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The Kingdom in the Prophets

The promise of land and blessings to Abraham and his descendants was only temporarily fulfilled by the kingdom of Israel. But they did not keep God’s covenant, and so they were divided, the northern kingdom (Israel) being defeated by Assyria and scattered, and the southern kingdom (Judah) being taken captive to Babylon. Yet God had promised to establish David’s throne forever.

During the Babylonian captivity, Daniel prayed, confessing that Israel and Judah had deserved what had happened to them. He asked the Lord to turn His anger from Jerusalem and once again allow His face to shine on the sanctuary, for His own name’s sake (Daniel 9). Daniel understood from Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10) that the Babylonian captivity would be 70 years (Daniel 9:2). In response to his prayer, it is revealed to him that another seventy, this time seventy “sevens” were determined, “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24). This prophecy will be examined in detail in another article, but for now the point I want to demonstrate is that the return of the people to their land after the Babylonian captivity was not the final fulfillment of the prophecies.

Jeremiah 16:10-15 says that the reason for Israel’s great calamity was that they continued to serve idols. But in the same breath God promises to restore them to their land. He makes a similar prophecy in Jeremiah 23.

Jeremiah 23:
1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.
2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.

God did restore them to their land after the captivity in Babylon, but that was not the complete and final fulfillment of this prophecy or of God’s plans. Verse 3 says the remnant would be gathered out of “all countries” (the reference in Jeremiah 16, above, says, “from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them”) yet the return after the 70 years of captivity was only out of Babylon. In verse 4, “neither shall they be lacking” is rendered in the NASB and the NRSV as “nor will any be missing.” Yet only Judah was returned from Babylon. The ten northern tribes of Israel were scattered into many nations, and have yet to be returned. But the next verses describe such a return.

Jeremiah 23:
5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

When God raises up the righteous branch of David, that is, the Messiah, he will reign as king. At that time, both Judah and Israel will be saved and restored to the promised land, with peace and prosperity. (See also Ezekiel 37:15-28; 39:25-29; Hosea 3:4-5; Joel 3:16-21; Amos 9:11-15). At that time God will no longer be primarily known for bringing Israel out of Egypt, but for bringing all the scattered “seed” or descendants of Israel from out of all the heathen nations to which they had been driven. This specific statement was also made in Jeremiah 16:14-15. There are many instances in which an Old Testament prophecy is partially fulfilled in its immediate future, but is in fact a type of a further, ultimate fulfillment. The return of Judah to their land after the Babylonian captivity was only a partial fulfillment of the prophecy. One of the verses referenced above, Amos 9:15, said, “I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land.” But the Jews were driven out of their land again, after they rejected the Messiah. Yet Isaiah speaks of God restoring a remnant of His people “a second time.”

Isaiah 11:
10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Jeremiah 32:
36 And now therefore thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence;
37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:
38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:
40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.
42 For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.

Isaiah 10:
20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
21 The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.
22 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness

Paul refers to this prophecy, that a remnant of Israel would be saved, in Romans 9:27. He goes on to describe how the remnant would be saved by accepting Christ as their Messiah. However, most of them are blind to that truth, although a number of them have believed, especially in the first century Church (Romans 11:8-10). Nevertheless, Paul says that the blindness is temporary, “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). Jesus refers to a time when Jerusalem would be trodden down of the Gentiles in Luke 21:24, and Revelation 11:2 links it with the Great Tribulation, i.e. the specific period of “forty-two months” mentioned in other prophecies (see Future Events). Jerusalem has been under the control of the Gentiles since the time of Daniel, as illustrated by his visions of the successive Gentile empires. But a time will come when it will be trodden underfoot, and Israel will turn back to God, at which time the Gentile kingdoms will be subdued by God’s Kingdom.

To Be Continued…


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