FIRST POSTED ON 1 NOVEMBER 2019.
Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!
Previously, we saw how the Old Testament Prophets warned Israel that God would soon discipline and exile His people. Not only that, God would use the very enemies of Israel as His instruments of discipline before these pagan nations were in turn judged by Him for their wickedness and cruelty. All these took place according to God’s word during the Assyrian, Babylonian and Roman exiles. But that was not the end. The time is almost upon us now when Israel and the Church - the Commonwealth of Israel - will again be severely tested and disciplined by God for their unfaithfulness. God will allow a satanic kingdom to rise up in these end times to threaten Israel even as more and more believers worldwide suffer at the hands of an increasingly Apostate Church that has fallen away from God. All these events will culminate in a final showdown between this evil kingdom of man and God’s kingdom on earth just outside the gates of the Holy City, Jerusalem, when Jesus will appear in the sky and return to save His people on this appointed day -
The Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is something mentioned by many of the Old Testament Prophets. It refers to the end of the world as we know it. To the Jews, it is that great day when the Messiah would come to deliver Israel from its enemies and usher in His eternal rule. To Christians, it is the glorious Second Coming of Jesus. Yet the Prophets had described it as a dreadful day, because it was the day when God’s discipline of His wayward people and judgment of His wicked enemies would reach its climax. It is the day when Jesus will return to put an end to the Antichrist’s last-ditch attempt to destroy Israel in the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem, which is also known as the Valley of Decision. On that day, God will decide who are truly His - disciplined yet loved by Him and therefore awaiting deliverance - and who are reserved for judgment, condemnation and destruction. Like the Jewish day that begins at sunset, it will be a day that starts in darkness and night first before giving way to the glorious dawn of Jesus’ Millennial rule. Jesus Himself told us that He would return like a “thief in the night.” Be careful what we wish for because we may not be ready for it!
But take heart! Even as God’s judgment unfolded for His enemies, the Prophets reassured Israel that there was ultimately comfort, hope and restoration for God’s people following His discipline. We saw this in the past, and will see it again in the future.
In God’s Kairos, a faithful remnant of Jews returned from exile to rebuild the nation and the Temple, preparing the ground for Jesus’ first coming 2,000 years ago. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the way of salvation and restoration was open to all mankind. Now in these last of last days, God once again brought about the return and regathering of the Jews in 1948. After a period of discipline during the Tribulation, Israel will acknowledge its Messiah at Jesus’ appearance and be fully restored as His Kingdom on earth during the Millennium and into eternity. The Church, which experienced a similar restoration during the Reformation, will also be comforted with this hope of final and eternal restoration as the Bride of Christ in the New Heaven, Earth and Jerusalem.
Now, central to the entire narrative of the Old Testament Prophets was their prophecy of the Messiah as the Suffering Servant and Redeemer at His First Coming, before He returns on the Day of the Lord as the future King of Kings - Jesus Christ.
There are at least 353 Old Testament prophecies that have already been fulfilled by Jesus at His first coming. We can be sure that He will fulfill the rest when He returns. In fact, all of creation and history, and God’s plan and purposes as revealed in the Bible, are about Jesus. May the same be said of our lives - how we think and live, our perspectives and priorities, each day. May Jesus not only be our Saviour and Redeemer but also our Lord and King, reigning on the throne of our hearts, the only one whom we love with all our heart, soul and mind. Jesus is not only our Ark who rescues us from eternal judgment, but also our Temple (Jn 2:18-21) that commands our wholehearted devotion.
The last few prophets of the Old Testament - Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi - urged the exiles to finish rebuilding the Temple because - as the verse above tells us - the Messiah’s coming would very much be linked to the Temple’s existence. God would also send a messenger to prepare the way before Him, and yet we are told that His coming would be sudden/unexpected. This was what exactly happened when Jesus first came. Although announced by John the Baptist and accompanied by various signs and wonders, the people still rejected and crucified Jesus. The Temple in Jesus’ time was the most magnificent as it had ever been, but tragically the people totally missed recognising their God, their True Temple. As in the past, God will again send another messenger - in fact, He would send two of them (I’ll talk about this next time) - to announce Jesus’ return. But let us not wait until then to believe that Jesus is indeed coming soon, for the message is already being announced to us now. May we rebuild our spiritual temple and community in such a way that we will be ready to recognise and receive our King and not be caught asleep by His sudden return.
Please click here for those who want to study the Prophets in detail.
Link to presentation.
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