THE PROMISED RETURN OF THE FIRSTBORN
A. In this session we want to talk about exactly how God has said that He will bring this whole story of Israel and her wayward history to a dramatic close. Paul noted that Israel’s acceptance of the Gospel of a crucified Messiah would mean ‘life from the dead’ for the world.
13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (Ro 11:13–15 NASB95)
B. God has bound the destiny of the world to Jewish repentance, and the promise of the resurrection and the restoration of all things hinges upon the elder brother’s acknowledgment of their depravity and need for the Messiah’s atonement.
19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time… “It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 “For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” (Ac 3:19–26 NASB95)
C. The end of the time of Israel’s discipline is synonymous with the time of the earth’s restoration from the curse upon the ground.
17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind… 19 “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying. 20 “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Will be thought accursed. 21 “They will build houses and inhabit them; They will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 “They will not build and another inhabit, They will not plant and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people, And My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands. 23 “They will not labor in vain, Or bear children for calamity; For they are the offspring of those blessed by the Lord, And their descendants with them. (Is 65:17–23 NASB95)
- 30 “You shall betroth a wife, but another man will violate her; you shall build a house, but you will not live in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but you will not use its fruit. 32 “Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and yearn for them continually; but there will be nothing you can do. 33 “A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labors, and you will never be anything but oppressed and crushed continually. (Dt 28:30–33 NASB95)
D. The softening of their hearts to the Gospel is the primary indicator of the 2nd coming of the Messiah. (cf. Matt. 23:39) It is very encouraging to hear stories of the small remnant of Jews who are coming to faith in the Messiah, however this falls vastly short of the Biblical vision presented by the prophets. The coming national repentance has only been prophesied in context to an ultimate stripping of strength.
36 “For the Lord will vindicate His people, And will have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their strength is gone, And there is none remaining, bond or free. (Dt 32:36 NASB95)
6 … “How long until the end of these extraordinary things?” 7 Then I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river. He raised both his hands toward heaven and swore by Him who lives eternally that it would be for a time, times, and half a time. When the power of the holy people is shattered, all these things will be completed. (Da 12:6–7 HCSB)
E. The Lord will wait until their strength is gone because only this context will they actually come to faith. Faith in God to mend our condition demands the acknowledgment of depravity and guilt. This is evident in the Levitical system as well as throughout the NT. Those who boast in themselves are excluded from the Kingdom of God and the resurrection.
27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded (lit. ‘it has been shut out’). By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. (Ro 3:27 NASB95)
F. Israel’s national refusal to acknowledge their depravity has lead to a total refusal to acknowledge the Lord’s hand in their discipline and exile. The Lord has determined that through the utter stripping of their strength they would acknowledge their depravity, their need for the great atonement, and then be delivered from His wrath.
15 I will go away and return to My place Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. (Ho 5:15 NASB95)
23 Who among you will give ear to this? Who will give heed and listen hereafter? 24 Who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel to plunderers? Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned, And in whose ways they were not willing to walk, And whose law they did not obey? (Is 42:23–24 NASB95)
28 “For they are a nation lacking in counsel, And there is no understanding in them. 29 “Would that they were wise, that they understood this, That they would discern their future! 30 “How could one chase a thousand, And two put ten thousand to flight, Unless their Rock had sold them, And the Lord had given them up? (Dt 32:28–30 NASB95)
2 “Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah… 10 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication (lxx ‘compassion’), so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. (Zec 12:2–10 NASB95)