In these verses, the writer gives the final “proof” of the superiority of the Lord Jesus over angels: they have not been given authority over “the world to come.” We’ll look at all these verses in a minute or so. For now, the words “not yet” are some of the most precious in the Word, at least to my thinking. As I look at the moral and spiritual deterioration of our world and the chaos that seems to be enveloping it on every level, these words give me hope that there is something better coming.
As I look in the mirror, the one on the wall or the one in the Word (James 1:23), and see the faults and failures it shows, these words give me hope that something better is coming. The Word itself gives me that assurance: Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, 1 John 3:2 (emphasis added).
Outside, the weather is starting to cool down a little, a taste of what is to come in a few weeks and putting an end to the promise of Spring, when the earth struggles to shake off the deadness of winter and bring forth that life and abundance the Scripture speaks of in Amos 9:13, “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.”
And Paul wrote that the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now, Romans 8:19-22.
“The days are coming,” when that “earnest expectation” and “groaning” will be satisfied, but “not yet.”
Even for our Lord, there is a “not yet,” Hebrews 2:8. While it might perhaps be said that this verse refers to man himself and God’s original intent that man be His vice-regent over creation, Genesis 1:26-28, still Hebrews 2:8 refers to our Lord’s kingdom.
There is a lot of discussion about that kingdom. There are many ways in which that kingdom is viewed, but Scripture prophesies a time when God will make new heavens and a new earth, a time in which human life will be greatly extended. At the same time, there will still be sin and death, Isaiah 65:17-25. Though some folks pair verse 17 with Revelation 21:1, Isaiah and John do not speak of the same event.
Revelation has something to say about this. Describing the return of our Lord, Revelation 19 says, Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on it was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron, Revelation 19:11-15.
We’re all familiar with Revelation 20 and its declaration of our Lord’s reign of 1000 years. Many teachers and scholars, following the early Church fathers, say that this can’t possibly refer to an actual 1000 years. However, the anti-Semitism of the early fathers is well-documented. They simply could not accept that Israel had any further blessing coming, since she had rejected and crucified her Messiah. They and those who follow them say that God is done with her. However, it’s through that very rejection and crucifixion that the way was paved for Israel’s eventual restoration, to say nothing of the fact that the Gospel was given to us Gentiles. Further, I believe there is a reason why the Holy Spirit led John to write a thousand years 6 times in 6 verses. It’s to impress on us that He means 1000 years, and not just some vague period of time. Isaiah 65 refers to this time. Revelation 21 describes eternity.
Revelation 20 gives us the length of that kingdom. Revelation 19 describes its character. The word translated “rule” in 19:15 is interesting. It’s isn’t the usual word used of ruling, but means “to shepherd.” It gives the same thought as the word used by our Lord in John 10 as He describes His care of His sheep. So, Revelation 19 tells us that He’s going to “shepherd” the nations. They’re not going to like it, based on the fact that His rule will be with “a rod of iron.” Zechariah 14 gives some more details about this. Hence, the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed, Isaiah 65:20.
But “not yet.” Where is there a nation on this earth that truly seeks to live by the Word of God and to honor and obey the Lord Jesus? That can’t even be said of a lot of churches anymore.
But why is it – “not yet.”
Because our Lord didn’t come the first time to reign, but to redeem. This is what Hebrews 2:5-9 is telling us.
God’s original intent in creation was that man was to be His administrator, as it were, over this new planet and all it contained. However, man rebelled against this idea and decided that he would be the boss. The result is that not only doesn’t man have dominion over this world, he doesn’t even have dominion over himself.
Lord willing, We’ll have more to say about this in our next post.