Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The Full Israel of God
We have not seen it yet. People in line with the unfailing faith of Abraham gathered with joy in Jerusalem, unharassed, restored in every sense, enjoying the benevolent administration of their eternal King.
The Apostle Paul, a meticulous Jew, spoke in his letter to Galatians of the ultimate fulfilment of God's promise to Father Abraham in "a seed" whom he took to be the Lord Jesus Christ. He confirmed that Christians in the Body of Christ are in that seed. He also rejoiced that his beloved people were coming to the realization that Jesus of Nazareth was and ever shall be Messiah. Hence he saw the Israel of God consisting of people who had come to God through Christ, both Jew and Gentile, one day living in harmonious community.
What a wonderful coup on God's part. Take a crusader for the laws and ways of Moses, a persecutor of the new and bothersome sect of Jesus, breathing out threatenings and slaughter in a round-up of these presumed rebels. Knock him off his horse on his grim assignment to Damascus. Blind him through an encounter with the risen and glorified Christ. Allow him to undergo an overwhelming change of allegiance and of purpose in a new spiritual birth, and PRESTO, behold an exemplary champion and apologist for the cause of the Gospel.
Now, about that harmonious community. Consider the words of the prophet Zephaniah in the third chapter:
14Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.
15The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.
16In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.
17The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
18I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.
19Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.
20At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.
This image of a wonderful King overseeing a perfected and eternally peaceful and happy kingdom, Zion, came to me most powerfully in our recent visit to the exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto). I saw in a fresher way the Jewishess of Jesus. Imagine God SINGING over His beloved reconciled peoples!
Hear further the wrap-up of Paul on this happy coming together recorded in Galatians 6:
15For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.