One of the amazing things about the story of the Bible is the way it is grounded in real human history. The places the Bible mentions can be found on a map. The ruins of towns listed by Scripture thousands of years ago are still there. The names of historic figures are listed in the histories of their nations. And to this day, Israel is the only nation in history to stop existing and then come back to life two thousand years later. Interesting stuff. But the Bible was not written to tell a part of human history, not even the history of Israel or Christianity. The Bible was written to tell humanity the story of God’s salvation plan.
God called the people of Israel to be His own treasured possession. They had the glorious honor of being chosen by God, yet they continued to rebel against Him. Their hearts were just as sinful as the rest of the children of Adam and Eve! At times the nation repented of their sins and returned to the Law. God would raise up powerful leaders who would purify them and strengthen them to obey. But century after century, they always fell back into the worship of false gods and terrible wickedness.
It was the kind of sin that made their nation a dangerous place to live. The powerful controlled the weak and poor with fear. Men preyed on the women and children without fear of being punished for abusing them. They worshipped idols on every corner and under every tree. This false worship was filthy with nasty perversion and unfaithfulness to God. The deep evil of idol worship hardened their hearts. They began to sacrifice their own children to their demonic gods. Satan was doing everything he could to destroy God’s holy people, and they kept falling right into his trap!
Over and over again, the nation of Israel would become just as contaminated with utter wickedness as the nations around them. But God patiently held back His wrath against them. He continued to raise up judges and kings and prophets to rebuke them and show them their sin so they might repent. These great men and women also spoke of God’s hope for the future. He had already told of His plan to crush the power of Satan through a son of Eve. And they knew from the covenant promises that God promised to use their nation to bless all the people of the world.
Over time, God continued to reveal his plan to restore his Kingdom. He unveiled it in little pieces through covenants and prophecies. The remnant of faithful believers in Israel wrote these promises down and cherished them. They kept a record of them in their Holy Scripture. They took the pieces that God gave them and tried to fit them together to learn as much as they could about what God was going to do. Let’s take a little time look back at some of those pieces.
About five hundred years after Moses, God raised up a king in Israel from the house of Judah. King David ruled over the twelve tribes of Israel with such repentant humility before God that the Bible says he was a man after God’s own heart. The Lord also made a new covenant with King David. He said;
“‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant.
I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm
through all generations.’”
Wow. God promised King David that his descendants will eternally rule on a throne. That means their rule will never, ever end…it will last longer than the world itself! How is that possible? Well, God was going to use the kingly rule of Israel through David’s family to bring a King that would one day rule in Heaven forever and ever. The history of the nation of Israel was all tied up with God’s plans for His own everlasting kingdom!
The Jewish people held onto these hopes for hundreds and hundreds of years. Slowly, over time, the Lord began to show them more and more about this wondrous kingship. God sent them a great prophet, Isaiah, to teach them a new thing. In Isaiah 9:1-7, Isaiah wrote;
“…in the future He [God] will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of
the sea, along the Jordan-
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned…
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before You as the people rejoice at the harvest…
For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”
Wow! In spite of all Israel’s sin and the darkness of this rebellious world, God’s plan was to bless with lavish goodness through this mighty King. He will be a perfect leader who will bring perfect light! This amazing King will come and bring total change to the nations of the world. He will rebuild the cities and transform all of human society to perfect peace and righteousness. And the rule of His government will never fall apart. It will always grow and expand until it transforms everything! No wonder the Jewish people looked forward to the day His kingdom would come!
The Lord gave Isaiah another picture of this King from David’s line. Isaiah prophesied: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse.” Jesse was David’s father. We are supposed to imagine that the family of Jesse and David is like the stump of a tree. Imagine a shoot or a branch growing out of the stump. That shoot is the descendant of David who will reign on an everlasting throne. He will have a special empowerment from the Spirit of God. And so He was called the Anointed One, or the Messiah. Isaiah described how He will lead;
“The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him-
The Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of Knowledge and the fear of the LORD.”
Wow. This Leader will have strength and wisdom because God’s own Spirit will anoint Him in a special way. We also learn from Isaiah that one day, the Anointed One will break into the cursed and wicked world with the righteous judgment of God and sweep away the powers of darkness. He will establish the Kingdom of God on earth by the power of His mighty Word. The Bible tells of that time over and over again. It is called the Day of the Lord, and we will learn more about it next.