God's Big Picture: The Prophesied Kingdom
John Laws - one of the most influential voices in the 90s. On Radio.
His voice so influential and so powerful he even used to broadcast his radio show using a golden microphone.
His voice was extremely powerful. His reach into people’s lives around Australia through his radio program meant that politicians needed to listen to him. He could destroy careers.
In Lawsie as he was known, we see the power of words.
And we pick up the big picture of the bible today with some people who though perhaps not as influential as John Laws, were used by God to broadcast God’s words to the leaders and people of their day. The prophets.
God’s Big Picture
God’s Big Picture
The Kingdom of God - God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing.
Gen 1 -2 - The pattern of the Kingdom is established.
Gen 3 - The Kingdom perished. Adam and Eve
Gen 12 - The Kingdom Promised
Gen 12 - Kings/Chronicles - The Partial Kingdom… How God fulfils his promises to Abraham.
The making of a nation (from Isaac through to the Israelites leaving Egypt)
As a nation they are going to live under God’s rule. The giving on the law at Mt Sinai
And they are going to experience God’s blessing. The tabernacle. God’s tent. God is going to live with his people again.
They will do it in God’s place, Cannan the promised land.
They are ruled by God’s King who is meant to rule on God’s behalf and bring blessing to the people of God.
The Kingdom Perished… again!
The Kingdom Perished… again!
Though the Kingdom of God reaches a high point with the appointment of David as God’s king over the people and the people enjoy peace in the land under the rule of his son Solomon. That’s as good as it gets.
After Solomon things go downhill, fast. The kingdom is split in two.
King after King fail to follow God’s rule. They worship idols.
David and Solomon though good, fail in their own ways too. (David adultery, Solomon many wives and foreign horses).
And we see the pattern repeat itself.
If Israel living in the promised land is a little bit like Adam and Eve in the garden, so too is the demise.
The people fail to do what God calls them to do.
And sin means God’s people can no longer live in the garden. Or no longer in the promised land.
So the Israel and Judah (the divided kingdom) are destroyed and the people are exiled.
And in the lead up to this exile and during the exile God sends prophets. People who speak God’s word to the people, warning the people at first and then encouraging them that God has a plan. That God’s Kingdom is still yet to be fully realised.
So the prophetic books contain these warnings and encouragements.
The Kingdom Prophesied
The Kingdom Prophesied
Prophet’s speak God’s word to others.
21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
This is their claim
4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
Moses is the original prophet.
Through Moses, God revealed his law.
Through him the people of God are warned that they need to obey this law to enjoy GOd’s blessing. Or if they disobeyed, they would face God’s judgment.
The next prophets we read about are Elijah and Elisah in the book of Kings.
They have a ministry of confronting the kings and calling them to repent and trust God. Their ministry is in the northern kingdom of Israel in the 9th century BC.
Following Elijah and Elisah from the 8th century BC onwards we see more of the work of prophets who have written their own books.
Some of these prophets are active in the northern kingdom (Amos and Hosea). They are warning them to repent up until their defeat and exile under the hands of the Assyrians in 722 BC.
The rest of the prophecy we read is in Judah. Some of it like Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah (7th century BC) are in the period leading up to Judah’s exile in 597/586 BC. Other’s like Daniel are written during the exile in Babylon. Some like Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi are written after the return from exile in the 6th century BC.
All of the prophetic books have two dominant themes, Judgment and hope, both of which are based on God’s promises.
God’s judgment is a controversial thing in 2019.
But the bible, and the prophetic books in particular are full of it. In them we read off the people’s sin and the announcement of God’s judgment against it.
For example, in our OT reading from one of the prophets, Hosea, today we heard it didn’t we.
2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”
Helpful analogy in Vaughn Robert’s book, God’s big picture:
Jamie is a young boy who has just been given some new shoes. It is a rainy day and his mother knows that he likes splashing in puddles, so she warns him, ‘If you go into those puddles, you’ll be sent to your room when you get home.’ But he goes straight into the first puddle he sees. His mother tells him off: ‘If you keep on doing that, you’ll go straight to your room when you get home.’ But Jamie splashes in the next puddle he passes, and the one after that as well. So, when he gets home, he is sent up to his room, where he begins to bawl with tears. His mother speaks to him from outside the door: ‘Jamie, it’s your own fault. I told you very clearly that, if you carried on splashing in the puddles, you’d be sent to your room. You kept doing it and that’s why you’re there now.
God’s people are given very clear warning by Moses, that is reiterated by the prophets. If you turn away from God you will be judged and you will be sent into exile. You will cease to live in God’s place.
It’s remarkable actually when you think about it, that God was so patient with them. Sending many prophets however they fail to heed the warning.
Even in exile God reminds them that they have been defeated not because God is weak, but because they have disobeyed him.
God hates sin.
He will judge it.
You don’t want to be on the receiving end of it.
And the big problem that the Israelites had is they had no way of dealing with their sin. All the sacrifices in the temple were a bandaid solution to a problem of the heart.
We see in the judgment of God over the people of Israel that if anyone is ever going to have any hope of enjoying God’s blessing as God promised to Abraham people would one day, then we are going to need God to do something about our sin.
And so of course this is where the other major theme of the prophet’s comes in.
God promises that though he must judge the people for their sin, that this will not be the end of his dealing with them.
He is still a faithful God who will be faithful to the unconditional promises he made to Abraham. Hope is the other major theme of the prophets.
He is going to deal with their sin and they will be able to enjoy his blessings without sin coming along and wrecking everything!
We see that in our reading from Hosea too don’t we?
10 “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ 11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.
Hope in the midst of judgment.
Part of what the prophets are doing is calling the people to remember better times, under Moses and Joshua when they first enter the promised land and under David and Solomon when God’s kingdom is at its high point. And having bought the good times to mind, The prophets say, hey God’s got something in store for you that’s going to be like those good times of old, only so much better!!
God isn’t going to rebuild the old model. He’s going to establish the real thing. The kingdom of God. The promises of God are going to not only be partially realised, but fully!
The prophets are full of good news. That God’s people will live in God’s place, under God’s rule and blessing.
God’s people: That God’s people will expand beyond the people of Israel
6 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
God’s place: That God will inhabit not just the promised land but the whole world. His place will expand:
17 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
God’s rule and blessing: That they will be ruled by a new king like no other.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
That they will enjoy God’s blessing, his presence in a way they never have before.
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.
Waiting for more
Waiting for more
The OT ends on a hopeful note.
In 538 just 60 years after the exile had begun the Israelites are allowed to return to the promised land.
Under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah the centrality of God’s law is established in Jerusalem and the temple is rebuilt.
The OT ends in anticipation.
Though they may be back in the land, spiritually speaking they are still in exile, waiting for God to return to them and fulfil all the promises of hope the prophet’s have reminded them off.
The last prophet in the OT Malachi says:
1 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
God is going to end this spiritual exile. We know, and we’ll see next week he’s going to do it with Jesus. This is who they are waiting for.