The Person of Christ - 38 - Israel and the Nations

 

Chapter 38 - The Millennial Reign of Christ

Israel and The Nations

Sydney Maxwell

 

The glorious truth of the millennial reign of Christ may seem irrelevant to the moral and political upheavals of our time. It is possible to occupy ourselves with prophecy merely from an intellectual approach and the flood of prophetic material being published with their eye-catching titles is an evidence of a renewed interest in the doctrine of last things. The man in the street seems interested in prophecy but may quickly refuse a ?God?s Way of Salvation.?

 

To the people of God, however, there is a challenge to godly living in the great matters that concern the purpose of God for His Son. The Lord Jesus will return in glory to the scene where He was crucified and will sit upon the throne of His glory to reign as earth?s Supreme Ruler (Dan. 7:13,14; Matt. 25:31; Rev. 11:11-15, 19:11-16). The application of this theme should stir our hearts especially when we think how much emphasis the New Testament places upon it. In I Corinthians 6:1-5 it was a rebuke to carnality; in II Timothy 2:8-12 it was a reminder to consecration, and in II Peter 1:16-19 it was a revelation for confirmation. In Revelation 2:25-

27 and 3:21 we have the reassurance of reigning to those who are in the midst of mere profession.

 

We are certain that the Scriptures teach the literal reign of our Lord Jesus for a thousand years (Rev. 20:4-6). This reign will follow the coming of the Lord Jesus to earth, His victory over hostile nations gathered around Jerusalem and the consignment of the beast and the false prophet to the lake of fire (Rev. 19:17-21). In light of such plain statements of Scripture, it is hard to understand why such a reign should be denied a literal fulfillment, especially when Old Testament prophecies demand it (Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:23, 37:24). As we meditate upon the place of Israel and the nations in the Millennium may the Spirit of God enlighten our understanding! We will first consider Israel?s place in the kingdom.

 

THE PROMISES COMMUNICATED TO ISRAEL

 

As we search the Old Testament, we are made to appreciate the fact that Israel was promised both economic and political supremacy. God?s promise was, ?Thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee? (Deut. 15:6). In that day they will be the head of the nations and not the tail as presently (Deut. 28:13). God?s purpose for them was stated at the beginning of their history, ?So shall we be separated from all the people that are upon the face of the earth? (Ex. 33:16). The prophet Balaam said, ?The people shall dwell alone and not be reckoned among the nations? (Num. 23:9). That such statements have not yet been fulfilled need not surprise us. The history of their disobedience and scattering forbids it until the time of their regathering and regeneration, as taught in the vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezek. 37).

 

THE PROPHECIES CONFIRMING ISRAEL?S PLACE

 

The many prophecies relating to Israel?s place in the Millennial Kingdom confirm to the student of prophecy that a bright future awaits the nation that is now scattered and peeled (Isa. 18:2-7). The present peace treaty with Egypt is of no real consequence; all the peace plans of men are premature. When peace finally comes to Israel, it will not be from the subtle diplomacy of politicians, but from the sudden descent of the Peace Bnnger, the true Shiloh (Zech. 9:9; Mal. 4:2; Matt. 24:30). The Old Testament prophets teach us that the messianic kingdom will be established in future history, but its roots are anchored in the nation?s past history. It is to this the prophet Micah refers when he says, ?Yea the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of jerusalem? (4:8 R.V.). We are also told that the future glories of Israel will transcend all their past (Ezek. 36:11). The checkered and changing history of the nation will be a thing of the past. The permanency of their blessing is outlined by Isaiah, ?Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself, for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended? (60:20). Peace will be theirs and violence and destruction will no more invade their borders (Isa. 60:18).

 

THE PURPOSE OF GOD CONSUMMATED FOR ISRAEL

 

It stirs our souls to read such language as Micah 5:9, ?Thine hand shall be lifted up upon all thine adversaries and all thine enemies shall be cut off.? In their association with the Man who shall be the peace (Micah 5:5) they will have power (5:9); prosperity is described as ?They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree? (4:4) and ?Neither shall they learn war anymore? (4:3). They will have priority over the nations, ?And many nations shall come and say, ?Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob and He will teach us His ways? ?(Micah 4:2). To this Zechariah adds ?We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you? (8:23). The nations will then recognize Israel?s priesthood (Isa. 61:6) and the praise of Israel will be on their lips, ?I will make you a name and a praise among the people ?(Zeph. 3:20). God will fulfil His promise to them and subdue all nations under them, and choose them for His inheritance.

 

We will conclude this section with a comment on Revelation 21:12-14. The New Jerusalem is revealed to us in its eternal glory, yet seen in its relationship to the millennial earth. In this glorious city we see divine administration. The twelve gates bear the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, showing their prestige as linked with Messiah in His righteous reign. The saved nations on earth walk in the light of the city and the kings bringtheirgloryintoit(Rev. 21:24). As we envisage the glorious purpose of God for Israel, we use the words of Paul. ?Oh the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God~ How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding Out!? (past tracing, R.V. Rom. 11:33).

 

THE PLACE CONFERRED ON THE NATIONS.

 

It is of interest to turn our attention to Scripture and see the nations in relation to Israel and the throne of the King during His millennial reign. We must insist that at the commencement of the thousand years, the kingdom will be populated only by those who have accepted the Gospel of the kingdom. The proof of their faith is seen in their works as indicated by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 25:31-45. This Gospel is a proclamation of the value of the death of Christ (Rev. 7:9-17), for those who believe it have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Nations that once were enemies of Israel will be saved and find favour in the kingdom (Isa. 19:23-25). This will be in keeping with the promise of God to Abraham. ?In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed? (Gen. 12:3). Psalm 72 describes the blessing of the nations through Israel during the millennium.

 

THE PERVERSITY CONNECTED WITH THE NATIONS.

 

In reading the prophetic Scriptures it is possible to trace a subtle change in nations particularly as the millennium is progressing toward its close. We can understand this when we consider that multitudes born during that wonderful period will be unregenerate and, enemies of God as we once were (Isa. 66:23-24; Zech. 14:16-20). Punishment and plagues are pronounced on those who fail to go up to Jerusalem to worship the King at the appointed seasons. The Lord Jesus shall rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 12:5). for reproof will be necessary and disobedience will be visited with swift judgment (Psalm 18:44,45). The reason for this is explained by the words of Isaiah. ?Let favour be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness? (Isa. 26:10). It will be necessary to have teachers of righteousness, to teach th~ right ways of the Lord (Isa. 30:20-21).

 

The fact that Satan needs to be bound during the thousand years (Rev. 20:2) is another proof that under the rule of the Prince of Peace the heart of man would still listen to the lies of Satan, and be deceived by him, apart from transforming grace. When he is released, after the thousand years, he finds ready ears to listen to his lies and succeeds in a final rebellion against God and the Lamb, until fire falls from Heaven to destroy the rebels (Rev. 20:7-9).

 

We have sought to see Israel in the Millennium in the light of promise, prophecy and the fulfilled purpose of God. Their glorious future lies beyond the dark night of their tribulation. They will then be regathered, restored and reinstated in their beloved land, under the benign rule of the Messiah they had rejected and crucified. The nations also, having embraced the Man of Calvary will share in the grace and grandeur of Israel?s King and the blessings of His reign.

 

It is with joy we read the language of Paul, ?Then cometh the end? (I Cor. 15:24), when God?s eternal purpose will have been reached in the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 21:1-4) and righteousness will not only reign but dwell in the earth (II Peter 3:13). The redeemed heart yearns for its accomplishment and the language of the child of God should be ?Even so come, Lord Jesus? (Rev. 22:20).