“I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’” Isaiah 46: 9-10
Super Bowl 51 is being heralded by sports enthusiasts as one of the greatest Super Bowl games in history. Most people were surprised that New England struggled so badly in the first half and no one could have predicted the events of the second half. The game produced several new records and for the first time in the history of the Super Bowl, the game went into overtime. The big picture was the game and it’s players.
Given that thought, what if a video would have surfaced after the game showing Coach Belichick foretelling the details of the game on the day before?Let’s imagine that in this video he states that New England will win the toss, elect to receive the ball and proceed to struggle badly in the first half, going into the locker room down by a score of 21-3. But with a couple of minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Patriots will launch a comeback run and score 31 unanswered points. This run will include two touchdowns while successfully adding the 2-point conversion each time to send the game into overtime. The first overtime in the history of the Super Bowl. We will win the toss, march down the field, and score a touchdown to win Super Bowl 51 with a score of 34-28.
That scenario would cause everyone to forget about Tom Brady (and his record setting day, MVP status, etc.) and all attention would be on Coach Belichick. And rightly so. That caliber of prediction would shock the world. At this point, the big picture becomes Coach Belichick and the details are the players on the field.
As wild as that story sounds, the prophetic record of the Bible is even more fantastic than my fictional football scenario. Through His chosen instruments, the Old Testament prophets, God predicted the rise and fall of Israel, the exiles of the Northern and Southern kingdoms, the rise of the nations who would conquer Israel, the punishment He would inflict on the conquering nations, and the restoration of His people after the exiles. (Jeremiah 25:11-12, Jeremiah 32:36-37, Isaiah 45:1, Isaiah 13:19, Daniel 9:25.)
These verses only scratch the surface of the Old Testament prophetic record, but they give us insight to the sovereign nature of our great God. He declared how history would progress, and then proved His power by orchestrating the events of Israel’s rise, fall, and restoration. He used several key figures along the way. People such as Cyrus of Persia, Xerxes, Mordecai, Esther, Daniel, Artaxerxes, Ezra and Nehemiah. These people were key to Israel’s restorative process.
There were many others along the way as well. They represent the ability of God to use people to accomplish His purposes. Some of these people were part of Israel, God’s chosen nation. Others belonged to pagan nations that are remembered for their brutality and evil practices. They represent the players on the field.
The history of Israel is rich with God’s love, mercy, justice, and grace. That same God has honored His prophetic record by sending the Messiah, Jesus Christ exactly according to the entire Old Testament witness. The Old Testament references to Jesus begin in Genesis and are continued throughout the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets. He was foretold as Immanuel, God with us.
Jesus stepped out of eternity and into our world as a baby born in Bethlehem, just as the prophets predicted. His life was lived in complete submission to the Father (John 8:26-28) as He was empowered by the Spirit (Acts 10:38). Jesus fulfilled His ministry as the Christ, the One who would reconcile man to God by His sinless life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection. As He completed His mission, He commissioned His closest followers to begin the Church.
The same God who declared the fate of nations in the Old Testament has declared the glory of His Bride, the Church and her unstoppable force in a world ridden with evil and sin. Ever since the Church was instituted at Pentecost, resistance has reared its head to defend the unrighteous grasp on the territories of our world. But Jesus has already declared that even the gates of hell cannot hold back the power of the gospel as it is carried forward by the Church.
The Church has been prayed for by Jesus (John 17:20-21), promised blessing beyond our imaginations (Ephesians 3:20-21), and even given the very presence of Jesus to ensure our victory (Colossians 1:27-28). These prophetic statements are to be given the same credibility as the prophetic statements of the Old Testament that have shown God to be true to His Word.
The big picture has always been the glory of God. Jesus is the object of our affection and worship. All things have been made through Him and unto Him. (Colossians 1:15-16) His preeminence is completely unrivaled. Even though many people sincerely believe that they are the big picture, in comparison to the greatness of our God, people will always be more like the details than the primary focus.
Just as there were players on the field during the rise, fall, and restoration of Israel, today’s world is filled with players on the field as well. The Church is God’s gift to our world. The Church has been indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1&2), empowered with the gospel (Romans 1:16), and entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18-21). Success has been determined by the Lord God Almighty. Let’s get out of the stands and onto the field. The end result has been determined. Let’s run the race!!
“no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 54:17