Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Essence of the Gospel Message - Especially as Pertains to the Theme of the Coming Kingdom - Luke 1:67-75

67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
72To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

Here's another idea for further thought - about Messianic prophecies, the return of Christ and the coming Kingdom.

Let's imagine a military General promised, "I shall return", and the oppressed people take comfort in knowing that the general will subdue their enemies when he comes. The day the General returns, people are declaring every man to his neighbour that the promise has been fulfilled and the day of their liberation from their enemies has come. But it may take several weeks, or longer, before all their enemies are actually subdued. Nevertheless, the announcement was still true that the day of their promised liberation had come on the day the General arrived.

Perhaps in a similar way, the Messianic prophecies of God's coming judgment and coming Kingdom were indeed fulfilled when Jesus was born in the manger in Bethlehem - but in like manner as the military General's landing was only the start of his promised mopping-up operation, so the birth of Christ, and the earthly ministry of Christ, and the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Christ, were only the beginning of the total fulfillment of the full-package of the Messianic promises - the remainder being fulfilled throughout Church history to a limited extent perhaps, but ultimately and fully at the return of Christ.

The Gospel as a message comprises of the package-deal message, even though the ultimate fulfillment of each of the components of the message may in history be separated by thousands of years or longer. But of course there is an individual receiving of the full package deal in a spiritual, intrinsic, down-payment sort of a way, in the here and now. Perhaps there may even be corporate realizations of many aspects of the promises in regions, or in times of history. But the fullest sense of the promises won't be received until the coming of Christ and His Kingdom. Nevertheless, intrinsically the promises were fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

So when Zechariah prophesied that the birth of a baby fulfilled the promises that Israel would be delivered out of the hands of their enemies, it was as true as it was to say a country's promise of liberation was fulfilled the moment the military General's feet landed on the beach. Yes, Jesus' birth, in fact even John's birth, intrinsically fulfilled or in a sense heralded the promise to deliver Israel out of the hand of all their enemies - but historically it won't happen in fulness until the return of Christ. It will also only happen for the remnant who believe. Some of the remnant may experience it to varying degrees and at various times before the return of Christ too. It may also be experienced in a spiritual sense. But in any sense, it's true to say the promises were fulfilled by Christ.

It could be the same with end-times prophecy, such as Malachi, Daniel and the Olivet Discourse, and maybe even the Book of Revelation. Perhaps some events which historically may end-up being separated by thousands of years or longer, are described almost as if they were a single event - because the package-deal is intrinsically one and the same even though God in His longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, has extended the time.

Maybe that's why Jesus' answer to the question of His coming and His answer to the question of the destruction of the Temple make the events seem like one event - because intrinsically they are, even though historically they have ended-up being separated by a period of time.

Maybe that's why Daniel's prophecy about the mountain filling the earth sounds like something that happened right away, when historically the coming of Christ as a baby and as a prophet and as the Lamb of God to take away our sins - and His coming as King of kings and Lord of lords - may end-up being separated by thousands of years.

Maybe that's why Malachi's prophecy about Elijah coming and the Lord suddenly coming to His temple - before the great and noteable day of the Lord - are both made to sound almost like one day - because intrinsically that was the package-deal message of the day, even though historically there may be a time-period of thousands of years, due to God's longsuffering, not willing that any should perish.

If so, then regardless of where we are at in the timeline of ultimate history, our message is and should be still intrinsically the same - the same as John's, Jesus's, and the Apostles'. Hallelujah! It's the same Gospel message!

It's a message of fulfillment and of yet-to-be fulfilled, at the same time. It's a message of redemption and of judgment. It's a message of individually receiving Jesus and of the imminent ultimate realization of His kingdom - both intrinsically wrapped in the same packaging, as on offer, although the historical timing will differ, by how long nobody knows.

If so, then let's recover the same message of hope, of joy, of gladness, of realization, of promise - hallelujah!

Just an idea for further expansion.

1 comment:

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