Discourse 57 - Has the Kingdom of God come long since?




Did the Old Testament reach its period with the appearance of Jesus Christ? / Commentary, Karl Rapp 00, 2003-02-22

The kingdom of God and its heirs. / Discourse 94


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Did the Old Testament reach its period with the appearance of Jesus Christ? / Commentary, Karl Rapp 00, 2003-02-22+))

With some consternation, I read the following on your website:

"o  The transgression will be finished.

o  There will be an end of sin.

o  There will be atonement for iniquity.

o  Everlasting righteousness will be brought in.

o  Vision and prophecy will be sealed up.

o  The most holy place will be anointed.

As things are today, we are hardly in a position to say that transgression has been finished - either in Israel or in the world."


I have examined the Bible (NT) in order to establish whether these six points have been fulfilled. And in actual fact everything has been fulfilled after these 70 weeks of seven years. If you are interested in seeing which biblical passages I found that were relevant to this issue, I will be happy to send you my presentation. (See below - FH).

Incidentally, I think Daniel 9/24 is highly important in this connection, as a key verse. If there is no agreement about this among Christians, I am afraid that their understanding of their faith must also be wholly divergent.
I see the effect of this, for instance, in the fact that there are Christians who attribute significance, in terms of salvific history, to this state of Israel in Palestine. I came to this view myself some time ago, especially through the influence of the preachers Dr Koch, Wim Malgo, Langhammer etc.

Today I see this state as the ‘beast from the earth’ (erez), but on no account as a return foretold by prophecies that have long since been fulfilled.

Karl Rapp karl-rapp@t-online.de / http://www.Karl-Rapp.de



Well, even if Israel were indeed the “beast from the earth” of Rev 13,11 (erez = earth in Hebrew), and so to be identified with the “false prophet” - which I do not believe to be the case - it would still have significance in terms of salvific history. It is just this false prophet, after all, who leads humanity astray and induces them to worship the beast from the sea, the Antichrist, thus contributing to the separation of the grain from the chaff.

There are documents on the website Immanuel.at which demonstrate, in the light of Scripture, that the present day state of Israel, and its foundation in the year 1948, are by no means to be seen as the fulfillment of God’s Old Testament prophecy that he will gather his people together. Since the author of the comment quoted above seems not to have read these, I will give a brief summary below.

With reference to the Israel of today we are in absolute agreement. I too would reject the view that the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 was the Gathering of Israel prophesied by God. I too am of the opinion that the Israel of today is in no way different from the other heathen nations. On the contrary - former State President Ezer Weizmann and former Minister President Benjamin Netanyahu were found guilty of corruption by due process of law, and forced to resign. Even the leader of the religious Shas party, Aryeh Deri, was convicted. The present Minister President Ariel Sharon is a former terrorist, and has hundreds of human lives on his conscience. A large part of the inhabitants of Israel are atheists (especially those Jews who have immigrated from the former Soviet Union). A smaller part is made up of those Jews who hold to the faith of Moses, including the Orthodox, whose representatives in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) can hardly be distinguished from the atheists in terms of morality (see the above-mentioned Aryeh Deri).

Far and away the majority of the population, however - and increasingly, the younger generation - are ‘nominal Jews’: that is, they define themselves as believing Jews, but God has hardly any place in their lives. Their situation is similar to that of those nominal Christians who go to church on Sunday morning, if at all, and have no further thoughts of God on Sunday afternoon or for the rest of the week. The only difference is that in Israel the day is a Saturday, and the place of assembly a synagogue. It is not without good reason that Orthodox Jews living in the Diaspora, outside Israel, pray “for its downfall, if this may be accomplished without the shedding of innocent blood. A nation of Jews like Israel that has been set up on the basis of power and guns is a contradiction of the will of God.” (M. A. Friedmann, Orthodox Chief Rabbi, Vienna).

(See also Discourse 46: “Statement by Chief Rabbi M. A. Friedman, Vienna (Austria).”)

All this, though, should not blind us to the fact that according to Scripture Israel will return to its God in the Last Days, and take up its rightful position as God’s chosen people on earth, in the Millennium.

(See also Discourse 08: “The gathering of Israel: already since 1948, or not to happen until the Last Days?”)

As for the above criticisms of the position taken by Chapter 01 of this website (“The 70th week of seven years“), let us now examine the arguments and scriptural references brought forward by Mr Rapp.

(See also Chapter 01: “The 70th week of seven years.”)

To make matters clearer, it should be explained that Mr Rapp holds that the 70 weeks of seven years came to an end with the appearance of the Lord Jesus. Here he differs from the position taken by the great majority of commentators, who take Dan 9,25 to mean that the first 69 weeks of seven years (7+62) expired at the time of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, after its destruction by the Babylonians, in the year 586 BC. According to this view, and in accordance with Dan 9,26, the coming of the Lord falls between the 69th and the 70th week of seven years, and only then, in the Last Days, does the 70th week of seven years (as indicated in Dan 9,27) begin. (See also Gerhard Maier: “Der Prophet Daniel” [“The Prophet Daniel”], Wuppertaler Studienbibel [Wuppertal Study Bible], R. Brockhaus Verlag Wuppertal [R. Brockhaus Publishers, Wuppertal], pp 338ff).

In its essential features Mr Rapp’s interpretation corresponds to the views of the preterists, who likewise advance the opinion that the Last Days began with the birth of Jesus Christ and came to an end with the year 70 AD (Titus’ destruction of Jerusalem). Consequently he sees the formulations from Chapter 01 or Daniel 9,24 that have been quoted above (“The transgression will be finished” ... “Everlasting righteousness will be brought in”, “Vision and prophecy will be sealed up”, etc.) as having been already accomplished with the appearance of the Lord on earth.

(See also Discourse 35: “The preterist approach: have the Last Days already occurred?”)

Logically enough, he then also states:

“But the Old Testament reached its period with the appearance of our LORD Jesus Christ (...).
Through his sinless life, Jesus truly fulfilled the Law. And with that, as a result, all the prophecies of the Old Testament have come to their final period.“


This “period” that is put to the Old Testament is to be understood as implying the final fulfillment of all prophecies from the “Law”, that is, from the Tora (the five Mosaic books of the Old Testament), and of all the forecasts made by the Old Testament prophets. The argument is backed up by Scripture, the verses adduced being Mt 11,13-15 and Lk 16,16:

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.

Mt 11,13 "For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 11,14 "And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 11,15 "He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Mt 11,13-15;

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John.

Lk 16,16 "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. Lk 16,16;


And he then continues:

"Why do you look in the Old Testament for proofs of events taking place in our own time, at the present day? Why indeed, when the New Testament tells us twice over that the Law and the prophets had validity or foretold future events until John.
Until John - and not up to the year 2003 or the still more distant future.“


To determine whether this statement is in agreement with Scripture, let us also consider the context of these passages. We then find that the very next verse of the passage from Luke quoted above - Lk 16,17, that is - gives us an important indication. For here we are told -

Lk 16,17 "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. Lk 16,17;


According to this statement of the Lord’s, it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law (of the Old Testament) to fail - and of course that must also include prophecy. But it follows that if it be claimed that the Old Testament and its prophecies have come to a “period”, this statement of the Lord’s no longer leaves the option open of denying that Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled in actual fact: on the contrary, if we want to abide by Scripture, we have to take it as read that all Old Testament prophecies must have already been fulfilled, down to the last detail. So if we can find Old Testament prophecies that demonstrably remain unfulfilled, Mr Rapp’s interpretation has to be incorrect.

And here we find, for instance, the well known passage from Gen 3,15:

He shall bruise you on the head.

Gen 3,15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." Gen 3,15;


This prophecy relates to the enmity between the “seed of the woman”, or Jesus Christ, and Satan; and it tells us that Satan will bruise the heel of the Son of God - a prophecy that was already fulfilled with the crucifixion and death of Our Lord. The second part of the prophecy - that “he (Jesus) shall bruise you (Satan) on the head” - tells us that the Lord Jesus will have final victory over Satan and so draw his sting for ever..

Satan, now, has already been defeated by the angels of God and thrown down to earth - as is demonstrated by the following scriptural passages:

The great dragon and his angels were thrown down to the earth.

Rev 12,7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 12,8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.

12,9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rev 12, 7- 9;

I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming.

Jn 14,28 "You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I 14,29 "Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. 14,30 "I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; 14,31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here. Jn 14,28-31;

Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you.

Rev 12,10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 12,11 "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

12,12 "For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time." Rev 12,10-12;

I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.

Lk 10,17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." 10,18 And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Lk 10,17-18;

(See also Excursus 06: “From the face of God into the lake of fire the four stages of Satan.”)

(See also Table 09: “God's plan of salvation and its effects on Creation.”)

If Satan and his angels have already been defeated in heaven, this does not by any means indicate that he is without power on earth. Far from it! As we can infer from the above-quoted passage (Rev 12,12), the rage and wrath of the devil here on earth expresses itself all the more forcefully because he knows that he does not have much time left.

Anyone, then, who is inclined to take the view that the second part of this Old Testament prophecy from Gen 3,15 - namely, that the Lord Jesus will bruise the head of Satan - has already been fulfilled, is both ignorant of Scripture, and must also be living in a complete ivory tower or else suffering from a complete loss of reality. For he would have to explain how it is that, in the world today, we find all these wars, crimes, murders, envy, hatred, famine, all these deceptions, persecutions, corruption, ethnic cleansing etc. etc.

And anyone who thinks that “the Kingdom of God has come long since” would have to explain why it is that, according to a contemporary EU report (CFSP - Javier Solana’s office, 2003) on the underlying causes of global insecurity,

o  almost three billion people - which is to say, half of the population of the world - have to survive on less than two euros a day,

o  every year 45 million people die of hunger worldwide,

o  since 1990 almost 4 million people - 90 percent of them civilians - have lost their lives as a result of war,

o  over 18 million people worldwide have been forced to flee from their homes or from their homeland as a result of conflict, and lastly why

o  just in the past year, three major global infectious diseases - AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria - claimed six million human lives, most of these in Africa.


If Satan were bound today, and Jesus Christ therefore ruling, this point of view would see no difference between the Kingdom of God on earth and the kingdom of Satan. And presumably even Mr Rapp will not want to argue for that.

But it is not like that at all! Let us take a look, now, at some of the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets.

For the youth will die at the age of one hundred and who does not reach this will be thought accursed.

Isa 65,18 "But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing And her people for gladness. 65,19 "I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying. 61,20 "No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Will be thought accursed. Isa 65,18-20;

They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the land will be full of the knowledge of the LORD.

Isa 11,1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. 11,2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

11,3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; 11,4 But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.

11,5 Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist. 11,6 And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. 11,7 Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox.

11,8 The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. 11,9 They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the land will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.

11,10 Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious. Isa 11, 1-10;


And here too Mr Rapp has some explaining to do. If he asserts that this Old Testament prophecy has already been fulfilled, then he must be able to tell us where and when in the past human beings have lived to such a great age, as in antediluvian times, that a person a hundred years old is taken for a youth (Isa 65,20). If we take it that today a “youth” might be ten years old and adults might reach an age of 80 or more, then human lives would have to extend to 800 or 900 years.

(See also Table 01: “Chronological table from Adam to Jacob.”)

And similarly with the other passage, Isa 11,5-9: when and where has this Old Testament prophecy been fulfilled, according to which

-  the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid,

-  a little boy will lead the calf and the young lion and the fatling,

-  the cow and the bear will graze together,

-  their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox,

-  and the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den - ?


When has a time of peace like this ever existed on earth - or are we to suppose that the historians just took no note of it?

And yet this is just a small portion of the Old Testament prophecies which - as the facts tell us - have not yet been fulfilled.

(See also Chapter 10: “The Millennium.”)

A similar situation confronts us when we consider the statements relating to Dan 9,24, from this website’s chapter 01, which Mr Rapp objects to - namely:

-  The transgression will be finished.

-  There will be an end of sin.

-  There will be atonement for iniquity.

-  Everlasting righteousness will be brought in.

-  Vision and prophecy will be sealed up.

-  The most holy place will be anointed.


How can it possibly be asserted that in our world today transgression has been finished and there has been an end of sin? How can anyone get the idea - anyone, that is, who has studied the Bible in its entirety - that vision and prophecy (of the Old Testament) have been sealed up, and everlasting righteousness brought in?

In similar vein to the preterists, Mr Rapp here argues that the Kingdom of God has been around for quite some time:

“Anyone who does not grasp that the Kingdom of God has come long since, that the Christian believer is a living stone in the temple of which Jesus Christ is the cornerstone, is patently considering the situation in terms of earthly boundary markers.
But it will be a long time before he finds what he is looking for. Because, as the Lord tells us, 'MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD'.”


As a proof of this, the Lord’s statement in Jn 18,36 is quoted:

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world".

Jn 18,36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." Jn 18,36;


The intention here is to prove that there will never be a kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth, so all prophecies relating to the Millennium, the kingdom of a thousand years of the Son of God on earth, are obsolete. Quite apart from the fact that all the prophecies of the Old and for that matter the New Testament as well that refer to this period (not to speak of the statement of Our Lord in Lk 16,17, quoted earlier, that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for these prophecies to fail) would have to be stigmatized as invalid, the context of the scriptural passage in question has once again been cursorily read and has therefore not been cited.

When we look at the context, we find that the passage has to do with Jesus’ interrogation by Pilate. Here Pilate asks him whether he is the king of the Jews:

Pilate asked Jesus and said to Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?"

Jn 18,33 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?" 18,34 Jesus answered, "Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?" 18,35 Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?" Jn 18,33-35;


The question, then, is whether Jesus was a king. This was what the Jews of the time had asserted, in reliance on prophecy living in expectation of the Messiah who would be king over Israel. But Pilate, an experienced politician and military commander of the Roman Empire, saw this as being in contradiction of reality. If Jesus was a king, where was his army, where were the military contingents to defend him?

All the more so when Jesus then, immediately following, answered this question in the affirmative (Jn 18,37).

Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king."

Jn 18,37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Jn 18,37;


And right at the heart of this passage we find the Lord’s statement:

Jn 18,36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." Jn 18,36;


The crucial indication in this passage, sadly, is often overlooked. At the end of this statement we find the Lord uttering these words:

but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.


This “as it is” translates the Greek adverb “nyn”, which can mean “as things are, now, at the present time”. This expresses the fact that it was the will of God, in view of the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, that this promise of the kingdom of peace on earth under the Messiah would not be realized on earth at this time. The same conclusion, incidentally, can be drawn from the Lord’s statement about John, quoted earlier (Mt 11,14): “And if you care to accept it, John himself is Elijah, who was to come.” This too was a prophecy relating to the Messiah, who was to be preceded by Elijah. But in vain - for the Jews did not ‘care to accept it’.

The Lord thus said, quite plainly, that ‘as it is’ - that is to say, at the time when he spoke these words - his kingdom was not of this world. Why? - because the Jews prevented it. Instead of ushering the world into the thousand-year kingdom of peace under their Messiah, they gave humanity over to what has been two thousand years of war, hatred, envy and violence.

But God cannot repent of his prophecies. All these prophecies will be fulfilled in the Last Days. Then Israel will be converted and be gathered together, and its Messiah, Our Lord Jesus Christ, will rule this world in peace and justice for a thousand years. Then will come the end of this first creation, which will be replaced by the second, the New Creation for all eternity.

(See also Chapter 14: “The New Creation.”)

Finally, the author’s reproach (“anyone who does not grasp that the Kingdom of God has come long since...”) suggests the question how it is that the Lord Jesus, in the most important prayer that he left us, instructs us to pray as follows:

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Mt 6,9 "Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 6,10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Mt 6, 9-10;


For Christians who believe in the Bible, these words are a proof of the fact that God is in heaven. Then comes the commandment that the name of God should not be taken in vain, after which follows the prayer

Your kingdom come.”


So the Lord Jesus tells us to pray to the Father that His kingdom may come. But where? In heaven? That cannot be it, for in heaven God rules already, as indicated by the previous verse. Then it has to be a request that the Kingdom of God may find a place to establish itself on earth. And just this is confirmed by the next prayer, the words of which are:

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”


This, now, is a further confirmation that the Father rules in heaven, seeing that there his will is done. But then, with the words “on earth as it is in heaven”, the prayer is uttered yet again that the Kingdom of God may come on earth, and thus that the will of God may come to pass not just in heaven but on earth as well.

Anyone who asserts “that the Kingdom of God has come long since” invites the question in what kind of God he believes, who supposedly “long since” took over the rule of the earth.

But here is Mr Rapp’s final contribution:

“The Old Testament met its definitive period in Jesus Christ. If this is not the case, we have to explain the import of Matthew 11 and Luke 16.”


If we are to understand this claim correctly, we must once more append the information that the reference to a “period” implies the fulfillment - in addition, and in particular - of all the Old Testament prophecies.

In order to comply with this request for explanation, we would like to take another look at the scriptural passages on which this interpretation is based:

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.

Mt 11,13 "For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 11,14 "And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 11,15 "He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Mt 11,13-15;

The Law and the Prophets were until John.

Lk 16,16 "The Law and the Prophets were until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 16,17 "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. Lk 16,16-17;


Now, we might be inclined to ask here, with Rapp: if it is really the case that the prophecies of the Old Testament have really and demonstrably not yet all been fulfilled, how are we to understand the statement made by Our Lord in the above (Mt 11,13): “For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John”? Would that not imply that all prophecies up to John have been fulfilled?

If we take a closer look at the passage, we realize that - if we read it superficially - an interpretative problem can easily arise here. In the first place, we are only told that the Law and the prophets have foretold events, or prophesied (pronounced, that is, these prophecies). Nothing is said about the prophecies being fulfilled.

But as we will see shortly, this passage does not relate to the prophecies at all. The “Law and the Prophets”, after all, do not contain much in the way of concrete prophecy. The greater part - especially the Tora, but the prophetic books as well - consists of commandments, prohibitions, guidelines for conduct and threats of punishment in case of non-compliance with these divine directives.

Whereas the text of Mt 11,13 could still easily be misunderstood, the parallel passage in Luke shows us very clearly which of these two areas the Lord is here addressing. In Lk 16,16 it is said:

“The Law and the Prophets were (reach, are valid, have been in existence, were proclaimed) until John.”


The Lord is here referring to the commandments contained in the “Law and the Prophets” - that is, in the Pentateuch and the prophetic books - in other words, to the ‘law’ part; and he indicates that with John this old order has reached its period.

So it is not being stated here that all the prophecies of the Old Testament up to John have been fulfilled, but rather that the fundamental basis for the promulgation of divine law has changed since John (with the appearance of the Son of God on earth, that is to say). This is confirmed by another statement made by the Lord in Mt 5,17-18:

I did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill.

Mt 5,17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 5,18 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Mt 5,17-18;


The note sounded by the Lord in Lk 16,17 above, and now in Mt 5,17 - “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” - is here expressed with the utmost clarity.

I did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill.


And as Scripture says, the Lord will come a second time, to fulfill all these prophecies which still had not been fulfilled until now.

The Lord’s statement in Mt 11,13 and Lk 16,16 that “the Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John” could very easily be misunderstood as implying that now all commandments have been done away with. And that is why he expressly indicates here, in Mt 5,17, that it absolutely does not mean that the commandments of the Law or those contained in the prophets have been abolished. Keeping these commandments was, after all, a prerequisite for Jewish believers if they wanted to be righteous in the sight of God. Anyone who did not keep them was condemned to death, and would have to die.

Prv 19,16 He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But he who is careless of conduct will die. Pro 19,16;


But as the history of Israel shows, human beings have repeatedly broken God’s commandments. And so, to avoid having to extirpate the entire people of Israel, God gave them commandments relating to expiation. Beasts were to be sacrificed in accordance with certain rules, so that the guilt might be expiated through their blood and the people could once more be righteous and free from sin. The death of the sacrificial animal was thus a substitution for the death of the person who had sinned.

And now the Lord Jesus tells us that these commandments have not been abolished by his coming - on the contrary, he has come to fulfill them. Paul explains this as well in his Epistle to the Romans:

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, now we have been justified by His blood.

Rom Rom 5,8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 5,9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. Rom 5, 8- 9;


The Law and the Prophets demanded that a person who broke the commandments of God should die. Because of the exorbitant sinfulness of human beings, in the Old Covenant God allowed the practice of expiatory sacrifice, whereby the sins of human beings were symbolically transferred to an animal, after which the animal had to die in place of the guilty person in satisfaction of God’s commandment.

But now the Son of God has come and offered himself on the cross, as the substituted victim for all the sins of the entire human race. And since we are all sinners, he died for us all, and so we have been justified by his blood and are saved from the wrath of God.

With that, the commandments contained in the Law and the Prophets were fulfilled in the most fully consistent way. The breaking of God’s commandments calls for death as the punishment. Human beings have broken God’s commandments. But Jesus Christ died on the cross as a substitute for us, and so fulfilled the demands of justice for all human beings who accept this redeeming sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sins.

There is perhaps no better parable to explain God’s actions here than the story of Prince Shamil, an Avar leader of the northern Caucasus in the early 19th century, as reported by the economist Roscher<(i>:

“In order to ensure unity and discipline in his tribe, the Prince had issued the strict order that no one was to take anything from the booty, which belonged to the tribe as a whole. Any one who transgressed against this order was to be punished with a hundred lashes of the knout.

Then the order was disobeyed for the first time - by the Prince’s elderly mother. What was now to be done? If the punishment was not carried out, the justice of the Prince would be put in question, and the seriousness of his orders for all future time would be undermined.

Rosher tells us that the Prince shut himself in his tent for a whole day. Then he came out, and gave instructions that the punishment was to be carried out.

But as the first lash came whistling down on the back of his mother, he tore off his coat, threw himself over his mother’s body, and called out to the soldiers, ‘Keep on striking, and not one blow too few!’

And so he had found the solution! His mother was saved, and at the same time the torn and bleeding back of the Prince showed how seriously his commands were to be taken and how important to the tribe were justice and righteousness.”

(After Werner de Boor: Der Brief an die Römer [The Epistle to the Romans], WStB Publications, R. Brockhaus Verlag [R. Brockhaus Publishers]).


And so the blood and the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross also shows us how remorseless God in his justice is against sin, and how extensive at the same time is his love of us human beings.

(See also Discourse 30: “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?”)

We see, then, that the Law and the Prophets have not been abolished - on the contrary, they have been fulfilled to the furthest possible extent. But now, as a result, the divine justice that held sway until John has been changed. The sinner is no longer required to slaughter a sacrificial animal to be saved from death and freed from his sin; instead, he must take advantage - consciously and explicitly - of this substitution of the crucified Son of God as a redeeming sacrifice. Anyone who does this is freed from his sins, and saved from the wrath of God. Anyone who does not remains in his sins, and will in the end reap damnation as his reward.

As for Mr Rapp’s question:

“Or can you give a logical explanation why God himself had to bleed to death???”


- we venture to hope that we have answered it in a comprehensible way.



Conclusion

It is not the prophecies of the Old Testament, then, which were fulfilled through the appearance and ministry of the Lord, but rather the all-embracing commandment of God, according to which the wages of sin are death.

The logic that Mr Rapp so skeptically apostrophizes here thus demonstrates the following criteria:

-  The justice of God, who is himself absolutely just, calls for the punishment of death for the violation of his law.

-  The love of God, who is absolute love, is opposed to this.

-  The logical solution: since someone has to die, God himself dies in his Son Jesus Christ through his love of humanity, so as to comply with the demands of justice and to save those people who accept his offer.