For the ‘children of Israel’ under the Kingship of David, everything seemed to be going so well. The possession of the land promised to them by God, together with the establishment of a lasting Kingdom of God on earth seemed to be within grasp and when David’s son, Solomon, became King, he built the Temple at Jerusalem and it was filled with the shekinah glory – the glory of God. Everything seemed ‘on the up’ for the ‘children of Israel’ and God’s promises to Abram, Moses and David seemed to be coming to fulfillment and completion.
Then Solomon and the ‘children of Israel’ broke the Covenant – they strayed and began to worship other gods. Thus began a period of decline, corruption and division. The unified Kingdom under David and Solomon split into two rival kingdoms, critical of each other. There were a series of corrupt kings, and then the threat of defeat and conquest by rival nations such as Assyria and Babylon.
Where were God’s promises now? The land promised by God was about to be taken from under the feet of the ‘children of Israel’. The kings were proving to be corrupt and weak – where was the promised glorious kingdom now? It is in this context that prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah are to be found. One of their key concerns in their writings and prophesies was to show that God’s promises had not failed. The promises would not come to nothing, they would not fail, and neither had God forgotten or abandoned the ‘children of Israel’. The calamities of captivity and conquest that came upon the divided Kingdom arose because the ‘children of Israel’ had broken the terms and conditions of God’s Covenants. The ‘children of Israel’ were under the chastisement and rebuke of God.
It would have seemed to the ‘children of Israel’ that their cause was hopeless, that the Kingdom of God on earth – Israel – was going to be destroyed and the land promised by God lost. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesy and write to counter this idea in order to give the ‘children of Israel’ hope. Yes they will be overrun. Yes, they will go into captivity. But God’s promises will not fail. God had sworn an oath on His own Name to fulfil these promises. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah talk about the Messiah, the Deliverer, the King of Israel of the line of David, together with a glorious future for the ‘children of Israel’, when they and their fortunes will be restored and they will possess the land promised by God, in peace and prosperity. It was from these writings that many of the Jews formed their ideas of the Messiah as being a mighty political and military leader who would lead the ‘children of Israel’ to conquer their oppressors.
The promises and prophesies concerning the ‘children of Israel’ outlined in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the so-called ‘minor prophets’ have not yet been completely or fully fulfilled. Only some of them have been fulfilled or partly fulfilled. Jesus the Messiah , the promised Deliverer, did indeed come, but he was not what most Jews were expecting and as a result, they failed to recognize him. They thought of him as an impostor, a false messiah and they rejected His claims. Neither can these Old Testament prophesies be understood in purely ‘spiritual’ terms such that they are interpreted as being completely fulfilled in the Church in the present age. The Temple described in detail in Ezekiel for example has not yet been constructed.
This whole subject forms the main theme of my book ‘The Return of the King’, in which I explore the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and so on in order to show exactly what it is that God does say is going to happen. Relevant passages in the New Testament are also explored – except for the book of Revelation – which is more thoroughly explored in a separate book ‘Salted with Fire’. In the light of current world events in nations around Israel, understanding these scriptures is vitally important – and sobering – if we as Christians want to understand the times and seasons in which we live and the plan that God has in store not only for the ‘children of Israel’ but also for us – the ‘children of the promise’.