Biblical Theology — 8

Biblical Theology — 8 The Perfected Kingdom   Review Last week we learned that the Kingdom of God (God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule, and enjoying God’s blessing) had yielded the first fruits of the Spirit: a taste of the blessings of heaven. We are adopted as children of God (Eph. 1:5-6). We know something of what it is like to be holy, and we long for more. And we know something of what it means to know God through Christ and to be loved by Him, and we cannot wait to feel it more. That is why we “groan inwardly.” All of this is the inevitable consequence of the fact we live in this “in-between period”, in the intersection of the ages. We are citizens of heaven, who must, for the time being, live as “strangers” in the world (Phil. 3:20; 1 Peter 1:1). But we shall not have to live away from home forever. One day the Lord Jesus will return to take us to join Him in the perfected Kingdom. God’s people — The Church Live in God’s place — The individual believer; The Church Under God’s rule — New covenant; Holy Spirit Enjoying God’s blessing — Adoption   The Book of Revelation Revelation is the last book of the Bible. It was probably written by the apostle John while he was exiled on the island of Patmos. The most likely date is during the time of the Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96). It is written in a style of literature known as “apocalpytic”, which uses symbolism to convey its message.   Interpreting Revelation Much of Revelation (Revelation 5-16) is dominated by sequences of divine judgments: seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. Over the years, there have been many attempts to interpret who, or what, they represent. Some have argued that all the symbols refer exclusively to people or institutions at the time John was writing (the preterist view). Others see the book as presenting a chronological account of the different eras through history from the first century to the second coming (the historicist view). Still others think that, from Revelation 4 onwards, the book describes only the events...

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Biblical Theology — 7

Biblical Theology — 7 The Proclaimed Kingdom   Review Last week we learned that the Kingdom of God (God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule, and enjoying God’s blessing) had come but not in all its fullness. At the end of the Gospels we saw the final picture beginning to come into focus. We called that “The Present Kingdom”: God’s people — New Adam; New Israel Live in God’s place — True tabernacle; True temple Under God’s rule — New covenant Enjoying God’s blessing — Rest Jesus taught His disciples that he would leave the earth and that there would be a delay before He returned. It is only when He comes again that everything will be put right and all discord will be banished forever. This next epoch (The Proclaimed Kingdom) looks at what the Bible teaches about what we can expect in the meantime, between Jesus’ first and second comings.   The Last Days The Bible calls the time between the first and second comings of Christ “the last days” (e.g., 2 Timothy 3:1; James 5:3). This is the period in which the New Testament letters were written and in which we still live today. It lies in the intersection of two ages: “this present age” and “the age to come” (e.g., Matthew 12:32). The Kingdom of God is both “now” and “not yet.”   The Reason for the Delay Peter predicts that skeptics will wonder whether Jesus will ever return: “in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say ‘Where is this coming He promised'” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Peter encourages us by saying “do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9). He has deliberately delayed the return of the Lord Jesus so that more people have a chance to hear the gospel and repent before it is too late.   The Sending...

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Biblical Theology — 6

Biblical Theology — 6 The Present Kingdom   Review Last week we learned that at the end of the Old Testament, the perfect Kingdom of God (God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule, and enjoying God’s blessing) is nowhere to be found. The perfect kingdom is still somewhere in the future. We called that epoch “The Prophesied Kingdom.” God’s people — A remnant; The inclusion of the nations Live in God’s place — A new temple; a new creation Under God’s rule — A new covenant; a new king Enjoying God’s blessing — Blessing to all nations   The Time Has Come We should be on the edge of our seats as read the very first words of the New Testament: “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). Jesus is the one who fulfils the promises to Abraham in Genesis 12 and to David in 2 Samuel 7. Mark begins his gospel by quoting from Malachi and Isaiah both who foretold that a herald would appear in advance of God’s king, to announce His imminent arrival and to urge people to get ready for Him. The message is clear! The waiting is over! The exile is about to end and the time of fulfillment is soon to come. Then Jesus appears, proclaiming the “good news of God…The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:14-15).   The Fulfillment of the Promises in Christ The New Testament never leads us to expect that there will be any fulfillment of the Old Testament promises other than their fulfillment in Christ. We are not encouraged to look for their fulfillment in the State of Israel, in a new temple, or a new king. That is to expect a renewal of the model that has now been dismantled. For the New Testament, the interpretation of the Old Testament is not “literal” but “Christological.” Near the end of the 19th century, a father promised his young son that he would give him a horse on his twenty-first birthday. Sometime between that promise and the son’s twenty-first birthday, cars were invented. So, when...

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