Isaiah spoke of the Jews warfare being accomplished (Isaiah 40:2), that is, it ended, or was fulfilled. What does that mean? Later in Luke Jesus claimed “The Law and the Prophets were until John…” (Luke 16:16). Clearly, something having to do with the Jew’s relationship with God ended in the first century AD, and something else took its place, namely, “…since that time the Kingdom of God is preached…” (Luke 16:16). It seems an appointed time or age ended with the coming of John’s ministry, and another appointed time or age began with the coming of Christ. What can we know of these things?
The Jews had been called to be a kingdom of priests, i.e. to represent God to the nations (Exodus 19:5-6). They failed, but God forthrightly forgave them and announced in Isaiah 40 that the time of their warfare (tsaba H6635, meaning army, host etc. but in the case of the Tabernacle it meant service)… that is the time of the Jews’ service to God as his kingdom of priests was over.
That age or appointed time when God reached out to the nations (gentiles) through the Jewish nation was coming to an end. The Jewish nation ceased to exist in 70 AD, and that was prophesied in Daniel 9:24-27 and referred to the coming of the Messiah. 490 years were determined for the Jews. Daniel had been considering the “70 Years Prophecy” given by Jeremiah, whereby at the end of which the Jews would return to their homeland. However, Daniel was told that beginning when the very first stones were placed together to build the Temple (Ezra 3:1-6), 70 7s of years or 70 weeks of years (“70 Weeks Prophecy”) were yet determined for his people. These years (490) were divided into three parts, namely: 49 years or 7 weeks —the time of the actual building of the Temple and the walls around Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25) and 434 years or 62 weeks to the coming of the Messiah (Daniel 9:25). That is: 7 weeks of years + 62 weeks of years = 69 weeks of years or 483 years, and this gets us to the time of Messiah’s coming (Daniel 9:25), or the time of the Messiah’s presentation to Israel (Luke 4:21). After this comes another 7 years or the 70th week, and this is also divided into two portions of 3 ½ years apiece—the first being the public ministry of Jesus and the second being the ministry of the Church to the time of Stephen. Each 3 ½ year period ends with the shedding of blood. In other words, Jesus ministry incorporated 3 ½ years and ended with the Crucifixion, 1260 days after Luke 4:16-21 (see Daniel 12:7; Revelation 12:6). The second 3 ½ years incorporated 1290 days ending with the death of Stephen in Acts 7:54-60 (see Daniel 12:11; Revelation 12:6, 14).
Jeremiah 31:31 spoke of a New Covenant that must be made with Israel. There was a problem with the first or Old Covenant of Moses (cf. Hebrews 8:8, 13), which is that man cannot be an equal partner with God in any covenant, because man is unable to hold up his end of the agreement. However, Jesus (God, who became man) is able, and he has become the Mediator of the New Covenant prophesied by Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15; Ezekiel 36:24-27).
What exactly, then, must end in one’s life before he is able to recognize and receive the Messiah? The answer is simple; we must end our rebellion against God! The valleys must be filled and the mountains must be brought low (Luke 3:5). Does anyone believe he has fallen so low (the valley) that the Lord could never love him? This is rebellion and must be repented of. Believe that God’s mercy extends even to you (Exodus 34:5-7). Does anyone believe he should be accepted on his own merit (the mountain or hill)—that he is loved by God more than another, because he is more righteous than his brother? This is rebellion and must be repented of (cf. Revelation 3:17). This attitude is not conducive to submitting to one’s Lord. Whatever needs to be done for one to readily accept the Lord as his Savior must be done. This is what it means when the prophet says to prepare a highway for the Lord (Isaiah 62:10; cf. 40:3).
What ends with the first covenant is that man is an equal partner with God. No nation could ever be that faithful, nor could there ever be an individual so faithful to God. All men are as grass, and the best of men are as the flower of grass (Isaiah 40:7-8). Nevertheless, both the grass (the flesh) and the flower (the glory of the flesh) fade in the heat of the sun (the tests of everyday life). Jesus, the Word of God (Isaiah 40:8), is the only exception, because he is God who became man (Philippians 2:6-7). He is our representative or the Mediator of the New Covenant between man and God. Whatever needs to be done to accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord must be done. All our hope is in him; we have no hope without him.