Gospel Glory

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35. Does the Old Testament contain visions of glory for the gospel era, and not just judgment at the beginning of that era?

Yes. These Scriptures below are only a small portion of what could be gathered under this head. A diligent reading of the Old Testament will reveal many more.

God gives a wonderful promise to Abraham:

And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed . . . (Gen. 26:4; cf. 18:18, 22:18)

The New Testament interprets this as a promise realized in the gospel, and applied to the entire earth through the Great Commission. Among other places this is taught in Romans 4:13 — For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

David predicts that the world will come to Christ.

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’S, and He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship; all those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive. A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation, they will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this (Psalm 22:27-31).

This psalm is very clearly messianic — the New Testament repeatedly cites it as such. But after the portions where the Lord’s crucifixion is so plainly prophesied, what follows? All the ends of the world shall remember, and turn to the Lord. Christ will rule over the nations.

Another passage is found in Psalm 110:

A Psalm of David. The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! (Psalm 110:1-2)

This psalm is quoted repeatedly in the New Testament, and it is clearly applied to Christ, who was seated at the right hand of God the Father after His ascension into heaven. How long will He remain seated there? The answer given in the psalm is that He will reign until His enemies are all made His footstool.

The Lord is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries (Psalm 110:5-6).

Isaiah teaches us the same:

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Is. 11:9).

This glorious vision is not only presented to us, but Isaiah also tells us when it when come to pass — it will happen in the day of the Root of Jesse. And the apostle Paul quotes this portion of Scripture has having been fulfilled in his day — two thousand years ago (Rom. 15:8-12).

Daniel also ministers to us.

And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold — the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure (Dan. 2:44-45).

As the vision makes clear, the stone in question, which is the kingdom of God, grows gradually until it fills the whole earth. The dream is certain and its interpretation is sure.

The point, made again and again the Old Testament, was not at all lost on the writers of the New Testament. At the council of Jerusalem, the brother of the Lord says this.

“After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up; so that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the LORD who does all these things” (Acts 15:16-17).

This citation of Amos by James is one of the mildest expressions of this expectation in the New Testament. The thought is pervasive.

36. So how does this tie in with passages traditionally applied to the end of the world?

A good example would be the teaching found in Matthew 24.

Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:1-3)

It is important to note that the disciples are not asking a series of disconnected questions. Their questions hang together, and we must not try to cram several thousand years in between the answers.

We must first note the importance of taking care before the end of the age. In Matthew 24:4-13, Jesus warns His disciples to be on guard against false signs of the end before the end. There was going to be a great deal of turmoil in the Roman Empire prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, and Jesus did not want them to panic at every new crisis. It is important to remember that this section contains many so-called signs of the end which Jesus expressly says are not signs of the end. But then He comes to the point of their question — the end of the age, not the end of the cosmos.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matt. 24:14-22).

37. Why should we understand this as having a first century fulfillment?

There are a number of reasons why we should understand this as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem. The first is the reference to Daniel’s abomination. In the first century, there were also false Christs. Verses 23-28 show that not only are false Christs to be resisted before the time of the end, they will also have to be resisted at the time of the end. But the real coming will be like lightening; there will be no debate.

38. And we already discussed the next section, the one talking about a “collapsing solar system.”

That is right.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matt. 24:29-31).

This is the passage that confuses many. How could these events be speaking of the first century?

We have already covered the collapsing heavens. Again, the answer is found in Isaiah 13. Everywhere the Old Testament prophets speak this way, they are always talking about a temporal destruction of a nation or city. The New Testament is no different.

Also, the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven is a quotation from Daniel 7:13. Again, Scripture interprets Scripture. Daniel is not referring to a coming to earth; rather, he says that the one like a son of man comes into the throne room of the Ancient of Days. This does not refer to the Second Coming; it refers to Christ’s ascension and enthronement on high.

39. But then what happens?

Christ’s messengers (angels) are sent out to gather in the elect. This is referring to the great gospel work of proclaiming the Christ’s gospel throughout the entire earth.

40. What about the next few verses?

Jesus teaches us from the fig tree.

Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near–at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away (Matt. 24:32-35).

Christ teaches us here that all these things are a portent of summer — not the long winter that many Christians assume is characteristic of our age. Jesus also settles the matter of when all these things prior to this point will happen before one generation passes. It will happen within one generation, and the generation Jesus was speaking of was the one in which He was teaching. And it all came to pass.

41. Does the New Testament show us this same vision of glory?

Yes. There are a number of places in the New Testament where the Old Testament prophetic vision is picked up and applied to the gospel era.

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