The second major point in the message of the prophets relates to the faithfulness of God. As the prophets continued to preach and write during this period, they made it abundantly clear that, central to the coming renewal of God’s rule over the nations was a revitalizing of His covenant relationship with His chosen people. A day was coming – as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Zechariah foretold – when God would make a new and lasting covenant with His people, would send a new King and Shepherd to rule and keep them, and would once again extend His blessings through His people to the Gentiles, even to the extent of including the Gentiles among the chosen people of God (Hosea, Amos).
All this would be a continuation of God’s gracious way of relating to His people. They had done nothing in the past to cause Him to set His favor upon them. In the present they were busy forfeiting that favor as many ways as they could. But though they were faithless, God was faithful, and He would not allow His promises to fall to the ground. Instead, the promises to Abraham would be renewed and expanded beyond anything God had ever declared before in a new Kingdom of grace and glory.
From heaven to earth
How could this possibly be? That must have been the question on the minds of many. How could anyone exceed the achievements of Solomon? And yet we see what happened to him and his kingdom after him. This introduces the third primary point in the message of the prophets. What Isaiah and Daniel helped the people of Israel to understand was that events in heaven were transpiring, and would transpire, which would bring to earth a King, sent from heaven, the very Son of the Most High, Who would inherit the throne of David, bring in the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy, and extend the favor of God to all who submitted to Him.
A mere earthly kingdom could not fulfill all that God was promising. It would take an action of heavenly provenance and character, bringing divine authority and power in a new way to earth, so that the blessings of God might flow to and through His people in the days that were coming.
And that great coming event was somehow bound up with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God upon the peoples of the earth (Ezekiel, Joel). In the Spirit of God heaven would come to earth with power to transform the souls of men (Ezek. 36.26, 27) and to further the Kingdom and glory of God.
A divine King
Finally, the prophets insisted that all this hope and promise would be accomplished by the coming of One Who is the Son of Man, and yet a descendant of King David; the offspring of the Ancient of Days, for Whom the Kingdom was being prepared, and yet the Lord of David and all the people of God. He would come to suffer and die but to rise again (Is. 53), in the process gaining a Kingdom which He would bestow upon His faithful ones to seek, attain, enjoy, and expand unto all the nations of the earth (Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, Micah).
The faithful in Israel, upon hearing these promises and reading these visions, might have been put in mind of the promised “Seed of the woman” who would destroy the enemy of men’s souls (Gen 3.15), of the Shiloh Who was to come and for Whom the Kingdom was being prepared (Gen. 49.8-11), or of the Prophet and King that Moses had foretold and Nathan had revealed to David. Thus the ancient vision of a coming Kingdom would have been renewed and enlarged in these more precise promises of a King to come.
Prepare for the Kingdom
Whether it was to seek revival and renewal in the midst of decay (2 Chronicles), work for prosperity and fruitfulness while in captivity (Jeremiah), or build a humble and unadorned temple in anticipation of a greater temple to come (Haggai), the people of God were to be diligent and faithful, and to focus on the promised Kingdom, doing whatever the present required in order to prepare for it.
So the Old Testament closes with this gathering storm of divine blessing, growing on the horizon of the future. All this would break into human experience with the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Man and the King of Israel and the nations. It is to His vision of the Kingdom of God that we shall next turn our attention.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.