Biblical time lines have become our daily headlines. The signs of the times are all around us. The biblically predicted end-time scenario is manifesting itself before our very eyes. It's time to look up, for our redemption draws near. Jesus is coming!
In light of the above, it is critical for today's Christian to understand the times, so that he or she will know what ought to be done. In order to understand the times, we must understand Bible prophecy, and in order to understand Bible prophecy we must remove the man-made confusion over this most timely topic. In this article, we will endeavor to clear up and simplify what many have convoluted.
We turn in this article to a truly spectacular chapter of God's Word, Isaiah 49. In this chapter, our Christian faith is revealed as remarkably unique. Whereas all other religions and faiths are primarily confined to certain ethnic groups and localized vicinities with their discriminating deities, our faith is shown to be a universal faith in the one and only true God, who has proven Himself to be no respecter of persons by sending His Son into the world as the Savior of all men, regardless of their race or ethnicity.
In verse 8 of this extraordinary chapter, God explains how He will give His Son, Israel's promised Messiah, as "a covenant of the people." The people spoken of here should not be understood as merely "the tribes of Jacob" and the "preserved of Israel," as verse 6 makes abundantly clear. To send His Son into the world to "raise" a single race of people would be too "light [a] thing"; instead, God promises to send His Son into the world not only for the Jew, but also to be "a light to the Gentiles," not only for the sake of Israel, but to bring "salvation unto the ends of the earth."
God’s ultimate covenant that supersedes all others is found in Christ. Christ is the covenant! All the covenants God ever made are summed up in Christ (Ephesians 1:10). In addition, all the promises God ever made are fulfilled in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:18-20). All one has to do to enter into a covenant relationship with God and become a recipient of all of God’s promises is to believe in God’s Son, who is the summation of all of God’s covenants and the fulfillment of all of God’s promises.
We are often taught today that to understand Bible prophecy we must “rightly divide” the Word, carefully distinguishing between all the different covenants God has ever made. Furthermore, we must also differentiate between all the different promises God has made in the different covenants to different individuals and groups living at different times and in different dispensations. Now, to try to get to the bottom of Bible prophecy in such a whirlpool of swirling complexity leaves one as dizzy and confused as a termite in a yo-yo.
The good news to be gleaned from Isaiah 49:8 is that Christ, God’s ultimate covenant that supersedes all others, not only sums up all of God’s covenants, fulfills all of God’s promises, and extends God’s salvation to the ends of the earth, but also removes all of the confusion. We don’t have to worry with all the different covenants, promises, and dispensations. We just need to come to Christ, who in our day is the summation of all God’s covenants, the fulfillment of all God’s promises, and the Savior of the world.
Notice, Isaiah predicts that God’s ultimate covenant—Christ—will be established for all people in the “accepted time” and in the “day of salvation” (v.8). According to the Apostle Paul, “Now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2) . Our time is the “accepted time” and “day of salvation” predicted by Isaiah, precipitated by Christ, and preached by Paul.
The Apostle Paul teaches us in Ephesians 2:11-22 that Christ has torn down every wall of partition between men and God, as well as every wall of partition between those who believe in Him. All men can come to God today through faith in Christ. It doesn’t matter if you are red or yellow, black or white. Whosoever will may come. And all who come to Christ are seen by God impartially; as Paul puts it in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for we are all one in Christ Jesus.” We’re all equal recipients and heirs of all God’s promises in Christ (Galatians 3:29).
Now, some will argue that this scripturally sound simplification of the understanding of Biblical covenants is rendered untenable by its failure to account for God’s specific promises to Israel. However, such a charge is completely unfounded. As Isaiah 49:13-23 clearly shows, God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled during the Millennial Reign of Christ. The fact that God “lifts up [His] hand to the Gentiles”—includes all Gentiles who believe in Christ in His covenant with and promises to Israel—takes nothing away from God’s promises to Israel. Israel will still receive everything God has promised. As Christ’s parable of the laborers teaches (Matthew 20:1-16), Israel, “the first” to covenant with God “in the morning,” has no legitimate complaint against God’s extension of His covenant and promises in “the eleventh hour” to the Gentiles, “the last” to covenant with God. As our Lord exclaims, any complaint against God’s “goodness” in including in His promises “the last” (the Gentiles) along with “the first” (the Jews) is “evil” and envious.
Not only does this scripturally sound simplification of the understanding of biblical covenants leave Israel with no complaint, but it also gives to God all of the glory. During Christ’s Millennial Reign, when Israel is overrun with Gentile children of God from all over the world, who come from the ends of the earth to bow before their Savior and Israel’s promised Messiah, both Jews and Gentiles, all men everywhere, will know that Christ is the Lord!