by Bob Wheeler


Edward Hicks, "The Peaceable Kingdom"

Edward Hicks, “The Peaceable Kingdom

As we saw in our last blog post, although this present age is filled with injustice and oppression, justice will finally prevail. God will have the last word. But how will that happen? As we noted, the answer to that question occupies a great part of the prophecies of the Bible.

    For the prophets of ancient Israel the problem of divine justice was acute. Israel, alone among the peoples of the ancient Near East, understood that there was only one true God, and they further understood that they were God’s chosen people. Yet Israel was not always faithful to its God, and often fell prey to the seductions of the paganism of the surrounding nations. In response God would send them into exile, taken captive by nations more powerful than themselves.

    This chain of calamities could not help but raise disturbing questions in the minds of believers in the one true God. Does this not represent a colossal failure on God’s part? Is this not the triumph of paganism over the worship of the one true God? What about all the promises that God had made to Israel’s forebears, to bless them forever? Was it all a sad delusion?

    The answer is no. Right at the very beginning Israel had been told that if they did not obey the commandments of the Lord that a variety of curses would befall them, including foreign exile (Dt. 28:15-68). But God also promised that when they were in exile they would remember what God had told them, and would turn back to Him. The “. . . Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you” (Dt. 31:3; NKJV). But this would involve more than just a return to the promised land. It would entail a spiritual renewal as well. “And the Lord your God will circumcise you heart and the heart of your descendents, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (v. 6; cf. 4:23-31).

    Sadly, Isaiah, Jeremiah and other prophets lived to see the first part of this prophecy play out in their own time. It fell to them to deliver the message of Israel’s impending demise. And yet, in the midst of all the doom and gloom, there was a message of hope as well. Isaiah, for instance, foresaw a time when Israel’s fortunes would be reversed. Instead of Israel being carried off to captivity in foreign lands, the nations of the earth would be flocking to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel.

        “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days

         That the mountain of the Lord’s house

         Shall be established on the top of the mountains,

         And shall be exalted above the hills;

         And all nations shall flow to it.” (Isa. 2:2).

The passage goes on to describe how God

        ” . . . shall judge between the nations,

         And rebuke many people;

         And they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

         And their spears into pruning hooks;

         Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

         Neither shall they learn war anymore.” (v. 4)

    At the center of the future utopia is the person of the Messiah. He will be a king in the line of David, and will be the perfect ruler.

        “For unto us a Child is born,

         Unto us a Son is given;

         And the government will be upon His shoulder.

         And His name will be called

         Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

         Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

         Of the increase of His government and peace

         There will be no end,

         Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,

         To order it and establish it with judgment and justice

         From that time forward, even forever.

         The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 9:6,7).

The Child, of course, was the Babe in Bethlehem, and Jesus is the Messiah. (“Christ” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew “Messiah” – the “anointed One.”) He is the One who will reign over the earth in peace and righteousness.