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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

4 short introductory video studies First recorded in 2007, posted to GodTube in 2010  These short videos were made nearly 14 years ago. ...

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Christmas Is About Israel

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and Ransom Captive Israel!


We sing these words each year. We read from the prophets regarding a King who would come and restore Israel and establish the throne of David. Yet we fail to understand the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to "confirm the promises made to the [Jewish] fathers." He came to take the throne of his father, David. he came to establish a New Covenant for a people who had an Old Covenant. He came to bless the House of Israel and the House of Judah. The Divided Kingdom would be united under the Son of David. As we shall see, that day is not yet come, but it all started with Christmas. 


“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (Hebrews 8)

 

Paul, all through the Acts Age, witnesses to the hope of Israel and preaches NOTHING that could not be found in Moses and the Prophets (the Old Testament). Late in the Acts Age, he reiterates Israel position in the Plan of God of that age.


For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen [relatives] according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers [patriarchs] and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. (Romans 9)

 

To Israel pertains (present tense):

  • The Adoption (an inheritance)
  • The Glory
  • The Covenants
  • The Giving of the Law
  • The Service of God (Worship)
  • The Promises (to the patriarchs, 15:8)
  • The Patriarchs (from whom came Christ)


All of these were very much part of Paul's message. As we will note, Peter brought the promise Christ made of the restored Kingdom to the Jewish people, the Paul brought the message to Israel again (the door having then been opened to Gentiles to be grafted into Israel).

There is so much in the prophets in regard to the restoration of Israel and the establishment of the throne of David in the promised land (all of it), that we hesitate to quote anything lest we suggest this is all we have. Hardly, the Old Testament (as it is known) is replete with these promises to a future, believing remnant of Israel. 



“Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom,
And I will destroy it from the face of the earth;
Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,”
Says the Lord.

“For surely I will command,
And will sift the house of Israel among all nations,
As grain is sifted in a sieve;
Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.
All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword,
Who say, ‘The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.’

On that day I will raise up
The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
And repair its damages;
I will raise up its ruins,
And rebuild it as in the days of old;

That they may possess the remnant of Edom,
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”
Says the Lord who does this thing...
I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.
(Amos 9)

This passage is quoted (in part) in Acts 15 at the Council of Jerusalem. The argument is that the restoration of Israel and the raising up if the tabernacle of David is to include "Gentiles who are called by [the Lord's] name."  Peter, James, Paul all looking for the restoration of Israel. 

The Lord Jesus Christ came to restore the Kingdom to Israel and that has not changed. The program is temporarily on hold (and has been since about AD 64), but soon that call will once again go out. We will look at the Lord's earthly ministry in this study, but first we jump ahead to Apostles' witness in the Acts Age.


Witnesses to the Ministry of the Lord All Through the Acts Age


In the great foundational Book of Romans, Paul's evidence for the gospel of the grace of God is built on Abraham (Romans 4), the father of the nation of Israel. Grace was nothing new. The Law had grace (although imperfectly). The promises God made to Abraham will be realized. Gentile salvation was never a secret either. The Gentile nation of Assyria came to faith through the witness of a Jewish prophet from Galilee (Jonah), yet they were never called on to keep the Sabbath or observe Israel's feasts. Paul states in Romans 11 that God had NOT cast away His people, Israel. And in Chapter 15, he points to the dual ministry of the Lord (primary: Israel; secondary: Gentiles).

For I say, that Jesus Christ was a minister to the circumcision [Jews] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises of fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:

“For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles,
And sing to Your name.”

And again he says:

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!”

And again:

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!”

And again, Isaiah says:

“There shall be a root of Jesse;
And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles,
In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”

-Romans 15:7-12 


Gentile salvation, through Israel's ministry, was not hidden. It was a revealed truth since the foundation of the ages. It was not fully understood, but it was not hidden. It was not a "new" truth starting at Pentecost nor in Acts 10. What was new in Acts 10 (Peter's witness to Cornelius) was the gifts of the Spirit falling on an uncircumcised Gentile (before he was baptized). Paul explains in Romans, this was to make Israel jealous, but the gospel was still "to the Jew first" who had an advantage "much in every way." 

At Pentecost, where Peter points to the prophet Joel, all there were Jewish. Pentecost was not "the start of the church."  No, it was the start of the restoration of Israel. Pentecost is large topic we cannot cover here, but we do note that the Book of Joel is concerned with the Day of the Lord and the future restoration of Israel. we leave this chart from Charles Welch which shows the two aspects of Joel's prophecy. Peter saw the beginning of the end, the beginning of the restoration and the coming Tribulation. He did not see the current age for it was hidden from the prophets (as we shall see). The first aspect took place at Pentecost, the latter will be seen in the Revelation.



 
Peter includes this in his address at Pentecost:

Therefore [David] being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his [David's] throne

Paul quotes from four Old Testament passages in Romans 15 concerning Gentile blessing. In Galatians he is clear that Gentile blessing was not hidden.


And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

-Gal 3:8-9


 In the Law, a Gentile could not participate in the Feasts (such as the Passover) unless he was circumcised. But he was welcome to live among Israel. Circumcision has never had anything to do with the free gift of Life by grace. As Paul notes, Abraham was called and was justified before he was circumcised. Israel was redeemed out of Egypt in a state of uncircumcision. Circumcision has nothing to do with the free gift of Life, but it is connected to the covenants and promises God has given to Israel. 

Paul was accused in Acts 21 of teaching Jews who lived among the Gentiles that they should forsake Moses "saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs." It was a false charge! In the Acts Age, Jews continued to follow Moses as they prepared for the coming Kingdom on Earth. 


The Restoration of the Kingdom to Israel


There is so much here that can be said, but for the sake of the brevity of these posts, let us turn back to the witness of the gospels in regard to the Kingdom.

As we have seen in other studies, after the Lord's resurrection, he opened the mind of his disciples and gave them understanding. 


He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures (Luke 24)


They received the Holy Spirit before Pentecost (before the ascension). The Apostles already had the Holy Spirit, when followed the Lord's instructions to "tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." (Luke 24)


So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20)


The risen Lord taught the enlightened disciples for 40 days concerning the Kingdom.

 

[The Lord Jesus] through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. (Acts 1)


 Because these men were promised to sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel in that Kingdom.


Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt 19)

And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22)


When Judas lost his office, they HAD to replace him. The number HAD to be twelve when the kingdom came in. His replacement, Mathias, was appointed immediately after the Lord ascended (Acts 1), and before Pentecost. 

With their understanding opened, with the Holy Spirit, with teaching from the risen Lord himself of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God for 40 days before his ascension, the future judges of the 12 tribes had but one question before the Lord ascended (for which they were not corrected).


Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts1 )

 

This is a physical Kingdom, in Israel. Note Peter's promise to "You men of Israel" in Acts 3 (Post Pentecost). Peter and John go to the Temple to pray. There they heal a lame man and proceeded to Solomon's Porch where Peter addresses Israel. Peter's words are packed with truth. Pentecost was no "birthday of the church" of the current age.


Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you [Jews] first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” (Acts 3)


Peter speaks of the promise to Israel that if they will repent and accept their King, he will return and restore all things. This is all ON THE EARTH. Is that currently true? If "the church" was born at Pentecost, is this our message? The Holy Spirit didn't birth anything at Pentecost. The Apostles were "filled" that day, but they already had the Holy Spirit. Pentecost was a taste of the promises in Joel, connected to the restoration of Israel. But there was a condition. 

Here is a short outline from The Berean Expositor and the call for Israel to repent:


The opening words of the Lord's ministry announce the kingdom: 

"now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the GOSPEL for The KINGDOM of GOD, and saying,
  1. The time is fulfilled (hence the kingdom is that of Old Testament prophecy),
  2. the kingdom of God is at hand (the King being present): and
  3. repent ye, and believe the gospel (good tidings) (the condition)" (Mark.1:14,15).
John the Baptist opened his ministry to Israel with the call to repent (Matthew) 
The Lord opened His ministry to Israel with the call to repent (Matt.4:17).
Peter re-opened the ministry to Israel with the call to repent (Acts 2:38; 3:19).


In the first parable of the Kingdom in Matthew 13 (again, before he said anything about his death), we see that the seed that is sown is "the word of the kingdom." We covered all 8 parables in our series on Matthew 13, but we note again here the context. These parables have nothing to do with the "church" of this age. They are concerned with Israel, the Land, the Kingdom, and the future.

The Plan of God is primarily about THE EARTH. Let's quickly look at the Lord's account of his return in Matthew 25.


When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations [Greek: ├ęthnos, Gentiles, heathen] will be gathered before Him... (Matt 25)

This is the start of the parable of the sheep and the goats. These nations will be judged how they treat "the least of his brethren," that is, the Jews. The context for the judgments in Matthew 25 is the Lord's return and the end of the age (Matt 24:3). No parable has been as abused in Christendom as this one. See the linked study for more.

If we can see that Pentecost had nothing to do with the "birth of the church" and recognize that the Acts Age was a continuation of the offer of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, we will start to see the Promises and the Plan of God for the Ages. And most of it has to do with the Earth and the Land.


Born is the King of Israel!


One of the most recognizable "Christmas" verses is Micah 5, but do we fully grasp its implications?


“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.” (Micah 5)


 And here is just a small sample of other promises.

 

"I will surely gather the remnant of Israel" (Micah 2)

"He will turn again ... Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old' (Micah 7) 

 "I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD" (Zephaniah 3) 

"in that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD ... yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts ..." (Zechariah14)


The Book of Zechariah is full of visions of future events concerning the Lord and his return to his brethren, Israel. Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the "Major Prophets," concern themselves with glorious future events and the establishment of the New Covenant with the people of Israel, the glory of the coming Kingdom in Israel, and the final rebellion. We cannot quote all of these here.

We turn back to the ascension of the Lord and the promise of his return to establish the Kingdom he came to restore.


this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come IN LIKE MANNER [in the clouds] as ye have seen Him go into heaven (Acts 1)

"and His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east" (Zecheriah14)


These have yet to be fulfilled and they concern an earthly fulfillment, in Jerusalem, the city of David.

But what of his birth?


"He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the THRONE of His father David: and He shall reign over the House of Jacob for ever (the ages); and of His Kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1)


Zacharias' prophecy by the Holy Spirit in regard to John the Baptist:


Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
 That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
 To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
(Luke 1)


Before we continue, note again the reference to the prophets who spoke "since the world [ages] began."

Matthew, whose genealogy of the Lord focuses on Abraham and David, points us back to Micah's prophecy.


Where is He that is born King of the Jews? ... in Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, and thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda: are not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule My People Israel" (Matthew 2)


The Lord came to establish the New Covenant for a people who had the Old Covenant. He was sent to Israel alone. We repeat this often as its denial is one of the greatest hindrances to rightly dividing the word of truth. The Gospel of the Kingdom was forbidden to be spoken to anyone but to Jews. 



But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 
(Matthew 15)
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4)
These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (Matthew 10)


We have looked at these passages more thoroughly in other studies, but for this post, we note that it was not until Matthew 16 that the twelve heard he was going to die. The gospel they preached in Matthew 10 (and the Lord in Matthew 4) was not about his death, burial, and resurrection. It was the good news of the restoration of the Kingdom.

The Kingdom being "at hand" was the message all through the Acts Age as well. Paul testified to the hope of Israel through the end of the book (and in the Acts Age epistles). In Romans, Paul states that "the day is at hand." Peter states, "But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers." 


The King is Coming Back to Earth to Claim His Throne and His Kingdom


We saw in Peter's message in Acts 3 that the Lord was prepared to come back and restore the Kingdom had Israel repented. The angel at his ascension said he would come as he left, in the clouds. We see him coming back with the angels (a possible interpretation of the clouds) in the parables of Matthew. This gives us the context of the return in the Acts Age writing in 1 Thessalonians 4. This passage is not the "Rapture of the Church," but the "Parousia" (presence) of the King.

1 Thessalonians 4 never says anything about returning to heaven. It states the Lord "shall come down from heaven," and connects itself to the last trump and resurrection. Our mind should take us immediately to the final feast of Yahweh in Israel and to the great resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15. The entire chapter should be read here, but for the sake our scope, we quote:


Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a secret; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15)


The context here:

  • The Kingdom of God
  • Resurrection
  • The last trump

Paul starts out this chapter with the gospel of grace noting all of it was know in the scripture revealed since the foundation of the ages. We emphasize this again because it is central in understanding the difference between the gospels of the gospels and Acts and the gospel and dispensation revealed by Paul (alone) in the Book of Ephesians; a gospel hidden from BEFORE the foundation of the ages.


For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15)
 

Remember the final parable of Matthew 25 is the Lord's response to the question of his return to the earth in Matthew 24. The synoptic gospels and the Acts and the Books of the Acts Age are all focused on his return of the King to the Earth.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory... Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from [since] the foundation of the world... (Matthew 25)


The King is coming with the holy angels to take his throne.


Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory... And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24)

Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. (Matthew 26)

Lo, he doth come with the clouds, and see him shall every eye, even those who did pierce him, and wail because of him shall all the tribes of the land. Yes! Amen! (Revelation 1)

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7)


Our final verse comes from Psalm 68.

To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old;
Lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice.
Ascribe ye strength unto God:
his excellency is over Israel,
and his strength is in the clouds
.


Psalm 68 celebrates the deliverance of Israel from Egypt and the placement of the ark of the covenant in Zion. Angels are connected to Israel's deliverance and with the giving of the Law (acts 7:53; Gal 3:19). There is so much here we could investigate, but we must move to a final question.

The doctrine of the "rapture" obscures the plan of God for the earth. It rips 1 Thessalonians 4 from its context. We need to "compare the things that differ." 


Is the Kingdom No Longer "At Hand?"



We have not visited all the places wherein the Lord or the Apostles in the Acts Age speak of the Kingdom being "at hand" (or similar), but I believe we've shown that was the case. We have also noted with a few examples that the Plan of God during the Lord's earthly ministry and in the Acts was revealed by prophets "since" or "from the foundation of the world [age]." Paul's testimony very late in the Acts still speaks to the hope of Israel.

Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles...” King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” (Acts 26)

[To the Jews at Rome] For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. (Acts 28)

And we recall that in Galatians 3 and in Romans 15 (among other places) Paul reminds us that the scriptures spoke of Gentile blessing through Israel and the promises to Abraham and to his seed. All of that, and the promises of the return of the Lord to take his throne in Israel, on the Earth, was spoken by Moses and the Prophets. Paul preached no other thing in the Acts Age

First and Second Thessalonians must be read in that light. The Antichrist appears in 2 Thessalonians 2. The context of these books is the Revelation which is connected to the prophecies of Daniel, Ezekiel, and many other prophets. We cannot rip 1 Thessalonians 4 from its context and claim some rescue for the believers of this age.

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2)

 

All of this is part of revealed prophecy, "from [since] the foundation of the world [age]." It speaks of the plan of God for the earth. It speaks of the return of the King. We note again, all of this is the focus of the prophets, the gospels, the Acts, and the Acts Age epistles. Yet when the Acts Age ends with the final rejection of the Kingdom by the Jews in Rome (Acts 28), a new, hidden plan (not found in Moses or the Prophets) is revealed through Paul as Israel is (temporarily) set aside. This plan involves the heavenly places (the "far above the heavens") and not the Earth or the Land. It involves the true holy of holies. It involves the throne of Christ above all. It is the culmination of the "headship" of the Father.

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 3)

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is left behind in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,  I did become a minister according to the dispensation of God, that was given to me for you, to complete the word of God, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints. 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. (Colossians 1)

Note the mystery to which Paul speaks is made know to his saints. These are believers. These already had the free gift of Life. These are those who were expecting the Day of the Lord, the tribulation, the Antichrist, the Kingdom, etc. They had their minds on the prophets and blessings in the land on the Earth. We did not completely cover all the verses related to that hope, but we have seen it was the focus of both the Lord's earthly ministry and the Apostles' message in the Acts Age.

The blessings of this age are "spiritual.." Our hope is in "the far above the heavens." We now witness to the principalities and powers (good and evil) who are currently in heavenly places. We are making God's current hope manifest to these powers. All of this (Ephesians) was unknown in prior ages and revealed to Paul alone.

To the gospel of the grace of God (necessary for obtaining the free gift of Life) is added the gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ. The first is an act of faith from which comes the blessing of resurrection life. The second is an act of faith from which comes spiritual blessings in the far above the heavens where Christ sits. One cannot have as his hope the earthly Kingdom, the New Jerusalem which comes down to earth, being a guest at the wedding of the Bride while also being part of the Bride... and also have a hope in the far above the heavens. We must recognize the different hopes in scripture.

Conditions have changed since the Acts Age ended and Paul revealed the Dispensation of the Mystery. We should no longer be concerned with Jewish feasts as they were in the Acts Age (including Passover, The Lord's Supper). We are no longer looking for his "Parousia" (the presence of the King), but rather his "Epiphenea" (His appearing). These differences must be examined. We are not a priesthood and have no need for ritual washings (baptisms) as they did.

Something as everyday as marriage instructions have changed. Paul, in 1 Corinthians (Acts Age), tells widows to not bother getting married whereas in 1 Timothy (Post Acts) says they should marry. He also adds that they should "bear children" while he discouraged such a thing in the Acts Age.


To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do... But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you... The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. (1 Corinthians 7)

So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, rule their households, and give the enemy no occasion to revile us. (1 Timothy 5:14)

 

 A simple difference, but the reasoning is profound and goes beyond the outward instruction. Would we take these words for today? Can I come and preach this at your assembly? Can I preach Peter's message from Acts 3 in your assembly? Can I preach the Gospel of the Kingdom from Matthew 4 and 10 in your next service?


brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none. (1 Corinthians 7)

Try selling that one to the Ladies' committee.

The context of 1 Timothy is the Lord's appearing. In 1 Corinthians they were expecting terrible times and great tribulation (go read the so-called Lord's Prayer from the Sermon on the Mount in light of the Tribulation, it will start to make sense). In Timothy they were to "love his appearing" (2 Tim; as we should).

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Timothy)

The Acts church was not looking for his appearing, they were looking for Antichrist and Tribulation if Israel refused to repent, the Parousia (the presence of the King). In this age, we look for the appearing. The expectation changed. Here is just one example:


Acts Age
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.(1 Thessalonians 4)

Post Acts:
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. (2 Timothy)


The Lord's Example



The Lord himself showed us how to "rightly divide the word of Truth." 

So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

(Luke 4) 

 

Now let us look at the next line in the prophecy in Isaiah 61and see that, at this point in his earthly ministry, the Lord was offering the Kingdom.

And the day of vengeance of our God

The Day of Vengeance was not the focus at the time the Lord read in the synagogue. Let us continue to see the rest of the prophecy following the Day of Vengeance. This is all in the context of Israel in an age to come as is the rest of the Book of Isaiah (culminating in the new heavens and new earth of Isaiah 66). This is all EARTHLY.

But you shall be named the priests of the Lord,

They shall call you the servants of our God.
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast.
Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.

 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery for burnt offering;
I will direct their work in truth,
And will make with them an everlasting covenant.
Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles
,
And their offspring among the people.
All who see them shall acknowledge them,
That they are the posterity whom the Lord has blessed.”

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels
.
For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations
 
(Isaiah 61)

The First covenant with Israel from Exodus 19 promised that if they obeyed the Law, they would become a Kingdom of priests. This is Israel's future. Believing Israel in an age to come will get a new heart. and a new covenant. They are to be a Royal Priesthood for the Nations (Gentiles). Spme day, Gentiles will grab the shirt of a Jew and ask him to take him to God (Zechariah). This is not our calling. We must make these distinctions or we will not be able to serve the Lord as he expects.

Jeremiah lays out the Lord's case against his wife, Israel. Her shame is put on display. Yet it is in Jeremiah that we see God offer a New Covenant. The New Covenant is concerned with "O virgin Israel." Israel is the Lord's Bride. The revelation of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31-33 is concerned with the restoration of Israel and her place as the Bride. The phrase "the Bride of Christ" appears nowhere in scripture and has no connection to this age. In this age, Christ is the head of the One Body, the same Body, (Ephesians), not the husband.

We do read of "the bride, the Lamb's wife," and scripture tells us who and what that entails. All of Revelation Chapter 21 should be read here to get the full, Jewish context of the passage, but we will note this:

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21)

This great city (the reward for some believers) comes down to EARTH. This city is connected to "the twelve tribes of Israel" and "the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (the promised rulers of the twelve tribes, none of whom went to Gentiles, save once, in the Acts Age). It is visited by Kings of the Earth.

And the nations shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. (Revelation 21)

The Deliverer came at Christmas. Paul quotes Isaiah and reminds the Acts Age church that Israel has not been forgotten. "Blindness in part" had come upon Israel and Gentiles were "grafted in" to the root which is Israel for the purpose of making Israel jealous. But the day is coming when God will cleanse Israel and give her a new heart (Ezekiel 36) and a New Covenant. 

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.
 
-Rom 11:25-26 (cp. Isaiah 59:20, 21)

So this Christmas, commit to rightly dividing the Word of Truth so you may not be ashamed at his appearing. Do not steal from Israel's promises and find satisfaction and peace in the gospel of the unsearchable of riches of Christ of this age. 

The command to study and rightly divide is given to each believer, as an individual.

 

A conversational explanations of the New Covenant and the Dispensation of the Mystery:


NEW COVENANT


DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY



THE KEY TO THE BIBLE IS ISRAEL



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