Leaders invite me to speak on eschatology (study of end time prophecies) and a simple rule I give my students is:
Understanding the Old Testament helps you understand the New Testament;
understanding history helps you understand prophecy;
understanding the beginning helps you understand the end.
Why? Because Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done…”
Christians too often struggle to understand prophecy because they have not studied history; they don’t know the future because they don’t know the past. So let’s look at one thing in the past, then apply it to the present and future.
There were no police in Israel. There were also no lawyers (not as we know them today). How did such a society function? Today, we depend on the police to try to keep us safe. We need a lawyer for the most basic transactions. We pay a conveyancing lawyer to engage in buying or selling a house; a contract lawyer to to enforce a signed agreement; a criminal lawyer to try to get justice; a family lawyer to divide the inheritance or get custody of our own child. None of this went on in Israel. If you think about it, Israel was the ultimate “free society”. It was a society that could have only been conceived by God.
One thing about this little nation God conceived: it is very foreign to most of us who assume our culture is the norm and our customs are the preferred way. No sinner can accept such a society; most saints struggle to understand it. How was it possible? Here is how it was built:
Everybody in the Old Testament was meant to read and understand the law.
Psalm 1:2 (NKJ) [Speaking of the blessed man]
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
No, it did not mean that everyone was a lawyer. It meant that the Law of God was so holy, everyone spent a part of every day reading it. The Law was so noble, everyone affirmed its wisdom and believed the value of upholding it. The Law was so simple, everyone could apply it without lawyers or policemen. Every neighbor was expected to keep society safe for children, protect the innocent, punish the guilty and enforce the law. Neighbors were supposed to look out for each other, protect little girls from perverts, punish burglars who break through a home – this usually done with community consensus on the spot. No police was needed. No hiring of a lawyer. No waiting in a log-jammed court system. But this was only possible on one condition: everyone was educated in the law.
Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night…”
Imagine a society where everyone woke up reading the Constitution. I know some Americans who love their Constitution, yet I’ve never found one who read it everyday. That’s what every believer is meant to do!
The Bible, more than a religious book, is a legal document God wrote. It is so holy, every righteous person is meant to revere it. It is so noble, every Christian is supposed to uphold it. It is so simple, every believer can read and understand it! How different from our modern system of complex, convoluted, and sometimes corrupt laws. Most citizens are so disinterested in what laws their leaders have passed that we pay lawyers to interpret the law and defend us in court. Most of us can’t be bothered with the complexity and jargon.
This brings me to Heaven (or more precisely the new heaven and new earth if you understand Revelation 21:1). Heaven will be a place of activity and productivity. There will be many things we are familiar with, like gardens and cities. But there will also be many things most of us are unfamiliar with. Many professions will instantly become obsolete when we get to Heaven. There will be no sanitation workers because there will be no garbage in Heaven. There will be no security guards, surveillance system, body guards or police, because there will be no criminal in Heaven. (Criminals who repented on earth and trusted in the washing by the Blood of Jesus will no longer be considered criminals by God.) There will be no lawyers. We won’t have to hire a lawyer to make us understand or help us enforce the laws of the land. The Law is so holy, so noble, so simple, all of us will become experts in the law.
(Lest I leave lawyers out of Heaven, let me put it a different way. If you don’t like lawyers, thank God there will be no lawyers in Heaven. If you are a lawyer, thank God everyone will be a lawyer in Heaven! Heaven can make everybody happy!)
The Bible, more than a religious book or spiritual book, is a legal book. It is our constitution, the universal declaration of God’s rights over His creation, the eternal standard of goodness, the promise of perfect justice for all. When we grasp this, we will see the wisdom of God in that He is preparing all of us for Heaven by getting us to read the Bible every day and go to church every week to learn the Word of God from a pastor who is prepared in this life to study nothing but the Bible. Every church is an embassy of Heaven and should offer its members a clear, concise and concrete explanation of God’s Word. Crude attempts to allegorize and spiritualize everything in the Bible should be shunned, because it diminishes the function of the Law of God. In the age of sin, laws are given to convict the sinner of sin and turn to grace. In an age of civility and holiness, laws are given to structure and build a good society. If God didn’t want holy standards and excellent government, He wouldn’t have given the Law nor called it ‘the Law’.
Does grace have a place? Of course! God is offering grace in an age of sin and in a world of sinners. But to understand the future, we need to understand the past. God always had simple, noble, holy laws. When the last believe has accepted grace and the last sinner has rejected grace, when sin is done away with and sinners are punished, then we will get back to the business of building a just and safe society, with God as its rightful Head.
The only way for this dream to succeed without hiring more lawyers is for every person to love, read and study the Bible every day of their lives.
YOUR COMMENT: What do you think Heaven will be like? Does reading the Bible prepare you for earth or for Heaven?