Month: August 2013

Hosea

Prior to Christ, the special revelation of God was given to the Israelites. They were the ones who from the time of Abraham were the recipients of God’s covenants and promises. No other nation could boast of such a relationship with God. As Paul said,

…Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh…Romans 9 : 4 – 5

The hope of the Christ, the Messiah, came through the Jewish prophets. He was not foretold by the Gentile sages. And when that Messiah came, He did something that was unexpected, even though it was recorded by the prophets and found in the Old Testament: Jesus opened up the special revelation of God, and a new covenant, to the Gentiles. No longer were the Jews the exclusive owners of God’s truth. Now, because of what Jesus did on the cross, the Gentiles, once outside of the faith, could now partake in the faith. The prophet Hosea spoke about this – a far off people being brought near to God.

Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.” Hosea 1: 10

Both Peter and Paul applied these words of Hosea to the gospel they were preaching, a gospel given to them by Christ. It must have been amazing for them to see Gentiles believing in the God of the Jews, and to have assurance that the prophets, like Hosea, spoke of such things.

Here is what Paul wrote to the Romans:

What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ and her who was not beloved, ‘beloved,’ and it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’ there they shall be called sons of the living God.”…What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Romans 9: 22 – 26, 30 – 31

Here is what Peter wrote:

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood…you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 1: 1 – 2, 2: 9 – 10

To believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is to disbelieve the notion that America, or any other Gentile nation, is a nation that God has formed a special covenant relationship with. According to Scripture, God has given good news to all Gentiles, regardless of tribe or tongue, should they believe in the Christ whom the Father sent to Israel as Messiah and King.

Now is the time when God is calling all people to Himself, and many will respond. It is the cumulative responses of Jew and Gentile that will cause the sons of Israel, as Hosea writes, to be too many to count.

Daniel

Eschatology is the study of the end times, the term deriving from the Greek “eschatos”, which means “last”. The prophet Daniel had an eschatological vision of the coming Messiah.

I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed. Daniel 7: 13 – 14

In this vision the coming Messiah is called “Son of Man”, a name Jesus applied to Himself many times in the New Testament. The vision describes the return of Jesus, whom God promised to give an everlasting throne and a never-ending kingdom. I tend to think Daniel thought his vision pertained to the one and only coming of the Christ, since the reality of a first and second coming was not really revealed until Jesus walked this earth. But perhaps the Holy Spirit told Daniel about the plan of salvation in greater detail than what he recorded in his book.

Daniel is not the only book in Scripture which mentions the arrival of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven – this vision is abundantly supported by the New Testament.

But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Matthew 24: 29 – 31

But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 26: 63 – 64

So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Acts 1: 6 – 11

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4: 16 – 18

Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1: 7 – 8

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand…Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. Revelation 14: 14, 16

The Scripture teaches in multiple places that Jesus will return on the clouds of heaven. His return will be one of judgment, for it is at that time when the wheat are separated from the tares, the sheep are separated from the goats, those granted eternal life are separated from those given eternal torment.

It is fitting that Daniel, who saw such a great vision of Jesus upon the clouds, would also be the one to give the first clear reference in Scripture to the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12: 2

To those who are in Christ, who have embraced His first coming, His second coming will be a day of rejoicing. But to those who reject His first coming, His second coming will be a day of trembling. It will also be a day fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel, given thousands of years ago, and currently awaiting fulfillment.

It will be fulfilled. Are you comforted by the coming of the Son of Man? May all who are in Christ take comfort in the promise of the resurrection that awaits, a promise given to Daniel.

But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age. Daniel 12: 13