Created Dec. 10, 1999 - Updated July 1, 2004
|Only One Way To
|Who Does the Kingdom
Why this essay? Well, many Christians who have read the prophecies concerning Israel and Jerusalem have concluded that those prophecies are concerning a literal fulfillment. That Jerusalem and Israel are to be rebuilt and and the Jews gathered back to re-inhabit their homeland. You can see why can't you? That is the way it sounds. But there are some problems when one tries to interpret those scriptures in that way. The resettlement was to have the blessing of God. In order to have that blessing, they would have to turn back to God. From a Christian point of view, that hasn't happened yet as accepting God involves accepting Jesus. But many Christians have not seen this as necessary. It leaves a lot of questions to be explored and resolved. So I thought I would take it on.
It should be noted that many prophecies have an obvious spiritual or symbolic interpretation and fulfillment. It is quite possible that some prophecies, including those regarding Israel in some future time, may also have a literal fulfillment. On top of that, many prophecies, perhaps thought to be literal, are interpreted by Jesus or the Apostles as having a spiritual fulfillment. So how do we know whether those prophecies are literally interpreted or spiritually interpreted? We need to find out, don't we? So let's proceed.
The Mosaic law was a contract between Jehovah and the people of Israel. Within that contract was a clause indicating the coming of the Messiah and that Israel was to listen to him as they did to Moses.
(ASV) Acts 3: "22 Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. To him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you. 23 And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people."
This messiah was God's plan of salvation for Israel. It was also God's plan of salvation for all men. Here's that favorite of "born-agains."
John 3:16: (ASV) "16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him."
1 Tim. 2: "3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4 who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne in its own times;"
(KJV) Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Any Jew, at any time in history since Jesus, must listen to this prophet Jesus and obey him in order to attain salvation or otherwise be destroyed (by God not men). I would think this would be pretty clear from the scriptures I have just quoted. I would assume that those in Israel will first turn to God, accept Jesus, and then be saved and gathered back to Israel or have the temple rebuilt. I do not believe that the current restoration has anything to do with God's providence as they have not in any way turned their hearts to God and His Son. Many are secularist and humanists with no devotion to Jehovah/Yahweh.
Consider, too, the other curses applied to the Jews. First, there are the many that Moses gave in Deuteronomy 28:15-68, 53 verses worth. In particular:
"64 And Jehovah shall scatter you among all people, from one end of the earth even to the other, and you shall serve other gods there, wood and stone, which you have not known, nor your fathers. 65 And among these nations you shall find no ease, nor shall the sole of your foot have rest. But Jehovah shall give you there a trembling heart and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. 66 And your life shall hang in doubt before you, and you shall fear day and night, and shall have no assurance of your life."
Kind of sounds like the plight of the Jews today. Indeed, not listening to Jesus would get them destroyed according to what Paul quoted from Moses in Acts. And how about what Jesus said in Luke 13:
34 Jerusalem! Jerusalem! The one killing the prophets, and stoning those having been sent to her, how often I desired to gather your children in the way a hen gathers her brood under the wings, and you did not desire it. 35 Behold, "your house is left" to you "desolate". [Jer. 22:5] And truly I say to you, You shall not at all see Me until it come when you say, "Blessed is the One coming in the name of the Lord." [Psa. 118:26]
Cursed and not accepted back until. . . they finally accept Jesus for who He is.
Secondly, what could be the purpose of restoring Israel? What was God's purpose in creating the nation of Israel in the first place?
God created a nation; it could have been any nation but God chose Israel because of a promised blessing to Abraham. God founded this nation with an established form of worship by means of a priesthood which would attend to God's things among which would be to uphold a law code, show a pattern that would make the messiah recognizable, and create a record of lineage that would identify the messiah. And from this nation, God could/would take enough to create a heavenly priesthood who would also rule as kings with Jesus over the Earth and bring it back to its perfect paradise like state, people and all.
Rev. 1: 6 and he made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Rev. 5:9 and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, 10 and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon earth.
Rev. 7:3 Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we shall have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them that were sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel.
It was to be those from Israel only as Paul explained in Romans 11 but since most begged off and rejected God's Son, God grafted in others from other nations and tongues. While there would be a few Jews who would be grafted back in over time, the main part had to be filled with the "Gentiles." These Gentiles were said to be "out of every tribe of Israel" speaking, of course, in a spiritual sense. Jesus also described those who begged off so he sent into the streets to find beggars and cripples to attend his feast. This was in Luke 14: 16-24. I quote verse 21 here:
21 So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, 'Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.'
Romans 2:28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Romans 9:6 Not, however, that God's word has failed. For not all those of Israel are Israel, 7 nor because they are Abraham's seed are all children, but "In Isaac a Seed shall be called to you." [Gen. 21:12] 8 That is: Not the children of flesh are children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for a seed.
Luke 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
The following are from John 8:
33 They answered unto him, We are Abraham's seed, and have never yet been in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
37 I know that ye are Abraham's seed: yet ye seek to kill me, because my word hath not free course in you.
39 They answered and said unto him, Our father is Abraham. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.
Yes, they were Abraham's seed but they were not his sons. Their works and their heart were far removed. It is on the inside that we are a Jew or a son of Abraham, by our works and our hearts. Spiritual sons or descendants. Symbolic sons.
Galatians 4:"6 And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 So that thou art no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
Galatians 4 continues in 22:
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, one by the handmaid, and one by the freewoman. 23 Howbeit the son by the handmaid is born after the flesh; but the son by the freewoman is born through promise. 24 Which things contain an allegory: for these women are two covenants; one from mount Sinai, bearing children unto bondage, which is Hagar. 25 Now this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia and answereth to the Jerusalem that now is: for she is in bondage with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, which is our mother. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; Break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: For more are the children of the desolate than of her that hath the husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, so also it is now.
Note in 29 how the those born after the flesh, the Jews, would persecute those after the spirit, the Christians. The Christians belonged to the Jerusalem above. Jerusalem above? Yes, the one in the air, in heaven so to speak. Not the literal Jerusalem here on Earth. Lets continue and observe Paul talking about a heavenly Jerusalem from above, not one on earth.
Hebrews 12:" 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven. . .
Revelation 21:"2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven of God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God."
Notice below that we are the result of a promise made to Abraham and that the promises made to him were actually symbolic and that he understood this according to the following:
Hebrews 11:9 "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. 13 These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Notice how a city has already been prepared for them there at the time of Paul's writing in the 1st century A.D. They desire a better country, a heavenly one. Then why do we need this earthly kingdom of Jerusalem? "Jerusalem" comes down out of heaven, not restored on Earth. Was not Jesus' kingdom a heavenly one, not part of this world.
"John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would have fought that I might not be delivered up to the Jews. But now My kingdom is not from here."
His rulership will also be heavenly. Jerusalem does come down with God out of heaven to reside with men, but only in a symbolic sense since God always resides in Heaven and so will heavenly Jerusalem for flesh and blood can not inherit (live in) God's kingdom (the heavenly part - 1 Cor. 15:50).
Now Revelation in particular does make it clear that there will be those on earth to rule over, care for, and reside with in Rev. 21. Who are they? Perhaps they are those of Rev. 7:9 who are distinguished from the 144,000 out of the tribes of Israel to rule in a kingdom.
7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!"
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?" 14 I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
They are not in the holy or most holy rooms but they are in the temple and God's presence shelters them. Then 16 and 17 sound just like Revelation 21:3,4. These are those who will be on Earth. Jesus and spiritual Israel will rule over these, shepherd them, guide them, and tenderly love them. Jesus may have been hinting at this in John 10:16:
16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.
I do not believe they are Jews as they are said to be "from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb."
So hopefully you can see why I believe that those many prophecies concerning promises to Israel are figurative representing an ultimate restoration of God's rule over Earth resulting in an ultimate blessing for all the peoples of all the Earth. You may not agree but at least you have the opportunity to understand me if you want. Once again, the Earth and all that is in it will be in harmony with Jehovah just as it was in the beginning of Genesis before the rebellion of Satan, Adam, and Eve. Of course, there is that little matter of a trial of testing after a thousand years when Satan is let loose briefly (Rev. 20) but that will only be a minor inconvenience. Then we will live happily ever after, whether on Earth or in Heaven.
I will address the prophecies of Ezekiel in chaps. 36-38 dealing with Israel and Gog of Magog. I have always thought these to apply to the last days and the end. Let me point out several things here:
Ezekiel 37:26 And I will cut a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant it shall be with them
Jesus and Moses said the only covenant that would be offered would be the one whereby they must accept Jesus as the Son of God offered on their behalf and obey Him.
38:8 After many days you shall be visited. In the after years you shall come into the land turned back from the sword, gathered out of many peoples, on the mountains of Israel which have been for a continual waste. But he has been brought out of the peoples, and they shall dwell securely, all of them.
Israel has never dwelt in security since they secured their nation in 1948. It is not likely they ever can in this world.
38:11 And you shall say, I will go up to the land of open spaces. I will go to those at ease, who live securely, all of them living with no walls, and there are no bars and gates to them, 12 in order to spoil a spoil, and to steal a prize, to turn your hand on the inhabited waste places, and on the people gathered out of the nations, who have gotten livestock and goods, who dwell in the center of the earth.
They dwell in the center of the earth so to speak. And they dwell in security, without the fear of being attacked or encroached upon, politically speaking, no doubt since no one on earth today could live that way, without bar or doors or locks, otherwise. This situation is taken advantage of by "Israel's" enemies who attack for the purpose of plunder. Another reason will be given, I am sure, but God makes it clear the real reason is for easy gain of riches. But Gog and all his hordes are destroyed, thankfully. I want to point out the many similarities of Ezek. 36-38 with Rev. 11 concerning the 2 witnesses.
Revelation11:7 And when they complete their witness, the beast coming up out of the abyss will make war with them, and will overcome them, and will kill them.
Much like Gog does!
Revelation 11:8 And their bodies will be on the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom, and Egypt, where our Lord was crucified. 9 And some from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will see their dead bodies three days and a half; and they do not allow their dead bodies to be put in tombs.
This is much like the bones laying out in the open in Ezekiel.
11:10 And those living on the earth will rejoice over them, and will make merry. And they will send one another gifts, because these two prophets tormented those living on the earth. 11 And after three days and a half, a spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet. And great fear fell on the ones beholding them. 12 And they heard a great voice out of Heaven saying to them, Come up here. And they went up into the heaven in the cloud. And their enemies saw them.
This is sort of like the flesh being applied to their bones and being brought back to life again. And Rev. 20 shows the camp of the holy ones (in the center, so to speak) being surrounded by none other than Gog of Magog conjuring up visions of Ezekiel.
Revelation 20:7 And whenever the thousand years are ended, Satan will be set loose out of his prison, 8 and he will go to mislead the nations in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to assemble them in war, whose number is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up over the breadth of the land and encircled the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. And fire from God came down out of Heaven and burned them down.
Notice how the nations in the 4 corners of the earth, as a group, are called Gog of Magog. Is it a hint? It might be! Now Ezekiel's version (38:18):
38:18 And it shall be on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel, declares the Lord Jehovah, My fury shall come up in My face. 19 And in My jealousy, in the fire of My wrath, I have spoken. Surely, in that day there shall be a great quaking in the land of Israel. 20 And the fish of the sea, and the birds of the heavens, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men on the face of the earth, shall quake at My face. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. 21 And I shall call a sword against him on all My mountains, declares the Lord Jehovah. Each man's sword shall be against his brother. 22 And I will judge him with a plague and with blood, and an overflowing shower, and hailstones. I will rain fire and brimstone on him, and on his bands, and on the many peoples who are with him. 23 And I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself. And I will be known in the eyes of the many nations, and they shall know that I am Jehovah.
Can you see how the 2 accounts line up? So if Ezekiel is speaking of the same type of tings as Revelation, then we can safely say that this vision of Ezekiel is surely symbolic just as Revelation is. And it is more clear who Revelation applies to. I know there are many other prophecies of Israel I haven't addressed here. But maybe you can see how they might have a spiritual fulfillment rather than a literal one. There is more to consider in another article entitled: "Interpreting and Understanding the Bible."
How to Interpret the Bible Most people approach the Bible from the wrong way, taking everything literally. See why this is such a grave error and what approach we need to take.
The War With
Christ Many imagine a
battle between nations at Armageddon. But it is really a battle with
Christ and we will be under attack, too.
Being Vigilant and Awake Jesus indicated that many, even most, people would be asleep and unprepared when he returned again on the last day. It also answers if many will be saved or not.
Spiritual Israel Israel is mentioned a lot in the Bible. But it is often not literal Israel in prophecy but Spiritual Israel, the Israel of God, the Christian congregation.
The Antichrist - read all about him and what 2nd century writers had to say about it all as well.
Babylon the Great Revealed! She is such a big part of Revelation. She deserves special attention since she is said to be God's greatest enemy throughout most of the ages.
The Last Days - End of the World Series:
Old Testament Visions of the End all dealing with the
last days theme as written in the Old Testament.
Part 2:The New Testament Visions of the End
Part 3:The Symbols of Revelation The many symbols of Revelation actually first appeared in the Old Testament so we do not need to wonder what they might mean. They should be considered before trying to interpret Revelation.
Part 4:Revelation Revealed! Revelation interpreted verse by verse.
The Last Days Reviewed Are these the last days? Are things really any different than they have ever been? You better believe they are!!! But many skeptics would argue otherwise so I address the subject here.
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