Explaining Divine History – Part 4

            There is no way I can fully explain divine history.  God is infinite and He transcends both time and space.  Our finite minds will never fully comprehend divine history.  But I can seek to explain human history from God’s perspective.  That is the purpose of this series.

            We’ve looked at 1) salvation is the same throughout history; 2) Scripture must be interpreted by a literal historico-grammatical approach and 3) God’s promises given to Israel in the Old Testament were unconditional and yet to be fulfilled.  This segment briefly explains the beginning and time of the church.

            The church began after the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit described in Acts 2.  God’s organization of the church in Acts 2 established the beginning of the Bride of Christ, which will be raptured to heaven for the wedding supper of the Lamb.  The first usage of the word “church” is found in Matt 16:18 where Jesus promises that He will [future] build His church.  It is future tense meaning that the church had not yet started.

            Some people say the church began in Abraham’s tent.  The Jewish nation began with Abraham, but not the church.  The Jewish nation began with God’s covenant to Abraham called the Abrahamic Covenant.  This has yet to be fulfilled and will be fulfilled when the Lord returns at the Second Advent.

            Some people say the church replaces Israel.  Any person who trusts in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross becomes a part of the Body of Christ.  There is no difference of race in the Body of Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile (Gal. 3:28).  But racial Jews will continue to live scattered around the world during the Church Age.  They were broken off from the root (Rom. 11:19).  However, sometime in the future, at the conclusion of the Church Age, the nation of Israel will be grafted back in (Rom. 11: 24-26).  The grafting process begins shortly after the rapture of the church, during the Tribulation and will be seen in its healing fullness at the Second Advent.

            It’s interesting that the last mention of the word “church” is in Revelation 3.  That is because the church is raptured to heaven (1 Thes. 4:13-17) for the wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9).  The church, the Bride of Christ, will be joined to Jesus and the Lord ushers in the Millennial rule at the Second Advent (Zech. 14:4-11; Rev. 20:1-6). 

            The church is a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9).  Israel was family of God; the church is  royal family of God, because it is the Bride of the King of Kings. 

            How then should we live?  Holy, with fervency and always seeking to depend solely on the Lord’s Word by His Spirit.  We should live with a focus on eternity rather than any kind of attachment to the world.  We should live as royal ambassadors trying to reach others with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is the church.

            The fifth segment addresses the background of the completed canon of Scripture.

Explaining Divine History – Part 3

            I used to consider history dull and boring.  When I grew up, I realized how fascinating it is.  I also learned that the more I learn from history, I just MIGHT not repeat it.  How do you look at history?

            This short series, called “Explaining Divine History,” is seeking to establish fundamental truths in order to understand Divine History.  Part one stated that Salvation was, is and will always be the same.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).  For those who lived prior to Jesus Christ, it was the same, although they did not have the same revelation as we have in the completed canon of Scripture, so they trusted God in His revealed provision for redemption. 

Part two briefly described the biblical method of interpretation.  If you follow a “Literal Historico-grammatical” approach to biblical interpretation, you’ll establish one correct interpretation in the context of the entire Bible to harmonize all of Scripture.

      Part three isolates God’s promises to Israel.  In brief, we need to understand, “God’s promises to Israel were not merely nice words to make His people feel special, but unconditional, eternal and literal promises to the nation of Israel that have yet to be fulfilled.”  These promises were 1) unconditional covenants that depend on the integrity of God, not the fickleness of people.  What God said, He meant and He will ensure the covenants are fulfilled.  They are 2) eternal in that they are not subject to “the Old Testament period,” but now do not apply.  And they are 3) literal in that they will be literally fulfilled and we don’t need to spiritualize them to satisfy some narrow theological perspective.

When God promised Abraham a land, a seed and a blessing in Genesis 12:1-3, He wasn’t joking.  That Covenant called the Abrahamic Covenant was amplified in the Palestinian Covenant (Deut. 30:1-10) for the land, the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:12-16) for the seed and the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) for the blessing.  If Israel is now scattered and God has formed a new spiritual species in the church (2 Cor. 5:17), then how do we know covenant fulfillment must still take place?  Ezekiel explains this.

Ezekiel explains what has happened to Israel and what God will do for Israel.  This should not be symbolically interpreted.  A good student should ask, “What is the natural interpretation of the Scripture?”  Ezekiel 36:17-19 explains that God “scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries.”  That didn’t happen when the Northern Kingdom was taken captive in B.C. 722 (2 Kings 17:23) or when the Southern Kingdom was taken into exile in B.C. 586 (2 Kings 25).  Israel was scattered among the nations after 70 A.D. when the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.  The Jews continue to be scattered among the nations to this day.

God continues to demonstrate great concern for His people.  Jewish nonbelievers are greatly blessed, except when they come under persecution (Ezek 36:20-21).  Israel is not preserved as a nation or race because of how great she is, but for His name’s sake (Ezek 36:22-23).  God promises to take the Jews out of the countries (Ezek 36:24).  He declares He will cleanse them from their sin (of rebellion, independence and indifference) (Ezek 36:25).  He will regenerate them and put His Spirit in them to walk in His ways (Ezek. 36:26-27).  That has not been done yet in Israel’s history.  Furthermore, they will dwell in the land that God gave their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ezek 36:28).  That is the fulfillment of the Palestinian Covenant. 

God didn’t record these verses to be symbolically interpreted.  God didn’t promise this to Israel to give them some warm fluffy promise that wouldn’t happen.  God wrote these words for a purpose and it explains divine history.  God is not done with the nation of Israel.

The next installment will deal with the beginning and organization of the church.