A better response to Brett
Brett was right at the close of his third post. We were only just getting the great themes onto the table. That’s why I was enjoying the interaction because we were actually starting to dialogue. But as soon as the real dialogue started, it came to a close. I’m going to write another response to Brett’s post, not because I think the first one didn’t deal with what he had to say. It’s just that there’s more to say. Here are some more thoughts.
Jesus is the true Israel
I notice A-Millennialists love this phrase. So do I. The way A-Millennialists say it though, it’s like they think Pre-Millennialists don’t believe it. I can only speak for myself. I believe Jesus is the true Israel. But the elect of Israel are also the true Israel. Here’s the reason why: concomitance. The Bible speaks of the true Israel from God’s perspective, outside of time. God sees the consummation as already accomplished. So the bridegroom and the bride have already been joined. The two have become one flesh. For us, that’s in the distant future. But for God, He prophetically sees it has a done deal. The elect of Israel and Israel’s Messiah are so intertwined they cannot be separated. That’s what can be confusing about prophecy sometimes. God is speaking of Israel and we have to discern whether the term is to be applied strictly to Jesus, to the elect of Israel, or to both. This doctrine is briefly touched on in Hebrews 2:11. Those who are sanctified and the One who sanctifies are both one. So to point this out does not make Christ supersede all references to the physical nation of Israel.
The peeling back of the curse
When Christ came, I agree that it was the inbreaking of the eschaton. The end broke forth into history. It was and is truly the end of the age, or the last days until the end of the age anyway. The inbreaking of the eschaton was the peeling back of the curse, but only so far as His rule was submitted to. Christ’s Kingdom was and is established in the hearts of those who repented. OT and NT scriptures still foretell of a kingdom whereby these illnesses will be completely done away with. So to say that Isaiah 35 is completely fulfilled in Christ’s present ministry is to limit His accomplishments to the present age. My previous response already mentioned the cataclysmic judgement which precedes this time whereby the curse would be peeled back here on earth.
The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven
The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven only describe the current working of the kingdom. The kingdom is in the minority within the larger context of those not submitting themselves to kingdom rule. It’s a tiny mustard seed. It’s a little leaven within three measures of meal. But the day will come when the kingdom will come in its fullness. What will that kingdom be like? What will it consist of? The main point in Matthew 13 as a whole was that the kingdom would come in such a way that consummation and judgement would be delayed until the end of the age. The kingdom would be present through the preaching of the Word, but it would be in the minority awaiting a future judgement which would purge it from anything that doesn’t belong. The vehicle for the kingdom would be intermingled with children of the wicked one until the end of the age. Jesus also spoke of the kingdom of God being equated with the age to come, Luke 18:29-30. What will that age to come be like? The parables do not address this issue. They do not state that the kingdom of God is here in its fullness, which A-Mills will agree with, but they also don’t address what the nature of the age to come will be like. We must look other places to understand the Messianic Kingdom.
The Second Exodus
Isaiah did prophesy of a second exodus. But we cannot take it as some spiritual idea when the language plainly speaks of being gathered out from other countries. Let’s look at some of those passages.
11:11 It shall come to pass in that day That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the remnant of His people who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea. 12 He will set up a banner for the nations, And will assemble the outcasts of Israel, And gather together the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth. 15 The Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt; With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River, And strike it in the seven streams, And make men cross over dry-shod. 16 There will be a highway for the remnant of His people Who will be left from Assyria, As it was for Israel In the day that he came up from the land of Egypt.
This passage is smack in the middle of describing the Messianic reign as the branch of Jesse sits on the throne of David here on earth. Animals are at peace with each other. Gentile nations begin to seek the LORD as Israelites are gathered into the land of promise. The language describing a portion of the sea being destroyed in order to form a highway cannot be spiritualized.
27: 12 And it shall come to pass in that day That the Lord will thresh, From the channel of the River to the Brook of Egypt; And you will be gathered one by one, O you children of Israel. 13 So it shall be in that day: The great trumpet will be blown; They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, And shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.
The language again describes Israelites coming from Assyria (from the north and east) and Egypt (from the south and west) into the land of promise to worship at the holy mount at Jerusalem. The previous passage stretching back into chapter 26 has described a physical resurrection from the dead for God’s people, the LORD coming to pour out His wrath, and the slaying of the crooked serpent. At this point in time Jacob (Israel after the flesh) is purged from sin, 27:9, and the fruit fills the entire earth, 27:6. With the physical resurrection preceding this gathering, we must conclude the second exodus is yet future. This idea of being gathered from the north, south, east, and west is mentioned specifically in another passage.
43:5 Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west; 6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth– 7 Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him." 8 Bring out the blind people who have eyes, And the deaf who have ears. 9 Let all the nations be gathered together, And let the people be assembled.
Here is where we see that Jesus used this same language when describing a future gathering into the kingdom of heaven. In Matthew 8:11 and Luke 13:29 Jesus describes a gathering into the kingdom of God where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets would be, but Israelite hypocrites would be thrown out. At the future gathering, they would try to get in this kingdom, but would not be able. By adopting the language of Isaiah’s regathering of the nation of Israel and applying it to the gathering into the kingdom of God, Jesus revealed three things. #1- This future kingdom would be established here on earth with a north, south, east, and west for people to come and enter into from other places. #2- There were many Israelites in Jesus’ day who would never enter this future kingdom. #3- The nation of Israel would be the centerpiece of this future kingdom of God established here on earth. The arrangement in Matthew as Jesus speaks of a Gentile whose faith surpasses that of the nation of Israel leads to a fourth conclusion. #4- Gentiles will have opportunity to enter this future kingdom as equal citizens with Israelites. In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus further placed the gathering of the elect at His coming (parousia, physical presence here on earth.)
49:8 Thus says the Lord: "In an acceptable time I have heard You, And in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You As a covenant to the people, To restore the earth, To cause them to inherit the desolate heritages; 9 That You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’ To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’ "They shall feed along the roads, And their pastures shall be on all desolate heights. 10 They shall neither hunger nor thirst, Neither heat nor sun shall strike them; For He who has mercy on them will lead them, Even by the springs of water He will guide them. 11 I will make each of My mountains a road, And My highways shall be elevated. 12 Surely these shall come from afar; Look! Those from the north and the west, And these from the land of Sinim." 13 Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.
Since the Messiah is literally shining the light to the Gentile nations now, we should expect a literal fulfillment for this gathering in the future. The promises here should cause us to think. They won’t hunger or thirst after they have been gathered. The heat and sun will not harm them any more once they get on the highway into the kingdom. The LORD will personally comfort them as they inherit the earth. This language is identical to the description of blessings in the New Jerusalem, Revelation 7:16-17, 21:4. So to say the second Exodus is not out from Egypt or Assyria just seems to run against the plain language which says that it is. The second exodus will occur in the future when the Son of Man comes in His kingdom. I don’t see how one could argue for completely spiritualizing the second exodus.
Isaiah 40, 41, 43
I love getting into Isaiah. This book is quoted so often by NT writers, yet most know so little of the original context in which Isaiah wrote. Isaiah 40:1-2 prefaces the entire section of chapters 40-66. It is a summary of what the LORD intends to accomplish in Jerusalem. He then unfolds with great mystery how it will transpire. One of the things that will occur is a voice crying in the wilderness which was fulfilled in John the Baptist’s ministry. There is also a promise of the rivers which will flow from wilderness places. Shall we simply place this during John the Baptist’s ministry? Or should we say that this is the intended result for certain portions of the earth after Jerusalem has been rewarded double for her sins and the LORD is comforting her? Isaiah 42:1-7 presents the meek and mild servant who gives Himself as a covenant; yet later in 42:13, a Messianic figure goes forth like a man of war against His enemies. The passage Brett mentions in Isaiah 43:19-20 concerning rivers in the desert is preceded by a description of the LORD bringing armies to extinction.
I think we can safely conclude that the same Messiah who will be meek and mild, given as a covenant for His people, and be a light to the Gentiles, will later go forth as a man of war. After that time of judgement when He brings armies to extinction, then the LORD will bring forth rivers in the wilderness as outlined in Isaiah 43:16-20. To see this as being spiritually fulfilled in Christ’s earthly ministry is to ignore the overall plan that God has for Jerusalem and this earth. The nation of Israel will be saved with an everlasting salvation because God created this earth to be inhabited, Isaiah 45:17-18.
I felt bad about not addressing these scriptures that Brett cited. I simply pointed to Isaiah 42 and 49. This is a better response since it actually deals with the verses that he cites. So Brett, if you’re out there, I enjoyed our conversation while it lasted. We were only just getting into the weighty issues that need to be addressed. Hopefully you see my above response as further explaining some things that I began to touch on in my first response.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman