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New Life, Melbourne, April 9, 1998
"Israeli Christians 'compromise' on bill" ...
Wonder of the Will
of God and
the Gracious Power
for His Work
(while it is still day)
There follows an event reported in Israel which has the dual advantage here of both portraying the contemporary significance of our topic on the broader scale, indeed even in the fast-moving political arena, and drawing the mind to see how vital are the considerations in view as we consider just what the covenants are, just what rest is and just where the Christian needs to be, who is able to walk on his knees, a wise posture, as there is no distance to fall (Isaiah 66:2).
Important principles regarding the whole Middle East and broader yet, are found in the NOTE at the end; but even there, its full impact is gained the better when we begin at the beginning.
Melbourne, April 9, 1998
'compromise' on bill" ...
Only this: that the groups says,
" 'In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men ... All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition" -
from Mark 7:7-9.
We have here a statement by the founder of Christianity and by various missionary officials, and their similarity is that existing between black and white.
He DENOUNCES the Jewish community's traditions as, if and where outside, beyond or contrary to the word of God, in the whole life pattern of divinely directed order.
They ANNOUNCE their desire NOT to alienate from this denounced thing. Of course the Old Covenant or Testament has not been revoked, any more than High School is revoked for a University student. But it is still wholly improper for the University student to attend High School for learning instead of University.
Similarly, Hebrews tells us the Old Covenant is "obsolete" (8:13) and "ready to vanish away"; but these groups appear to indicate that it is not, that it is still operative in its integrity, does not need exposure as a misplaced primary focus
Nevertheless, the matter is allowed to appear as if what is involved were just a matter of observance of just Old Covenant Jewishness.
Yet how can the Old Covenant be ready to fade away, while being affirmed as operative ? How can it be in essence fulfilled, while embraced as per se current and contemporary ? Certainly what is unfulfilled will remain until it is; but the
As He said,
"You search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life: and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life!" - (John 5:39-40).
How can Jesus Christ be its embracing focus and completion of the Old Covenant in its vital essence, while for Judaism it yet has no embracing focus and completion ? How can you respect a religion which does not respect Jesus Christ ? in this: that His claims are rejected, His mission is bypassed and His challenge is set aside ? Do you thus honour and respect God ? Is it enlightened for a doctor so to love his patient that he even respects his disease, and will leave without seeking to alienate his patient from that disease ?
What if his disease is to eat and act as he did when young, when now he is not ? Is that respectable ? Alas it is discordant with the true position for the patient, whose life becomes a living (and alas dying) anachronism of deadly import to his well-being.
Certainly to this the actions of Jesus Christ, Lord, were diametrically opposed, He indeed declaring,
"Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered" - Luke 11:53. He was thereafter crucified, for the moment His adversaries engaging in this:
"they began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him" - Luke 11:53-54.
HE did not noticeably engage in a compromise to respect their traditions and community per se, to live harmoniously with that status quo. Quite the opposite! He exposed it as a victim ordained, protesting their error, exhorting them to repent and to come to Him, Jehovah in the flesh (John 8:58, 5:19-23). Then, dying, He rose again - but not for this, that His servants should engage in a peace program diametrically opposed to all He said and did in this area. (Cf. Ch.3, Biblical Blessings, Deliver Us from Dispensationalism, pp.27ff..)
Respect them ? yes: seeking their good and showing respect to them as fellow human beings whose has been the enormous privilege of delivering up to us the sacred scriptures of righteousness which attested the coming of Jesus Christ with such fidelity, respect their conscientious transmission and studious scholarship in so much for so long ? Yes, and long for them to find the due consummation their own scriptures depict as well (Romans 10:1-9).
Love the Jews ? Of course, did He not die for them as for any, in His extensive offer (I John 2:2) which yet impinges healthfully only on those who receive Him (John 1:12, Romans 8:32), who, and who alone are those of whom it is also written, "By His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5, cf. John 8:24, 10:11,26). Those so healed are the "we" of whom it is also written, "On Him was laid the iniquity of us all".
Do not Christians who follow
the Bible love them also ? Does not my doctor look like loving
me when he orders this and that in the interests of health, and does he
not rather hate me when he indulges me in errors for my body, in his compromising
advices ? Love is neither listless nor harmonious by verbal phrases which contradict the true interest. There is nothing subtle about contradiction.
How then could the Jewish challenge be met better than this ? Doubtless it could be met in many things, but in this thing not least, to answer with the same boldness as was so becomingly seen in Peter and John when assailed by the Jewish authorities for their divergence and for their reaching out to Jews in Christ's name. Those authorities, to be sure, were "greatly disturbed" (Acts 4:1), that they "taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody..." Sounds like the possible results of some anti-missionary law if, instead of compromise, it were to be enacted... The authorities further asked the apostles not to so trespass on their traditions as to "speak at all" or "teach in the name of Jesus". But ..
"But Peter and John answered and told them, 'Whether it be right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.' " This we read in Acts 4:19. We do not however read it in the news coverage of the current compromise in Jerusalem. It is not only times which have changed.
The unchanging God has given the way. It is never right to use force in the name of Christ to impose views, trickiness or folly; it is always right to love even your enemies; but it is never right to compromise for Christ, so that His words and His example are bypassed, and those in need are satisfied by the meeting of the clamour of their mouths despite the (Christ-declared) need of their souls. THIS should always be kept unsurpassed as a goal, just as a life-saver will not be deterred in his mission to handle the main thing, and save the life of the drowning soul.
It is very good that some Christians
on the scene in Israel, have protested that the compromise would limit
their proper testimony. For the love of Christ and of the Jews, one can
but join them in this!
Note - Beauty and Blessing
It may be that some will want to explore some of the interstices of Jewish and Gentile inter-relations, the divine covenants to them and their force, in the light of the Biblical perspectives. For anyone like that, what follows is provided.
(Cf. Items 17, 20, 29, Biblical Blessings Ch.3, The Other News, 33 and SMR Ch.9, pp. 751ff.)
As Hebrews so clearly teaches, the splendour of sacrifice, the emblems of regality and the eminence of priesthood reside alike in Jesus, Saviour, Messiah, Lord and Christ. These aspects in the Old Covenant find their resting place and consummation in Him (cf. Isaiah 22:20-25; Isaiah 53, 9:1-7). It is He, Jehovah in the flesh, the express image cast in human form, format, of the Almighty with whom we here have to do.
This however is far from meaning that because the King (albeit crucified, with a veritable precision of method in the mockery) has come, that therefore God (who according to pre-stated plan, resurrected His Son - Psalm 2,22,16, Isaiah 26:19, Zechariah 12:10) has forsaken His rule of life.
God has not ceased to be moral because Israel has ceased to be theocratic.
Rather (Matthew 5-7), all the more intensely are His morals binding because the King has come, bidding us all to be watchful for His return (Matthew 5:17-20, 24:45-51,21:43-46, John 5:19-23).
Indeed, at that time of His return visibly to this world (Acts 1:7-11), after so long an exposure to the glowing beauty of the holy and divine love by which the Father would embrace us in Christ, the race will, one by one, sinner by sinner, devious denier by delinquent wanderer, find that judgment which deals not merely with the sins of the flesh committed in this or that way. It will deal also with that superb effrontery and ultimate denial which rejects, even perhaps scornfully, the cover which He has provided, the mercy which He at such price, offers.
It is as if gas-masks so desired by the Israelis, and soon perhaps by others, were despised in the face of coming attack, by mere whim or caprice, laziness or indifference. Then not the germ but the rebellion is the essence. So here when the judgments of God come to those who are recalcitrant, who even in the face of mercy, do not regard the kindness of the Lord, whatever their race or climate, power or pretension: divine justice then comes with a parallel disregard to the clamour of pretension (John 3:17-20, II Thessalonians 1:5-10, Revelation 19, Jude 15).
God does not change, His principles He does not subvert (Malachi 3:6, Matthew 5:17-19), in whatever way He may fulfil them. The day of rest for example, loses its shadowy embellishments (Hebrews 8-10; 8:4-5,7-13, 9:8-10), but not its rock-solid base in the method of creation, which God Himself decreed to be binding for that reason (Exodus 20:9-11 - see Biblical Blessings, Ch.10, That Exuberant Day of Rest).
True, it moves along one, for New Testament purposes as is provided for (Deuteronomy 18:15ff.)in that Old Covenant,
to the first day of the week,
when Jehovah finished His mightiest "work",
consummation of all the rest,
in manifesting the basis of the new creation (Ephesians 4:24, II Corinthians 5:17),
in the resurrection of the King (Roman 1:1-4, and op.cit.).
This however merely ratifies the principle that God does not move at all in His immutable principles, but He DOES bring to fruition many things, and has worked from the Old Covenant to the New in the work of eternal redemption which is now justly and fittingly commemorated by Jehovah Himself in His actions on the resurrection (op.cit., Hebrews 9:12), on its own day.
One could as well deny God as deny that the day, always in step with His works, is to be kept BECAUSE thus He created us. When in glory, many things that are past do not come to mind, then it will be different as He directs. For this creation, however, it is the same pulse, with the consummated timing apt for His greatest work, the Sunday rising from the dead, which is now recorded in the lives of His saints and directed for their memorial rest, embracing both creation and new creation, principle and practice, delight and duty (Galatians 6:14)...
2. Nor does Christ's fulfilment mean that God has forgotten to be honourable
to the unconditional agreement with Abraham, the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 15,17). Indeed Ezekiel 36-37 (see The Shadow of a Mighty Rock - SMR, Appendix A, and pp. 805-836, 760ff.) shows a 2-step restoration for Israel, its covenant being divinely declared to have been broken (Zechariah 11:4-12) by those who weighed out 30 pieces of silver for His worth.
"Not for your sake do I this," He declares (Ezekiel 36:21-22,32), as He restores the people, with great determination and method, to its promised land: it is for His own name's sake, a name which does not blight or sidestep issues or principles, but is one of the ultimate in faithfulness to which indeed it gives name. He IS faithful ("faithful and true" - Revelation 19:11), and magnifies His word above all His name (Psalm 138:2, Philippians 2:9-11).
The first step is the simple physical restoration to the land - simple? Yet a prodigious work of deliverance carried out to the letter as seen in SMR Ch.9. The dry bones of Ezekiel 37 (see SMR Appendix A, as above) are by one specific divine command assembled in the land, articulated but dead, just as they were dry bones scattered amongst the nations in the first tableau of devastation as shown by Ezekiel. Then by another command in the parable, they are given life, breath (Ezekiel 37:9), becoming before the divine view a living corpus, a lively people, a restored nation, a people for whom their King will be King indeed! This has yet to be but is given highly specific indications in Zechariah 12:10ff. as to its manner of commencement.
In this action, they find many things new, these who never again are to turn from the Lord and who come to a King their ruler (Ezekiel 37:23-24-26). God's spirit it is which is put upon them (37:14) at the outset of this action in step 2, and this brings in the unbroken reign of Christ. We await this (cf. Romans 11:25-32). Oh the wonder of the depths of the divine wisdom! as Paul declares,
And HE WILL RULE (Isaiah 2, 9:6-7, Micah 4:6-8 with 5:1-4, Psalms 72, 45, 2, 102:18-22, Zephaniah 3:14-18, Ezekiel 37:25-28). Over whom ?
3. The COMPREHENSIVE COVENANT - COMELY AND EMBRACIVE
Christ's fulfilment DOES MEAN THAT GOD HAS NOT FORGOTTEN TO BE GRACIOUS and overflows with grace to all His people.
Indeed, the very name of the Jew will be transformed into this new union (Ezekiel 37:21-22), in which the union of Judah and Israel of old (Ezekiel 37:19) will be magnified into a far vaster, internationally glorious union of all the Messiah's people from whatever land, state or condition; for He is God of all (Isaiah 65:10-13, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, Isaiah 49:6)... and with what exceeding force the Lord makes this point clear in Isaiah 65!
Thus, the Jews return according to glorious divine program, to their land, and then a large remnant to the Lord who performs wonders (Micah 7:14-16) on their behalf (cf. Zechariah 12:1-9. 14:1-3), the nations indeed learning to despise all their might in the presence of the Lord (Micah 7:16-17, cf. Ezekiel 36:36); and in their return He will be active in their deliverance and in their salvation (Zechariah 12:9-10, 14:1-3), in the midst of "all the saints" of whatever kind, kindred or description.
Then, preliminaries in earth and in heaven past (Revelation 19:7), the Lord will indeed be vindicated on earth as before in heaven: He who was crucified in Jerusalem with such exquisite seeming irony and mockery, will wear a crown that has lustre, the lustre of truth, and majesty, the regality of wonder.
Not - to change the figure - as some pocket battleship, then, will the Jews be seen, on the seas of the nations.
THIS repentance has REST also and equally for Jew and Gentile, in the "glorious" rest of the Messiah available to all who call upon Him (Isaiah 11:1-10, Galatians 3:28) upon Him. In His Cross all will glory (Galatians 6:14, Isaiah 53), including that mass of Jews still to come to Him on the new basis (Zechariah 12:8-12, Romans 11:25-28, 10:1-6), which includes what was not distorted in the Old, that grand, divine, original, deliverance of God by His prophets to His people, fulfilled with the consummation faithful to all that was ever predicted. These? They will come in repentance as real as that of anyone else from all the nations who have sinned, each in its own way. (See Deliver us from Dispensationalism, in Biblical Blessings, esp. pp. 32ff. ,36ff..)
And this? It will be a transformed Jerusalem which will serve for the King (Zechariah 12:6; 14:1ff.), soon to be replaced by that heavenly Jerusalem itself (Galatians 4:26), the new heavens and the new earth, when those who will not learn righteousness, no not even in the presence of bliss (Isaiah 26:10, 66:22, 65:17, Habakkuk 3:6, II Peter 3:10-13, Isaiah 51:6, Revelation 21-22), are no more in the realm and the perfection of glory is unveiled forever.
Meanwhile, it is a transformed people who wait upon Him and for His return, as did the first apostles and disciples sent, to whom as to us who also are sent for Him, come
blessings such as these:
1) From Luke 10:18-20."I saw Satan like lightning fall from heaven.
"Behold, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over al the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
"Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven" -
2) Luke 12:11 - "Now when hey bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will tech you in that very hour what you ought to say.
3) Luke 21:12-15 - "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake.
"But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.
"Therefore settle it in your hears not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer;
for I will
give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able
to contradict or resist."