Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Israel's Kingdom (2)

When God would set his program with Israel in abeyance for the ushering in an unprophecied age with us Gentiles. From the time that God sent Moses to deliver them from their Egyptian captivity, Israel was give things to see, to witness for themselves in order to visually verify God’s presence and his purpose with them, yet, for all the visual evidences that God gave to Israel, Israel would not believe God.

This isn’t the first time Israel would not believe. The fall of Jerusalem shattered the national and territorial basis of Israel’s culture and religion. The Babylonians had burned the temple to the ground, they carried away most of the people to exile, to life in exile in Babylon, leaving behind mostly members of the lower classes to eke out a living as best they could. And it was the completion of the tragedy that had begun centuries earlier, and it was interpreted as a fulfillment of the covenant curses.

It was the end of the Davidic monarchy, although the son of Jeholakim was alive and living in Babylon, kind of holding out hope that the line hadn’t actually been killed out, hadn’t been completely wiped out. But the institution seemed to have come to an end for now. It was the end of the temple, the end of the priesthood, the end of Israel as a nation; as an autonomous nation, the Israelites were confronted with a great test.

One could see in these events a signal that Yahweh had abandoned Israel to, or had been defeated by the god of the Babylonians, and Marduk would replace Yahweh, as the Israelites assimilated themselves into their new home. And certainly there were Israelites who went that route, but others who were firmly rooted in exclusive Yahwism did not.

Yahweh hadn’t been defeated, the nations’s calamities were not disproof of Yahweh’s power and covenant, they were proof of it. Yahweh’s desire for morality as expressed in the ancient covenant, the prophets had spoken truly when they had said that destruction would follow, if the people didn’t turn from their moral and religious violations of Yahweh’s law. The defeat and the exile had the potential to convince Israelites of the need to show absolute and undivided devotion to Yahweh and his commandments.

Vehement denunciation moral decay and social injustice of the period, leading up to the fall of the northern kingdom and southern kingdom of Israel. A prophet criticizes the sins of the nation, he is critical of everyone, the middle class, the government, the king, the establishment, the priesthood; they’re all plagued by a superficial kind of piety. Amos, and all the prophets, the idea of covenant prescribes a particular relationship with Yahweh, but not only with Yahweh; also with one’s fellow human beings. 
The two are interlinked. It is a sign of closeness to Yahweh that one is concerned for Israel’s poor and needy. The two are completely interlinked. Amos denounces the wealthy. He denounces the powerful and the way they treat the poor. The crimes that are denounced, are crimes that are prevalent in any society in any era. The crimes that are denounced as being utterly unacceptable to Yahweh, infuriating Yahweh to the point of destruction of the nation, are the kinds of crimes we see around us everyday, taking bribes, improper weights and balances, lack of charity to the poor, indifference to the plight of the debtor. 

Injustice is sacrilege, the ideals of the covenant are of utmost importance. These prophets are called the standard bearers of the covenant, harking back to the covenant obligations. And without these, without the ideals of the covenant, the fulfillment of ritual obligations in and of itself is a farce. Morality is not just an obligation equal in importance to the cult or religious obligations, but that morality is perhaps superior to the cult.

What Yahweh requires of Israel is morality and not cultic service. The prophets raised morality to the level of an absolute religious value, and they did so because they saw morality as essentially divine. The essence of Yahweh is his moral nature. Moral attributes are the essence of Yahweh himself, one strives to be Yahweh-like by imitating his moral actions. The prophets insisted that morality was a decisive, if not the decisive factor in the nations’ history; Israel’s acceptance of Yahweh’s covenant placed certain religious and moral demands on her. 

One sin is singled out as being historically decisive for the nation. Other sins are punished, absolutely. But only one is singled out as historically decisive for the nation, and that is the sin of idolatry, particularly the idolatry of the royal house. The tragic history of the two kingdoms as essentially a sequence of idolatrous aberrations, which were followed by punishment. And this cycle continued until finally there had to be complete destruction. 
While it is certainly true that moral sins and other religious sins in Israel were punishable, it is really only the worship of other gods that brings about national collapse, national exile. Idolatry was what provoked Yahweh to drive the nation into exile. The prophets are claiming that the nation is doomed because of commonplace wrongs, because of bribe-taking, because of false scales and false weights that are being used in the marketplace. 

For the prophets, the national catastrophes are just punishment for sin, but not just the sin of idolatry, for all sins no matter how petty, no matter how venial, because all sins violate the terms of the covenant code, which is given specially to Israel. And the terms of the covenant-being vassals to the sovereign Yahweh means treating co-vassals in a particular way, and it is breach of covenant not to do that.

The prophets were harking back to an older tradition, to ancient traditions about Israel and its covenant relationship, traditions according to which Israel’s redemption and election entailed moral obligations. The prophets warned that unless they changed, the people were going to suffer the punishment that was due them.

And, in fact, the people were very foolish to be eagerly awaiting or eagerly expecting what was popularly known as the Day of Yahweh. And so the prophets refer to the Day of Yahweh as if it were a popular conception out there in the general culture. It was a popular idea at the time that on some future occasion, Yahweh would dramatically intervene in world affairs and he would do so on Israel’s behalf.

Yahweh would lead Israel in victory over her enemies. They would be punished. Israel would be restored to her full and former glory. And that day, the Day of Yahweh, in the popular mind, was going to be a marvelous day, a day of victory for Israel, triumph for Israel and a day of vengeance on her enemies. The people are very confident that this is going to be a day of light, a day of blessing, a day of victory.

But the prophets, according to them, if there is no change, then this Day of Yahweh is not going to be some glorious thing that the people should be eagerly awaiting. It’s not going to be a day of triumph for Israel. It will not be a day of vengeance on her enemies. It’s going to be a dark day of destruction. It is going to be a day of doom, when Yahweh will finally call his own people to account. The prophets transformed the popular image of the Day of Yahweh from one of national triumph, to one of national judgment. 

Israel's Kingdom

Let’s say there is one Gospel, how would it play out. We see the “prayer of faith” Israel walked by sight, Yahweh allowed their prayer life to work in connection with sight as that earthly kingdom was on their doorstep. Yahweh worked in connection with the sign nation, the healings that were performed and the power resident in the prayer of faith.

When the kingdom program was ongoing and Jesus was ready to rule and reign right here on earth, a troubled believer could pray the prayer of faith, when presented with suffering circumstances and those circumstance would disappear. Yahweh provided that prayer of faith, because that kingdom was at hand and the time for troubling circumstances had come to an end. It was time to put an end to pain and suffering, because it was time for the King to rule and reign on this earth.

Mountain moving faith was Yahweh’s way of being glorified in the sovereign reign of the king. “It shall be done” mountain moving faith used in conjunction with the prayer of faith. Was Jesus pushing them toward faith or was he proving Israel’s lack of faith.

So an Israelite makes that confession itself would be considered a fruit of righteousness in the eyes of Yahweh. Leviticus 26, beginning with verse 40, is the confession Israel would be called upon to make. Israel would also have to accept the remainder of her punishment, that failure under the law contract would call for and that would be the seven year tribulation.

Now before that kingdom could be realized, there was a prophetic event that had to take place first. The way Jesus taught has special application to that tribulation period to those people who were being taught to pray in this manner. This will be a very heartfelt prayer during the tribulation period. During the time of Jacob’s trouble, the Israelites will be under tremendous persecution from the antichrist. He will be putting Israelites to death for their faith. The Israelites will be praying at that time, “thy kingdom come” the promised earthly kingdom to be set up right here on earth, because the only hope of deliverance for the believing Israelites at that time, will be the coming of the king and setting up of the earthly kingdom. But Israel killed their king.

You see, if Israel could have their sins remitted nationally, then Israel could indeed become that holy nation and kingdom of priests. And if Israel could become that holy nation and kingdom of priests, then the Gentiles would be able to come to Yahweh through Israel’s rise. That is why it would be important for Jesus ‘the messiah’ to be risen, so Israel could have their sins remitted, and they could arise, and the Gentiles could come to Yahweh through the nation Israel. It was only Israel having access to that eternal life that would make it possible for the Gentiles to have that eternal life through Israel’s rise, through the nation Israel. 

But you see, Israel nationally did not accept the Gospel of the Kingdom of Yahweh. They did not accept the Gospel of Yahweh; that Jesus was the son of Yahweh or that Jesus was the risen messiah. They did not accept that at all, so rather than rise, Israel fell. Yet, when it comes to Jesus being risen from among the dead, how could Israel’s promised earthly king sit on the throne of David in a promised literal, earthly kingdom, if the king Yahweh anointed for that kingdom remained a dead king.

If Jesus be not risen, there is no earthly king. If Jesus be not risen, there is no earthly kingdom. If there is no earthly kingdom and that is when Israel is supposed to be forgiven, then there is no forgiveness for the nation Israel; for the saints of the kingdom program. And if there is no forgiveness, there is no salvation. And if there is no salvation, there certainly is no bodily resurrection. And if there is no bodily resurrection, all this is a story, a fairytale.

Now the time period of the parable Jesus gave in Luke chapter 13, the one additional year given Israel until the fig tree was to be cut down, still has the majority of a year to transpire at this point. This is what Jesus meant when he said he gave Peter the “keys” to the Kingdom. Peter had the ability to “unlock” and “open the door” to the Kingdom, he proclaimed the message they had to believe. Jesus gave himself a ransom for MANY. Who are the “many” spoken of? Israel! The beginning of Israel’s last days of her program, they were being equipped for the upcoming time of tribulation right on their horizon. 

Yahweh used the physical senses in every respect in connection with his sign nation at Israel’s high holy feast day called Pentecost. Yahweh gave his sign nation things to SEE and to HEAR and to SPEAK! The physical senses were used by Yahweh that Israel might WITNESS their deliverance.

The expressions “before our eyes” and “in our sight” tell us how Yahweh worked as Israel was approaching the last days of her program, which was to culminate in an entrance to her promised earthly kingdom. In spite of all these visual manifestations that Yahweh worked in time past, Israel for the most part remained in unbelief. They were either attributing Yahweh’s work to Satan, or they were attributing Satan’s work to Yahweh.

Israel as a nation was still the focus in Acts chapter 2, as they were given a taste of their promised earthly kingdom there with Yahweh’s empowerments for The Tribulation endurance and for the earthly kingdom entrance. Focus is still that land and the attempt to get Israel’s leadership to change their minds about the source of their righteousness and accept Jesus as indeed their Messiah. Peter promises Israel that if she will change her minds, Yahweh will send Messiah back and their promised Kingdom can get back underway, just as it was promised. Peter called it the times of refreshing speaking of a direct reference there to the millennial reign of Messiah on the earth. 

The beginning of Israel’s last days of her program, they were being equipped for the upcoming time of tribulation right on their horizon. They were more abundant than ever, God used the physical senses in every respect in connection with his sign nation at Israel’s high holy feast day called Pentecost.

This was not a mystery, this was not a secret, it was exactly what the bible had foretold would take place when it came to the sign nation.

God gave his sign nation things to see and to hear and to speak, the physical senses were used through God’s power from on high, that Israel might witness their deliverance; “before our eyes” and “in our sight” tell us how God’s power from on high worked as Israel was approaching the last days of her program, which was to culminate in an entrance to her promised earthly kingdom.

The visual manifestations of God’s power from on high was directly involved in as the nation Israel was given every visual opportunity to change their thinking about the identity of their Messiah and their ability to perform up to the standard of God’s righteousness, when it came to the law contract.