Bridging the unbridgeable gulf
Peter Sammons considers – what is the good news?
The Kingdom is near
What did Jesus say is the good news?
Jesus said: Matt 4:17 (Kingdom near) Matt 6: 9-10 (your Kingdom come)
Mark 1: 15 (Kingdom near) = good news
So the good news is that the Kingdom is NEAR! As it happens, Jesus never stood up and said * The good news is that, I will die for you or * The good news is that, your sins can be forgiven or * The good news is that, you may have eternal life. Whilst these realities are certainly embedded in the gospel message, it is not what Jesus specifically said or claimed.
The big picture
The Bible’s meta-narrative (or “big picture”) is that God is establishing His Kingdom in the here and now, and into eternity. The good news is that one day, soon, we can live in God’s immediate presence, as a chosen people. And this glorious reality persists into eternity.
God chose a people (the Jews) to be His special possession. (Abraham Covenant – Genesis 12: 2 – 3). But God always intended to enlarge His chosen people through a New Covenant (Memorably in Jeremiah 31: 31).
The Moses covenant was that God’s chosen people would be a nation of priests. That covenant is effectively rebuilt [ enlarged ] as God creates a royal priesthood (an enlarged chosen people) of all those who place their faith and trust in Jesus. So far, so good! Hopefully you are still with me!
The relationship of God to His chosen people is not altogether easy or straightforward to decipher. God chose Israel; Israel frequently rebelled and suffered, in consequence. Today God chooses men and women (and boys & girls) to be incorporated into His people. No longer an ethnic people, God chooses from every tongue and tribe.
In fact He chooses from amongst the Heathens – all those who are ‘on the outside’. It is in some senses correct to say that the Church is ‘greater Israel’ or ‘Israel enlarged’ – ‘Israel writ large’. Even, Israel writ-across the face of this planet.
Written on people’s hearts
Today the New Covenant is written on men’s hearts. To be incorporated into God’s Kingdom the need for Jew and Gentile is identical: to come to Yeshua in faith and repentance. God’s ultimate purpose is to unite humanity in His Kingdom. Check out Ephesians 2: 11 – 22; so, two “races” that were separate, Jew and non-Jew, have become one (“One New Man”) to the glory of God. This was ALWAYS in God’s big plan.
If you can, check out Isaiah 44: 1 – 5. (And if you are energetic, why not add Ezekiel 34: 23; Ezekiel 37: 17, 24; John 10: 16 and Romans 11: 17 – 24)
Frankly, so what?
Up to this point you might think “OK. Quite interesting – and probably right. God always intended to do something bigger than to save just the Hebrew People. God always intended to extend His kingdom across all Mankind, by inviting into it people who are by definition Heathens – those on the outside”.
But you might go on …….. “So what? What’s this got to do with the price of sliced bread? What’s this go to do with the way I live my life and the awful pressing realities of day to day life? What’s this got to do with :
- ISIS – Greece – Ukraine
- Migration – persecution – Turkey
In one sense the honest answer must be “very little”, yet in another sense, “everything”. Certainly God’s kingdom is not of this world. Jesus never said He was going to make everything “hunky dory” in this unrepentant world, hell-bent on going its own way. The Good News is not “It’ll be alright on the night!” Rather, the Good News is that Jesus will return to put right all wrongs and to RULE in righteousness and justice: “Thy Kingdom come”.
This reality of the two becoming one, becoming One New Man, is highly relevant – in another sense to all of Mankind’s problems and enmities. If God can heal the rift – the fundamental and un-bridgeable rift – between those who are chosen, and those who are not chosen, then all of Mankind can similarly be reconciled. Reconciled firstly to Jesus, Who has already demonstrated His love for us in this: “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). While we were still sinners, Christ laid down His life for us – so as to bring us life – and bring us life in all its fullness (John 10:10).
And reconciled secondly one to another, by becoming ONE. Perhaps I should go on, by becoming One New Man. Look again at Ephesians 2: 11 – 22. Praise God!
We need to pray daily “Thy Kingdom Come” so that ancient enmities can finally be put aside. If God can break down and eliminate the “enmity”, the complete misunderstanding and mutual suspicion, between :
- the chosen and the un-chosen
- the chosen and the heathen
- the Jew and the non-Jew
- the Russian and the Ukrainian
and indeed to UNITE them IN Jesus as one new humanity, then ……. the sky’s the limit !!!
A pipe dream?
We recognize that Mankind is never going to seek Jesus in this way. So what are we left with? Just a pipe dream? A wonderful imaginary world where everything is (literally) too good to be true? No! The message of reconciliation – of One New Man – remains as vital as ever. Jesus’ Kingdom is not “of” this world. But it is a Kingdom in this world. When people seek Jesus and enter His Kingdom, then those things that are irreconcilable become reconciled, IN Him. We become ONE body.
This is wonderful and amazing. So let’s pray “Thy Kingdom Come”, every day. Let’s trust that just as God has reconciled the chosen and the un-chosen, so He will yet pour out His Spirit and call many more into His Kingdom.
We hear of many (Muslims, Hindus, those of no faith, Jews) who are turning to Yeshua ha Massiasch (Jesus the Messiah). This is a wonderful prospect and a wonderful reality. No matter what the future may hold for us as Believers, yet we rejoice that even to the very end people will seek Him and be saved by Him into a new family.
Read on in Ephesians 2: 17 – 19. And rejoice! Praise God indeed!
Peter Sammons is Editor of Christian Comment