What of the Jews? What of the Kingdom?
December 17, 2008
What of election and God's promises to a faithful man, a faithful nation?
~ by the Generic Christian Mystic
The Lord brought to my heart something last night that I need to flesh out here in written word with all those so interested. The Lord sort of asked me a silently deep rhetorical question as I was driving home, "What about Israel, my people, and the promised kingdom for them?" Hunh? Yes, that is my typical response to promptings of the Spirit but once they come, I am hard-pressed to ignore them.
A good friend of mine, (name kept confident upon his request), a fine teacher and a Messianic Jew, (God bless him!), taught me many wonderful things from the Old Testament, (OT), and about the nation of Israel. Since my fellowshipping with him, I now have several books on the OT by John H. Sailhamer. Back to my point and the Lord's prompt, so what of Israel and the Kingdom of God in these final days?
This friend, spoke of how the mainline traditional Christians churches pushed Judaism and Israel aside and even taught believers to avoid and treat Jews with a type of disdain for these "Christ killers". How very sad and how very true this was. God's chosen and blessed people, whom God promised great things, were treated by the historical Christian church as outcasts and enemies of Christ. I am certain that a great deal of this attitude allowed The Holocaust to proceed much too smoothly. "Hey, the Jews, are trouble . . ." was an unspoken mantra in much of Allied Europe and even the USA dragged their feet helping the Jews -- but I digress.
What I am getting at is this, the nation of Israel; the people, the promises, the Kingdom of God and the role of the great Messiah are not a token teaching. What the Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has promised for Israel has not been in any way eclipsed by the grafted-in ones, the Gentile nations and their coming to Jesus. Our mega-churches, our church buildings, these glorious edifices of tax-free existence, in no wise are any better or superior to our Jewish brothers' temple and synagogues. The hearts of the faithful Jew cry out to the same Lord God, the same God we Christians cry out to for salvation, for mercy and help in time of trouble. Yet, somehow, in our Christian tradition and theology we have forgotten, downplayed and set aside the nation of Israel in our perspective on the scriptures, on the coming Kingdom, and on God's promises to Israel. His chosen people are still chosen, still blessed, still loved, still the apple of His eye. We Gentiles, blessed because of our Jewish brother and Lord Jesus, are but grafted in to this blessed people's promises. The entire word is couched and expressed in a fulfillment, prophecies involving Israel.
We read and speak of a priesthood, a coming King, a Kingdom, a Messiah, a holy land, a Mount of Olives, a sacrifice, a mercy seat, a temple of David, Solomon and Ezekiel's temple vision. So much of the our Christian imageries, the visions, the understandings, the concepts are drenched in the lives of the Hebrews, the Jews, Israel and their nation -- the Promised Land. However, when I hear preachers preach, teachers teach, writers write, and speakers speak -- so much is about the gentile Christians, 21st-century Christianized values, the heavenly promises are geared now for God's white-anglo-saxon-protestant people and their special brand of pie-n-the-sky, white-steepled church and asphalt-parking-lot prosperity. Something is very narrowed here, something is very missing. We have forgotten our very special connection to Israel when we interpret and read the scriptures. We are so locked-into an "ignore things about Israel", set aside the study of the OT, as it is inferior to the New Covenant -- because we have Paul, Jesus, and the New Testament, (NT). In doing so we err greatly!
Doesn't God generally approve of how we do His will, preach salvation and all that?
God really has much more in mind than the salvation of mankind for the future. Salvation with justification, sanctification and glorification is merely a start! God has plans for men and women to be saved as the foundation for a great work He is doing. Jesus did not come here just to saved us and say, "Hey guys, I gotta go build you all castles, mansions and get heaven ready for you, Be back later, so do nice stuff for me until then." No! That is man-central thinking. God is about keeping promises to His chosen ones, finishing a job He started aeons ago, preparing a place of His glorious rulership and worship on this earth, where God and man will walk side-by-side again. That face-to-face fellowship He saw compromised with Adam will be restored -- and men will see the glory of Zion fill the earth. That land He prepared in Genesis to walk with Adam, that land He promised Israel to live in, to worship, to be a light to the nations and find her rest, that kingdom Jesus prayed would one day come, will at last come! Hallelujah, may it be so soon!
When's the last time you heard or read such truth?
We are told, that after our salvation of grace, we are warned, urged, pleaded with to get ready for this day, to prepare for that age of Zion restored, that age of men walking with God as He awaits us to be partakers in. He asks us to take fellowship in the sufferings of Christ that we might not only just be there, barely making it by grace, but He calls us to stand apart, to die to our selfish lives here and live as if the kingdom is ALREADY here. If we hear and keep His word, we will walk different paths there. If we bow down here in absolute obedience, daily striving in the power of His strength, then we will stand over there closer to His vision for all men and women. He speaks amazingly of making us to be co-reigners, joint-heirs with Christ. He speaks of making us to be kings and priests unto God over there.
I believe that when God came to Adam for fellowship, it was always a choice for Adam to come to the voice of God. God never forced Adam to walk with Him. Every walk and talk with God was a growth in maturity; a preparation for a future responsibility God had in mind for Adam. It was to become a mature son who could be about the Father's business instead of living for only his own life. When Adam one day decided not to die to his own life but chose independence and thus sinned; the Lord God still sought him out and asked, "Where are you Adam?" He wanted to talk with His fallen child. Adam instead childishly hid himself from God the Father and made self-righteous excuses. We know what happened but now Jesus has erased that grave error. God is now still calling to his blood-washed, saved little ones for fellowship. He once again comes to us to prepare us, each to be ready sons, matured by the very nature of the Son of God coming forth freely in us via obedience. God never forces this process. He is a patient God with his children. But will we cooperate or will we hide ourselves from Him in self-righteous independence? Only if we humbly walk with Him can He achieve His purposes. Pride and self-glory must never be considered acceptable in our walk with God.
Does God need us? He chooses to, yes? As part of His eternal plan He chooses to call out to an elect group of people who will go the whole way. His election is NOT of individuals! His elect are a group, a nation, like Israel who will one day see all the promises fulfilled. We realize some individuals choose not to follow. They choose not to be of the elect ones, not to be included as "the chosen" of God. It is their free will that God will honor. As many Israelites died in the wilderness of Kadesh-Barnea and chose by unbelief not to enter Canaan, so we children of God are free not to bother with all God wants of us. He will not force us. He will strive in patient mercies but He will never force us to follow the whole way. We alone must choose to endure in faith, to be ready now for the great Kingdom coming "then".
What does God not need from us now?
He doesn't need our buildings. He doesn't need our programs. He doesn't need our seminaries. He doesn't need our Americanized gospel of pews and offering plates passed! He doesn't need our priests, pastors, parishioners all-in-a-nice-row and our exclusive-prone sects of churchianity. He doesn't need our nuns, our deacons' meetings, or our particular hallelujah hayrides and praise band highs. He doesn't need our religious attempts at appeasing or pleasing Him. The Lord God of Israel and Jesus the God-Man seated on the Throne and the Holy One the Spirit simply do NOT need humanity to dance for them in some weekly charade that looks, smells and sounds so very nice. Come on! When will we wake up!!?
Oh, maybe I say too much here, perhaps I am too iconoclastic. I have been told by some silly "find-your-gifts" questionnaire that I am a prophet/teacher with no mercy. Great. But when I see decades of very little change for a return to the God of our fathers, little signs of the "greater things you will do" accompanied with a general slouching towards more rebellion, evil and violence ~ I am deeply saddened and grow tired of reasoning with believers who live all too content with "whatever" works.
For some strange reason, we teach and preach ourselves into a box, believing that this God of the OT, of the NT, with all the warnings and the terror and joy of Revelation -- that somehow, being a Christian qualifies us all to live a life of relative Christian-ho-hum ease that will then secure us an instant end-of-life, post-Rapture, inheritance of many rewards. We will each get crowns, mansions, little scepters of Kingship, robes of heavenly judges with titles of Christ's monarchs, all of us seated with Him -- like some grand graduation ceremony.
Picture it, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, we each give an account of ourselves, the good and the bad, and then we suffer losses and gains:
"Next please!" the Lord sends off another so-so believer into a slightly smaller mansion with less acreage and a less bejeweled crown.
"Angel Theo, please escort, Mr. Billy Lukewarm to a smaller rulership in the southern corner of my kingdom", the Lord speaks from the Bema seat.
"Oh my, Mr. James Carnal, I see after you trusted in Me for salvation, you became an adulterer, a petty thief of office supplies, a perpetual liar and beat your dog when drunk! No crown for you! And I think I can only offer you a seat in the back corner of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb."
Okay, you see what I am getting at here. Christians are saved but they can get into extremely ungodly walks of life. Some find their way to repentance and indeed start over afresh with a godly fear renewed. Prodigals we each can be -- yes -- but how can Christ in turn then force His kingship, rulership, sonship responsibility, rewards and honors on a deeply carnal believer in the coming kingdom age when that believer refuses that walk in the present life? To attempt to rationalize that there are no carnal believers or that people that get into sin trouble were never believers is not rational. We each are carnal but by the grace of God. We each get into sin trouble. Some of us recognize it and flee that state but some believers just don't seem to ever mature in their sanctification. When the time of reckoning comes we cannot teach one another or believe that somehow God will zap us into some holier-than-we-walk righteousness plane of a grace a la carte blanche. We will face God either ready or not ready for the coming kingdom.
What happens to those not ready, unprepared, unfaithful in their Christ-walk? Whatever it is -- Jesus describes it as an extended existence in regret, in a darkness, of the outside. People there will weep and suffer loss. I am still seeking to find more concrete info on all that "missed out on the reward", "missed earning my inheritance", "failed to endure", "lost my life" place during the kingdom age. But for now, consider yourself informed now of a secret that most preachers and teachers don't like to consider as it is too troubling to just being satisfied with minimal Christianity.