An Old Testament prophet, Amos by name, wrote:
“Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7
I cannot over-emphasise this important principle, for it means that anything of significant importance to us, whether concerning our present life or one to come, has already been revealed by the prophets. And by the “prophets”, is meant the prophets of the Old Testament period. And yet they said nothing about heaven-going. Not one word! So what did they speak about? Daniel is one of the prophets who provide an explanation. In Chapter 2 of the Book of Daniel, Daniel is writing of a time well ahead of his own, in which there would be a number of kingdoms existing, divided in their philosophies: nations that would be like a mixture of iron and clay. They would not bond together, some would be strong, and some would be weak. He wrote,
“In the time of these kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, neither will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever…. The great God has shown the king [Nebuchadnezzar] what will take place in the future. The dream [vision] is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.” Daniel 2:44–45
Obviously, the world has not witnessed anything like this! Yet it will since God has guaranteed that it will happen. But we can see its relation to the promise made to Abraham that the land he was to be given was to be for an everlasting inheritance, and an everlasting kingdom: for the prophecy of Daniel draws our attention back to that kingdom. It is not surprising that every prophet of the Old Testament speaks clearly of that same kingdom ideal. And almost every book of the New Testament speaks of it too. When we started with the first book of the Bible, it was mentioned that to understand a book one must follow through from the start to the end. We have done that, except that we have not yet come to the last book: the Book of Revelation. It is the New Testament book of prophecy, and actually uses very similar visual pictures to Daniel—it is almost an appendix to update Daniel’s prophecies. As the last book of the Bible, it speaks much about reward—reward for obeying the Creator God, and his Son, Jesus Christ. In the fifth chapter, it speaks of one like a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the earth. Those familiar with the Bible may well think back to the prophecy of Isaiah, in the fifty-third chapter, where the prophet predicted, in detail, a description of Jesus Christ and his ultimate fate. If you have an opportunity to read the whole chapter you will appreciate about whom the prophet was speaking.
“He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before his hearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7
The Lamb of God
This sufferer described by Isaiah is the Lamb being referred to in the Book of Revelation.
“And they sang a new song:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.’” Revelation 5:9–10
Again, the promise of a kingdom is on this earth. And it is not to the Jews only, but open to every nation, every language, every skin colour. And it has been made possible by the slain Lamb—the crucified Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John, it is recorded that Jesus said:
“My command is this: Love each other as I loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:12–14