Olivet Discourse – Lesson 3
THE OLIVET DISCOURSE
JESUS REVEALS THE FUTURE
LESSON THREE – A PICTURE OF THE MESSIANIC KINGDOM
Picture, if you can, a perfect world — an ideal place for you to live happily ever after! Think of all the elements you would include. Perhaps your dream world would have incredible beauty, great peace, beloved people, unlimited abundance to meet all of your needs, absence of enemies, absolute justice, perfect leadership, total forgiveness, meaningful work, and the abiding presence of God.
For the Jews, this was not an idle exercise. This is the kind of world Jesus’ disciples had been promised by their prophets. Can you blame them for their enthusiasm to launch the Kingdom – ASAP? As a child can hardly wait to enter Disneyland, Jesus’ disciples were ready to storm the gates to set up the Kingdom as they envisioned their new lives. In this lesson we will first look at these prophecies and then hear from Jesus a new reality brought about by the nation’s rejection of His kingship.
All through the major and minor prophets there are prophecies that describe facets of the coming Kingdom of God. This lesson will investigate some of the revelation that was given to the Jews.
DAY ONE: ISRAEL’S PROPHETS DESCRIBED A PEACEFUL KINGDOM.
A. PEACE IN MANY FORMS WAS PROPHECIED.
Not the least of Israel’s expectations was a Kingdom of blessed peace. After centuries of war and hostility, it is no wonder that they looked forward to these promises. They were promised peace in many areas.
- Peace with God
- (Ezekiel 36:24-28) “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.”
- (Jeremiah 31:31-36) “ ‘The time is coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. (33B) – I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.’ (34) No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” Declares the Lord. (35-36) This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar – the Lord Almighty is his name. ‘Only if these decrees vanish from my sight, declares the Lord, will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.’”
- Peace in the Animal Kingdom
- (Isaiah 11:6) “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
- (Isaiah 65:25) “ ‘The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,’ says the Lord.”
- Peace between Israel and Judah
- (Ezekiel 37:21-23) “This is what the sovereign Lord says: ‘I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.’”
- (Ezekiel 37:24-27) “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.”
- Military Peace
- (Isaiah 2:2-4) “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
- (Isaiah 65:17-19) “Behold I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. (21-24) They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them or plant and others eat. … my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”
- Peace with Other Nations
- (Zephaniah 3:13) “The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.” (15b) “The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you, never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, ‘Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.’” (19a) “At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you;…”
- (Amos 9:13-15) “ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.”
B. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY OR DISCUSSION
- What does Paul say about the future of Israel in the New Testament in Romans 11:25-32?
- The Jews have been oppressed in every country in which they have been scattered. What promise regarding their future reputation is revealed in Zephaniah 3:20?
- Read Jeremiah 30:1-11. What great promise is given near the end of this passage?
- What prophecy given above is the most interesting to you?
- In what area would you like to have peace in your present world?
- How could you actively work toward that peace?
DAY TWO: ISRAEL’S PROPHETS DESCRIBED A PROSPEROUS KINGDOM.
A. TIMES OF ABUNDANCE WERE PROMISED.
The chosen people had been planted in a land flowing with milk and honey. Their disobedience caused them to be scattered, and they have often been without land or permanent housing or abundant provision. They longed for the Kingdom to come and bring great blessing. The promises from God through their prophets would have certainly created a great expectancy.
- Promises of Plenty
- (Ezekiel 36:28-30) “You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine.”
- (Ezekiel 36:33-35) “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, ‘This land that was laid waste has become like the Garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed are now fortified and inhabited.’’”
- (Ezekiel 47:10-12) “Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds – like the fish of the Great Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and for healing.”
- (Joel 2:25-27) “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten – the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm – my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God and there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.”
- (Joel 3:18) “In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house and will water the valley of acacias.
- Promises of Land
- (Ezekiel 47:13-14) “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘These are the boundaries by which you are to divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel, with two portions for Joseph. You are to divide it equally among them. Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your forefathers, this land will become your inheritance.’”
- (48:29) “ ‘This is the land you are to allot as an inheritance to the tribes of Israel, and these will be their portions,’ declares the Sovereign Lord.”
- Promises of Houses, Vineyards and Longevity
- (Isaiah 65:21-24) “They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”
B. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY OR DISCUSSION
- What is the promise regarding mortality for infants and old men? (Isaiah 65:20; Zechariah 8:4-5)
- At what age might a disobedient person die? (Isaiah 65:20)
- Ezekiel promised a time when Israel will not be ashamed. How have they been shamed in the 20th Century?
- What will be the new name of Jerusalem? (Ezekiel 48:35)
- What will be the new names of the 12 gates? (Ezekiel 48:30-34
- Israel will finally have all of the land promised to Abraham. What promise to you has God fulfilled in His time?
DAY THREE – ISRAEL’S PROPHETS DESCRIBED A RIGHTEOUS KINGDOM.
A. TRUTH WILL BE FULLY KNOWN AND LIVED OUT.
It is hard to imagine a world where everyone knows the identity of the one true God and where everyone must obey God’s laws. Today people are taught all kinds of anti-God philosophies. This creates mass confusion regarding absolute truth in every society on earth.
- Promises of True Knowledge
- (Isaiah 2:2-4) “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in His paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.”
- (Isaiah 11:9b) “..for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
- Promises of Purity
- (Zechariah 14:20-21) “On that day Holy to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the Lord’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord Almighty.”
- (Isaiah 52:1) “Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again.
- (Ezekiel 36:33) “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns and the ruins will be rebuilt.’”
B. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY OR DISCUSSION
- What did Jesus say about Old Testament prophecies? (Matthew 5:17-18)
- How do people of the world today treat the Holy Scriptures and the prophecies therein?
- What does Psalm 19 tell us about God’s word?
- Read the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Which commandments are totally disregarded today?
- In many cultures God’s name is often profaned in everyday conversation. Note this week how your speech glorifies God’s name.
DAY FOUR: PROPHETS DESCRIBED A RIGHTEOUS KING OVER ALL EARTH.
A. GOD’S KING WILL REIGN.
After the Kingdom of Israel divided, both Israel and Judah had kings that were most often evil and sinful in the eyes of the Lord. After the northern and southern kingdoms were taken into captivity, they lived in the “times of the Gentiles.” (Luke 21:24) Under Gentile domination their lives were controlled by evil pagan kings. It is no wonder that they longed to live in their own land with their own king who would rule with righteousness.
- Promises of Righteous Leaders
- (Isaiah 1:26-27) “I will restore your judges as in days of old, your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City. Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness.”
- Promises of Jesus’ Reign.
- (Isaiah 9:6-7) “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
- (Isaiah 11:10-11) “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him and his place of rest will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.”
- (Jeremiah 23:5-6) “ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a king who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.’”
- (Zechariah 14:9) “The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.”
- (Obadiah 1:21) “Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the Lord’s.”
B. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY OR DISCUSSION
- What did the angel Gabriel tell Mary about the coming Kingdom and the coming king? (Luke 1:30-33)
- As time permits, read Ezekiel 40 – 43, which tells of the new temple that will stand in the Messianic kingdom.
- Describe what happens in that temple in Ezekiel 43:1-9.
- What do you think your life would be like with Jesus as king over the whole earth? (Zechariah 14:9)
- Read the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 with emphasis on prayer for the kingdom to come on earth. Pray this prayer as you study this lesson.
DAY FIVE: JESUS REVEALED A NEW REALITY.
A. EXPECTATIONS WERE HIGH.
Because of all of the amazing prophecies, the Jewish world had a long-awaited expectation that was known in Hebrew as “Ha-Olam Ha-Ba” (the world to come). This messianic age would be a world with Israel reunited as a nation, dwelling in peace, living in the Promised Land, with wild animals tamed, and human longevity increased. It would be a world of righteousness and justice with a new temple and worldwide knowledge of God, and with great prosperity. In addition, Israel would at long last have a highly respected position among the nations of the world. It is no wonder that the people who recognized Jesus as the Messiah were in a state of high excitement. Wonderland seemed to be just around the corner.
B. JESUS ANNOUNCED A HARD REALITY.
READ: Matthew 23:37-39
The Messiah had come to a rebellious nation. He was willing to reign, and He was qualified to reign. He loved this city that God had chosen for his throne, but the leaders of the nation had officially rejected his Messiahship. He compared himself to a mother hen who desired to gather her chicks under her wings. But, alas, it was not to be. In Matthew 23:1-36 Jesus pronounced seven woes that would come upon the evil leaders of the nation. With this fiery speech, Jesus’ public ministry came to a close. With His few remaining hours He will devote his teaching time to His disciples.
Rather than an ideal kingdom, Jesus told the nation, “Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matthew 23:38-39) He will not return until the nation is ready to accept Him. One day the nation’s leaders will lead their people to accept Jesus as Messiah, but that will not happen until the end of the age.
C. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY OR DISCUSSION
- What does Zechariah 12:10 say will happen before the second coming of Jesus?
- What great promises were given for that time in Zechariah 13:1 and Jeremiah 24:6?
- What reality will characterize the magnificent city of Jerusalem according to Jeremiah 3:17?
- What role will the church saints have when Jesus reigns as Messiah? (Revelation 20:6)
- How do you think Jesus’ disciples felt when they heard Jesus reveal the hard news of the nation’s rejection?
- How do you react when your expectations regarding the Christian life don’t turn out the way you expected?
Perhaps there is nothing sadder than a life of lost opportunities. When we think what might have been if we had made better choices, we are left to mourn over a wasted life. The Jews have mourned for centuries in all of the countries where they have been scattered. Some have become believers in Jesus over the years. Some have given up and have become secular Jews. Many more are still awaiting the “first” coming of their Messiah to fulfill all of the prophecies and promises in their Scriptures. They come to the Western Wall regularly to weep and pray for the return of their temple and their restored worship system. The world is waiting for the end of the story.
PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK
Our choices each day can lead to either weeping or rejoicing tomorrow.
Read Matthew 23 to see the charges that Jesus had against the Jewish leaders. Note which action you could be guilty of today.
About the author
LaWanda Neel is a lifelong Bible student. She has served as a Teaching Leader for Bible Study Fellowship and has conducted studies for neighborhood and church groups. She is now retired and lives with her husband in Lakewood, Colorado. She spends time reading, studying, teaching, writing, traveling all around the world and entertaining her five grandchildren. This is her third Weekly Word series for Thrive Ministries. Contact her for questions or comments at [email protected]View all articles by: LaWanda Neel
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