THE END TIMES: ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH
A. Introduction: We are taking time to clear up misinformation about the end times which has created fear and confusion among Christians.
1. The controversy over end times is connected with how people read the Bible.
a. Many do not take the Bible literally in this area and that creates problems.
b. When you take the Bible literally and look at all the verses on the end times being careful to read them in context, studying the end times in neither frightening nor confusing. It’s faith building! It’s awe inspiring.
c. By taking scriptures literally and reading them in context we have seen that the rapture is taught in the NT, that it is the next event on the prophetic calendar, and that it will occur before the tribulation begins.
d. We have more to say about the pretrib rapture, but we have to add some additional elements to our discussion. We began to do so last week.
2. There are three different groups of people mentioned in connection with the end times — each of whom has a distinct part to play in end time events.
a. People misapply facts about these groups and end up with great confusion.
b. The three groups are the Church, the Jews, and the Gentiles. I Cor 10:32
3. In the last lesson we began to look at end time events for the Jews.
a. This information will help us understand what is going to happen to us.
b. God has unfinished business with the Jews that has nothing to do with the Church. That’s one reason why we won’t be here.
4. Gen 12–God set apart Abraham, and his descendants, the Jews, to be His own.
a. They were to be a people who would know Him as their God. He would care for them, provide for them, reveal Himself to them.
b. Then they would show Him to the rest of the world, the idol worshipping Gentiles all around them.
5. In the last lesson we looked at a number of promises (prophecies) that God made to the Jews which have already been fulfilled. We emphasized that these promises were literal and that they were literally fulfilled.
a. Two specific promises have not been fulfilled yet, but will be literally fulfilled at the Second Coming of Christ.
1. Abraham’s descendants will live forever in a large area of land in the Middle East. Gen 12:7; 13:14-18; 15:18-21; Amos 9:14,15
2. A descendant of David (who was a descendant of Abraham) would sit on the throne in Jerusalem forever. II Sam 7:12-17; Ps 89:3,4
b. The continued failures of the Jews have not wiped out these promises.
c. The covenant God made with Abraham to give the land to his descendants is unconditional and eternal. It is irrevocable. It can be postponed, but not canceled. Gen 15:1-21; Ps 89:28-37; Jer 31:35-37; 33:15-26
6. We want to continue to look at the Jews and their place in the end times events.
1. The Church is not Israel. The Church has not take Israel’s place. The Church is not spiritual Israel. That may seem obvious to you depending on what kinds of end time teachings you’ve been exposed to.
a. But, much of the confusion and controversy over end times occurs because certain people don’t distinguish between Israel and the Church.
b. Postmillennialists and amillennialists say that God is finished with Israel, the Church has replaced Israel, and any unfulfilled promises made to Israel will now be fulfilled in and through the Church which is spiritual Israel.
2. There are three main views about the millennium (the time when Jesus will come back to earth to set up His thousand year kingdom).
a. Premillennial view — Christ will come back before the millennium begins and set up the kingdom Himself. The kingdom will fulfill God’s promises to the Jews. They believe in the rapture and the tribulation.
b. Postmillennial view — Christ will come back after the millennium. The Church will Christianize the world and set up the thousand year period of peace and prosperity. Then Jesus will come and receive the kingdom from the Church. There is no rapture, tribulation, or program for the Jews.
c. Amillennial view — There is no literal millennium and no specific period of tribulation. Jesus will come at the end of history, judge all people and start eternity. They do not believe in the rapture or kingdom for the Jews.
3. The postmillennial and amillennial views can only be supported if you take a nonliteral or allegorical approach to scriptures — ie: The land promised to the Jews is heaven because land means heaven, or Jesus is coming in the clouds means Jesus is coming in the Church because clouds means the Church.
4. When we read the bible literally we find that the Church has not replaced Israel (the Jews). The Church exists in addition to Israel (the Jews).
a. In the OT there were two groups of people: Jews (Abraham’s descendants) and Gentiles (everyone else).
b. Now (since Christ’s resurrection), there have been, are, three groups of people: Jews (physical descendants of Abraham who have not accepted Christ as Savior), Gentiles (all the other unsaved people), and the Church (all who have been saved, born again, by putting faith in Christ).
5. The Church has only existed since Christ rose from the dead.
a. The Church has a living, vital union with Christ. The Church is His Body. Eph 1:22,23; I Cor 12:27; I Cor 6:17
b. OT saints were not born again. Righteousness was written down to their account, but it was not put into them as it has been to us. They did not have the life of God, the Spirit of God, in them as we do. John 3:3-5
c. After Jesus rose from the dead and returned to heaven, He poured out the Holy Ghost on His followers, and the Church was created. Acts 2:1-47
6. The Church was a mystery revealed to Paul by Jesus. Acts 26:16; Gal 1:11,12
a. The mystery = God would take a people out of the Jews and out of the Gentiles and make a new man out of them. Eph 2:11-3:11; 1:9,10
b. Church = EKKLESIA = a calling out; the Church = the called out ones.
c. The mystery = Christ would live in the Church by His Spirit. Col 1:25-27
d. The mystery = In union with Christ we cease to be Jew or Gentile, but rather become a new man, a new creature, a particular member of the Body of Christ. Gal 3:26-28; II Cor 5:17
7. The creation of the Church has not canceled God’s promise to the Jews.
a. In Romans 1-8 Paul systematically explained salvation by God’s grace — how all (Jews and Gentiles) can only be saved by faith in Christ.
b. Chapter 8 ends with the marvelous statements that God is for us and that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Those statements bring up a question. How can we be sure? After all, look at what has happened to Israel. They were God’s chosen, and now seem to be out of the picture.
c. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, deals with that question in Rom 9,10,11.
1. Rom 11:1 is a reference to Jer 31:37. God has not cast off His people.
2. God has simply postponed setting up the earthly kingdom in which He will fulfill His promises to the Jews. Rom 11:25-29 (See Living)
8. When Jesus came to earth the first time, He offered the promised kingdom to Israel and Himself to them as their king. Dan 2:44; Amos 9:14,15; Matt 4:17
a. The nation of Israel rejected Jesus. Their rejection of the kingdom did not cancel the kingdom, but rather, it postponed the kingdom.
b. God knew the Jews would reject their Messiah and He took advantage of it. He used that rejection to purchase salvation through the crucifixion of Christ and to take a people for Himself out of the Gentiles. Acts 15:14 (refers to Amos 9:11,12); Rom 8:28; 11:12-15 (Living)
c. For almost 2,000 years God has not dealt with Israel as a nation. He has been dealing with the Church. We are in the Church Age.
d. Today, to enter into a relationship with God, you must accept the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and be born again, Jew or a Gentile.
e. You then cease to be Jew or Gentile, you become part of the Church.
9. Paul ends his explanation of the Jews current situation by praising the awesomeness of God for such a plan: to use their unbelief as an opportunity to create the Church, save millions, and bring great glory to Himself. Rom 11:23
1. Remember, between 606 B.C. and 586 B.C. the Babylonians invaded Israel, destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, and took the people away into captivity.
2. One of those who was deported was Daniel. After about 67 years in captivity, Daniel came into possession of the Book of Jeremiah. Dan 9:1,2
a. Daniel read it and realized his people were going to be in captivity for 70 years (or about three more years from that time). Jer 25:11; 29:10
b. He repented and prayed that God would fulfill His promises. Dan 9:3-10
3. The angel Gabriel came to Daniel with a message. Gabriel told Daniel that God would deal with the Jews for their sin and rebellion for 490 more years. Then the kingdom would be established, and they would be planted in their land never to be removed.
4. Dan 9:24-27–This prophecy states the period of 490 years in an unusual way.
a. 490 years = seventy weeks; weeks = a period of seven. Seventy weeks literally means seventy sevens.
b. We must determine from the context if it means 7 days or 7 years. In this passage one week = 7 years; 70 weeks = 7×70 = 490 years.
5. v24–In those 490 years six specific things will be accomplished.
6. v25–The 490 years will begin when the decree is issued to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Historical records tell us exactly when the command to rebuild was given — Nisan 1 (Mar 5) 444 B.C. Neh 2:1-8
a. From the time the command is given until Messiah comes will be 7 weeks plus 60 weeks (threescore) plus 2 weeks = 69 weeks or 7×69 = 483.
b. Historical records tell us the day Jesus entered Jerusalem in His final offer of Himself as king (Palm Sunday, Mar 30, 33 A.D.). Luke 19:37-44
c. That’s exactly 483 years. Divide 483 by 7 and it equals 69 or 69 sets of sevens or 69 weeks. When 483 is multiplied by 360 (length of Bible years) it equals 173,880 days which is exactly the number of days from Nisan 1 444 B.C. to Mar 30, 33 A.D. when leap years are added in.
7. v26–After 62 weeks (threescore and two weeks or 62×7 = 434 years) Messiah will be cut off = crucified. This statement divides the 483 years in two parts.
a. The first segment = 49 years or 7 weeks = from the time of the command to the completion of the temple.
b. The second segment = 434 years = 62 weeks = threescore and two = from the completion of the temple to Christ’s crucifixion.
8. v26–At the time Christ dies, Jerusalem and the temple will be destroyed.
a. In 70 A.D. three legions of Roman soldiers totally destroyed the city. (legion = 5,400 to 6,000 men and an equal number of auxiliary troops)
b. 26b–They will be overwhelmed as with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. (Living)
c. Jerusalem was later rebuilt as a Gentile city, a colony. A temple to a heathen god was build on the temple site. Emperor Constantine allowed Jews to reenter the city in the early 300’s A.D. But, the city fell under Moslem control in the 600s, and is still today the scene of conflict.
9. Notice, one seven year period, Daniel’s seventieth week is missing. Where is it?
a. In v27–He (the prince of the people who crucified Christ) will make a 7 year covenant (treaty) with Israel and break it midway through the 7 years.
b. 27b–Then, as a climax to all his terrible deeds, the Enemy shall utterly defile the sanctuary of God. But in God’s time and plan, his judgment will be poured out upon this Evil One. (Living)
10. Daniel’s 70th week has not yet taken place. No one knew when the prophecy was given that there would be a gap between week 69 and week 70.
a. Notice, Jesus was crucified and the temple was destroyed after week 69 but before week 70. He was crucified in the gap.
b. The 70th week is the tribulation. Jesus makes that clear in Matt 24:15. This final week of God’s dealings with Israel for their sin and rebellion must occur before Jesus comes back to earth to set up the kingdom in fulfillment of His promises to Abraham and David. (another lesson)
11. People do all sorts of strange things with Daniel’s prophecy because they do not take it literally. It must be taken literally.
a. These verses were written to the Jews about the Jews. There is nothing in Daniel that even hints these things are fulfilled in or through the Church.
b. Israel’s 70 years of captivity in Babylon were 70 literal years. There is no reason to believe the years in Daniel’s prophecy are not also literal.
c. The HE mentioned in v27 is not Jesus. Remember your high school grammar.