Within Zachariah’s prophecy upon the birth of His son Yochanan (John) called the Baptist, were the following words: And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant— As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old— Salvation from our enemies, And from the hand of all who hate us ; To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, Luke 1:69-73 NASB
What a promise, but all is not yet accomplished. So what I want us to think about is this holy covenant that God swore to Abraham? indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham lived at Beersheba. Genesis 22:17-19 NASB
So this promise not only included Abraham’s physical seed, which over much time would grow to be multitudes; but it also included the nations. The seed of blessing came to earth in the form of a baby who would one day rule the earth. This too would only come about after much time would elapse. He says,
“It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, And the Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me. “Your builders hurry; Your destroyers and devastators Will depart from you. “ Lift up your eyes and look around; All of them gather together, they come to you. As I live,” declares the Lord, “You will surely put on all of them as jewels and bind them on as a bride. “For your waste and desolate places and your destroyed land— Surely now you will be too cramped for the inhabitants, And those who swallowed you will be far away. “The children of whom you were bereaved will yet say in your ears, ‘The place is too cramped for me; Make room for me that I may live here.’ “Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who has begotten these for me, Since I have been bereaved of my children And am barren, an exile and a wanderer? And who has reared these? Behold, I was left alone; From where did these come?’” Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations And set up My standard to the peoples; And they will bring your sons in their bosom, And your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. “ Kings will be your guardians, And their princesses your nurses. They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth And lick the dust of your feet; And you will know that I am the Lord; Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame. Isaiah 49:6,14-23 NASB
Two things are happening in Zion (the promised land) and with her people at the time of the fulfillment of this prophecy in the millennial kingdom. First there is the gathering of the heirs of a new covenant (what God calls My salvation). These are those worthy to attain to the first resurrection. Jesus spoke of them in Luke 20:34-36 as He answered a question concerning resurrection. These He said would be as sons of God. Paul also wrote of these: I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? Romans 11:1-3,7,11-12,15 NASB
So these who are deemed worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection are only made righteous in Christ, and the resurrection (life from the dead) only comes after Israel’s acceptance of Christ Jesus and her new covenant, which Gentiles have been offered and accepted in large numbers. Large enough to cause her to ask, “who has born me these?”
But secondly, there is also a physical mortal aspect to the Millennium. Jesus in Matthew 25 tells of the coming Judgment of the Nations upon His return. Among these nations are mortal Jews and Gentiles who are not in the bride. These nations are those whom He calls sheep who have helped His brethren. These are not His brethren because His brethren are those, who at this time are standing with Him as His Raptured bride. But these sheep are the mortals who have come out of Great Tribulation. They know nothing of the gospel, because they are ignorant of the fact that their assistance of Jesus brethren was equally an assistance of Him. These are the nations spoken of in Zechariah 14 and Daniel 7: Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. Zechariah 14:16
As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time. Daniel 7:12 NASB
These nations will then be commanded by God to bring the Jews from these nations, who had not before returned to Israel, as mortals into the land of Israel, where kings will serve them, and where the disciples will rule over their tribes.
Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations And set up My standard to the peoples; And they will bring your sons in their bosom, And your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. Isaiah 49:22 NASB
“Kings will be your guardians, And their princesses your nurses. They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth And lick the dust of your feet; And you will know that I am the Lord; Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame. Isaiah 49:23 28 “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; 29 and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Luke 22:28-30
As you can see two promises have been made to Israel. One is the promise to a bride (Isa. 54). The other is the promise to be served by the nations. Both are seen in Isaiah 49. Both are millennial promises. One is fulfilled in Spiritual Israel, as the present nation of Israel is taken through the time of Jacobs trouble resulting in her salvation as she calls out to Her messiah Jesus as recorded in Hosea 5:15 The other as we see here is fulfilled after the millennium begins. When Jesus returns the feast of booths will be fulfilled, as God takes up residence with us, but notice it will continue to be celebrated by mortal nations who are judged worthy to enter in to eternal life, but Daniel puts a different twist on their existence, for he states that their lives are prolonged for just a season. So why the seeming contradiction? It seems that it has never been God’s intent to remove free will from mortal man. We are gifted salvation by God, but we can choose to refuse it.
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-32,41,44-46 NASB
In the case of this judgment, we see that righteousness has been imparted to these nations who remain based upon works that they did, not based upon their belief in Messiah. So the question we must ask is this — has God changed the way in which He grants salvation? Scripture tells us that He changes not. Abraham believed God and it was accounted unto him as righteousness.
During the millennium these nations are given the same offer that John says you and I were given. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, John 1:12 NASB
So does God disregard everything that He has put in place to convince us that salvation is impossible by the keeping of the law, and that only by grace through faith are we able to be saved? If men enter eternal life here by their works will they be able to keep this gift?
When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. Revelation 20:7-9 NASB
These sheep nations will rebel. So God will have shown beyond reasonable doubt that salvation cannot be earned by works and maintained as an eternal possession. Once salvation is gifted to man it cannot be retained by him through his own efforts, but only through a sustained faith in the finished work of Christ can man be truly saved.