He rode into Jerusalem on the colt of an ass to fulfil a four hundred year old prophecy and a two thousand year old promise!
Four hundred years earlier the prophet Zechariah said that Zion’s King would come to Jerusalem in a humble manner to bring salvation to the world, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9).
When this occurred as prophesied the people rejoiced and proclaimed Christ to be King, “… And they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he (Christ) was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” (Luke 19:35-38). Not only had Zechariah’s prophecy been realized but a major step in God’s promise to the patriarch Abraham was also being fulfilled.
Over two thousand years earlier, when God had promised Abraham that his successors would become a wealthy and powerful nation under God’s protection, He also promised that through one successor in particular, all nations of the world would be blessed, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3).
The one through whom all the world will be blessed is Jesus Christ who according to genealogy (Matthew 1 and Luke 3) is a direct descendant of Abraham’s through King David, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16). And, “…behold, thou (Mary) shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33).
The house of Jacob (Israel) were God’s people in ancient times and foreshadowed those who will be God’s people in His Kingdom. Their king, David, was a ‘type’ of Christ and his throne represented the one from which Christ will rule when he returns.
Although the Genesis account is sparse on detail, it is elsewhere confirmed that Abraham was fully aware of the significance of God’s promise, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8). The gospel preached to Abraham was the very gospel (good news) of the Kingdom of God that Christ preached during his ministry, “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15).
Abraham believed the gospel that was preached to him and because he endured in faith until he died, he was assured of eternal life in God’s Kingdom, “And so, after he (Abraham) had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” (Hebrews 6:15).
Realizing he may not live long enough to see his successors become a prosperous nation he looked forward to the spiritual aspect of the promise. That spiritual aspect was later symbolized by the Apostle Paul as a city built by God, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10).
The foundation of that symbolic city was laid by God through His son Jesus Christ, who is referred to as the Chief Cornerstone, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” (Ephesians 2:19-20). And, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 3:11).
In the Book of Revelation the Apostle John identified New Jerusalem as the bride of Christ, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Revelation 21:1-3). The ancient city foreshadowed the new spiritual Jerusalem of the future.
When Christ rode into Jerusalem on the colt of an ass he fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy. He came to lay the foundation for the new spiritual Jerusalem of the future.
Making Possible the Promise
At the time many expected Christ to claim the throne of David and to liberate Judea from the oppression of the Romans. They didn’t realise that he had not come to rule at that time, but to prepare the way for when he will return at the end of this age to rule the entire earth, “…and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.” (Zechariah 9:10). He carefully avoided any attempts to pre-empt what God had planned until the time was appropriate,“When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” (John 6:15).
The time God chose for Christ to be pronounced King was when he rode into Jerusalem on the colt of an ass as Zechariah had prophesied. Had the people not hailed him King at that precise time then the stones would have shouted it out for Him, “And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:37-40).
Those who had mistakenly expected Christ to rule then were confused when he was treated by the authorities like a common criminal and crucified. However, his death opened up the way for salvation under a new covenant for all the other nations. He was willing to sacrifice his life for those whom he will rule in the future, “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:9-10).
Through his death and resurrection he pioneered the way for salvation by establishing the process for the transformation of believers from physical to spiritual, “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” He now sits on his throne in God’s Kingdom with his Father, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 2:10 & 12:2). It is from there that he will return at the end of this age to establish his rule over the entire earth.
His humble entry into Jerusalem two thousand years ago foreshadowed his return at the end of this age when he will enter Jerusalem on a white horse with the power to defeat his enemies and the authority to rule the world, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war… … And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11, 15-16 see also Psalm 110).
The world will become his kingdom. The word ‘kingdom’ is derived from the words ‘king’ and ‘dominion’. A kingdom comprises the subjects over whom the king has dominion. While God the Father has supreme authority over the whole universe, Christ as an emissary of God’s Kingdom, will be given dominion over this earth until his task of redeeming mankind has been completed. During his reign people of this world’s nations will receive the opportunity of salvation and those who accept will have access to eternal life in God’s Spiritual Kingdom.
When Christ has completed the task of redeeming mankind he will deliver those who are saved up to his Father and resume his place with the Father to rule the universe with Him, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (I Corinthians 15:24-28).
A New Age
Christ’s return will be heralded by a pronouncement from Heaven (Revelation 19:1-9) which indicates a major historic event is taking place. The Babylonian system has fallen and Christ now rules, “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” (verse 6).
This is the beginning of a new age when Christ as King of Kings (Revelation 19:11-21) will vanquish his adversaries and incarcerate Satan and his demons, who have ruled the earth for six thousand years during this current age (Revelation 20:1-2). Satan will no longer have any influence over those who Christ rules. Later, after one last ditch effort to destroy God’s work Satan will be destroyed for all eternity (verses 7-10).
During the last six thousand years preparations have been made for the salvation of mankind who are willing to accept God’s way. Christ has been preparing a group called to assist in the next age who will be resurrected to spirit when he returns, “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:4). And, “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4).
During Christ’s millennial rule, under perfect conditions, many will be converted and given eternal life. After the final demise of Satan all those who have ever lived, but never had a chance of salvation will be resurrected to physical life. At that time their minds will be opened to understand the Books of the Bible and those who accept God’s way have the opportunity of eternal life, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20:12). This is what is known as the Great White throne Judgment Period.
The word Greek word ‘krino’ (Strongs 2919) translated as ‘judged’ not only means to pronounce judgment but also to govern or rule. It is possible that Isaiah 65:20 indicates a period of time for each person to prove themselves during the creation of the new Jerusalem, “… for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” (Isaiah 65:18-20). This does not mean that the Great White Throne Judgment period is only one hundred years long, but rather indicates that each person will get sufficient time to make the changes necessary for eternal life. It is possible that successive generations may be resurrected in order, however this point is open to debate.
Mercifully those who have not previously done so will have access to God’s Spirit and the opportunity for salvation before a judgment is pronounced on their lives. This is what was preached to Abraham all those thousands of years ago, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith,preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8, see also Genesis 12:3).
Bride of Christ
John the Baptist who preceded Christ’s first coming two thousand years ago revealed him as both the Son and the Lamb of God, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” … “And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29 and 34).
Those who comprise the Lamb’s bride are symbolized as the holy city New Jerusalem, “...Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,” (Revelation 21:9-10). They are, “… they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (verse 27). The bride will include everyone resurrected to spirit from the time of Christ’s return to the very end when he delivers all those over whom he has dominion to his Father as we read earlier in I Corinthians 15.
Those who are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be destroyed, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:14-15).Death itself will be destroyed because all those who are left alive will have eternal life in God’s Kingdom, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4).
Bride Not Limited
Based on what the Apostle John said earlier in the Book of Revelation many believe that the bride only comprises those who are resurrected at the return of Christ, “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation 19:6-9). However, further examination reveals otherwise.
Although John said, “… his wife hath made herself ready.” - he immediately qualified that statement by saying she has yet to be arrayed for the wedding, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen,”. This implies that although the preparations for the bride have been completed she is still to be clothed in the wedding garment which is of ‘fine linen’ symbolizing righteousness. In other words the processes are in place and arrangements completed except for the act of clothing the bride in righteousness, which will take place before the wedding.
Some may be troubled by the use of the word ‘wife’ in this passage, but according to Bullinger (Companion Bible) a betrothed maid was legally a wife in ancient Israel. He cites Deuteronomy 22:23-24 and Matthew 1:23-24 as evidence of this. Those betrothed to Christ are similarly referred to as his wife even before the marriage has been formalized.
Clothed in Righteousness
We have already established that the bride will include all who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 15:20) and that the bride will be clothed in righteousness. Paul said that the righteousness of God comes by believing Jesus Christ and all who have faith will receive it without exception, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:22). There is no distinction between Gentile or Jew, or between those called now or later, righteousness is imputed upon everyone who believes, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:4). Because Revelation 19:8 defines the wedding garment as righteousness, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen …… for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”, it can be safely concluded that all who attain righteousness are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and because they have received God’s righteousness are clothed in the fine linen of the wedding garment. Therefore the bride includes all those, without exception, who are clothed in righteousness, from the return of Christ until the Kingdom is delivered up to the Father when the bride is seen as, “… the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2).
The Bible does not say when the actual wedding feast will take place. Revelation 19 indicates that when Christ returns the bride has yet to be arrayed in her wedding garment. Revelation 20 describes a number of the events that will occur from the time Christ returns to the revelation of the new heaven and new earth described in Revelation 21 and it is only then that we see the bride finally adorned for her husband. The arraying, or adorning of the bride in righteousness obviously takes place between Christ’s return and revelation of the new heaven and earth. This period of time includes the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20.
The outcome of these events is that everyone who turns to Christ and then, through the process of conversion is resurrected to eternal life, clothed in righteousness and will become part of his bride. Those who refuse will be subject to the second and eternal death.
When approaching Jerusalem for the last time Christ knew that they would kill him. He stopped and wept, not for himself but for the inhabitants of the city who were sealing their own fate by their actions (Luke 19:41-44). He knew that what they were about to do would have dire repercussions. To understand the magnitude of what was at stake for the remnant of Israel, represented at that time by the leaders in Jerusalem, it is necessary to look at Israel’s role under the old covenant and what that implied.
God’s promise to Abraham had two components, one physical and the other spiritual. Under a special relationship with God, Israel was established from Abraham’s descendants to reveal God to the world and teach his ways. Their unique national culture was designed to foreshadow events and spiritual concepts pertaining to the later part of the promise which involved the redemption and salvation for all mankind through one man - a descendant of Abraham’s - Jesus Christ. They portrayed in physical terms the spiritual richness of His Kingdom that would later be available for mankind. Ancient Israel was established under the old covenant with its material blessings as a forerunner and shadow - of a much greater Kingdom whose subjects, under a new and better covenant, will have access to eternal life. A shadow is a vague and imperfect image of the object from which it is cast. It gives a general impression of what to expect.
They were a nation of slaves rescued from Egypt and brought into a wilderness where they were willingly bound in an exclusive relationship with their God by a covenant that was more than a legal agreement, it was a marriage agreement. Israel was symbolically married to God foreshadowing the future relationship that individuals will have as the bride of Christ. Prior to saving them out of Egypt God proposed to Israel, “Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 6:6-7).
Later at Mt Sinai when God told them that they would be a treasured possession through whom He would teach all the families of the earth, they willingly and unanimously accepted God’s proposal, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.” (Exodus 19:5-8). According Deuteronomy 33:10 the role of priests is to teach God’s law and judgments. God had intended for Israel to be a nation of priests to the rest of the world.
Law, Judgments and Covenants
God had declared to Israel His law (Exodus 20:1-17), which He expounded with the judgments. He then asked Moses to draw up a covenant based on the law and judgments. The Book of the Covenant was read to the people and when they confirmed their acceptance to obey their agreement was sealed with blood, “And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.” (Exodus 24:4-8).
It is important to understand the difference between the law, judgments and the covenant. Basically the law is a set of rules established by an authority and judgments are guidelines on how to apply that law in various situations. A covenant on the other hand is a mutual agreement, or contract between parties and may be conditional. For example one party may agree to provide an income, or reward, to another party on condition that other party performs certain work.
At Mt Sinai God repeated His proposal in which Israel would receive His blessings and protection conditional to their obedience to His law. Having defined the law and how it was to be applied, He got Moses to draw up the covenant accordingly. God’s law applies throughout the universe to both the human and spiritual realms. In order to prevent any misunderstanding He provided the Israelites with a separate codified version of the law in His own hand writing to which the covenant related. He did this forty days later, in stone to emphasize both the separateness and permanence of His law as opposed to the covenant (Exodus 24:18, 31:18). The covenant was a temporary agreement written as a scroll on parchment, made specifically with Israel and no one else, in order to demonstrate the benefits of keeping God’s laws to other nations. Because of its temporary nature the covenant could later be annulled without affecting the law. Although the covenant related to the law it was an entirely separate legal document that served an entirely different purpose.
The law established by God is spiritual holy and permanent, “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good”. And “For we know that the law is spiritual:” (Romans 7:12,14). Prophecy indicates that in the future God’s law will be written, not in stone, but in the hearts of those whom He is preparing for eternal life in his Kingdom. His law will be written in their minds forever, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
Old Covenant Marriage
The old covenant with Israel was a mutual agreement between Him and the people of Israel whom He had taken in marriage, to cherish, provide for and to protect. They in turn promised to be faithful to God and obedient to His law. The blessings He provided were conditional to their faithfulness and obedience. Because Israel did not keep to their side of the agreement they eventually lost the blessings. Even before the blood used to seal the covenant was barely dry the people of Israel had built a golden calf and worshipped before it committing what amounted to spiritual adultery “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt”(Exodus 32:7-8).
Despite Israel’s behavior God decided to continue working with Israel rather than destroy them and start afresh (verse 10). He continued to bless them when they obeyed, fulfilling His side of the marriage agreement and His earlier promise to Abraham that He would make his descendants a great nation that would be blessed, (Genesis 12:2). Consequently Israel reached its peak of wealth and power in the times of King David and his son Solomon fulfilling the first part of His promise to Abraham. However, when Israel reverted back to idol worship God separated them into two nations, Israel and Judah (I Kings 11 and 12). Because Israel continued to reject Him, God removed His protection from them and they were conquered by Assyria and scattered throughout the nations of the world. As far as God was concerned the marriage covenant with Israel was ended - it ended in divorce, “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you:” (Jeremiah 3:14). And, “… I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.” (Jeremiah 3:8).
In legal terms a covenant can be established in perpetuity (forever) on the basis that all parties intend to keep their part of the agreement, but if one party continuously and blatantly abuses the agreement beyond reason to make the agreement unworkable the covenant can be annulled. In the case of a marriage covenant it can be terminated through a bill of divorce or by the death of one of the espoused.
Although Judah continued to be faithful in the marriage arrangement for a while longer they eventually succumbed to the same sort of spiritual adultery that had been Israel’s downfall. When God removed His protection Judah was conquered by the Babylonians. “Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:20). Mercifully God allowed a remnant to return to Judea. A few centuries later it was into this remnant that Christ was born to fulfill the second part of God’s promise to Abraham. He had promised that through one of Abraham’s descendants all families (nations) of the world would be blessed.
Prior to Christ’s time the remnant had once again reached a state of religious hypocrisy that showed contempt toward God. Their spiritual state was described by the prophet Malachi as corrupt and perverted. They had departed from the way of God, “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 2:7-8). Their religious leaders led the people astray, “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them.” And, “Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?” (Malachi 3:7,14). After all this time it was obvious that Judah was not going to keep her side of the agreement and the time had finally come to annul the marriage altogether.
Who Was Married to Israel?
It is important to understand who Israel had married. The Word who was with God and was the member of the God-head married Israel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1). The Word later became Christ, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (verse 14). Also, “For in him (Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9).
The God of Israel whom Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and the seventy elders saw at Mt Sinai (Exodus 24:9) could not have been the Father because no man has ever seen Him, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18). It must have been that member of the Godhead who later became Christ.
Jesus Christ who previously existed as the Word, was the one who married Israel, “…Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8). And, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (John 1:10-11).
When ‘he came to his own’ i.e. those whom he had previously married, they didn’t want to know him. Instead they killed him. In legal terms a marriage covenant is automatically annulled with the death of either the husband, or wife. Christ’s death finally ended the marriage and after his resurrection to spiritual life he was then free to marry again. This time he is not going to marry the physical nation of Israel again but will marry the collective body of individuals who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. What they did not realize was that his death put an end to the marriage and also the blessings they had received as a condition of the marriage! It also brought the Old covenant to an end!
How Christ Dealt with Israel
No wonder Christ wept for them when he approached Jerusalem for the last time. The loss of the special relationship and God’s protection has had dire consequences for the remnant of Israel ever since. They have been persecuted from pillar to post and even today their tenuous foothold in the land they claim is still theirs has come with much suffering and blood.
Christ knowing that they would kill him had told his disciples that, “The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again.” (Matthew 17:22-23). And, “…when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” (Luke 19: 41-44). They refused to recognize him as the Messiah.
When he arrived in Jerusalem Christ delivered a powerful prophetic message to the leaders of Judah who were in effect the leaders of the remnant of Israel. Through his parables he revealed that what they planned would result in the destruction of Jerusalem and removal of God’s special relationship from their nation.
Speaking to an audience that included the chief priests and Pharisees Christ said, “Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.” (Matthew 21:33-39).
He asked, “When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?” (verse 40). And his audience answered, “… He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” (verse 41). It must have come as a shock to the chief priests and Pharisees when they realized that he was speaking about them, “And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.” (verse 45).
Here was the man they had witnessed arriving in Jerusalem on the colt of an ass just as Zechariah had prophesied, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”(Zechariah 9:9). A man whom they had witnessed performing miracles and had been hailed by the people as - “the king that cometh in the name of the LORD,” (Luke 19:38). All the evidence pointed to him being the long awaited Messiah – the very son of God. Yet they sought to kill him.
Consequences of Their Actions
Christ reminded them that the Messiah’s rejection had been foretold and he told them of the consequences that would follow, “Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”(Matthew 21:42-43). He pointed out that the prophetic ‘stone’ they rejected would become the ‘chief cornerstone’ and that the kingdom would be taken from them and given to others. That prophetic ‘stone’ that was to become the ‘chief cornerstone’ was none other than Jesus Christ himself, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” (Ephesians 2:20).
He is the prophetic ‘stone’ that Daniel indicated would conquer all nations and establish his dominion over all the earth, “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. hen was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:34-35). And, “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28:16).
According to Matthew, Christ immediately followed the parable of the vineyard with another equally as powerful in which he confirmed that the city would be destroyed. Using the analogy of the wedding feast he revealed that many had made light of their special relationship with God and consequently that privilege was removed and given to others, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.” (Matthew 22:2-10).
Having conveyed the message that Israel was to be replaced, Christ continued with a very sobering warning that those who replace them will not be able to take their relationship with God lightly either, “ when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:11-14).
Through the parables of the vineyard and the wedding feast Christ was telling the remnant of ancient Israel that if they killed him they would lose their special relationship with God and that they would be replaced by a new congregation of people. Although they were to lose their special relationship, they were not rejected altogether, merely relegated back into the world until such time as they would be able to accept Christ as their saviour and receive God’s Spirit. Those who receive God’s Spirit are considered by God to be His children, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:16)
That is why the prophet Hosea said to Israel in the 8th century BC that they would no longer be God’s people until such time as they could be called the sons (and daughters) of the Living God, “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” (Hosea 1:10). It is only when they accept Christ as king, repent and receive God’s Spirit they too will then be called the children of the living God. They will not be able to do so until they are resurrected to physical life in the White Throne Judgment.
The Apostle Paul made specific reference to Hosea’s prophecy, “As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.” (Romans 9:25-26).
He also referred to Isaiah’s prophecies which indicated that God had not destroyed Israel entirely so that Christ could come to fulfil His promise to Abraham and lay the foundation for the future, “Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.” (Romans 9:27-29). The seed that was to spring from the remnant of Israel was Jesus Christ, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16).
He is the seed though whom all the families of the earth are to be blessed, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3).
The name God chose for ancient Israel is inextricably linked to the outcome of His plan. According to Strong’s, the name Israel means ‘God prevails’. The outcome will be achieved because God will prevail over all. Consequently the name ‘Israel’ was also used in prophecy as reference to the spiritual kingdom that ancient Israel represented. Hence the term ‘spiritual Israel’. Although this term is not specifically used in the Bible it is clearly implied and is an appropriate way to distinguish between ancient Israel and the future Israel of prophecy that will be comprised of those resurrected to spirit from all nations.
From the beginning it has been God’s plan for mankind to have an inheritance in His Kingdom. This inheritance was compromised when Adam and Eve sinned and fell from God’s grace. It is God’s plan to restore mankind to their special relationship so they can receive their inheritance. Israel was established to foreshadow God’s Kingdom and His way of life as an example to other nations, but they too fell from grace because of their rejection of God. When the prophets talked about Israel being restored at a future time they were referring to the restoration of people from all nations to a special relationship with God.
The promise of restoration was not for Israel alone. Jeremiah said, “But I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the days to come – declares the LORD.” and “But afterward I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites – declare the LORD.” and “But in the days to come I will restore the fortunes of Elam – declares the LORD.”(Jeremiah 48:47, 49:6, 39 The Jewish Study Bible JPS Tanakh Translation. See also NKJV, RSV and Young’s Literal Translation.). Also Ezekiel tells us that all these other nations will be restored at the same time as Judah, "I will restore their fortunes - the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters - and your (Judah’s) fortunes along with theirs.” (Ezekiel 16:53 The Jewish Study Bible JPS Tanakh Translation. See also NKJV, RSV and Young’s Literal Translation.)
Although ancient Israel fell from grace and lost their special relationship with God it will be restored when they accept Christ as their saviour and become part of his bride. For this to occur they will be resurrected back to physical life along with the rest of the world in the Great White Throne Judgment period when everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, will get the opportunity to accept Christ as their saviour , “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11). The prophesied restoration will occur as planned because God will prevail as the name implies.
Messenger of the Covenant
John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Christ, the Son of God, the messenger of the covenant, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1). And, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water." "And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-31, 34).
From the beginning of his ministry Christ’s focus was on preaching the gospel (good news) about the Kingdom of God, “And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.” (Luke 4:43). “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15). It was ‘at hand’ because Christ was the messenger of the covenant sent from God to bring the good news of the Kingdom.
When the Pharisees demanded to know when the kingdom was to come, he said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within(in the midst of) you.” (Luke 17:20-21). This is a verse often quoted to support the concept of a spiritual kingdom in the minds of men, but translations such as Darby, MKJV and RSV say, ‘the kingdom of God is in your midst’ or ‘in the midst of you’. meaning that the representative of the Kingdom of God was there among them.Living and NIV translations refer to the word ‘among’ in their footnotes for this verse.
He preached about a new and better covenant to be established for all of mankind, based on the promise of eternal life and an inheritance of power and glory beyond the imagination for families of the world, “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” (Hebrew 8:6). Each individual will in effect be married to Christ through a new marriage covenant.
One Sacrifice for All
Christ was willing to sacrifice himself so the new covenant could be established with those over whom he will have dominion. His selfless sacrifice accomplished what the rituals and sacrifices of the old covenant never could achieve, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:4). But through Christ’s sacrifice he opened the way for sin to be forgiven, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” and “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” and “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10, 12, 14).
His death brought to an end the old covenant that was based on material blessings so it could be replaced with a new and better covenant based on spiritual blessings, “…he (Christ ) came to take away the first, that he may establish the second.” (Hebrews 10:9). Those spiritual blessings include eternal life, “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:15).
It is through Christ that those whom God calls from all nations also become the seed of Abraham and children of God, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29).
Special Relationship Sealed
Those over the last two thousand years who have been called to Christ have a special relationship that is sealed with God’s Spirit which is a guarantee of future eternal life in God’s Kingdom, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Also “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30).
Their special relationship is portrayed as a betrothal to Christ. In the eighth century before Christ the prophet Hosea had spoken in terms of a future betrothal that will last forever, “And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.” (Hosea 2:19-20). He was not talking about marriage covenant of that time that ended in divorce for Israel and annulment through death for Judah. He was talking about a future covenant with those whom God calls to Christ.
God’s Holy Spirit which is in Christ and which is received from him, is the very essence and mind of God. The word ‘seed’ is translated from the Greek word ‘sperma’ . So it is like the transplanting of spiritually genetic implant material from God in to the mind of man where it combines with the spirit in man to form a new creation – a new man, “ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38). “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”(II Corinthian 5:17).
They became sons of God because they received the seed of His Spirit which combined with the spirit in man and having died with Christ when immersed in the waters of baptism, emerged as a new creation that was in effect born of God, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (I Peter 1:23) and “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (I John 3:9). Peter uses the Greek word ‘spora’ (Strongs 4701)and John uses the word ‘sperma’ (Strongs 4690) from which the English words spore and sperm are derived. They received the seed at baptism which symbolizes a death from which a new creation emerges, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:” (Romans 6:4-5, see also Colossians 2:12). “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24).
The transformation from physical human beings to spirit beings in God’s Kingdom begins with the transformation of the mind, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2). The word transformed is translated from the Greek word ‘metamorphoo’ (Strongs 3339) which means to change into another form. A new creature is being formed, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17, See also Galatians 6:15), one that will eventually be changed to spirit, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed, For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (I Corinthians 15:52-54).
The same essence and mind that is in God the Father is in Christ and in those who receive His Spirit, “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20). They have the same spiritual mind that is in Christ, “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:16). It enables them to discern the things of God, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” (I Corinthians 2:12).
Through receiving the Holy Spirit they become genetically related to God and His son Jesus Christ in spiritual sense, that is why He calls them His children, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”. And “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:14, 16).
As a result of being genetically linked to God and His son Jesus Christ in a spiritual sense they are similarly linked to Abraham through Christ who was his descendant and whose spirit is them. That is why Paul said, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29).
Those who are Christ’s are from all nations and races but they are the true children of God. To them belongs the birthright – the right to be in God’s family where they have an inheritance with Christ, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13). Also, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17).
God’s People Today
When addressing those who had been set aside by the Spirit of Jesus Christ under the new covenant that was ratified by Christ’s own blood, the apostle Peter said that they are now God’s people called to follow Christ, being the, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:” and “Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”. They were called to follow Jesus Christ, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” (I Peter 1:2 and 2:10, 21).
This special relationship with God surpasses and supercedes what the Jews lost when they killed Christ. The followers of Christ are acceptable to God, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious:” but the Jews who stumbled at accepting Christ lost their place as God’s people to which they had originally been appointed, “…but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (I Peter 2:5-8).
When Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on the colt of an ass he fulfilled a four hundred year old prophecy. He came to be pronounced king and to bring salvation to the world. He laid a foundation for the future that will enable all families of the earth to be blessed as God had promised Abraham two thousand years previously.
His death put an end to the old covenant that was a marriage agreement with a single physical nation based on material promises that brought wealth and power to their own nation. The new covenant is a new marriage agreement with individuals from all nations and is based on the spiritual promise of eternal life as spirit beings with an inheritance in God’s Kingdom.
The participants in the new marriage agreement will be clothed in righteousness and collectively portrayed as the bride of Christ. While many ancient prophesies predicted impending disaster for Israel and the other nations of that time they also spoke of a future restoration, not only for Israel, but the other nations as well. Israel featured more strongly in those prophecies because the Bible was essentially a history of that nation who were God’s people at that time.
In the future, all nations will be restored to physical life so they can have the opportunity receive Christ as their saviour and through the conversion process be resurrected to spirit in God’s Kingdom. They will become part of what many call spiritual Israel. They will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, everyone will be subject to the new covenant, which is also a marriage covenant, and all of them will be clothed in righteousness which is portrayed as the bride’s attire. There will be no exceptions except those who are not written in the Book of Life and they will perish forever in the Lake of Fire.
This is process of salvation, the foundation of which was laid when Christ laid down his own life as the chief cornerstone so that all families of the earth could be blessed.
Jesus Christ came to be pronounced king and to bring salvation. He laid a foundation for the future on which he now expects you to build!