Jesus: The Fulfillment of the Prophets

They saw a kingdom! The ancient prophets of the Old Testament were commissioned by God to call the people of Israel to repentance, to warn them of judgment, and yet to give them hope of salvation in a future kingdom. They saw a kingdom. Ultimately the prophets, like all the Old Testament, are about Jesus, King Jesus. As we read through the prophetic literature of the Old Testament it is important to read it in light of Jesus, for Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophets.

A major part of the prophets’ message involved covenant obligations. The people of God had been brought into a special relationship with Him, in which there are expectations of them. They are to conduct themselves in a certain manner and follow God’s law. But routinely Israel fails at this. The begin with feigned holiness. The go through the motions but don’t actually love God with their hearts (Isa. 29:13). Then they didn’t even fake it anymore and they began to practice straight injustice (Isa. 5:7). And finally, they came out as complete idolaters (Jer. 2:13). Against such things God does not have eternal punishment, and eventually he calls the prophets to rebuke and challenge Israel. To call them to repentance. The reality, of course, is that in six months Israel will be right back in the same place. They can’t keep the Covenant.

The prophets point to man’s inability to perfectly keep God’s Covenant, but they also point to a hope in one who does keep that covenant. There is a “righteous one,” there is one who never fails in obedience. Jesus is the perfect Covenant keeper, and he will make many righteous both by his death (Isa. 53:11), and by his life (Philippians 3:9). He also establishes a new kingdom where disobedience will no longer exist (Jer. 31:33-34).

When this new Kingdom comes it will be a place of perfect justice and perfect worship (Isa. 9:7). When Jesus arrives on the scene he announces “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). Jesus inaugurates this kingdom, he is the fulfillment of it. Revelation 11:15 testifies to the transformation that will happen when Christ consummates that Kingdom. He is the fulfillment of all that the prophets saw.

Israel’s Covenant unfaithfulness is answered in Jesus. Their failure to uphold the Kingdom of God is resolved in the true King. And that Kingdom which the prophets so frequently pointed to for hope is the Kingdom of the Son. Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophets. We have only just scratched the surface of this point. Jesus fulfills the prophets in countless ways, not the least of which is the actual prophecies of his birth, life, death, and resurrection. But this big picture is important to get: the prophetic message of judgment, repentance, and hope all points us to Jesus. It wa she who took our judgment, it was he who makes us holy, and it is he who gives us the hope of the kingdom! Read the prophets, friends, and see Jesus.

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