a puritan's blog

O God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs…

Against ALL Odds – Reggie Kelly

There is a phrase that is not in scripture, but it captures so much of what
the Bible is all about. “Against All Odds” is aptly used for the title of a
video series on the modern miracle of the Jewish resettlement of the Land of
Israel into astonishing nationhood that was able to survive ‘against all
odds’. That title made me think that truly, the history of redemption from
start to finish is ‘against all odds’. It was meant to be (Ro 8:20).
Anything less would have never so greatly magnified the power, grace, and
unlimited sovereignty of our covenant God (Ro 8:28). As Spurgeon well said,
“considering all things, those who hold out to the end in the way of
holiness will be “men wondered at.” Indeed, our final perseverance will be
to the wonderment of the angels.

Even more wondrous (though not more miraculous) is the really extravagant
hope a kingdom come to THIS earth, not off in the realm of the invisible,
out of sight and beyond evidence, but here, on this earth, the very scene of
the crime. The glory of God will be put on public display when in the same
real, space-time history that witnessed the fall, all nations will be
compelled to witness the very public resurrection and rebirth of Israel ‘in
one day’ (Isa 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9).

After generations of wandering and exile, the Jew has returned to the Land,
but the blindness that brought the exile continues for all but a very small
remnant. For all the marvelous wonder that this represents for those who
were expecting the literal fulfillment of prophecy, this is not the kingdom
promised by the prophets. Therefore, Satan is not bound, and the question
still rages, “Has God really said?”

That question is not finally answered by the revelation of the mystery of a
first coming of Messiah that brings the kingdom in its spiritual essence.
The ‘already’ of present fulfillment is only the earnest or first-fruits of
the ‘not yet’ of a far greater number of highly detailed covenant promises
that envision a kingdom of righteousness here on this earth, under this
heaven, as all worldly powers are forced under its sway and authority, a
true and everlasting dominion that will be ‘publicly’ demonstrated for a
thousand years, showing full completeness and public vindication of the

What will be the proof that this kingdom has come on earth? Since the first
century revelation of Christ’s twofold coming, that question has a new
answer. That age will not begin when Messiah comes, but when He returns.
Yet, in another sense, the powers of that coming day have already broken
into this age by the revelation of the Spirit, but not to the exclusion of a
further conquest that must await the final revelation of the ‘mystery of
iniquity’ (2Thes 2:3, 7-8; Rev 10:7; 12:12).

The mystery of the gospel revealed that BEFORE the day of the Lord, and
BEFORE the tribulation (Deut 4:30; Hos 5:15; Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1), the
messianic salvation would be accomplished by the incarnation and atoning
death of Christ (Isa 53:8; Dan 9:26; Zech 12:10). We lose the force of the
formidable mystery that confronted first century Israel if we fail to
observe that these passages in their original setting and language were not
as clearly messianic as they now appear to the believer in retrospect.

Though fully foretold in the prophetic writings (Acts 3:18-21; 26:22), the
mystery of Messiah’s twofold advent was not revealed until after Pentecost
(Acts 3:21; Ro 16:25-26; 1Cor 2:7-8 with 1Pet 1:11). It is therefore not
surprising that with the exception of John the Baptist (Jn 1:29), few, if
any, would have been prepared to consider that the “man child” of Gen 3:15
would be born of a virgin and deal the fatal blow to the serpent’s head
significantly BEFORE Israel’s deliverance that was commonly expected to come
only after the tribulation,also called, Zion’s travail (compare Isa 13:8;
26:16-17; 66:7-8; Mic 5:3; Hos 5:15; Jer 30:6; Rev 12:5). This great anomaly
would have doubtless stood as a centerpiece of Christian apologetic in the
first century (Contrast the term, “before,” in Isa 66:7 with “as soon as” in
Isa 66:8; compare also Rev 12:5).

Contrary to the popular theology of replacement that has reigned in the
church since the second century, the revelation of the mystery of the gospel
did nothing to cancel or change the prophets’ vision of a restored Jewish
nation after the tribulation. Instead, the gospel revealed the greater glory
of the nature of that one perfect righteousness by which alone the kingdom
is established both in the heart and on the earth.

The “mystery of the kingdom” reveals that God’s conquest of Satan is
accomplished in stages. Since the cross, the legal ground of Satan’s final
destruction has been accomplished, and his final defeat set in irreversible
motion (1Jn 3:8). But notice, Satan’s final eviction from heaven does not
come until the very beginning of the last and brief tribulation (Rev
12:9-10), as his subsequent binding comes still later at the beginning of
the millennium (Rev 20:2). Both of these further stages of his defeat are
manifestly future. We judge then that the Spirit’s full enforcement of
Christ’s conquest over Satan is accomplished in stages.

This suggests that the Accuser’s continued access to heaven, though now
illicit, is somehow related to the believer’s conscience. This brings the
interesting question of what it will mean for the Accuser to be finally cast
down by Michael at the beginning of the tribulation (Dan 12:1 with Rev 12:7,
9-10, 12, 14). As a principle, the finished victory of Christ over the
accuser of the brethren can be more deeply apprehended and appropriated, as
the strength of the flesh is further broken through a similar pattern of
crisis and revelation, not only in the history of redemption, but also in
the personal and corporate experience of the saints (Jn 16:21; Acts 14:22).
This too is against all odds.

The accuser of the brethren is cast down by the revelation of “THE LORD OUR
RIGHTEOUSNESS”. When this is truly and deeply apprehended by the Spirit of
revelation, Satan’s ability to legislate his accusations against the
believer’s conscience is broken, and there is fullness of joy, regardless of
the circumstance. This too is ‘against all odds’. This revelation that has
come already to the church (the maskilim) will come to the chastened and
penitent remnant of Israel “in one day” (Isa 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9;
12:10). “In His (Messiah’s) days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall
dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR
RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer 23:6; Isa 45:25; 54:17; with Ro 10:3; Phil 3:9).

This is God’s self appointed “mission impossible” in history. When THIS
“impossible” nation (who is less impossible?) is restored to THIS Land in
THIS righteousness, then the earth will enter its Sabbath rest in glorious
public vindication of the everlasting covenant foretold by all the prophets.
For this the creation groans in travail, as does also the church that knows
the scriptures and the power of God.

Against all odds, God has chosen to embody His glory in weak, helpless, and
even naturally hostile, jars of clay, not away in an invisible realm, but
right here, right now, on earth, “in the presence of His enemies”. He is a
God of embodiment that will send home His great covenant claim through THEM
(Ro 11:27) in the sight of all nations, “for God is able to graft them in
again” (Ro 11:23), against all odds.

As we so often say, how we see God’s covenant with the natural branches in
their enmity and unbelief (Ro 11:28-29), is so much the index of how we see
our own grace.

by Reggie Kelly ay http://the.mysteryofIsrael.org


Till His return…


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