Contending For The Faith

April 9, 2009

More From Daily Bible Readings

Filed under: Bible Study — Lynda O @ 7:04 am

Continuing from the previous blog, some more gems from my daily Bible readings:

Prophecy, Near and Far-term

The prophecy books have many “telescoping” events that unfold God’s plan in the near and far term.

  • Isaiah 11 has many references to Christ’s second coming, such as verses about the millennial kingdom (verses 6 through 9) and verse 11. Yet in the New Testament Paul also applies verse 10 to Christ’s first coming.
  • Isaiah 13 includes the frequent “Day of the Lord” language of future judgment, words similar to Revelation (and Matthew 24), yet then returns to the historic situation of the Medes in verse 17.
  • Isaiah 14:2 also has a future reference: “Nations will take them and bring them to their own place. And the house of Israel will possess the nations as menservants and maidservants in the Lord’s land. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors. ” This too looks forward to a future restoration; “rule over their oppressors” clearly hasn’t happened yet (they never ruled over anybody after return from Babylon, or anytime from then till 70 A.D.), and it can only mean the nation of Israel, just as it says “the house of Israel.” Again, the church is a group called out of every nation, and the church clearly doesn’t “rule over their oppressors” in any sense of meaning.
  • Hosea 13:14 has the great verse that Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians 15, a wonderful reference to the future resurrection: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?”

Joel 1 describes terrible famine conditions, and verse 11 specifically refers to the wheat and barley:

Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed.
This reminds me of the similar famine description in Revelation 6:6, the third seal:

Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

Joel 2 describes a locust army, a parallel to Revelation 9. Joel 2:19 further includes a statement of future reference: “The Lord will reply to them: “I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations. ” The “never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations” hasn’t happened yet, and is in keeping with the overall context of a future event. The contrast between “you” and “the nations” makes it clear that this is in reference to Israel, a specific nation, and not “the church;” in the Bible, the church is God’s elect called from every nation, tribe, and tongue, a group that comes from many nations.

My reading through Acts included this passage in Acts 15: 15-18, a quotation of Amos 9:

The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: ” ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ that have been known for ages.

Amillennialists love to quote this passage as a fulfillment of the Amos 9 text. But as I simply read the text, James doesn’t say that anything is fulfilled — he simply says that what he and others observe is in agreement with the Amos passage, that Gentiles are coming to the Lord and being saved. What James quotes is slightly different from the Amos text, so he must have been quoting the Septuagint.

The original text says “in that day I will restore” whereas James says “After this I will return and rebuild.” The Septuagint version’s “return” clearly implies a second coming, since Christ cannot “return” until after His first coming. In the original text, “in that day” is in the context talking about a future time. James simply shows agreement about the Gentiles being included and saved, and nothing more should be read into the actual words.

Isaiah 18:7 — chapter talking about Cush. What is this verse saying? It may be talking about the end times, even the millennial kingdom:

At that time gifts will be brought to the Lord Almighty from a people tall and smooth-skinned, from a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers– the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the Lord Almighty.

 Distinction between Israel and Others

Several places in Genesis describe the covenant made between God and Abraham, and specifically promise the land to Abraham and not just to his descendants:

Genesis 13:15, All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. Genesis 17:8, The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.Later Bible passages tell us that Abraham himself never possessed the land, so, as MacArthur and others have pointed out, such promises make no sense unless there is some future fulfillment, a future earthly kingdom in which Abraham himself will also enjoy and possess the land.

The book of Acts consistently shows distinctions between the two groups of believers, and always keeps the same language, the same terminology, as for instance:
Acts 13:26 — Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.
Acts 14:1 — At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.

Acts 14 has some other interesting points. In verse 14 it refers to Barnabas as an apostle, in the statement “apostles Barnabas and Paul.” Does this mean that Barnabas was considered an apostle? I had forgotten this verse. Acts 14 also has many references to the church, with the use of “elders” (verse 23) and “the church” (verse 27).


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