Dec 26, 2008

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

By Jack Kelley

On the night Jesus was born, the Parthians (remnant of Persia and forerunners of today’s Iran) and the Romans (forerunners of the End Times Kingdom of the anti-Christ) were at odds with each other. The Syrians didn’t like the Jews and had tried unsuccessfully to conquer them, their attempt having been thwarted by the Maccabean revolt. Israel’s sovereignty had all but vanished, and the nation’s very existence was in doubt. Their King didn’t have the country’s best interests at heart, and many questioned the legitimacy of his government.

There was internal strife among the Jewish leadership too. Liberals were calling for accommodation with their neighbors while conservatives pointed to scriptural mandates requiring them to protect the sanctity of the Promised Land.

Because of Daniel’s prophecies, more and more Israelites believed the Messiah was due, although there was no agreement on what He was going to do when He got here. Most just wanted Him to kick their enemies out of the country, restore their sovereignty, and bring them peace. But it had been a long time since anyone had heard from God and the majority no longer believed in His promises.

The fact that things are still the same 2000 years later demonstrates man’s intransigence, not God’s impotence. In offering His Kingdom to all who would accept it, the Lord was not surprised when there were relatively few takers, and almost none among the leadership of any involved country. It was simply another chapter in man’s sorry history of stubborn self-determination.

He knew they would reject Him, and in fact had even said that He hadn’t come to bring peace to the Earth, but a sword. (Matt. 10:34) The only peace He was bringing was a personal one between God and those individuals who would accept it. (Colossians 1:19-20) Sadly, most wouldn’t.

No. He knew that even though the Jews prayed for their Messiah to come, what they wanted was a warrior who would drive out the Romans and restore them to their former position of prominence in the world. Not believing they were sinners, they saw no need for a Savior. Even His disciples, after three years of His teaching, and personal observation of His death and resurrection would ask Him, “Lord, are you now going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

Peace On Earth? Not So You’d Notice

So where did the “Peace on Earth, good will toward men” idea come from? It was the salutation the angelic choir used in addressing Earth on the night Jesus was born. (Luke 2:14) It’s similar in meaning to “Shalom Alechem”, a traditional Hebrew greeting that means “peace be with you.” It wasn’t meant to announce the beginning of a new era of peace. That could only happen after the sin problem that had estranged man from God had been resolved. And if you read the original language carefully, you’ll find that Luke 2:14 literally means, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of good will.” It was the expression of a desire that those whose hearts were right would be at peace that night.

And how about His title, Prince of Peace? That comes from Isaiah 9:6. But again, look carefully at the wording of this prophetic passage, and see what’s happened and what hasn’t.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Only two parts of this prophecy have actually been fulfilled. The Child was born and the Son was given. All the rest awaits a future fulfillment. Since the prophecy is sequential, before He can be hailed as the Prince of Peace, He must assume His position as head of Earth’s government, and that doesn’t happen until well into the Book of Revelation.

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15) Having declared the Earth His Kingdom, the Lord must now take possession of it. Yes, He had created it. But then He gave dominion over it to Adam, who promptly lost it to Satan, who’s held it ever since. Jesus redeemed it back at the cross, and now begins the long awaited action to re-possess it.

The final series of Revelation judgments, called the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath, are found in Revelation 16-18, and describe the Lords’ victorious battle to wrest control of Planet Earth from the usurper Satan. Then come Revelation 19, His Glorious Return, and Revelation 20, the inauguration of His reign as King of the Earth, head of its government. Then his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

In the mean time, we know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. (1 John 5:19) And as long as Satan is in control, the world will never voluntarily choose to welcome our King, any more than it did on the night He was born.

What Happens Now?

So one day when God’s perfect time has come, He’ll whisk His church away to our hiding place and begin establishing by force that which He previously offered by choice. He’ll do this over a seven year period of time to give those who missed joining the church every possible opportunity to repent. But again, most will mistake His kindness for weakness and resist.

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.“Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2:1-6)

Those who believe they’re running things, but are really puppets of the usurper, will discover the enormous error of their ways. Having scoffed and sneered at the helpless Lamb of God they’ll come face-to-face with the all powerful Lion of Judah.

Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:10-12)
When His patience is finally exhausted, it doesn’t take much to put an end to things.

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. (Rev. 20:1)

On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (Zechariah 14:8-9)

And finally there will be peace on Earth, and good will toward men. The Prince of Peace will make it so. Merry Christmas.

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