Yesterday, we began a short series considering some verses from the ‘Christmas’ story that challenge the traditional theological narrative of Christendom. As I implied yesterday, these verses should pique our interest in a search for truth. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care what men say, I want to see what Scripture says….
Thy Kingdom Come
When someone talks about the Millennial Kingdom or the future eternal Kingdom, what comes to mind? Whose Kingdom is it? Who rules over it? Who was it promised to? Who actually gets it? Etc…. At the end of the Book of Revelation, what does the Kingdom look like and who is in it?
Scripture gives a very unified story that often does not match the narrative I was taught growing up. At least, the focus I heard in church was quite different than what Scripture says.
A beloved part of the ‘Christmas’ story is the angel’s visit to Mary. Here is part of the encounter and a difficult verse.
Gabriel, a messenger of God, visited Miriam (Mary’s real Hebrew name) and said,
Luke 1:31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus (Hebrew = Yeshua). 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Here, the messenger Gabriel affirms multiple prophecies that seem to get lost in the Christian perspectives of this promised Kingdom. This Son of the Most High will,
- sit on the throne of David,
- reign over the house of Jacob (aka, Israel),
What surprises many when they dig into these verses is that they lead directly to Ezekiel 37, a chapter most are at least partly familiar with. The first part of the chapter is Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones that leads to the mid part of the chapter on the two stick prophecy followed by a detailed account of this Kingdom the Messiah will rule over. Those shocking closing verses say,
Ezekiel 37:24 “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. 25 They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will [h]place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. 27 My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. 28 And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.”’”
Notice, at the time that Ezekiel writes this, King David has been dead for several hundred years. The ‘David’ spoken of in this passage is the Messiah. Just as Gabriel prophesies to Miriam, this passage refers to (the Son of) David who will sit on the throne of David and rule over the house of Jacob, forever. Several additional details concerning this reign are revealed, details Miriam would have immediately called to mind upon hearing Gabriel’s prophecy. The subjects of this Kingdom will,
- walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them,
- live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant,
- [have] David My servant [as] their prince forever,
- [display to] the nations … that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel. And,
- [His] sanctuary is in their midst forever.
If brother Christian is expecting Jesus in some ethereal heaven far away without the Torah, including the statutes and ordinances, then he is in for a rude awakening.
Besides upholding the Torah to perform all righteousness, Yeshua, as King of Israel, has to always rule according to Torah! See Deuteronomy 17:18-20! Isaiah 2: 1-5 further confirms the Torah going forth from Zion in the last days. Myriad other verses point to Torah observance in the Millennial Kingdom… Zechariah 14:16-21; Isaiah 66:21-24; Ezekiel 40-48…. etc.
The disciples understood this because it was their most pressing question in their last conversation before Messiah was taken up into heaven. They asked,
“Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”
His answer wasn’t, ‘You bunch of dolts, haven’t you figured out that I am starting a new religion?’ Rather, Yeshua’s answer is, ‘It is not for you to know the times or seasons…’ I.e., ‘Yes, I am restoring Kingdom Israel, but you don’t need to know the schedule. Just preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.’
Lest we think the Apostles sang a different tune, James, the head of the Jerusalem Council says, quoting Amos 9,
Acts 15:13 …James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. 15 With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written,
16 ‘After these things I will return,
And I will rebuild the [f]tabernacle of David which has fallen,
And I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will restore it,
17 So that the rest of [g]mankind may seek the Lord,
And all the Gentiles [h]who are called by My name,’
18 Says the Lord, who [i]makes these things known from long ago.
19 Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from [j]things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. 21 For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since [k]he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”
James acknowledges that those from among the nations, the goyim, the gentiles can come into the Body of Messiah and be part of the rebuilt Sukkah, or Tent, of David but they need to do four immediate things to be cleaned up for table fellowship:
- cease idolatry or anything associated with it (unclean meats and pagan practices)
- cease fornication, generally associated with pagan cultic practices
- cease eating strangled animals (cultic temple practice to preserve the blood)
- cease eating/drinking blood, again connected with temple cultic ritual
All of these are very basic Torah instructions for cleanliness, a basic necessity for fellowship with Yehovah’s covenant people. James then relays that once cleaned up for fellowship the gentiles are expected to,
- learn Moses (Torah),
- in the synagogue,
- on the Sabbath.
This sequence we see here exactly fits the expectations of the prophets as recorded in Scripture for the Kingdom of David over which the Messiah rules. It is simply unavoidable that all who would be a part of this Kingdom will walk in the Torah, even the statutes and ordinances as we saw in yesterday’s post. The King will enforce the Torah! That is HIS Constitution for the nation.
This helps explain in part why in Revelation the 144,000 are from the 12 tribes! It helps explain why the gates into the New Jerusalem are named after the 12 tribes! It helps explain why the New Jerusalem is situated in, well, Jerusalem!
Folks, if you are celebrating the birth of the King, you may want to consider who/what He is King over, and what He expects of His citizens.
Eph. 2:11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, [i]excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off [j]have been brought near [k]by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the [l]barrier of the dividing wall, 15 [m]by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might [n]make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, [o]by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the [p]saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy [q]temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
Notice who was far away, strangers and aliens that needed to be brought near… Not the Jews, but the Gentiles. Notice the name of the Kingdom: Israel! And, the King rules over it.
If you celebrate the birth of the Messiah and fall under His headship, I recommend digging to understand what His house rules are… May you come to worship Him in spirit and TRUTH!