Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Rightly Dividing the Word

Old Testament prophecies predicted things like:

  • Israel's return from captivity - the rebuilding of the Temple, the resumption of Levitical worship, Gentile proselytes keeping the Feast;
  • Then the coming of Messiah - His ministry, suffering, new covenant, resurrection;
  • Jewish and Gentile believers receiving the Kingdom of God, salvation; and
  • The ultimate coming of the Kingdom - general resurrection, judgment, end of the world, new heavens and earth.

Sometimes they discussed several of those themes in one passage, like they were foreseeing it all almost as a unit.

It was only after listening to Messiah after His resurrection that the disciples clearly understood that some time was to transpire between Messiah's first and second comings.

First coming/second coming.


Just because the second coming is still future, does not mean everything else the Prophets predicted is also still future. Some of what they foretold has already happened - some of it way back when the Old Covenant still stood!

In the first image above, you're seeing the front view of a mountain-system. From a distance, it looks like a single mountain.

But in the second image, you're seeing the same mountain-system from a closer point of view. From side-on you can see that what looked like a single mountain from a distance is really two separate peaks, with some distance in-between.

But it's the same mountain-system!

The closer view enables you to make sense of what was seen from a distance.

Similarly, it's the New Testament which explains the meaning of Old Testament prophecy. It enables you to rightly divide the Word.

According to the Apostles' doctrine, we indeed still await the ultimate coming of Messiah and the Kingdom of God...

...but that didn't mean there hadn't come the fulfilment of any Messianic Kingdom-Prophecy. The Apostles asserted that Messiah has indeed already come the first time and made the New Covenant, inaugurating the Kingdom-scheme and salvation, for Israel - and for all men.

Israel's predicted restoration to Levitical worship, with proselytes keeping the Feast is not in the future - the Apostles saw that as history, fulfilled even before Messiah's first coming.

It was part of what the Prophets had foreseen prior to Israel going into captivity - but it's the New Testament which better explained when and how everything came to pass.

That's how the Apostles understood Bible-Prophecy, Promise, history and God's purpose. And they got their understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures from Messiah, the Son of God!

So ultimately the Kingdom-fulfilment will not be about Feast-keeping and Levitical sacrifices: the Kingdom was and is all about JESUS - believing and receiving Him!

The Kingdom Already/Not Yet.

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