In the past twenty some studies on Matthew 16, I’ve shown that Jesus predicted he would come to the first century AD Jews and judge that nation, which he did cir. 70 AD in the person of Titus, the Roman general, whose armies conquered Jerusalem, and destroyed the Jews’ Temple. It was at that time that the Old Covenant came to an abrupt end. Even if the Jews wanted to keep their relationship with God intact, they couldn’t. They had no Temple, no altars and had no use for priests. The Old Covenant was all about sacrifice and ceremony, all of which pointed to Jesus, but in 70 AD, that came to an end, and the Jews were without a covenant with God. The New Covenant was officially established, and it was the only covenant extant that God had with mankind. Thereafter, God had ceased to deal with the nations through the Jews and was now officially dealing with them only through his Church, spiritual Israel.
The judgment of the Jews and the vindication of God’s elect is what Matthew 16:27-28 is all about. In my most recent studies I proved the context of the coming of the Son of Man to judge / reward every man according to his works (verse-27) was to vindicate the blood of Christ and that of his disciples (Matthew 16:21-26). Jesus later condemned the Jewish authorities, saying the blood-guilt of all the righteous slain from creation to the first century AD would fall upon that generation of Jews who rejected him (Matthew 23:29-36).
In this study I want to return to the Old Testament scriptures to point to the theme of the vindication of God’s elect once more. Isaiah chapters 2 to 4 are one united prophecy. Isaiah began by pointing to Israel’s last days (Isaiah 2:2) and continues to Isaiah 4:1 “In that day…”
In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remains in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:2-4; emphasis mine)
Notice that Isaiah is speaking of the Messiah and those who have escaped judgment. He that is left (the remnant) is called holy. However, the vindication of the righteous shown here comes out of the judgment of the wicked—when the Lord shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem by the spirit of judgment and fire. This is pointing to what the Lord had done through the Roman armies in 70 AD when Jerusalem was conquered and the Temple was destroyed. Judgment of the wicked and the vindication of the righteous came out of that event. Notice what Isaiah says occurred:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:2-4; emphasis mine)
Isaiah points to the House of the Lord, but the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. This is speaking of the Messianic Temple, the spiritual Temple of God where God dwells today. “All nations shall flow unto it… he will teach us of his ways…” This is done through the Gospel. None of these things are done through war. The Lord isn’t dealing with the nations through the nation of Israel anymore, so he doesn’t correct nations through war. God does everything through his disciples, who are not of this world, neither are our weapons worldly, but, rather our sword is the word of God, which is mighty to bring every thought of man into subjection to God, and is able to tear down every stronghold that exalts itself above the knowledge of God. (2Corinthians 10:4-5).