Two lines in the bible
You thought during this bible study, very interesting, but how do we Christians fit into this picture? A logical thought!
We have to realize that God is working out His plans almost always in two ways. He shows people His plans. Then those plans are fulfilled literally. We, as Christians, can see there is often a spiritual fulfillment as well. The other way around is also possible.
A well known example is the Passover. The lamb is slaughtered, the blood is put on the sides and tops of the doorframe as a sign to the angel of death, and the Israelites leave Egypt on their way to the promised land. In the New Testament we learn that this Passover has its real fulfillment in Jesus Christ. He died for us.
We left the world (Egypt) and are on our way to the promised land, where Jesus is. We also read about Adam, Joseph, and David. They are all types of Jesus, shadows of the reality. Let's read two parts of the New Testament to see what I mean. They are only indirectly connected to our seeking of the kingdom of God. But when we understand these verses we will also better understand how we, believers, can better understand the meaning of the kingdom of God.
We are going to study the story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. At the last day, the fiftieth, of the Israeli feast of weeks, there were 120 Jews gathered together in a room.
That day they expected the gift of God Jesus had promised (Acts 1:4). (see here Acts 1:4 )
"2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them."
This wasn't something that happened in a back room. Many Jews heard the noise but didn't understand a thing about it. Peter then stood up and spoke to them:
"16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 "`In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"
Peter quotes, led by the Spirit, a prophesy of Joel and explained to everyone that this is what was prophesied by Joel. But, when I read this prophesy well, I ask myself, did God change His plan?
Is everything He told, through the mouth of Joel, about the moment of outpouring of His Spirit, not applicable anymore?
Joel speaks clearly, God will pour out His Spirit on a l l people. Let's read that again:
28 "And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions."
'I will pour out My Spirit on all people'
When will that happen?
It will be after what is written in Joel 2.
Verse one tells us it is the day of the Lord, a day of darkness and gloom.
We read in verse 2 that a large and mighty army will come.
After the definition of the armies, the Lord declares:
Joel 2:12, 17-18, 23, 27
(12) "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning"
Then, there is a call to the Lord: (17)"spare your people, O Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword of the nations."
Then we read the answer of the Lord:
(18)"Then the Lord will be jealous for His land and take pity on His people."
23 "Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness."
(...for he has given you the Teacher for righteousness. This verse can be read like this as well, see the foot note in your bible. All Dutch translations have it that way.)
(27)"Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed."
(28) "And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people."
So, according to Joel, God will pour out His Spirit after a great war, and after He has given the Teacher of righteousness. Then Israel will never be shamed. Jesus will be in the land of Israel. Other bible parts confirm that. (Ezekiel 37:27-28 and 39:22-29) This last verse says:
"I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord."
There is another thing that needs our attention. Peter quote the prophesy of Joel which speak about wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and
glorious day of the Lord.
Isn't that strange? We can't find prophesies like that in the story that is told in Acts 2. Beyond that we know that the day of the Lord still has to come.
Yet the Holy Spirit leads Peter to talk about this prophesy. This prophesy tells what happened to the 120 people in that place. Does this mean we can easily take all prophesies, which were spoken to Israel, and make them applicable for us Christians?
No, but we can learn something in the way this prophesy is used. When we compare Acts 2 and Joel 2, we can see that Joel speaks about the time the Lord will be King in Israel. He is Israel's Messiah and He will pour out his Spirit on all Israelites after they convert themselves. The story in Acts tells us something similar. The Lord is King in the heart of the Christian after he is converted. Then He pours out His Spirit. Joel speaks about a pouring out of God's Spirit on all people (of Israel) when the Messiah will be king in Israel. Acts speaks about the pouring out of God's Spirit on every Christian who has accepted Jesus in his heart as King.
Because Peter told the whole prophesy of Joel we now understand that what happened at Pentecost is kind of a pre- fulfillment. It is not a poor fulfillment, but a spiritual one. And it is real! Thanks to God.
There is another bible reference in the New Testament that clearly shows that the new Testamentical believer has received blessings which were promised to Israel. We didn't receive them all yet, but it will happen one day.
8 "But God found fault with the people and said: "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
11 No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, `Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.".
We can find this prophesy in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Again we see a prophesy, spoken to Israel that is used to teach us Christians a New Testamental truth. When you read chapters 30 and 31 of Jeremiah, you will see it's about the restoration of Israel. When the Messiah (Jesus) will be King in Israel He will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah
'I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.'
The next text makes it clear this prophesy is meant for the future, still today. Because it is clear, not everyone knows the Lord. Bible studies are not necessary anymore at that time.
....I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,"
declares the LORD.
"For I will forgive their wickedness"
We, Christians, can say: God is our Father and we can also say we are one people.(see 2 Corinthians 6:16 ).
We also know that the Lord tells us: I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. (see also Hebrews 10:16 ).
Yet this is as partly fulfilled as the prophesy of Joel. Both prophesies are meant for the last days, to be more precise: when the Lord comes back. Both prophesies have a pre- fulfillment in the believer. Both are meant for those who are accepting Jesus Messiah as King, the Israelites, when Jesus comes back, and the Christians now, in their heart.
There is another example of pre- fulfillment. I will just name it. You will understand it yourself when you think this over. It's about the renewal of all things when the disciples will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus is using these words in Mat. 19:28.
(See Matthew 19:28)
As you know we Christians are renewed too, born again. Jesus, King in our renewed heart, is somewhat hidden from the world. Jesus, King on the Throne in Jerusalem at the moment of renewal of all things will be seen by all people.
The parables are teaching us: Jesus speaks to the Israelites. Jesus spoke to Jews, but in the parables He spoke about all Israel, the two nations, Judah and Israel. He spoke not only in the parables like this.
He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." (Matthew 15:24, NIV).
And in John:
And when Jesus speaks about His being a Shepherd, He said: I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
The two nations will be one nation.
We learned there are often two lines in the bible. There is a natural line and there is a spiritual line. It also happens in another way. First a pre- fulfillment of a prophesy, and then later the real fulfillment.
A natural example: the people of Israel coming out of Egypt, going through the sea, eating the manna. The spiritual fulfillment: we gentiles, becoming believers, are coming out of the world, are baptized and eat of the spiritual food, which is Jesus, the Word.(see 1 Corinthians 10:1-6)
A pre-fulfillment example: The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost upon believers. The fulfillment of the original prophesy: The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all Israel.
Salvation has come to the gentiles
Jesus was a Jew. He walked in the midst of the Jews.
He talked to Jews. He spoke to them in parables too.
He told the majority of Jews: the kingdom shall be taken away from you. We've seen in some of the prophesies how the Israelites will be forgiven by God and how God will be their King. So it must be clear now that the Kingdom of God has a lot to do with Israel. It was meant for them, but then they rejected Jesus as King and even killed the Son. And doing this they (the natural branches of the olive tree) were broken off the cultivated olive tree.
Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?
We will see God is not like that.
Read Romans 11 to learn more about this.
"1 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.
2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah --how he appealed to God against Israel:
3 "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me"?
4 And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.
6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
7 What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened,
8 as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day."
9 And David says: "May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling-block and a retribution for them.
10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent for ever."
11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.
12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fulness bring!
13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry
14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.
15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,
18 do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in."
20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.
26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."
28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs,
29 for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.
30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience,
31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you.
32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"
35 "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?"
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen."
The part of Israel that rejected Jesus is broken off.
We, gentiles, have been grafted in. They were broken off because of unbelief. We are standing by faith.
Now we're one with that part of Israel that stands by faith. Before Jesus came to the earth we were not adopted as sons, we didn't have a covenant with God. We have to remember that formerly we were gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" .... at that time we were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
You can find this in Ephesians 2. Let's read that and a few verses more.
11 "... you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)--
12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world."
We have to read a few verses more about that:
11 "Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)--
12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,
16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."
Now we both share the nourishing sap from the olive root. That root is Jesus. (Revelation 22:16)
What about the Israelites that are living at the time Jesus returns? Paul wants us not to be ignorant of this mystery. He explains: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:25-26)
Where will the Gentiles come in? Where will we, Gentile believers come in? In the Kingdom of God! Paul writes to the Christians in Derbe:
22 "... We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God."
Then will happen what Isaiah prophesied.
"19 From the west, men will fear the name of the LORD, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the LORD drives along.
20 "The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the LORD.
21 "As for me, this is my covenant with them," says the LORD. "My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and for ever," says the LORD."
This is the beginning of the Kingdom of God on earth. When Jesus comes back we believers will be there too.
All who have part on the first resurrection will reign with Jesus Christ (Messiah) for a thousand years. The twelve disciples will judge the twelve tribes of Israel which shall live in the Holy land at that time. These are the two nations, which are mentioned in Ezekiel 37:15-28.
They will no longer be unbelievers, because all Israel will be saved.
The next what we will talking about is the 'coming Kingdom of peace'.
We will do that in part 4
This is the end of part 3