I am intrigued by the messages of the prophets who prophesied to Israel the return from captivity. These prophecies came true when many of the Jewish exiles returned after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. Yet, there is a much deeper and richer fulfillment concerning these prophecies than the Jewish people returning to their homeland after the captivity.
During the time of Jesus, the Jewish people were still a people looking for the full restoration from the captivity. Even though many of them were back in the land and their temple had been rebuilt, the effects of the exile were still lingering for they were (at that time) under the rule of the Roman Empire.
They were looking in hopes for the coming of the Messiah because He would be their Savior, their Redeemer, and their King! He would be a descendant of David who would be established on David’s throne and once again they would be a great nation, so they thought.
They were looking for the Messiah to bring a visible kingdom and thought of redemption and deliverance in this way (Luke 19:11). For them, the anticipation of the coming of the Messiah meant freedom from Roman domination.
According the Bible, the kingdom of Israel was divided after the reign of King Solomon. The northern tribes became known as the house Israel and the southern tribes as the house of Judah. The house of Israel was ruled by a series of wicked Kings and was eventually expelled from the land by the Assyrians.
The southern Kingdom, Judah, continued to be ruled by Kings who were descendants of David and in due time, they also were expelled from the land because of their idolatrous ways.
This fulfilled the covenant promise given through Moses concerning the curse that would come upon them if they forsook the Lord and did not keep His covenant according to Deuteronomy 27-30.
During the exile of Judah, the prophet Daniel prayed the following:
Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore THE CURSE is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in THE LAW OF MOSES the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath CONFIRMED his words, which he spoke AGAINST US, and AGAINST our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. AS IT IS WRITTEN IN THE LAW OF MOSES, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice (Daniel 9:11-14).
The curse of the Law was the exile and under the Old Testament, the land of Israel and especially Jerusalem and the Temple represented the presence of God. Being sent into exile or expelled from the land was a physical parallel to a much greater spiritual truth which is banishment from the presence of God because of our sins.
In Deuteronomy 30, God told Israel that when they were in exile, He would turn their captivity if they would humble themselves and circumcise their hearts. On the surface this had a natural application, yet it had a much deeper spiritual meaning which Paul speaks of in Romans 10. Paul takes the language of the Torah with regards to the return from exile and finds Jesus in it.
But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Romans 10:6-9).
Paul is drawing on Deuteronomy 30:11-14 and translating it from the natural to the spiritual, from the Law to Christ.
Being exiled from the land and then gathered again into the land was only a foreshadowing of the true redemption which the Messiah would bring. During the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the anticipation of the coming of the Messiah was understood by many of the Jews to be a “national deliverance” and restoration. Yet, God had much more lofty and wonderful plans for His people.
When Jesus came, his mission was nothing like many were expecting. The fulfillment of the promises spoken by the prophets would not be a “national restoration” of a physical kingdom but a “spiritual restoration” and the creation of a “holy nation” in the Kingdom of God – in Christ.
The Son of God came in the flesh to bring an end to the REAL exile for we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. He died for our sins and was raised again and exalted at the right hand of God. This is the fulfilling of God’s promise that the Messiah would be a descendant of David and would sit upon his throne forever (Luke 1:32; Acts 2:29:36).
Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of David (Matthew 21:9), seated on the throne of David (Acts 2:29-36), having the sure mercies of David (Acts 13:34), and He holds the Key of David (Revelation 3:7). He is the root and offspring of David (Revelation 5:5; 22; 16) and in Him all the Messianic promises of deliverance and redemption are fulfilled.
Peter preached to the people of Israel concerning Jesus and said, “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days” (Acts 3:24).
The fulfillment of the words of the prophets, even those prophecies concerning the return from exile comes to fruition in and through Jesus Christ.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:13-14).