Then (Jesus) said to (His disciples) “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” (Luke24:44NKJV)
Jesus’ words were in response to His disciples’ confusion and misgivings concerning their Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection. Yet as He pointed out to them, everything that the Law and Prophets foretold concerning the Messiah must be fulfilled at some point, the only question is when? There is no indication from Jesus Himself that He had any intention of subverting Old Testament prophecy “to fulfil His Own and Israel’s mission in an entirely unexpected way” as at least one renowned theologian has proposed (N T Wright) [note 1] . At His arrest Jesus had challenged Peter who was trying to defend his Master by force of arms, “But how then could Scripture be fulfilled that said it must happen this way? (Mt26:54). Jesus’s arrest and execution mustn’t just happen, it must happen “this way”, as prophesied. So, on the political front, if the prophets Isaiah and Micah had inferred that the coming Messiah would personally arbitrate with people and nations to bring an end to human warfare (Is2:3-4; Mic4:3), then that is what Jesus expected at some point to be doing. Whilst the Church can pray for peace, preach peace and work for peace, there can be no lasting peace on Earth or universal justice until Satan’s seed are removed and his structures of unrighteousness are destroyed from the Earth, which is to be the task of angels (Mt13:41).
In the meantime, we look out of our window and observe the world becoming ever more dangerous and ever more secular as the end of the gospel age approaches. And that in spite of the Church, without whose salt and light things would no doubt be far worse. Yet according to Oxfam, the richest one percent of the world’s population own more than the rest of the world put together: the world is not currently in any executive sense under the government of Christ and His people. Isaiah had foretold that the Son who had been born of Mary would “establish (His government) with judgement and justice” (Is9:7). Neither has Our Lord’s judgement been received nor His justice practiced by the world’s authorities in the current age. What one currently can perceive is the Church as the mystical Body of Christ, or at least that part of it that understands it has any socio-political mandate, doing all within its power to renew humanity along Kingdom principles. But we are two thousand years into that process and the kosmos (world order) is as much under the Wicked One’s influence as it ever has been (cf. 1Jn5:19). Satan has been granted a continued jurisdiction (cf. Eph2:2) and has a particular hold over “the sons of disobedience” (same verse). That would not be the case in the messianic age, during which time the arch-fiend would be bound and out of harm’s way (Rev20:2), as will those who have become his accursed agents (Mt25:41 cf. Greek). The full realization of God’s Kingdom on Earth anticipated in the Old Testament has been deferred, in Paul’s language, “until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom11:25). That deferment is something “the Law and the Prophets” never anticipated, pertaining as it does to “the fellowship of the secret (plan) hidden in God from the previous age” (cf. Eph3:9) – the secret or mystery (Greek: musterion) that I endeavour to unravel in my book, a free PDF of which is available HERE
- “What St Paul Really Said” – N T Wright