What power, wisdom, and joy we miss because we have forgotten the promises the apostles’ churches knew and took for granted!
A Facebook friend sent me a list of verses he thought described the millennium, the 1000-year reign of Jesus that Revelation tells us will follow a time of terrible judgments upon the earth. I was a little surprised by the first one. It was Isaiah 2:2-5.
It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall go and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths,” for out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come! And let us walk in the light of the Lord. (KJV)
If there is any forgetting of the teaching of the apostles that should bring us to tears, it is this. This passage was held up by early Christians as proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah and that the Christians were the Israel of God, the new Jews, the circumcised of heart.
Who, they argued, had beaten their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks but the Christians? Where are there men of different nations who do not turn their swords on one another and who do not learn war anymore except in the churches of the Lord Jesus? Who learned the paths of the Lord and walked in them, boldly broadcasting the Word of the Lord beginning in Jerusalem and then going to all the world? Was it not the apostles and their disciples?
Today, we have forgotten! Christians rush to war in defense of the nations of this world, not knowing whether they may be shooting and killing brothers and sisters in the one true King who are just as uninformed and untaught as themselves, but who have chosen other worldly kingdoms to fight for.
Friends, Isaiah 2 is not a millennial passage. It is a passage for the last days, which began on the day of Pentecost in AD 33 when Peter told the Jews in Jerusalem that the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled. It is a passage for now. It is a passage for the Church and for Christians, who are supposed to be living as though Jesus were King now … because HE IS!
How much we miss! Jesus explained the Scriptures to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, telling them “everything” that was prophesied about himself and about the kingdom of God. He spent the rest of his forty post-resurrection days on earth teaching the apostles about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
The apostles taught their churches the same things those two disciples heard on the way to Emmaus and the same things they heard from Jesus over the next 40 days. The leaders of those churches gave themselves to holding onto and passing on those teachings. Faithfully they did this, decade after decade and century after century, but time and a merger with the Roman empire caused more and more of Jesus’ teachings in those last days on earth to be lost. In the west, they are almost entirely forgotten.
Let’s remember! Brothers and sisters, let’s remember!
These promises are for now. This is who we are! Don’t wait for the millennium! Embrace your transfer from the domain of darkness and from the kingdoms of this world to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, Jesus the Messiah now!
Here’s another “millennial” passage that should describe us now:
Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, where I have driven them in my fury and in great wrath. I will bring them again to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way that they may fear me forever, for their good and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good, but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. (Jer. 32:37-40)
This is us, brothers and sisters! What kingdom beside God’s consists of people gathered from every nation? Who has one heart and one way and will fear God forever except the Christians? Which covenant is everlasting except the new one, which Jeremiah had described in the previous chapter? (31:31-34).
Do we believe that the new covenant will be followed by a newer covenant? Never! We have been given THE new covenant, not just a new covenant.
Our kingdom is the one Daniel prophesied that will last forever. It is a rock, made without hands, that will eventually crush the nations of the earth when our King descends from heaven with a shout.
Why are we bolstering the nations while the house of God is neglected? Not only did Jeremiah prophesy that we would be of one mind and one heart, but the apostle Paul commanded us to be so, and Jesus poured his heart out in his final prayer that we would be one in love (Jn. 17). We fight on behalf of the USA, but we do not fight for the unity of disciples that will prove to the world that God sent his Son.
Does what I described above—no, what Isaiah and Jeremiah described above—seem impossible?
With God it is possible. In fact, his prophets prophesied it would be so.
We are deceived by the massive counterfeit that we see around us, a vast empire of organizations that can never be one in mind and heart. Believers can never be one in heart and mind with unbelievers, and our supposed churches are as full of those who deny Jesus by their works as they are with those who obey Jesus’ commands.
Paul tells us to pursue faith, love, peace, and righteousness along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22). The dividing line between us cannot be organizations and where we meet on Sunday. It must be the line that God called a “sure foundation”: Let those who name the name of God’s Anointed King depart from iniquity (2 Tim. 2:19).
Let’s quit waiting around for the millennium, and let’s live as those over whom the Messiah already rules. Revelation calls believers to come out of Babylon lest we partake of her plagues. Why should we wait until judgment comes upon her? We are already partaking of her greatest plague: disunity among Christians caused by our unity with pseudo-Christians.
I wish there were a better, easier solution. In the name of evangelism, we have created a monstrosity, the unity of the sons of God with the sons of Belial. We are shocked at the thought of purging the loaf by getting rid of the wicked among us (1 Cor. 5). Paul forbids joining believers to unbelievers, and we apply that passage to marriage rather than the church because we have forgotten that believers are to be “joined.”
It might not be so bad if we called those denominations “outreach centers.” Those who single-heartedly follow our King could then call themselves the church and join themselves to one another. There could be an inside to be guarded and purged, and an outside (Mark 4:11) to whom we preach the Gospel. But to those we would not give the things precious to God until they believed, repented, and bowed their knee to our eternal King.
Why are we so weak, so divided, so terrible an example of the millennial kindom for which we long? Admittedly, there are a lot of reasons, including the simple passage of time. A major one, though, is the joining of the children of God with the children of the devil. Our disinterest in correcting things (and rejection of 1 Corinthians 5) will not be ignored on the day of our King’s triumphant return. It is time to gather the holy things that have been chewed on by dogs and the precious things that have been trodden by pigs, clean out the temple of God, and put the holy things where they belong … among the holy.