The Big Picture – The Mystery of God’s Will

Have you ever wondered why we are here?

What is the real purpose – if any – for our existence? Are we here purely by chance, the result of an accident, or is there something more to this life? Scientists, philosophers and some of the greatest minds have pondered this question and many individual opinions and theories have been put forward.

However, standing out from the crowd in this ‘sea’ of theories and ideas is the Bible. Unlike all other philosophical and religious writings, it is not the result of just one man’s opinions and observations, but rather it was written by approximately 40 people covering many generations and from completely different backgrounds and situations. The Bible itself claims that these people wrote as God inspired them (Ex 34:27-28 /  2 Tim 3:16 / 2 Peter 1:20-21). Furthermore, the Bible declares that there is a reason, purpose and divine plan for all that has been, and all that will be in the future.

It is in this most amazing and unique book that we find a viable alternative to ‘man’s’ ideas about the meaning of life.

The opening words of the Bible start with a bold statement: “In the beginning God…..” No attempt is made to prove God’s existence, in fact the Bible itself states that only fools would presume to say ‘there is no God’. (Psalm 14:1)

The universe and everything in it provide sufficient proof for the hardest of skeptics, and if this is not enough, there is the Bible itself. It is a book that has, without question, stood the test of time; particularly in regard to the overwhelming number of detailed prophecies which make up one third of its contents. Time after time after time the Bible has been shown to be supernatural in origin by the exact fulfillment of prophecies given hundreds and even thousands of years before!

The constant theme running through the Bible is that God wants to have a relationship with His creation, in particular with mankind who the Bible states was created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). No other created being can claim the status that has been given to mankind, we are the ‘masterpiece’ of His creation and have been created to walk in perfect harmony with our Creator.

According to the Bible our history started with Adam and Eve, God told them to “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28) so that they, and their offspring, could rule and have dominion over all creation, walking with, and worshiping their God.

All was going well until Adam and Eve purposely went against God’s clear instruction (Gen 2:16-17) thereby introducing ‘sin’ into the human race.

The Bible reveals that the Devil, once a mighty angel who rebelled against God, tempted man into disobeying God in the hope that he could destroy God’s masterpiece, gain the control of the world for himself and ruin any plan God had of a relationship with His creation.  On the surface it looked as though the Devil had succeeded, surely there was no way back for man, no possibility of God and man ‘walking’ together in harmony? God’s plan however was much bigger, and God had already allowed for this ‘twist’ in events.

God had told Adam: “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). It is clear that the punishment for sin was to be death. However, by making death the punishment for Adam’s sin, God had ‘built in’ an incredible escape route. If someone could be found who would die in man’s place, one who would be a ‘substitute’, God’s judgement (that sin was to be punished by death) would be satisfied and a way out would be made available for anyone willing to accept the offer.

To illustrate this, consider someone who gets a parking ticket, the authorities are not concerned who pays the fine as long as the fine is paid. Once this is done the ‘law’ has been satisfied.

God knew that for this to work a substitute would need to be found who would die in man’s place. Any scheme based on man would fail because anyone from ‘inside’ the human race would have inherited sin from Adam (See Rom 3:10 & Psalm 51:5) and therefore would be unable to be a substitute; only someone without sin could pay.

So God, having already pre-planned it before creation (Rev 13:8), in His mercy and wisdom decided to send His only Son into this world. In this way, Jesus, by living a perfect and sinless life would be able to pay the price of sin on mankind’s behalf by dying in our place, and thus make a way back to God for anyone who accepts Jesus as their ‘substitute’.

This is told in the most famous verse in the Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

So after the Garden of Eden God’s ‘master plan’ was not dead, in fact it was just beginning. God had known full well what the outcome of the ‘Garden of Eden’ experience would be. It was not a mistake but a necessary step toward the ultimate fulfillment of His plan!

The Devil, realising that he hadn’t ‘won’ by tempting Adam and Eve into sinning, tried again to destroy God’s plan, and mankind in the process! Genesis 6:1- 8 records how the Devil sent some of his angles to infiltrate the human race. The offspring of these ‘fallen angles’ were the giants of whom so much legend and folklore is told.

God in His mercy rescued a man called Noah and his family but destroyed these evil beings by sending the flood that destroyed all living things from that face of the earth (Gen 6:13 & Gen 7:4). Noah and his family were saved and then went on to repopulate the earth. In fact, all the nations in the world today can trace their ancestry back to Noah and his three sons!

Sometime after Noah, God chose one man by the name of Abraham and promised him that He would make his descendants into a great nation, and that eventually, all the nations of the world would end up being blessed because of him.

“Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  (Gen 12:1)

God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his descendants to be their God and for them to be His people. (Gen 17:1- 7). In the book of Exodus, God reiterated this to Moses and told him to tell the people of Israel (Abraham’s descendants): “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Ex 19:5-6)

And again: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” (Deut 7:6)

However, once again the Devil tried to thwart God’s plan by sending yet more fallen angles that, in turn, produced more giants, the intention being that these giants would annihilate Israel. The reason for this was that God had told Adam back in the Garden that He would send a Saviour, (Gen 3:15), now it was clear that the promised Saviour would be one of Abraham’s descendants. If the Devil could wipe out Israel, the Saviour could not be born, and humanity and God’s ultimate plan would be over. To this end these tribes of giants centred on the land that God had promised to Abraham – what we now know as Israel.

However, as one would expect, God engineered the circumstances to ensure Israel’s survival.

During the lifetime of Jacob (Abraham’s grandson), as recorded at the end of the book of Genesis, God took Jacob’s family (comprising just 75 people) out of the land of Canaan and brought them to the land of Egypt. Joseph, who became 2nd in command of the land of Egypt, knew that all that had befallen him had been part of God’s plan. In replying to his brothers regarding the way they had treated him he said: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”   (Gen 50:20-21)

Israel were saved and although eventually made to work as slaves by the new Pharaoh, by the time they came out of Egypt four generations later, Israel had grown into a nation of approximately 2 million people – with an incredible amount of wealth! Now they were ready to take back the Promised Land from the giants! And this they did under the leadership of Joshua.

In the 40 years after leaving Egypt and before entering the ‘Promised Land’, God gave Israel his Law (including the 10 commandments). This was a very important step in God’s plan. In order to prove to mankind that we were sinners, God set a list of rules – rules that He knew in advance we could not keep!

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Rom 3:19-20)

The apostle Paul said in the book of Galatians “But the Scripture has confined all under sin”, in other words, because no one is able to keep God’s law, everyone is in the same boat, everyone is a sinner.

Initially people may feel offended at the thought of being called a sinner, however we can soon see that there is no getting away from it. All of us have lied at some time – this makes us a liar. Probably all of us have at some time ‘borrowed’ something – regardless of the size this makes us a thief. And this is just looking at two of God’s commandments; there are about 600 different commands in all!

The Apostle James said, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” (James 2:10-11)

When explaining the real purpose of the Law, Paul said “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ,” (Gal 3:24)

So Paul says in effect, that by giving us His law, God has enabled all mankind to see that we are guilty before Him – and the purpose of the law was to show that we needed a Saviour!

After the Law had been given, God said to Israel “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God”  (Deut 28:1-2).

However if they did not obey His voice, they would be punished and scattered throughout the world: “If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD, then………… the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known–wood and stone. And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life. In the morning you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were morning!’ because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see”.  (Deut 28:58-66)

This is one of the most remarkable prophecies in the Bible and has been fulfilled with amazing accuracy, the people of Israel have been scattered around the world and experienced persecution unlike any other nation. Their life has indeed ‘hung in doubt’!

The book of Judges records that Israel served God all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua (Judges 2:7), but when these people had died,every man did what seemed right in their own eyes.’ (Judges 17:6).

The majority of the rest of the Old Testament is taken up with the stories of how Israel served God for a short time, soon forgot Him, became oppressed by their enemies, cried out to God for help, witnessed a mighty deliverance, and then repeated the above time and time again.

In between all of this is the story of king David, whom the Bible says was ‘a man after God’s own heart’ (1 Sam 13:14). God made various promises to David regarding his future including that his throne and kingdom would last forever: “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever… This referred to David’s son, Solomon, but the prophecy continued… And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Sam 7:12-16)

History confirms that Jesus was a descendant of king David (See Matt 1:1-17), and it was to be through Jesus that David’s throne would be established forever; although as we will see, God’s plan for David himself wasn’t finished yet either.

After David’s time, things in Israel started to get progressively worse with kings abandoning the worship of the one true God and following after idol gods. God allowed the nation to be split in two, the northern part being known as ‘Israel’, and the southern part being known as ‘Judah’.

Although Judah was not quite as bad as Israel, both ‘halves’ of the nation continued to disobey God. In response to this and in accord with prophecies that had been given, God allowed Israel and Judah to be oppressed by the surrounding nations and eventually to be taken captive. Israel was the first to be ‘carried away’ from their land in about 722 B.C. by the king of Assyria. Most of these people (and their descendants) have remained in exile to this day. Finally, after a siege at Jerusalem, the people of Judah were also taken away from their own land in 587 B.C. by king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

However, after 70 years of this captivity in Babylon, as prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 29:10), a ‘remnant’ of Judah returned to the land of Israel and rebuild the city of Jerusalem as recorded in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. It was from this time on that these returning Israelites became known as ‘Jews’.

The Jews remained in their land up until the time that Jesus came. However as we know, the Jews rejected Jesus, not believing Him to be their Messiah, and had Him crucified.

The book of John says, “He came to His own (i.e. the Jewish people), and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become sons of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-13)

On the surface it looked as though things were not going too well. God’s ‘special treasure’ and ‘chosen nation’ were mostly scattered around the world, the few that had returned from exile had rejected Jesus and had Him crucified. To the casual observer, God’s promise that ”they (Israel) shall be My people, and I will be their God” (Jer 24:7) (Jer 32:38) (Ezek 11:20) (Zech 8:8) looked remarkably unlikely to happen any time soon!

However as we now move into New Testament times, the ‘pieces of the jigsaw’ start to fall into place and God’s complete plan starts to unfold.

When Jesus came He said that He would build His church – and that not even the counsel (gates) of hell would be able to prevail against it. The Devil had tried repeatedly throughout the Old Testament to destroy God’s plan and His people; indeed he has made further attempts throughout the history of the church and will continue trying until the end of the age, but he will not prevail.

The church that Jesus spoke of was to be a people of all nations, tribes and tongues, not just Jews. In fact Paul tells us that through Jesus, God has taken away the division between Jews and Gentiles, male and female, masters and servants, slaves and free men, all are equal. Romans 10:12-13 says: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”  (Gal 3:28-29)

The Apostle Paul was making it clear that any who put their trust in Jesus would be classed as Abraham’s offspring and now be a part of his family, not from a physical point of view (Christians don’t become Jews), but from a spiritual perspective. Christians are now ‘heirs of the promise’ given to Abraham.

Paul said to the gentile Christians at Ephesus that he wanted them to “understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.”  (Eph 3:1-6)

Israel had been chosen from all the nations of the world to be ‘God’s holy family’, now the offer was to go out to all people everywhere that they were invited to be a part of that family – through Jesus!

‘Membership’ of this new ‘combined’ family was not dependent on a direct ancestral line back to Abraham, but rather dependent on faith in Jesus Christ!

“For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.”  That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed”. (Rom 9:6-9)

In this verse Paul was saying that just being born an Israelite was no longer a qualification to be part of God’s ‘holy nation’. John the Baptist had already preached this to the Pharisees and Sadducees when he said to them:  “do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matt 3:7-10)

So through the Apostles God revealed that the church was to be God’s ultimate ‘special treasure’ and ‘chosen nation’, this had been His plan all along!  The Apostle Peter confirmed this when he wrote to his fellow Christians: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

Initially the Jewish Christians had reservations about welcoming non-Jews into their family. The ‘turning point’ came one day as recorded in the book of Acts: “Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”  But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”  And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again”.  (Acts 10:9-16)

This passage goes on to say that the vision was explaining to Peter (and the church) that non-Jews (considered by the Jews to be ‘un-clean’) were to be welcomed in to God’s family.

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ–He is Lord of all (Acts 10:34-36)

As the church grew, Peter carried on preaching to the Jews and Paul took the good news about salvation through Jesus, and that all were now invited to be part of God’s family, to the Gentiles.

However before long questions started arising in the church about Israel’s future. If the church was God’s holy nation and royal priesthood, what about all the promises regarding the nation of Israel itself? Was the church to supersede Israel? Could the prophecies regarding Israel be meant for the church?

In what is one of the most important few chapters in the Bible (Romans 9-11) particularly in regard to understanding God’s plan, the Apostle Paul asks the same question: “I say then, has God cast away His people?”  Paul’s answer is emphatic! “Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.  God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.” (Rom 11:1-2)

And again Paul asks: “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles”.

By ‘their fall’ Paul is referring to their rejection of Jesus as the promised Messiah, and their disobedience to God’s laws.  

“Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!” In other words, if the world has been blessed by their rejecting Jesus, how much more blessing will there be when Israel finally accept Him as their Messiah!

Paul concludes this passage by saying: “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” (Rom 11:11-33)

This is an amazing statement/prophecy that makes sense of so many other prophecies in the Bible. God has allowed Israel to carry on in their state of unbelief until all of the gentiles who will accept God’s offer of Salvation have ‘come in’. When this is done, the Jews’ eyes will be opened and they will finally believe, accepting that Jesus really is their promised Messiah.     

So it is clear from the Bible that although the church was the holy nation that God had desired since before creation, Israel was not to be forgotten. Israel has remained up unto this day the nation that God chose. It had been to Israel that God had given His laws and through whom His holy prophets have spoken. Indeed it is through Israel that the word of God (the Bible) has been given to mankind. Most importantly, it was through Israel that the Messiah came into this world. The prophecies regarding the land of Canaan, (given as a permanent possession to Abraham and his descendants), are yet to be fulfilled, but when they are it will be by the ‘blood-descendants’ of Abraham known as the Jews. The unconditional promises made by God to Abraham will not be broken.

As we know, many Jews did put their trust in Jesus through the preaching of the Apostles and the early church, however history records that in AD70 the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the remaining Jews were scattered around the world in fulfillment of prophecy.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus, after talking to the disciples about the events that will take place at the end of this age, likened Israel to a fig tree and said: “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.” (Matt 24:32-34)

In 1948 – the very year as prophesied by Ezekiel! – the ‘fig tree’ put forth it’s leaves! Israel, despite overwhelming odds became a nation again and the Jews started returning in large numbers to their homeland!

This has led many to believe that within a generation, all of the events foretold by Jesus will come to pass, including His Second Coming!

Just a brief look at the events taking place on the world scene would strongly suggest that this is the case; with wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and famines in various places becoming everyday headlines.

Numerous passages in the Old Testament explain that God will “set His hand the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush (Africa & Arabia), from Elam and Shinar (Iran, Iraq etc), from Hanath (Turkey etc) and all the islands of the sea. He will  set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:11)

In addition to this, an event prophesied by Daniel over 2500 years ago is imminent and likely to take place any time now!

In the Book of Daniel we are told that a great world leader will arise who will confirm a 7-year peace treaty with Israel and the surrounding nations. (Given the current situation in the Middle-East this is of particular interest at this time). He will allow Israel to start their sacrifices again as detailed in the Old Testament. However half-way through this treaty, this man – who will be Antichrist – will break his covenant (agreement) with Israel and will turn against them.

The prophet Jeremiah said regarding the time to come: “Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.” (Jer  30:7) This time of persecution will end with the infamous ‘battle of Armageddon’ when Jesus will return to deliver Israel and defeat the nations that have declared war on her.

Finally Israel will realise that Jesus is, and was, the Messiah. “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” (Zech 12:10)

Once Jesus has returned He will set about judging the nations of the earth depending on how they have treated Israel.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’  “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  (Matt 25:31-46)

Hence those nations that have treated Jesus’ brethren well will be invited into Jesus ‘millennial’ kingdom. Those who have persecuted and shamefully treated the Jews will go away to everlasting punishment.

Before we look at the Millennium in more detail, we will turn our attention back to Jesus’ Church.

A Christian author by the name of Paul E Billheimer goes as far as saying that: “The sole reason for the universe and all therein, is to produce and prepare an eternal companion for Jesus who will reign with Him for all eternity.”

In the book of Ephesians we are told that Jesus loved the church – His bride – so much that ‘He gave Himself for her‘ in order that she might be with Him forever. Marriage itself is symbolic of this joining together of Jesus and His people that God planned before the creation of the world.

Ephesians 5:25-32 says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”………..”For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

One of the loveliest stories in the Old Testament is the story of how Abraham sent his faithful servant to find a wife for his son, Isaac, from amongst his relatives in order that Isaac would not have to marry a Canaanite wife. (Remember fallen angels had ‘infected’ the land with their offspring, so Isaac could not intermarry with these people).

In a story that amazingly mirrors what God has done, Abraham the father, sends his servant (just as God sent His Holy Spirit), to find and prepare a bride from his own family. This parallels the way the church was ‘born’ out of the nation of Israel, the Holy Spirit was given for the Church, to ‘prepare’ us for meeting our Bridegroom – Jesus. (Read the account in Genesis chapter 24!).

(NB: It assumed from this point that the person reading this is a Christian and therefore a part of the bride of Christ. If you are not a Christian and reading this, it should be stressed that you will not take part in the following events, (the good bits anyway!) unless of course you accept the free offer of salvation through Jesus! – If you want to know more, and we sincerely hope you do, see the contact details on the back cover of these notes.

The bride that Jesus will present to Himself will be an innumerable company of people from all ages that have put their trust in Jesus for their salvation. This will include all Christians throughout the ages as well as all the Old Testament people who had been looking forward to the coming Messiah.

Paul said to the Ephesian Christians: “God has told us his secret reason for sending Christ, a plan he decided on in mercy long ago; and this was his purpose: that when the time is ripe he will gather us all together from wherever we are-in heaven or on earth-to be with him in Christ forever.” (Eph 1:9-10 The Living Bible)

As the above explains, at some point in the future, Jesus will gather together all those in heaven, and all Christians on earth at that time, and we will then be with Jesus forever! 1 Thessalonians  4:16-17 describes this event: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

The ‘Rapture’, as it is known, could occur at any time; suddenly we will be caught up in the air, our bodies will be changed into new bodies that will not grow weary or decay (See 1 Corinthians ch.15); and as Jesus promised His disciples in John 14: 2-3, He will take us back to the place that He has been preparing for us.

We will remain in heaven with our Lord for (at least) 7 years, during which time God’s wrath and judgement is poured out on this world (See Revelation ch. 6-18). In God’s mercy a great multitude of people ‘come out’ of this time of tribulation (Rev 7: 9-17). These will be people who eventually realise that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all, but they will be martyred for their faith and trust in Jesus and for refusing to receive the Mark of the beast.

From what we are told in the book of Ephesians, it is clear that the Church are the bride of Christ. However by studying Revelation 6-20 we discover that this great multitude are the wedding guests who are invited and given white wedding robes to wear (Rev 6:11 / Rev 7:13). Revelation 19:7 records their great shout of joy as they announce the wedding: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready”

In Revelation 19:9 John is told to write: “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” (Rev 19:9) (See Jesus’ parable about this in Matthew 22).

Note: although these are clothed in white robes, they do not receive resurrected bodies until after the Second Coming (Rev 20:4-5) thus clearly distinguishing them from the Church who receive their resurrected bodies at the time of the Rapture.

After the wedding supper, Jesus will return with His newly-wed Bride to set up His Kingdom on this earth – this is the Second Coming. This will occur at the end of the seven years of Tribulation when Antichrist will have deceived the nations of the world into marching against Jesus at the infamous battle of Armageddon (Rev 16:13-14 / Rev 19:19). Jesus will destroy his enemies, reclaim the ‘title’ to planet earth that was lost by Adam to Satan back in the Garden of Eden, and restore the earth to the way it was when it was created. (Acts 3:21/ Isaiah 65:17-25/ Isaiah 11:6-9).

Thus Jesus will begin His 1000 year reign on earth from ‘David’s throne’ in Jerusalem as prophesied in many places in the Bible, not least in Luke chapter 1:32 (spoken by the Angel Gabriel to Mary).

As we have already seen, one of Jesus’ first acts of government will be to gather all the nations of the world before Him and we read that He will separate them as a shepherd separates sheep and goats (See again Matt 25:31-46). Jesus will delegate authority in His government to those who have proven themselves faithful to Him and we read that once again king David will be appointed to rule over the house of Israel.

“For it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.”  (Jer 30:8-9)

“Therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them–My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken.” (Ezek 34:22-24)

At that time God will also “give Israel one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgements and do them; and they shall be My people and I will be their God”  (Ezek 11:16-20).

God said through Jeremiah “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (31:33)  Hence the promises God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be fulfilled and they will be a ‘holy nation’ before Him for eternity.

King David however is not the only one to be given a position of authority in Jesus’ government, for authority is also given to His bride!  Paul said to Timothy: “For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him.”  (2 Tim 2:11-12) In the book of revelation John sees a vision of the saints (Christians) worshipping God in heaven saying to Jesus: “You have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”  (Rev 5:9-10) Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:3 “Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?”

Jesus also told the parable of the talents, those who were faithful with what they had been given were given cities to rule over (Luke 19:12-27). There are many who believe this parable to be anticipating this time. Those who have been faithful in their walk with the Lord will be given the greater responsibility.

After this period of 1000 years will come ‘Judgement Day’. God will call before Him every life that has lived and require an account of every word, thought and deed. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire”. (Rev 20:11-15) NB: Jesus’ Bride will not be judged at this time because Jesus has paid completely for our sin, taking upon Himself the judgement that we deserved. (For more on this subject, see ‘Elementary Principles’ post on ‘Judgement’

www.calvaryportsmouth.co.uk/2015/06/what-the-bible-says-about-judgment

God will then create a new heaven and a new earth: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” (Rev 21:1)

“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”  (2 Peter 3:13).

The Bible explains that God has already prepared an amazing capital city 1500 miles square x 1500 miles high from which Jesus will rule with his ‘Bride’ at His side! There will be no more sin, sickness or disease and therefore no more sorrow or crying. (Rev 21:4, 16-17)

John’s vision recorded in Revelation is breathtaking: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”.

Next John witnesses the moment waited for since before creation, the time when God declares, “It is done”!

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. ” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” (Rev 21:1-7).

So finally God’s plan will be complete. All who accept Jesus as their ‘substitute’ (prior to the Rapture) will live eternally in the New Jerusalem as Jesus’ Bride. God’s perfect walk with man that began in the Garden of Eden will be resumed, but this time there will be no end!

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on the earth, visible and invisible, weather thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him(Col 1:16)

This is the plan, this is the purpose for every single human life that has ever lived on this planet. The universe and all of creation exist  to fulfill this one purpose. Jesus the Creator, mankind created in His image, together in perfect union, eternity is just beginning!

All are invited, not all will make it –  Will we see you there?

All scripture quotations from The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville  (unless otherwise stated)
Share
Scroll Up