Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 17 Number 9 September 2015
Page 2


The Church in Prophecy

Louis RushmoreThe only church of which everyone now living desperately needs to be a member is the single church about which one can read in both testaments of the Bible. Especially in the Old Testament, the Bible student can read about the church in prophecy. However, in the New Testament, the same truth seeker finds the fulfillment of those prophecies upon the establishment of the church that Jesus Christ died to establish and over which He alone is the Head.

Throughout the centuries preceding the commencement of Christianity, though, God’s plan for mankind’s redemption, and that it involved the church, remained a curious mystery (1 Peter 1:10-12). Yet, the interrelation of God’s scheme for human redemption, the church and Jesus Christ is no longer hidden from earnest pupils of the Holy Scriptures since the New Testament completes divine revelation of the mind of God to mortals. What was formerly a “mystery” is now recognized as the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:9-11 NKJV)

If the New Testament church is the result of Old Testament prophecies, we should expect to find church prophecies in the Old Testament. God had a plan that involved the church of prophecy.

In fact, there are several hundred prophecies in the Old Testament about the church as well as about the Messiah. Obviously, we cannot on this occasion visit all of them, but we do want to notice some of them herein. Interestingly, many of these prophecies appear in chapter two of various Bible books: Psalm 2:6-7; Isaiah 2:2-3; Daniel 2:31-45; Joel 2:28—3:2; Acts 2:16-21. Psalm 2 certainly was numbered by divine inspiration, but the balance of the Bible books were divided into chapters and verses by man to facilitate easier use and reference. Yet, it is possible that God also indirectly through providence participated in those latter chapter designations, too. These Chapter 2’s and additional citations forthcoming in this article represent samples of the church of prophecy.

Importantly, before one can see the church of prophecy in the Old Testament, a definition of terms is necessary. Namely, often the kingdom of prophecy and the church of prophecy refer to the same divine institution. This becomes clear when one realizes that Jesus Christ used the words “kingdom” and “church” interchangeably in the same conversation (Matthew 16:18-19). Likewise, the apostles Paul (Colossians 1:13) and John (Revelation 1:9) also used references to the church and to the kingdom interchangeably to refer to the same divine institution. The kingdom of prophecy and the church of prophecy refer to the same divine organization.

Alone and without inspired New Testament commentary, some Old Testament prophecies about the church may seem ambiguous and unclear in their application. “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, You are My Son, Today I have begotten You” (Psalms 2:6-7). From Acts 13:33, one sees that the Psalm 2 passage referred to the establishment of the church through Jesus Christ. “God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’” (Acts 13:33). Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5 further verify the prophetic application of Psalm 2:6-7 to the New Testament church. Incidentally, Psalm 2:6-7 indicates the where of the church of prophecy by reference to “My holy hill of Zion,” one of the four hills atop the central mountain range on which Jerusalem was built. Together, the Old Testament passage and the New Testament counterparts also identify the Who of the church of prophecy—Jesus Christ.

One of the most descriptive Old Testament prophecies regarding the establishment of the New Testament church is Isaiah 2:2-3.

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days [last days KJV] That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

The eternal, spiritual kingdom was prophesied to be founded in the “latter” or “last days.” The physical manifestation of this kingdom or church was to appear in the mountains formerly occupied by Jacob and specifically at Zion or Jerusalem. Here we find Hebrew parallelism, where in two consecutive phrases employing different words the same declaration appears for the sake of emphasis. “Zion” and “Jerusalem” are different ways of referring to the same piece of real estate, and “law” and “word of the Lord” stand for each other in that sentence. Hence, Isaiah 2:2-3 provides for us both the when and the where of the church of prophecy.

Daniel 2:31-45 presents a bad dream that had come upon the ancient Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. Unlike a bad dream that you or I might have owing to what we ate or some activity in which we immersed ourselves before retiring for the night, God caused Nebuchadnezzar to have this dream, and He provided the prophet Daniel to interpret it. The summary of the dream was that during the time of the fourth Mediterranean world kingdom from the time of the Babylonians God would bring to be the kingdom or church of prophecy. Historically, that fourth kingdom was the Roman Empire, and as one opens the New Testament, he sees the Romans ruling the nations ringing the Mediterranean Sea. During this time, Jesus was born and eventually after our Lord’s ministry the kingdom or church of prophecy was established.

Daniel 2:44 says in part, “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed… and it shall stand forever.” Once more one discovers the when of the church of prophecy.

Joel 2:28—3:2 is a remarkable passage about the establishment of the church of prophecy, which the apostle Peter quoted on the birthday of the church and applied to the church of prophecy (Acts 2:16-21). Phrases of particular importance for this study include “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance” and “the Valley of Jehoshaphat.” Herein we notice the purpose and the where of the church of prophecy. Peter prefaced the quotation of Joel 2 by saying, “this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God…” The kingdom or church of prophecy was to be established in “the last days,” and it was. Mankind has been living in the last days since the first century of Acts 2. Together, Joel 2 and Acts 2 announce the when of the church of prophecy.

The apostle Peter emphasized in his recitation of Joel 2 that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). The Gospel or the New Testament speaks of two varieties of salvation—salvation for the non-Christian as he or she becomes a Christian as well as salvation for the Christian in whose life sin has entered. Summarized, Jesus Christ Himself announced the way in which one can have sins forgiven and become a child of God in the Christian Age. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” (Mark 16:16). Since it is before Jesus Christ everyone must eventually appear (2 Corinthians 5:10), it behooves each soul to opt for how Jesus declared one can be saved, rather than opting for a manmade plan, which will miserably fail to derive eternal divine favor (Matthew 7:21-23). On the other hand, Christians can receive renewed salvation from sins by observing what Peter stated. “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22; cf. 1 John 1:9). Salvation for the non-Christian and for the Christian corresponds to the purpose of the church of prophecy.

Another Old Testament prophecy relative to the establishment of the church of prophecy is found in Daniel 7:13-14. Words of special notice and application are “a kingdoman everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.” Unlike earthly kingdoms, this spiritual kingdom, the church of prophecy will endure “forever” (2 Samuel 7:13-14). The duration of the church of prophecy is taught here.

In conclusion, the church of prophecy was planned by God. There are hundreds of prophecies about the church of prophecy. Often, the words “kingdom” and “church” refer to the same divine institution. Therefore, Jesus Christ is the King of the kingdom, and He is the Head of the church. The church of prophecy was founded nearly 2,000 years ago in the mountains of Judea. The purpose of the church of prophecy is to save human souls. Finally, the church of prophecy will last forever.

Jesus Christ is coming back to retrieve the church of prophecy (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The most crucial question that each person must ask himself or herself is, “Have I been added to the church of prophecy by Jesus Christ?” (Acts 2:47).

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