Part 1/4 The Blessing of Israel

I drive up to my own house. Zero chance of it being stolen from me by a gang of thugs. It is mine and will be my whole life if I so choose. I am hungry. I walk to the kitchen. The what? The personal grocery store? The Promised Land? The fulfillment of 3,500 year old prophecies? I walk into the kitchen and make some lunch. Tastes good…homemade pizza is always better than the frozen kind. Although I like bought pizza too. Actually, I like any kind of pizza. This one has two kinds of cheese: cheddar and mozzarella. The cheddar was made in Armstrong, about a five hour drive from here. The mozzarella was made in Italy (we bought the best!), about half a world away. I’ve got peppers, delicious sweet red, orange and yellow peppers (I’m not a fan of green peppers) that were planted, grown, then picked (by the farmers’ kids? some South American workers? Who knows?) and packaged and then picked up by a truck, placed in temporary storage, picked up again by a truck (who is that truck driver?) and brought to the airport where they are loaded on a plane by some other workers, then picked up by another truck driver who transports my peppers (just the red ones—the yellow and orange ones came from another country!) to a packing house where they are stored temporarily before brought to my local grocery store so I could pick them up and enjoy on my Saturday at 11 o’clock pizza. I have a delicious sweet red onion (I had a choice between red onion or normal onion but I like the milder and sweeter taste of the red onion) on it too, as well as two main toppings: shrimp (they came via Indonesia) and pepperoni (thanks to a farm in Wisconsin that made great pepperoni for decades and became very successful—now they have distributors all over North America). I am eating my pizza as if it is a normal Saturday lunch….got things to do, things on my mind…gotta go to Home Depot to replace the faulty gutter part. Ummm…that was sure tasty. Oblivious to the fact that I just participated in a world-wide event of such stunning richness and blessing that, down through the ages, only kings and queens would have known it. And even some of them would have been envious. After my Roman Ceasar-like feast, I go to the park (Home Depot can wait, I decide) to fly a kite with my eight year old son. I have no fear. Barbarian hordes are not hiding in the bushes to kill me; Mongols are not lying in wait for me…I am feeling completely at peace. Why, there hasn’t been a shooting or a stabbing at this park….ever. This park has never seen a murder. We have a great time laughing and flying the kite—the winds are strong. And in a few hours, dinner….

Jesus is longing for His people to awaken and arise to the

present day emergence of heaven on earth.

What is God’s plan for planet earth? …for you and your family? To discern this we go to the Bible—obviously, we need to start in the Garden. The first few chapters of Genesis don’t say too much about Father’s desire for His creation, but we can use our sanctified imaginations: What was in the Lord’s heart for life in the Garden? What would an average day for Adam, Eve and Yahweh be like?

As the tragic story of rebellion unfolds and our Father’s original intent for us is thwarted, a stunning rescue mission emerges. He singles out a man (Abraham) and gives him a breathtaking prophecy: he’d eventually have a descendant so remarkable that through that descendant all the nations of the earth (you and I?) would be blessed (Gen. 22:17,18; 26:4). Initially, that lofty role would be granted to the nation Israel (the descendants of Abraham who eventually comprised the nation Israel). Called God’s servant and even God’s son (Exodus 4:22), Israel was the country He created to be the door the world’s nations would walk through to be re-connected to their God. He created Israel to exhibit such a state of joy and success and blessedness (the ‘children’ would be a reflection of their father’s goodness and closeness) that the other nations would see, inquire and and be wooed(1) into the loving relationship he so desired to have with them. Restoration. Back with their Creator, the nations would be blessed.

So His intention for His people was to give them Himself, the author of life. To accomplish this, He rescued Abraham’s descendants from slavery in Egypt, guiding them to a land flowing with milk and honey where they would enjoy each others’ company, just like back in the Garden.

God Himself gives us His definition of the life He planned for His people:

-blessedness everywhere…in the country, in the city, going in, going out
-kids blessed
-animals blessed
-crops blessed
-womb-barrenness eliminated
-enemies defeated
-fame and respect—all people will see whose you are
-abundant prosperity
-heavens will be opened to send rain when needed (economic well being)
-lend money to surrounding nations but borrow from none of them
-sicknesses eliminated (Deut. 28:1-14; Exodus 23:25,26)

The remarkable state of blessedness was the inevitable result of life with Father. “I will be their God and they shall be my people” meant blessedness in the here and now.(2) The ultimate goal in God’s plan is for His people to enjoy a full life described as unhindered intimacy between us and our Maker, us and each other and us and nature. The undoing of the Fall. Yahweh has allowed us a glimpse into His heart revealing His Garden intent (even the land of Israel, Canaan, was repeatedly referred to as the “Garden of Eden”(3)).

All Israel needed to do was follow the guidelines and principles He set out for them, guidelines and principles that would steer them towards compassion, love, humility, respect and goodness. Then all these blessings would be lavished upon them by their Father. (If they disobeyed, they would be removing themselves from his protective care and be at the mercy of a merciless and sin-full world…basically the exact opposite of the things listed above would be their lot).

The Bible offers us encouraging vignettes of Abraham’s descendants being a blessing to the world: Joseph saving Egypt from famine with his (and his Lord’s) creative gift of administration and wisdom; Daniel rising to top leadership in a pagan nation and dramatically effecting that country’s policies and leadership. Under King David’s son Solomon we are given a glimpse at the plan’s power—a foreign leader (the Queen of Sheba) hears of the wisdom and fullness of the little nation Israel and makes the trek to see for herself (she “saw”, “inquired” and was “wooed” as Isaiah prophesied would happen). But, these moments of glory were short lived anomalies. Overall, His people Israel chose not to humble themselves and fulfill their end of the relationship. Instead of LIFE, instead of feasting on the tree of life, they experienced the opposite—death, decay, defeat and difficulty.

And the nations of the world did not “see”, did not ‘inquire’ and so remained outside of the full blessings of Yahweh, steeped in sin and brokenness just like Israel.

Jesus is longing for His people to awaken and arise to the

present day emergence of heaven on earth.

 

Mission Accomplished?

Israel’s failure would ensure a continued alienation of mankind from its Creator, and our God is too zealous a lover to allow that to happen. He saw from the beginning of time how things would unfold and was saving His best for last. Who would be able to fulfill such an outlandish promise of blessing all the nations? Abraham had accumulated about a million descendants, and one of them was an unmarried carpenter named Yeshua (we in the west call him Jesus).

He was the beginning and the end, the tree of life in human form, God…in sandals. In Him was all the wisdom of Israel’s 600 laws, all the goodness of Yaweh’s principles, all the love of the Father. He would be the light of the world Israel failed to be. Lifted up, He would draw all nations to Himself. Restore them! His obedience culminated in His sacrificial death, and while up on that cross in unimaginable humility and love, He cleansed the earth of sin. It resurrected the magnificent life-promises (promises previously unattainable because of disobedience). It fired the Garden Seraphim, removing the ‘Do Not Trespass’ sign in front of the Tree of Life and replacing it with a neon-flashing ‘Welcome’ sign. As the second Adam He overcame Satan’s temptation—a victory of obedience Adam could not claim in the garden and Israel could not claim in the desert. It reconciled the whole world back to its Father.

Yeshua told his brothers and sisters in Israel that He came specifically for them. To set them so free that the world would see, inquire and choose to enter in to that wild divine-human love immersing Israel—the love that all people everywhere were created for. Israel’s destiny, her awesome promises, now delivered on a silver platter and available for free to the weakest and most broken among them.

Though a few accepted the gift, shockingly, most of the nation rejected their saviour. Would this rejection yet again ensure the worlds’ alienation from its Creator? No, for the time of the Kingdom had come(4), and it would not be thwarted. So, Yeshua instructed His disciples to go directly to the nations with His silver platter of promises (Acts 13:45-47; 9:15; 1:8; Matt. 22:8f). Instead of seeing God’s face in Israel, the gentile nations themselves would display His splendour. (And, in an ironic twist, Israel would eventually end up seeing, inquiring and being wooed back to God. See Rom. 11). Paul says in Galatians 3:4: “He redeemed us so that the blessing promised to Abraham would come to the Gentiles.(5)” All those promises summed up in one—“I will be their God and they shall be my people”. God with us.

And to the nations they went. How did they do?

Jesus is longing for His people to awaken and arise to the

present day emergence of heaven on earth.

(1) Dt. 4:6-8; 28:10; Ex. 33:16; Jer. 33:8,9; 4:1,2; Zech. 8:23; 1 Kings 8:41-43; 60, 61

(2) See Ezekiel 34:25-31 for another picture of this truth

(3) Cf Gen. 13:10; Is. 51:3; Joel 2:3; Ez. 36:35. Do you think Yahweh’s definition of “Life” has any relevance to you as a believer? Is Yahweh’s understanding of “Life with Him” the same as yours?

(4) 1 Corinthians 10:11 states: “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come”. Heaven was “near” when Jesus first burst onto the scene. Jesus said in Mark 1:14: “The time is fulfilled and heaven is approaching”. As he interrupted the natural state of affairs with his Father’s will, bits of heaven were experienced (For example, since there is no sickness in heaven, Jesus removed the sicknesses of all those that came to him —see Matthew 4:23,24; 8:16,17; 9:35; 10:1; 12:15; 14:14. He then revealed his heart and his plan by sending out the seventy-two disciples, saying, “Heal the sick and tell them the kingdom of God is near”—note the obvious connection the Lord makes between those two activities).

(5)  The fulfillment of God’s heart that every nation and family be blessed (through Abraham’s descendant) was so prevalent in the minds of the apostles that Peter actually connected it to the healing of the beggar at the Temple Gate (Acts 3, especially verse 25).The Father’s ancient Old Covenant plan was fleshed out in a current New Covenant fulfillment, yet I would never have made that connection. Would you? See also Romans 15: 8,9 “The Messiah became a servant of the circumcised people…to confirm the promises to the patriarchs and to bring the nations to praise God…”.

 

Next: Part 2/4

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