Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Coming of Christ and History

(Reflections on last Lord's Day sermon at our church)

The people who walked in darkness 
 have seen a great light; 
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, 
on them has light shone 
You have multiplied the nation; 
you have increased its joy; 
they rejoice before you 
as with joy at the harvest, 
as they are glad when they divide the spoil... 
For to us a child is born, 
to us a son is given; 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, 
and his name shall be called 
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
Of the increase of his government and of peace 
there will be no end, 
on the throne of David and over his kingdom, 
to establish it and to uphold it 
with justice and with righteousness 
from this time forth and forevermore. 
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. 
(Isaiah 9:2-3, 6-7) 

There are certain similarities between different parts of history because it is still the same world, governed by the same God, but something happened that fundamentally changed the flow of history. This change was the coming of Christ.

Before Christ, the nations walked in the "times of ignorance" (Acts 17:30) and Israel struggled constantly in their tiny corner of the world to maintain some semblance of godliness for a few years before going into the next round of judgement. The Holy Spirit had not been poured out in abundance and it was pretty dark. All sorts of pagan practices were common, even among the "civilized" Greek and Romans, and sometimes even among the Israelites.

But when Christ came, with His life, death, and resurrection, He established His kingdom. Notice we call the time after Christ "A.D.," Anno Domini (In the year of our Lord), not simply "after Christ." These years after Christ belong to Him in a special way: they are the years of His reign. In the verses above, along with the many rich prophecies in the Bible, we see that with the coming of Christ comes a fundamental change in the course of history. No longer will the people walk in darkness. From this time of Christ's coming, His kingdom of justice, righteousness, peace, and joy will be established (sound like Romans 14:17?). It is certain because the zeal of the LORD has purposed this. No one else can establish this kind of a kingdom. Attempts to do this without God (i.e. United Nations) are doomed to fail.

There are some things that happened in the times of ignorance that simply will not happen again because Christ's kingdom is on the move and the world is being saved by Him (John 3:17). Never again will the world be the same. We have already been immensely influenced by the Gospel as it has spread throughout the world. While there might be an occasional report of human sacrifice today, there are no Aztec temples covered in the blood of the masses. While we have our political troubles, we are doing better than the chosen people of ancient Israel did! At least our leaders aren't putting their children into the fire. Books have been written trying to chronicle the amazing influence Christianity and the Bible have had on the world, such as one I am reading now, The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi. As the Bible comes to the nations, those nations are being discipled. Scenarios like The Hunger Games don't seem to take into account that Christ is on the throne, and to think that He would allow such scenarios shows a lack of faith. There might be very tough times ahead, full of battles and persecutions, but there will always be hope of Christ's victory present.

This kingdom will not only endure through all ages, but its increase will have no end. It will not stop growing. Not even today! While we don't know everything about the future, we know that Greece and Rome are dead, Hitler is dead, Darwin and Marx are dying, and the world is observing the bankruptcy of rebellion against God and the death it produces. Nietzsche does not rule the world. Jesus does, and His zeal will continue to increase His kingdom. The future holds amazing things for us and I'm excited about it.


Taralyn Rose said...

Praise the Lord! Yes, Kingdom things happen when we trust and know the will of God. I pray every day that God will reveal His whole will to more and more people in our families and in our church, that He'll open our eyes to see all that lies in scripture.

I'm also excited about the future! May we have the grace to just always do the next right thing.

In Christ.

Anonymous said...

Amen! Thanks for the reminder! Indeed, it really is exciting to know that our Lord's kingdom is ever progressing and never ceasing! That gives us both hope and backbone in our daily strivings...