Jesus Christ and the Future Kingdom of God Part Six
In the previous article, we noted that Jesus Christ (Mt. 19:28) and the apostles Peter (Acts 3:19-21) and Paul (Rom. 8:19-22) foretold that nature will be restored to its original pre-fall condition when Christ will return from heaven and reestablish God’s theocratic kingdom-rule on this earth.
In his Acts 3 prophecy, Peter indicated that God used the Old Testament prophets to provide revelation concerning this restoration of nature, which takes place in the future Messianic age (v. 21). This article examines that revelation and the significance of Christ’s miracles in light of it.
The Old Testament Prophecies and Christ’s Miracles
The Old Testament prophets told of miraculous changes that willcome to the world when the Messiah will establish and rule over the future theocratic Kingdom of God. Comparing Jesus Christ’s miracles with these prophecies reveals that through His miracles, Jesus overtly demonstrated to the people of Israel that He was the Messiah—the One who had the powers necessary to fulfill those Old Testament prophecies.
First, the prophets foretold that the future theocratic kingdom will exhibit beneficial changes in the earth’s climate and natural elements (Isa. 30:23-26; Ezek. 47: 1-12; Joel 2:21-26; 3:18; Zech. 14:8). The effectiveness of the moon and sun will be increased, and abundant rains will fall when needed. Special streams of water will flow from Jerusalem to cleanse polluted bodies of water, making waste places fruitful. Jesus demonstrated His power to control the earth’s climate and natural elements by walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee and calming two storms (Mt. 14:2433; Mk. 4:35-41).
Second, according to the prophets, the theocratic kingdom will be characterized by unprecedented growth and fruitage of trees (Isa. 41: 19-20; Ezek. 36:8; 47:6-7; Joel 2:2122). Jesus displayed His power to control the growth and fruitage of trees by cursing a fig tree and causing it to wither immediately (Mt. 21:18-20).
Third, the prophets declared that there will be great productivity of animals, including a huge multitude of fish, during the theocratic kingdom (Ezek. 36:11; 47:8-10). Twice Jesus miraculously produced a huge draught of fish for His disciples after they had fished all night without catching anything (Lk. 5:1-11; Jn. 21:1-12). Here was evidence that He could produce the great productivity of animals, including the huge multitude of fish, prophesied for the future Messianic kingdom.
Fourth, the prophets proclaimed that the future theocratic kingdom will be blessed with a superabundant supply of food (Ps. 72:16; Isa. 30:23-24; Ezek. 34:25-30; Joel 2:21-26; Zech. 8:11-12). Famine will be unknown. Jesus exhibited His power to produce this superabundance by expanding five loaves of bread and two fish into more than enough food to feed five thousand men. After all these people were filled, there were twelve baskets of food left (Jn. 6:5-14). On another occasion, Christ increased seven loaves of bread and several small fish into enough to feed about four thousand people. After all of them were filled, seven baskets of food were left (Mk. 8:1-9).
Fifth, according to the prophets, wine will be abundant in the future theocratic kingdom (Joel 2:21-26; Amos 9:13). Jesus manifested His ability to create this abundance of wine in the future kingdom when He turned water into wine at a marriage celebration in Cana of Galilee (Jn. 2:1-11).
Sixth, the prophets predicted dramatic changes in the nature of animals in the future theocratic kingdom (Isa. 11:6-9; 65:25; Hos. 2:18). All animals will be completely tame and vegetarian in diet. Sheep, goats, calves, and cows will dwell together with wolves, leopards, young lions, and bears and not be harmed. Instead of being carnivorous, the lion will eat the same vegetation as the ox. Little children will be able to lead all these animals as pets. Poisonous snakes that today are deadly will no longer be harmful.
Jesus demonstrated His ability to change or exercise authority over the nature of animals. On His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He rode a colt that had never been sat upon by a human being. He had no trouble doing so, in spite of the fact that such an animal would normally have attempted to throw off a rider. Jesus changed the nature of that colt (Mk. 11:1-11). On another occasion, He caused a fish to have a specific coin in its mouth and to swim to a specific place, at a specific time, to be caught by Peter (Mt. 17:24-27).
Seventh, the prophets declared that the future theocratic kingdom will be characterized by the healing of physical diseases and deformities (Is. 29:18; 33:24; 35:5-6). The lame will be made to walk, the blind made to see, the deaf made to hear, and the dumb made to speak. No longer will anyone say, “I am sick.” Jesus gave overwhelming evidence of His power to produce that aspect of the future kingdom. He healed lame (Mt. 8:5-13; Mk. 2:1-12; Jn. 5:1-9), blind (Mt. 9:27-31; 12:22; 20:2934; Mk. 8:22-26; Jn. 9:1-7), deaf (Mk. 7:31-37; 9:14-29), and dumb people (Mt. 9:32-34; 12:22; Mk. 7:31-37; 9:14-29). He also healed those at the point of death (Jn. 4:46-54); those possessed by demons (Mt. 9:32-34; 15:21-28; Mk. 1:21-28, 34; 5:1-20; 9:14-29); lepers (Mk. 1:40-45; Lk. 17:11-19); and those with fever (Mk. 1:2931), withered hands (Mk. 3:1-5), issues of blood (Mt. 9:20-22), infirmity (Lk. 13:10-13), and dropsy (Lk. 14:1-4). He also replaced a severed ear (Lk. 22:5051). In addition, He performed many other miracles of healing that were not specifically recorded (Mt. 4:23-24; 8:16; 9:35; 15:29-31; Mk. 1:34; 6:56; Lk. 4:40; 5:15; 6:17-19; 7:21).
Eighth, the prophets foretold that the future theocratic kingdom will be marked by great longevity of life (Is. 65:20-22). The 100-year-old person will be classified as a child; infancy will be measured by years, not days. Old men will live a full life, and the days of God’s people will be as the days of a tree. Jesus raised Lazarus, Jairus’s daughter, and the widow’s son from the dead, thereby lengthening their lives beyond their normal span (Mt. 9:18-26; Lk. 7:11-17; Jn. 11:1-45). This was evidence that He has the power to produce the longevity of life characteristic of the future theocratic kingdom.
The Significance of the Comparison
When the Messiah will establish and rule over the future theocratic kingdom, miraculous changes will come to the world. By comparing the miracles of Jesus with the Old Testament prophecies concerning the nature of the future theocratic kingdom, it is easy to see the relationship between Christ’s miracles and those prophecies.
The writer of Hebrews recognized and referred to that relationship. He stated that Jews who were eyewitnesses of Christ’s miracles thereby “tasted …the powers of the age to come” (Heb. 6:5). Two things should be noted regarding this statement. First, Jesus used the word translated “powers” in reference to His miracles (Mt. 11:20-23). Other people used the same word for His miracles (Mt. 13:54, 58; 14:2; Lk. 19:37; Acts 2:22). Some used it specifically for His miracles of healing illnesses (Mk. 5:30; 6:5; Lk. 5:17; 6:19) and casting out demons (Lk. 4:36). Second, since the book of Hebrews was written during this present, pre-Messianic age, the writer’s expression “the age to come” refers to the future Messianic age, when Christ, the Messiah, will establish and rule over the future theocratic kingdom.
The combination of these two things prompts three conclusions. First, the writer of Hebrews indicated that Christ’s miracles were a foretaste of the powers He will exercise when He will transform nature, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in conjunction with His establishment of the future theocratic kingdom. Second, those powers are to be associated uniquely with that future Messianic age, not the present pre-Messianic age. The fact that nature has not yet experienced that transformation, but still labors under the curse that came upon it with mankind’s fall from God, substantiates this conclusion. Third, this foretaste of Christ’s powers in the past guarantees that the future theocratic kingdom, with its transformation of nature, will take place in conjunction with His Second Coming in the future.
The Primary Purpose of Christ’s Miracles
Christ’s miracles demonstrated conclusively that He is the Messiah who will fulfill the Old Testament prophecies concerning the future theocratic kingdom and its transformation of nature. This conclusion is based on several lines of testimony.
Jesus’ Testimony. When asked to state plainly if He were the Messiah, Jesus said, “I told you, and ye believed not; the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me” (Jn. 10:25). Later He indicated that witnesses of His miracles had a solemn responsibility to believe His claims (Jn. 15:24).
The Apostle John’s Testimony. John declared that he recorded some of Jesus’ miracles in order that his readers might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (Jn. 20:30-31). (See also John 1:41.) John also expressed amazement that some eyewitnesses of Jesus’ miracles did not, as a result, believe His claim to be the Messiah (Jn. 12:37-38).
The Testimony of Jesus’ Response to John the Baptist’s Question. John’s imprisonment caused him to question if Jesus were the Messiah. He sent a question to Jesus, asking if He were the Messiah who was to come. In response, Jesus performed miracles before John’s messengers, then sent them to tell John what they had witnessed. The miracles were to assure John that Jesus was, indeed, the Messiah (Lk. 7:19-23).
The Apostle Peter’s Testimony. Peter declared Jesus to be the Messiah (Acts 2:36) and indicated that God certified Him to be the Messiah “by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him” in Israel (v. 22).
By restoring nature to its original pre-fall condition when He restores God’s theocratic kingdom rule to this present earth, Christ will accomplish the third future thing that God must do to fulfill His purpose for history.