Paul.

Romans 11:1-2a
1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. . . .

Paul goes on to show that, yes, some in Israel were disobedient and have been temporarily cut off from the tree, which is Christ, so that the Gentiles can be grafted in. However, they will be grafted back into the tree again if they do not continue in unbelief (Romans 11:11-24). As Paul shows, their disobedience results in salvation being offered to the Gentiles. If you read Romans 11 further, you’ll see that Paul confirms they will eventually be led into obedience.

Romans 11:28-32
28 As regards the gospel, they (Israel) are enemies for your (Gentiles) sake. But as regards election, they (Israel) are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you (Gentiles) were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they (Israel) too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

So clearly Israel’s calling is secure, and they will be led again into obedience which leads to life. What will be different is that the covenant to which they will be restored will not be the covenant made with their fathers at Sinai (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8). That leaves us desiring to understand the scope and timing of the promises made for their restoration. It’s interesting to note how this will begin with Israel (including Judah) receiving new shepherds.

Jeremiah 3:15-18
15 And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. . . . 17 At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage.

Jeremiah 23:3-8
1 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.

5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’”

7 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 8 but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”

Clearly this level of restoration for all the descendants of Jacob (Israel) is yet future, to occur when the Lord returns to fight for mount Zion, to deliver, rescue, and help those in Jerusalem (Isaiah 31:4-9). What we want to understand is the process used to bring about the restoration of disobedient Israel. Fortunately, these unfulfilled promises have been spoken of by the prophets of old. For though the Lord extends wrath upon Israel and Judah for their disobedience, all Israel shall yet serve him in their own land (Isaiah 65; Ezekiel 20:40-44).

To see the process he’s using to lead disobedient Israel and Judah into redemption we can follow their response (in Joel 2) to the call to repentance made to Israel preceding the day of the Lord in Joel 1:13-20.

Joel 2

  • Joel introduces the Day of the Lord. Up until that time their correction has come in part from the nations, in part from the wrath of Satan, and finally the Lord himself will correct them. Ultimately this correction is not for their destruction but for their redemption; to lead them to redemption (Ezekiel 33:11, 17-19; 34:28-31; Jeremiah 3:6-12).
  • In the midst of the Lord’s correction is the call to repentance – to return to the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel will witness that the gods they’ve followed were not able to save them. (Jeremiah 3:11-14; Deuteronomy 32:19-39)
  • Yet the Lord is full of grace and extends mercy to his people. He will bring them back to their own land and bless them. This is the greater exodus spoken of in Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 3:14-18; 23:1-8; Ezekiel 34:11-24; 37:20-28)
  • Finally, the Lord will make a new covenant with them. With his Spirit he will write his law on their hearts; and they will be his people, and he will be their God. (Ezekiel 37:11-14, 22-28; Isaiah 61:5-11; 62)
  • All those who call upon the name of the Lord Yeshua will be saved. These the Lord will call from among the survivors (Joel 2:32).

So like the firstfruits of salvation, who now receive the grace of God and righteousness which leads to salvation through Christ, the disobedient in Israel and Judah will receive the new covenant in Christ.

Ezekiel 37:11-13
11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.

Ezekiel 36:27-28
27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Their introduction to the new covenant in Christ comes after his return to earth; after he’s established his kingdom on earth at Jerusalem; after he’s gathered the living remnants from all the nations; and after he resurrects to physical life the descendants of Jacob.

Conclusions

Our goal in this brief article was to show, in part, the purpose for Jesus Christ’s earthly reign of 1000 years; preparing a kingdom to be handed over to the Father. The challenge for Christ is the nature of that heavenly kingdom requires something other than flesh and blood to inherit it (1 Corinthians 15:50-55).

There’s more to learn about Christ’s work to redeem Israel. Discover more.

Many view scripture from the presupposition that this is the only day of salvation, and therefore conclude that all who are going to be in the kingdom of God must be “converted” to Christ before he returns. This presupposition doesn’t stand up to what is revealed in scripture. As the brief scriptural references I’ve cited concerning Israel’s future indicate, none of them have been fulfilled fully, and some indicate they occur after the Messiah sets up his rule on earth and personally rules over the house of Israel. Though the progress of the Jews has a role to play in God’s plan, it simply doesn’t satisfy the prophecies for the whole nation of Israel, of which Judah is only a single tribe. In addition, anyone that thinks it is Christ who is currently ruling the earth is seriously misguided (Fourth Gospel 14:28-31; 16:7-11; 18:36-37).

There is much more to learn about each of these topics, and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. The election of God is not limited to Gentiles in this age only. It started with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) and continues today. (Psalm 132:13-18; Galatians 3)
  2. The work of Jesus Christ and the will of God unites the faithful of the first covenant with the faithful of the new covenant (Ephesians 2; 3; Romans 5; 8; 9; 10; 11)
  3. Faith, which is a gift of God, is the basis of the hope of salvation for all those committed to the Lord. (Romans 11; 1 Peter 1; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Jude 3)
  4. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  5. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity.
    1. A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    2. Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    3. All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  6. The divinity and supremacy of the Son of God – the creator and finisher of all things. He alone is given authority to judge in righteousness according to the will of God. (Fourth Gospel 1:1-5; Psalm 96:10-13; Isaiah 11:1-5; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:5-11; Revelation 5; 19:11-16)
  7. Based on God’s promise to offer the new covenant to all Israel after Christ returns and establishes his earthly kingdom, clearly this is not the only day of salvation. (Jeremiah 31; 32:37-41; Ezekiel 37:24-28; Zechariah 8; Romans 9, 10, 11)

Footnotes:

1) Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.
2) The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, Michael S. Hesier, Lexham Press – 2015
3) Barnes’ Notes on the Bible: God would mete out to them the same measure as they had done to him. Though chosen by the one God to be his own, they had preferred idols, which were no gods. So therefore would he prefer to his people that which was no people. As they angered him with their vanities, so would he provoke them by adopting in their stead those whom they counted as nothing. The terms “not a people” and “a foolish nation” mean such a people as not being God’s, would not be accounted a people at all, and such a nation is destitute of that which alone can make a really “wise and understanding people”, namely the knowledge of the revealed word and will of God.


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