4. The Gospel of the Kingdom (continued)
"To make reconciliation for iniquity". This is the language not of the law-courts, but of the home and family. Sin has weighted the balances against man and brought him into condemnation, but it has also caused a sad estrangement: it has broken a love relationship which ought to exist between God and man. The captive Jews in Babylon were separated from their native city by hundreds of miles of desert, but that is only a faint picture of the sinner's separation from the Lord. The captives could not return. Not only was the journey too great and costly, but there was another kingdom - "the power of darkness" - which held them in bondage. It needed the Lord to release them as well as to take them back. In the first place it was for this earthly release and restoration that Daniel prayed, but he was led on to speak of the greater spiritual deliverance, and the more difficult journey back to God. This is the "translation" which we are offered - back to the heart and home of God; this is the reconciliation which has been made through the blood of the Cross. There is no need for distance, no need for estrangement, no need for vain regrets or empty longings, since grace provides a warm-welcome into the kingdom of the Son of God's love.
"To bring in everlasting righteousness". The weakness of those Old Testament recoveries was that they did not last. No doubt Nebuchadnezzar made many good resolutions after his restoration to the kingdom, but, like us all, he certainly failed to keep them. The Jews were no better than he in this respect. It was indeed a marvelous recovery for the remnant to return and rebuild the desolated city of Jerusalem, but alas! their righteousness did not last and a further and a worse destruction came upon it. No human righteousness lasts, and that is why no man can have a part in the eternal kingdom apart from Christ. It is by the Gospel that there is offered to man a new kind of righteousness, perfect and enduring - the righteousness of God which is provided on the basis of simply faith in Christ.
Making the Promises Come True
"To seal up vision and prophecy". There is another rendering which reads: "to make the visions and the prophecies come true". This is certainly what Christ does. This kingdom of Christ is the realm where all the promises of God have their Yea and their Amen (2 Corinthians 1:20). Before we enter His kingdom it may seem to us that the promised blessings of the Gospel are just visionary fancies, but those who are in that kingdom know the joy of proving God's power to implement His promises.
Since Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were godly Jews, they were doubtless familiar with the promise: "When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee" (Isaia43:2); but they could hardly have realized how wonderfully this would be fulfilled in their case. We are not able to appreciate the promises until we are desperately in need of them. More than this, the promise included an assurance of the presence of the Lord in the midst of the trial: He had said that in the floods and the fires "I will be with thee". Even the ungodly could perceive that this promise was being fulfilled. It was obvious that the Lord was walking with them in the midst of the fiery furnace. This is just one example of a personal experience, but in every realm it is true that the Lord is prepared and eager to fulfill His Word to those who trust Him.
(continued with # 25 - (The Holy of Holies)