Isaiah 46:9b-10, “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done.”
We know that the end of the age, as many disagreements about the “train schedule” as there are, is not a mystery to the Lord our God. We may fail to understand, even as we do our best to read the Bible naturally, with all of the historical and literary context we can. But even in our failure to grasp the finer details, to keep all of the progressive revelation straight which covers multiple books and hundreds of years, we can trust God. I still have questions after watching “Tenet” and reading multiple blog posts about it, so I also don’t claim to have every moment of the culmination of world history pegged, either. But I must affirm every passage of Scripture and teach what I believe it says.
Keeping that in mind, I want to look at two Old Testament books. All I really want to do is show you the passages that deal with the end of the age and give a short summary. Some give revelation on the order of events, some focus on the nation of Israel, and some speak to the resurrection(s). Either way, we could spend the next six months parsing out all of the passages that in some way speak to the same truth: the Father is sending the Son again, but this time he comes to gather all that is his.
So the purpose of this post is to give a sense of the enormity of Old Testament passages that do actually inform our understanding of the coming kingdom of God. At different times in the future, we’ll return to specific passages. Many of the Old Testament passages are longer prophecies or narratives, so they would each require their own studies. But there is a lot still to gain simply from knowing where to turn.
First, Daniel 10-12. This is the fourth vision Daniel receives. It involves battles between two kings with Israel stuck in the middle. This period of tribulation ends with the promise of resurrection. While it seems as though this passage may point to one resurrection, the natural reading can be harmonized with the two-resurrection interpretation of Revelation 20. Even Daniel 12 mentions two destinies: some to everlasting life and some to everlasting contempt.
Second, Ezekiel 20. God promises to restore Israel in the future through judgment, just as he did with the Israelites in the wilderness after the exodus. Many take this as a reference to the coming kingdom and not the return from the seventy years of exile because even after exile, Israel was not reunited and was still under foreign oppression. They would still be considered Persians, then Greeks, then Romans.
Third, Ezekiel 40-48. This is a massive description of a newly-built temple. In chapter 43, the glory of the Lord again enters the temple as it did in the first temple. Once the Lord enters, he says he will never leave. Israel will never again defile the temple with false worship. This has to be a totally future event, not just for Ezekiel, but for us, as well.
Fourth, Zechariah 8. God speaks of a time when he will return to Zion and there will be peace. Old men and women will be respected in the city, and young boys and girls will play in the street. God will regather the nation of Israel to the land. God says he will deal with his people as he did at the time they rebuilt the temple, but he will make them prosper himself. Fasting will be replaced with joyful times. The nations will come to Jerusalem because they have heard of the good things of God.
Fifth, Zechariah 14. Instead of the peace of chapter 8, there is battle. God will bring the nations to wage war on Jerusalem, and terrible things will take place because of it. But, God will fight that battle and win. The Lord will be king, not just over Jerusalem, but all the world. Jerusalem will never again be destroyed. Those from the nations who survive will worship in Jerusalem every year. Dissenters will not receive any rain on their land. This seems to coincide with the millennial kingdom of Revelation 20.
Both testaments ensure that we know that God has a plan for the end of the age. It involves complete restoration for creation and judgment on those who reject the mercy of God. God’s plan involves both Israel and Gentiles being restored to right worship.
With all of the passages that have a direct link to the end of then age, it’s clearly been important to all of God’s people throughout time. The idea of an earthly kingdom established before the eternal state is not a foreign thought to the Old Testament. The New Testament simply establishes more revelation concerning the same truth.
We’re going to move on from the millennial kingdom for now, but it’s worth more study in the future.
Next week we’ll move on to more theological topics. I’d like to develop a teaching device, or a catechism, for the church. We need more resources like this, particular to Mt. Pisgah, that we can use to teach our families, young and old alike. So in the next several weeks, we’ll be developing the nuggets that will turn into this kind of resource. It will include several pieces, like commentary on the 10 commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, Old and New Testament overviews, questions and answers, a paragraph on key doctrines, and more.
Until then, we pray with the apostle John and all Christians since, “Come, Lord Jesus!”