First the Kingdom Part 6, The Promise of the Kingdom
One of the great blessings of my life was to be born into a family of believers, and into a church family that values the Scriptures in both the Old and New Testament. They understood how the New Testament was concealed in the Old, and how the Old Testament was revealed in the New. To put it in another way, Christ was concealed in the Old and revealed in the New!
Even if one decides to start their reading of the Bible at the beginning of the New Testament, this will become evident. In the Gospel according the Matthew there are so many references to events in the narrative that fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. I submit that the New Testament cannot be fully understood and appreciated — that Christ Himself cannot be fully understood and appreciated without the foundation that was laid in the these ancient scriptures, which Jesus referred to as the Word of God, and that Jews today recognize as their Bible.
When John the Baptist and Jesus came preaching, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” the people of their day already had a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm built in them for the Kingdom. The prophets of ancient times had planted the seeds for that anticipation. Looking back we have the advantage of understanding their perspective better, but more importantly we have God’s perspective of the message that John and Jesus brought!
We have looked at the “Original Blessing” that the Creator spoke over the Creation and the humans He created. Then we saw how David, the King of Israel wondered how humanity could be worthy of this high calling to rule the creation and be reflections of God’s divinity. This is the context within which the entire Bible was written. In the Old Testament there is the promise and the mystery concerning how it will be fulfilled, and the New Testament is where the fulfillment begins to come into view.
First let us look at some of the outstanding promises found back there.
From the fall of Adam and Eve, things became progressively worse. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and was warned of the great flood that was to come upon the whole earth. (Genesis 6:8, 13).
After the Lord saved Noah and his family along with all the animals in the ark, He renewed the Original Blessing to be fruitful and to multiply.
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.”
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ” Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given.”
So while sin had entered in and death because of sin, God was still intent upon blessing us! As we continue, the plan to fulfill that blessing is revealed a little more each time. Until then He reassures us that a cataclysmic judgment to destroy every living thing will never happen again!
In Genesis chapter 12 we see the call of God to Abram, who would later be called Abraham.
Now the LORD said to Abram,
“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. “ (Genesis 12:1-3)
Abram believed God and followed Him. Little did he know how these promises would come to pass. This was an early indication that the full original blessing might still be available. Abram would both be blessed and a blessing! He was to be fruitful and multiply in the way God had originally planned. Of course we know that things were not perfect for him and his descendants. This is still the time of promise.
Isaac would be born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age, and Abraham’s faith would be tested through him. Abraham proved willing to obey God by offering his promised son, and would make a powerful prophecy himself. He declared that the LORD would provide Himself a sacrifice instead of Isaac, and 2,000 years later God would provide His only Son Jesus to sacrifice for our sins to restore the Original Blessing to humanity!
Abraham’s descendants were to be as innumerable as the sands of the seashore and the stars of heaven! This foreshadowed the 2 groups that would inherit his faith. Those descendants that were born from the natural process and followed in his footsteps, and those who would come later through Christ and their trust in Him! (Galatians 3:16, 26-29; Ephesians 2:11-22)
This great nation of both Jews and gentiles is God’s instrument for blessing all the families of the earth. It is a nation that incorporates every member in the world-wide Body of Jesus Christ! Do you see yourself as a recipient of a blessing, but also as a blessing to the nations of the world? If not, maybe you need to dig into the Old Testament a bit more!
We hope you will stay tuned until the next installment, as we continue to explore the wonderful promises presented from Genesis through Malachi! It is easy if you simply “like” Living Truth on Facebook, or subscribe to our blog at livingtruth.com