Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity

John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D

Copyright 1996, John H. Stoll

[ Previous | Table of Contents | Next ]

Chapter 5 - God's Times and Methods of Revelation

In order for one to understand God's overall relationship to mankind, it is imperative to take a telescopic overview of His revelation to the human race. God's understanding of mankind deals with three classes of individuals: The peoples of the world, Israel as God's chosen people, and the Church(i.e. those who have acknowledged Him as Lord and Savior of their lives). The Old Testament deals primarily with God's relationship to His people, Israel. The New Testament deals basically with the Church, which is His body of believers through Jesus Christ. The world is under the ultimate judgment of God, though He is, "Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).

There is a well defined pathway to understand what the Prophets told to Israel and the Church. God has a purpose in history, as well as a purpose for mankind on the earth. In His sovereignty He is seeing to it that His purpose is being carried out (Isa. 46:9-13; Ps. 33:11). This purpose is seen in Psalm 8:4-6, and relates to the creation of mankind in three ways: 1) God created the human race for fellowship with Him (v.4); 2) As a reflection of God's moral qualities or attributes (v.5 - this is the "image" of God reflected); and 3) To place mankind, as king, over all the creation (v.6).

The entrance of sin through Adam/Eve temporarily thwarted the fulfillment of these three purposes. But, since God's purposes are eternal, He outlined the coming of the "Seed of the woman", who would undo what Satan had seduced mankind into sin (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4,5). In Heb. 2:5-9 it states that someday God will restore mankind to that position which Adam had before sin entered, and this will be the eternal and ultimate fulfillment of these three original purposes. God guarantees this through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15:1- 58).

There are three distinct periods of revelation from God to mankind, as seen in the Bible: 1) From Adam to Moses, 2) From Moses to Christ, and 3) From Christ to the end. We shall consider each, the importance of these epochs, and the impact on mankind.

1) God's Revelation From Adam to Moses: Until Adam/Eve sinned, God and Adam had total communication between them, and God continuously revealed Himself to Adam, who comprehended all that God taught him. It was all perfect and eternal. After Adam/Eve sinned, they hid themselves from God (Gen. 3:8), and realized they were morally naked, because a barrier came between them and God. Now the stakes had changed, and no longer did Adam know God by direct revelation. Consequently, God instituted a new order of communication with mankind because of his sin.

The first revelation in the new order came in Gen. 3:15-19 where God confronted Adam/Eve with a pronouncement that would affect all mankind until He concluded all things in judgment, sometime in the distant future. It was a reference to the immediate judgment for sin, that is, they would experience physical and spiritual death as a consequence, but also that God would provide eternal restoration through one whom He called, "The seed of the woman", whom we understand because of further revelation to be the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 4:4). This promise was fulfilled in Christ's first advent (John 3:16; Heb. 2:5-9). He came to undo what Satan had accomplished through deception. This is the basis upon which God will ultimately fulfill in regenerated mankind throughout eternity, the threefold purpose He had in creation.

The next revelation from God came through Enoch (Jude 14,15), who prophesied before the flood that God would destroy mankind because of his sin, which came at the time of the flood, and Jude carries this over to the end of all things, when God will ultimately destroy all sin. Then came Noah, who survived the destruction of the flood, because of his righteousness before God, and through him the earth was repopulated. These revelations in history are to show by analogy, that situations in the world today are quite similar to those in Enoch/Noah's day, to the effect that God will someday destroy the world, not by a flood of water, but by the fire of His judgment.

Just as in the days of Noah, there were eight righteous people who escaped, so God has His remnant today who will escape the coming judgment. Furthermore, as God raised up a righteous standard prior to the flood, so today God has His people who are standing for Him, even in the declension that is engulfing mankind, which will bring God's final judgment (II Peter 2:5; 3:1-14).

Many years after the flood, God revealed Himself to Abraham concerning a nation through him, that God would call His people, i.e. Israel. This revelation that God would make of Abraham a mighty nation, consisted of a number of things. He made unconditional promises of earthly seed (Gen. 13:16) without number, a land that God would give his people forever (i.e. the land of Palestine) as a lasting possession (Gen. 13:14,15), and kings over the people/land (Gen. 35:11,12). The history of the Old Testament is a record of how all this came to pass. It had its greatest fulfillment through Moses/Joshua and entrance into the land of promise (Palestine).

2) God's Revelation From Moses To Christ: As God's first and greatest prophet, Moses enjoyed a personal relationship with God, and was the instrument God employed to reveal Himself to Israel. In this capacity, Moses spoke in behalf of God to meet the needs of His people, as well as to reveal future elements that would ultimately affect Israel forever. The revelation to Moses consisted of three things.

First, God used Moses as a type or figure of the future coming of the Son of God as a greater prophet. In Deut. 18:15-18, Moses speaks to this future coming of a "Prophet - like unto me; unto Him you shall listen", which was a veiled reference to the ultimate coming of Jesus Christ. The New Testament confirmation of this is seen in Acts 3:22; 7:37 where both Peter and Stephen quote from Deuteronomy and ascribe the prophecy to Jesus Christ. It is also significant to note the reference to Jesus Christ as Prophet in Heb. 1:1,2 and II Cor. 4:6. So, just as Moses was a Prophet of God to Israel, and a type of Christ, so Jesus Christ as God's last and final Prophet is to mankind today, heralding a message of repentance from sin, and acceptance of Him as an escape from the wrath to come (I Thess. 5:9).

Second, Moses predicted the history of Israel, both the blessings and the cursings (Note: Deut. 28-30, which has been largely fulfilled). The historical record of the nation of Israel, both through Biblical sources, as well as through secular history, is an account of that which Moses predicted.

Third, Moses predicted the return of the Lord to and for His people Israel, their restoration to the promised land, and the eternal blessings they would enjoy (Deut. 30: 1-10). These were literal promises, but always predicated upon God's redemptive work of Jesus Christ. There were other Prophets that God raised up throughout the history of Israel, who spoke in behalf of God to the nation. The earlier Prophets spoke to the Israelites of repentance from their sins, and the consequences of judgment. The later Prophets (i.e. those who came at the time of exile and afterwards) spoke more of a coming king, who would care for the sins of Israel, and set up a kingdom that would not be destroyed.(For further understanding see Chapter 4 - The Kingdom of God & The Kingdom of Heaven).

The problem of the people of Israel was not unlike mankind today, they wanted peace, but were not willing to live righteously according to God's standard to obtain it (Hosea 5:15; 6:1,2 with Matt. 23:37-39). Zechariah put his finger on the problem (6:12,12; 8:8) when he pointed out that there would never be real peace on the earth, until the righteous one (i.e. Christ) as the Prince of Peace would come to reign. When there is righteousness then there will be peace. Thus we come to the end of Old Testament prophecy and turn to the New Testament, as God's revelation concerning His Son, Jesus Christ.

3) God's Revelation From Christ to the End: In Galatians 4:4 we read that Jesus Christ came when it was the "fullness" of God's timing. Since God does not operate out of a time/space world as mankind does, the writer's of the Bible utilizes time/space world language, so that we are able to understand God's revelation within the framework of our comprehension. God sent Jesus Christ into the world according to His plan for mankind. Christ came, "made of a woman" to fulfill God's promise in Gen. 3:15 that the "seed of the woman" would crush Satan's head, and He came to "redeem them that were under the law" (v.5), a fulfillment of God's promise of the Messiah, as revealed by the Prophets.

Thus, the New Testament speaks of three classes of people: The Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church of God (I Cor. 10:32). God's chosen people in the Old Testament were the Jews (Israel); then when Christ came He instituted a new concept of the "Church", as seen in Matt. 16:18 (For more detailed understanding of the church see the chapter on the Kingdom of God). The "Gentiles" would be the unregenerate peoples of the world.

In the Old Testament God spoke to Israel through the Prophets (Heb. 1:1), but when Christ came, God spoke through His Son (Heb. 1:2), and has continued that message in the Bible, as applied to the Christian through the Holy Spirit (See: John 16:7-15).

When Christ came, as God's final and last Prophet to mankind, He came first unto His own people, the Jews (John 1:11), with a proclamation of the Kingdom (Matt. 10:5-7), but they rejected Him as their Messiah/King. Therefore, He turned aside to proclaim a new concept for people, called the Church (Matt. 16:17-21). Because Israel was no longer God's channel through whom His revelation would go out to the world, the new channel was the Church, by whom God would evangelize the world. The commission to the church is given in Matt. 28:19,20. For the past two thousand years God has seen fit to use the Church as His instrument, along with the Bible and the Holy Spirit, to proclaim His message of love, grace, and redemption to all the world.

After Christ's ascension, with His charge to the Disciples (followers), whom He recommissioned as Apostles (sent ones) as seen in Acts 1:8, God revealed His will through the Apostles to the Church, who were empowered by the Holy Spirit. When they carried the Gospel message of Salvation from sin, the Holy Spirit regenerated all who believed, and indwelt all believers (i.e. Spirit Baptism - I Cor. 12:13). This was in fulfillment of the teaching of Christ to the Disciples in His public ministry (John 14:26; 16:13-15).

Today, God is in the process of gathering out of the peoples of the world, a people for His name, i.e. Christians - followers of Christ (Acts 15:14). When this task is completed, Christ will return to gather His Church (i.e. all Christians) to Himself in Heaven (I Thess. 4:13- 18).

After Christ's return the Anti-christ will be revealed, and the Tribulation will begin, which will last for seven years, followed by Christ's return to earth to put down Satan and the Anti-christ (i.e. Armageddon), and His setting up of the Kingdom for Israel. This kingdom, which will last for a thousand years (Millenium), will be God's fulfillment of His unconditional promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and all Israel(Isa. 9:6,7; Luke 1:32,33). This will be the kingdom offered to Israel when Christ came the first time, but postponed by Him, because Israel refused to acknowledge Him as the Messiah, as prophesied by the Old Testament Prophets.

The eternal conclusion of God's original purpose for mankind through the creation (Ps. 8:4-6), will become a reality for both believing Israel and the Church, and each will take their rightful place in God's eternal kingdom (Rev. 21:12,14; I Cor. 15:20-28).

It may be at morn, when the day is awaking,
When sunlight through darkness & shadow is breaking,
That Jesus will come in the fullness of glory,
To receive from the world His own.
O, Lord Jesus how long, how long, ere we shout the glad song
Christ returneth, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, Amen, Hallelujah, Amen.

O joy, O delight, should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying,
Caught up through the clouds with our Lord into glory,
When Jesus receives His own.
O, Lord Jesus how long, how long, ere we shout the glad song
Christ returneth, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, Amen, Hallelujah, Amen.

[ Previous | Table of Contents | Next ]