“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14.
“How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15.
This first message of peace was proclaimed by God’s angel and the heavenly host that was with him. The second message of peace was proclaimed by the Apostle Paul about sixty years later. Many significant events took place between the two proclamations.
Concerning the first proclamation of peace, it will prove interesting and instructive to observe some associated facts. These facts have to do with the birth of two sons, both “Divinely” given and both “Divinely” named: John, the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth and the other “Jesus” the Son of God and the Son of Mary. Luke 1:1 to 34. The first son, John, was born to turn many of the children of Israel to their God. Luke 1:16. The second Son, Jesus, was to reign on David’s throne, over the house of Israel forever. Luke 1:31 to 33. These two sons were sent by God in fulfillment of promises in Malachi 3:1 and Malachi 4:4 and 6.
Now let us carefully and prayerfully study God’s purpose for Israel in connection with the births of John and Jesus.
1. John—“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people” . . . “By the mouth of His holy prophets and the oath which He sware by our father Abraham.” “That we should be saved from our enemies—Delivered out of the hand of our enemies.” Luke 1:67 to 77.
2. Jesus—“The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever: and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” “And the angel said: Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy (the gospel), which shall be to all people: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 1:31 to 33 and Luke 2:10 and 11.
In Luke 2:25 we learn of a devout Israelite, Simeon, who was waiting for the consolation of Israel. There are a multitude of devout Israelites who, in the year 1936, will be waiting for the consolation of Israel. They are by no means as close to God as was Simeon. Nor has God revealed to them that, like Simeon, they may see the Messiah and depart in peace, as he did. Luke 2:25 to 29. Most of the 17,000,000 scattered Israelites of today may be ignorant of the fact that the tribulation of Israel is to precede the consolation of Israel. But of this fact they are certain: they have not been delivered from the hands of their enemies. On the contrary, from newspaper reports, many of them have been delivered into the hands of their enemies.
According to the infallible Holy Spirit, when John and Jesus were born, Israel was to be delivered by the Messiah from the hand of their enemies; but instead of any such national deliverance, the Messiah’s three chief messengers were delivered, with many other of His disciples, into the hands of their enemies. John the Baptist was beheaded by his enemy. Peter landed in jail in Acts 12. Paul landed in jail before the close of Acts, and about 69 or 70 A.D. perhaps 2,000,000 Israelites were put to death by Rome; and the survivors were delivered into the hands of their enemies, where they have remained until this day, in the spiritual darkness pronounced upon them in Acts 28:25 to 28 and Romans 11:7 to 26.
Israel was not delivered from the hand of their enemy as the infallible Holy Spirit announced.
Concerning the Holy Child Jesus, He was honored by a guileless Israelite with the proper salutation: “Thou art the Son of God: Thou art the King of Israel.” John 1:49. But, as far as His Nation was concerned: “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.” John 1:11. “We will not have This Man to reign over us,” was their reception. Luke 19:14. “The Stone was rejected by the builders.” The rulers set themselves against the Lord’s Anointed “For to do whatsoever God’s hand and God’s counsel determined before to be done.” Acts 4:28.
The Son Jesus, born for David’s throne, did not take that throne, but instead, was crowned in a different manner for His death of disgrace, shame and sorrow. He went to the tree of Calvary instead of to the throne of David.
We have some very foolish religious people today who are teaching that Great Britain’s Prince of Wales is about ready to take David’s throne. But students of God’s Word know there is only One qualified for that throne and that that One today has now even a more glorious program in hand. Therefore, David’s throne and Israel’s kingdom must wait until God’s eternal purpose, in Christ, has been accomplished: the making of the One New Man of Ephesians 2:15.
There are likewise some very foolish religious people today, who declare that it is possible to forget David’s throne and to have universal peace while that throne is vacant, while the Prince of Peace is the Head of the Church and the devil is the prince of the world. To them we must say, “ye do greatly err, not knowing the Scriptures.” If newspaper headlines are even ten per cent true, the nations of this earth are not beating their swords and spears into pruning-hooks and plowshares; but, on the other hand, they are buying up all the available scrap iron and other metals to beat them into weapons of war far more deadly than swords and spears.
It shall be when Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, the Prince of Peace shall, sit on the throne of David that there will be peace on earth. Isaiah 9:6 and 7. Then nations shall learn war no more. Then the devil shall have been dethroned as world ruler and the government shall be upon the shoulders of Him whose right it is to reign. Then equity; justice, love and righteousness shall prevail. The knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. The pain and sorrow of the curse shall give way to the universal blessing and peace of the reign of the sinless and omnipotent King. The Kingdom of the heavens will be at hand.
Surely, if the rulers of this world should get together in a peace conference and a love feast and destroy all their implements of war and divide up the wealth of the world so that there would be no hunger, and the Lord God would intervene in behalf of suffering humanity and remove sickness and withhold death, ushering in a reign of universal peace, that would be “good news”. That is “the gospel of peace” that was proclaimed. more than 1900 years ago. That gospel of peace is the “kingdom gospel of peace”. The gospel of the kingdom had in view, and will again have in view, the earthly throne of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
PAUL’S PEACE GOSPEL
While the King is the Head of the Church, He is seated far above all principalities in the highest heavenlies, and while the king is away, David’s throne vacant, the Kingdom in abeyance, God has another gospel of peace to be proclaimed: called the gospel of the grace of God and the gospel of the glory of the blessed God. Acts 20:24; I Timothy 1:11.
While on earth, Paul called the gospel of peace “my gospel”. It was the gospel of Christ. Christ gave it to Paul. Paul passed it on to Timothy. Through his messages to Timothy and others it has been passed on to us. In the original text of II Timothy 1:12 Paul speaks of “my deposit”. In II Timothy 1:14, written to Timothy, we have it as “that good deposit”. Timothy was instructed to pass the deposit on to others. II Timothy 2:2. This is a greater commission, so far as we are concerned, than is the great commission of Matthew 10:4 to 12, or Matthew 28:19 and 20. Paul’s gospel has been passed on to us rather than the gospel of the Twelve. Galatians 2:7 to 9.
Both Paul and Timothy had sick bodies. Paul gloried in his infirmities and in the fact that his inward man was being renewed day by day in spite of the fact that his body was daily rotting thoroughly. II Corinthians 4:16; II Corinthians 12:9. He instructed Timothy to take a remedy for his oft sicknesses. I Timothy 5:23. So if, in a body of humiliation, affliction and pain, you are today proclaiming God’s gospel of peace and the God of all grace has not thought it best to give you physical healing, do not question His wisdom and will because of the folly of the confused and deluded teachers who are trying to bless your soul and spirit with Paul’s peace gospel and place your body in Israel’s kingdom peace gospel.
MATTHEW AND ROMANS COMPARED
Matthew 10:5 to 10—The facts—Go to Israel. Go not to Gentiles. Proclaim “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. Put no money in your purse, no extra coat, nor shoes. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons”. Israel’s baptism for the remission of sins and fruits meet for repentance were included. Romans 10:12 to 15. No difference between Jew and Greek. A message for “whosoever”. Preaching the gospel of peace. In Romans 3:24 to 28 this peace gospel is stated. Declared righteous without a cause, by God’s grace, through the redemption that is in Christ, through faith in His shed blood. All by grace, all of grace, without water and fruits. Should we mix these messages today? It is needless to say that thousands of Christian workers, who have gone out on their own charges, are mixing them: with the result that they are worse than mixing their poor victims. They make no attempt to raise the dead. They make no attempt to cleanse the lepers. They beg for money. If they take no money in their purses they cannot travel on the railroads. If they take only one coat, or one pair of shoes, it is either because they have no more or because they are away only for a short period. They do not go to houses. They put on high-pressure advertising and draw the people to their meeting places. They go to Gentiles. They claim to heal about one out of every fifty of the deceived people who come to them. Some of them are sincere; but all of them are sincerely wrong; because they “wrongly divide the Word of truth” instead of “rightly dividing the Word of truth.” They mix Israel’s kingdom gospel program with Paul’s grace gospel program.
Much confusion comes from the misunderstanding of the word “gospel”. “Gospel” means “good news”. As far as the individual’s redemption from sin is concerned, the blood of Jesus Christ has been, from the days of Adam, and shall be until the time of the last sinner on earth, the sinner’s only hope. But there is some “good news” for the member of the Body of Christ, as to his hope, calling, and spiritual blessings, which has no place in the good news that God has promised concerning Israel’s future. It was that good news proclaimed in Chapters one and two of Luke’s message. Peace on earth must begin with peace in Jerusalem and therefore with Israel and Israel’s King in Jerusalem; the kingdom of glory on earth.
But for this age, the members of the Body of Christ have been delivered from the power of darkness and have been translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love”. “Having made peace through the “blood of His cross, by Him, to reconcile all things unto Himself”. We have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ in the heavenlies, seated with Him there, waiting for Him to call us to glory in glorified bodies. We have committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation, concerning which Jesus on earth said nothing to the Twelve or to others. The key to Luke is “on earth”. The key to Ephesians is “in the heavenlies”. The Head of the Body is in the heavenlies. The King is coming back to earth for His earthly throne and kingdom. Matthew 25:31 to 38.
It is surely one gospel to have the Prince of Peace on David’s throne and peace governmentally and nationally on earth. It is surely another gospel to say, because the Lord Jesus went to Calvary’s tree instead of David’s throne and because Israel rejected the King and Messiah, Gentiles have obtained mercy and can say, “therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And “let the peace of God rule in your hearts”. Colossians 3:15. By prayer, supplication, thanksgiving “the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. Philippians 4:6 and 7.
Does this mean that we shall be delivered from the hands of our enemies? On the contrary: Our enemies shall multiply, especially our religious enemies who refuse to obey II Timothy 2:15.
Now as to peace on earth, you can do very little. Jehovah causeth the wars to cease. He breaketh the swords. Some day the King of Glory will enter in. You will have to be reconciled concerning the tabernacle of David which is broken down. By and by the Prince of Peace is coming. Do not get worried and fretted about signs, trying to figure out what Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin are going to do. The devil will take care of that. How pitiable, that the great majority of our Fundamentalist preachers, who know that an evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, are much occupied with preaching signs instead of obeying Ephesians 3:9: “make all men see the mystery”. Signs are not associated with the mystery.
What a message of peace we have for a world of sinners, for poor condemned children of Adam, trying to forget God and have a good time in this present evil age of distress, perplexity, crime and misery—with the worst to come.
Let the peace of God rule in your hearts as you proclaim the gospel of peace to lost sinners.