AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH February 15, 2009
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST
AND BASE OF THE
OF AUSTRALIA, ON BIBLICAL LINES …
REBUILDING THE OLD RUINS
Never such a building, nor ever such a ruin!
Part IV from Isaiah 61:1-4 – verse 4 seen with Amos 9:11 and Acts 15
We had been considering the magnificent situation – like a seaside villa placed in a high cliff – of those who are the having been saved by grace through faith people, in terms of Christ’s commission of Isaiah 61:1-3.
PATTERNS AND PERFECTION
It is these so saved, these who are then, like the disciples from whom were chosen the 12 apostles, like the 70 sent out later in the power of Christ’s name without His physical presence (Luke 9 and 10), who are now in view. As we travel to Isaiah 61:4, the message, the mission and the commission of Christ having wrought wonders, what occurs ? His disciples found and founded, they are then moved to fruitfulness. Symbolically expressed, they build in the temple of the Lord, bringing to it this and that stone, new found from the grace of the Lord, just as Solomon had cut stones brought to the temple when it was physically built, that it MIGHT be a symbol. The Temple, pointing hearts to spiritual truths, anticipated in stone what would happen on the Lamb, for the Lord, and to His people.
It is whether in physical architecture or spiritual direction, HIS temple with HIS specifications and it is on HIS word that it is built; for in HIM are all His words, and those who love Him, keep them (John 14:21ff.). To love Him without or contrary to His word, what is it like ? It resembles loving an engaged girl with everything except your ears, so that whatever she asks, you grant it not, whatever is her preference you find another; or else, in some one thing, like regarding her as a fellow and a partner and not a serf or subject, as some do in various religions, you disregard both her words and her desires.
Loving in this way is rather like a peculiar form of hatred and contempt. Not so is the love for Christ from His people. Thus now we see them rebuilding the old ruins and raising up the former desolations (cf. Amos 9:11-4, Acts 15:14, 1saiah 8:21-9:7, 61:4), according to the pattern of Christ, which though a constraint is really the essence of liberty.
How is this so ? His words are those which made us, these too make this, His spiritual building (II Cor. 4:6, Eph. 2:14-22). WHEN you are in the first place made in the image of God, that is with power to act, determine, resolve, evaluate, apply principles, abstractly conceive diverse behaviours, actions and responses with understanding and have vision, on a basis that is without logical blemish, being able to love and to reject: THEN keeping to our created specifications ACCORDING to that basis in that sublime and Eternal Spirit, is the way liberty works. A car with defective steering might SEEM most free; but in fact it merely inhibits action and spoils, soils and perhaps kills the work of resolution.
Of the "tabernacle of David", then, they will raise the ruins. Not 'raze' does it say: 'raise'; and the word is rebuild. But how ? It is by continuing into the New Covenant the symbolic work of the Old, so that the substance in Christ, the sacrificial lamb who ONCE in the end of the Age put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, is now found. Instead of crucifixion, now there is for the risen Christ, a body, a temple of living stones as Peter is moved to write. God does not mutate; it is the Covenant which He consummates (cf. Hebrews 7-10).
Like the reference to JUDGMENT in Isaiah 61, then, that part which was not recorded as having been read aloud to the synagogue in Nazareth, so this last part of Amos 9 had to wait for its time of fulfilment.
Yet just as the judgment would come to the world (Isaiah 24, 61:2) - though its pangs are far from the motivational thrust of the Lord in so coming to deliver man from perishing – to seize the residue of rebellion in man, which largely continues, whatever God does or says or provides, presents or donates, so the restoration of Israel would come and HAS come. This came in two stages physically, 1948 with a long hinterland of land purchase, and half Jerusalem, and in 1967, with the complete and predicted restoration to Israel of more of its land with the Capital, Jerusalem intact for it. It is this fact which marks the end of the Gentile era (Luke 21:24), which may in fact have been around the same in duration as that of Israel, around 2000 years. The innings in this regard appear rather even!
But what of their spirits ? what of the heart of Israel ?
In Gospel terms, the spiritual restoration is post-return. That is, Israel comes first to its land and then to its Lord, as so clearly demarcated in Ezekiel 37, where the scattered bones representing Jews throughout the world, are brought back, but first as a dead assemblage of skeletal construction, by one distinct divine command; it is only later that these are given life, by a second command.
It is that last part which waits, and the current Israeli election will doubtless have relevance to that spiritual restoration, the ultimate point for one as for all, for Jew as for Gentile; but the difference ? It is this. If the Gentiles without covenant or Christ (Ephesians 2:12), were brought back in just one swoop, from the dead to the living, then Israel has two such. In other terms, there was for them a grafting and a regrafting, coming as in the day of Abraham and his sons, departing, and then returning in the day of the outpouring of the Spirit of God which is to come (as in Zechariah 12) before Christ comes initially FOR His own and then WITH them, to judge and rule, till the earth learns its master, and its inhabitants see what many longed for (Isaiah 11).
Some want to short-circuit the process, as in ludicrous Christian socialism, where in practice and normatively, a MINORITY of a people are to lend their name to a total work for all, which not being wrought in the Spirit or according to the word of God, but in terms of a majority of unbelievers, is a mere misnomer.
WAIT FOR IT: LIKE THE REST OF THE WORD OF GOD, IT WILL SURELY COME
WHEN Christ comes, the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea and HE WILL RULE (Isaiah 11, Habakkuk 2).
Such is the progress in Amos 9 as in Romans 11; and such is the thrust of Deuteronomy 32 where, Israel now back to the Lord after its long evasion, the Lord exhorts the Gentiles to rejoice with His people (32:43), together as one in heart and deliverance. Indeed, it is He who delivers Israel from overpowering Gentile assault (Micah 7, Deuteronomy 32:36-42). Just as the Gospel in the day of Amos, was yet to come in its New Covenant beauty, so the remnant's restoration was also to come; but later, later, in its fullness, when as in Romans 11:25ff., blindness would no more afflict the Lord's fallen nation.
us revert to Amos 9, which gives a background to Isaiah 61:4.
As you move from Amos 8 into 9, you have the following sequence.
1) a famine of the word
of God, the people aborted
2) a determination not to
allow this covenant-breaking people impunity
3) Though they should seek to repine in hell, yet He would bring
them back (Amos 9:2-9).
4) The New Covenant surges in at Amos 9:11-12 (cf. Isaiah 4:6, 32:1ff.,
Jeremiah 31:31) in symbol, when God Himself raises the tabernacle (9:11),
this symbolising His grace
Thus all idea of being like the Gentile nations in their obtrusive, reckless, god-making or bypassing cultures, this which “you have in your mind shall never be” (Ezekiel 20:32). Patterns for the temple showed in architectural and functional format the spiritual realities, and it is these latter which will rest on the earth and indeed be the only way to or place of rest (cf. Matthew 11:28ff.). ‘Churches’ apostate or other bodies will never reach stature in spirit or place in the divine courts, but the realities of God’s initial presentation will culminate in Christ (Ephesians 1:10).
Whether for Israel in its day or the Gentile Church in our own, sedating substitutes or militant mutations, for what God has said, are mere verbiage without reason or any destiny to be desired (cf. Jude, II Peter 2, Numbers 16:6-30, Galatians 1, 3, 5).
What then ? As JUDGMENT, the omitted part of Isaiah 61 in the synagogue reading in Nazareth, would come and will when the first wonder of sacrificial love has been placarded throughout the world (Matthew 24:12), so ISRAEL, or a significant and substantial remnant, would come, when at last, the river of that same life in that same Gospel at last reached their hearts. As to those, they were near at the outset, merely back in the land, but far in heart. In the end, they come near in heart, and the Lord's disposition of land becomes an item in His demonstration of His sovereign will and merciful heart, both, to this world. Isaiah 61 has the key to Amos, and the latter turns it.
Thus Jesus, acting in farewelling mode towards His disciples as noted in Luke 24:26,46ff., spoke of the interim in terms of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in applying the doctrine and enlivening the work, and it went first to Judea. Thus Jew and Gentile worked soon together, as epitomised by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.
In the end, at a more national level for Israel, as at the first on an individual basis, the time of Gospel presentation to the world comes towards its conclusion with a vast restoration of many a heart in that land, in one vast movement (Zechariah 12:10-13:1) back to the Christ whom that nation crucified. This is what it is all about, whether Jew or Gentile, to know God and hence to repent and believe and be regenerated so that spiritual eyes may see clearly, the heart love truly (cf. Titus 3:5ff., Jeremiah 9:23-24) and the spirit be vitalised (cf. Ephesians 3:16).
The reluctance to speak of judgment in the initial impact, as indicated in Luke 4 in the reading from Isaiah: this was based on what Christ had to do; and when He had DONE IT, and completed the purchase of eternal and free salvation (Isaiah 55, Hebrews 9:12), it was then after the resurrection, that He told them forcibly of the coming of the Spirit to empower them (Luke 24:49). It is this same Spirit with this same Gospel which is for one and all, to this and to that nation; and when it comes to Israel (Zechariah 12), it is the Spirit of grace and of supplications no less, one Lord, one faith and one life (Ephesians 4:4) that moves as it has so often moved amid the Gentiles.
This sending of the Spirit spoken of in Luke 24:49, paralleled what Christ had done when the 12 and the 70 were sent out without Him earlier; but now they moved with greater realisation of what He had done, and completed (Hebrews 9:12), and what they had to do. After all, judgment indeed sits as in Matthew 25, Revelation 20, Acts 17:31, Mark 9. It comes into final focus in its time. It awaits; and grace is on parade in the meantime.
JEW AND GENTILE HAVE DIVERSE ENTRY MODES, BUT ONE PLACE TO COME!
Now it comes to the application, ourselves who believe! FAITH WALKS. It does not wait for the bus. It waits only … for the Lord. In His mercy, it is the Spirit which constrains. It is the word which commands. It is the heart which moves and the feet which it stirs.
Consider meanwhile the tact of James. When Peter, as in Acts 15, shows how GOD Himself had moved him to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles, and the matter is consummately made clear by the Lord who had acted in power and wisdom through His servant Paul, James declares that this agrees with the passage in Amos 9 which he cites. These two items are agreeable to one another. It is not a total fulfilment in this, that just as in the latter part of Amos 9 (13-15), not cited by James, there is a special reference to the restorative effect on Israel itself, the nation, so is there in 9:11-12, as in Romans 11, a provision to which the rejected Israel, may come.
It will be the same rebuilt, spiritual tabernacle, Christ the foundation, but a latter phase in its construction, one plan: one beauty, all stones on His base and basis, all new made in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17), His own redeemed. So must Israel, or a large part of that nation specifically, come to Him once more, at the faith level, for it crucified its King. It will come to the SAME GOSPEL as that which was given to the Gentiles, by the SAME Christ who alone saves by His blood, whether one or another (Colossians 1:19ff.), so that in Romans 11 terms, at last Israel might on common faith ground, be regrafted back into the tree where the Gentiles were before that day.
Thus Amos 9, as cited by James, agrees with this Gentile outreach; but it is not thereby statedly exhausted. That fallen temple of Judah, a building physically to be destroyed, that site where in unbelief they still clung to their outmoded sacrificial system, it was to go, and Israel itself was to go (Matthew 24:1ff., Leviticus 26), out into the world from their safe, promised land, until the Lord chose to bring them back in a prime exhibit of divine faithfulness (as in Ezekiel 36:22-37:23), despite human shame.
Then, while Israel stumbled as Peter here notes, there is built a Gentile temple (as in I Peter 2:5ff.), one of living stones, and the Lord builds it of His spiritual people (Amos 9:11). Of course it was one in which individual people of Jewish race were prime moves in the Lord, the apostles ...)! Indeed, there would come a time (as foretold in the vast coverage of Deuteronomy 32), when "I will bring back the captives of My people Israel" (cf. Isaiah 61:4-6). God would then plant them in their land, no more to be pulled up, as in Ezekiel 37 in particular, and 36-39 overall. Then as in Ezekiel 37, Zechariah 12, they come to HIM!
These, we read in Amos 9:13ff., are days which are coming... Thus despite Israel's failure (as in Isaiah 49:7) and its result of dismemberment (as in Isaiah 65:13-15), and its condemnation and shame (as in Isaiah 30:8ff.), they will not only be restored to their land, this a testimony to the sovereignty of God who so ordered events (Genesis 17:1ff.), but in great numbers to their Lord (as in Zech. 12:10-13:1). He, by His Spirit, opens their eyes to an eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:10-11), for one, as for all of any race who find in Him their place and grace, through faith in Christ Jesus the Lord.
Those Gentiles who follow the Lord rejoice with them (Deuteronomy 32:43), as all tend to rejoice when deliverance comes, more are added to the kingdom of heaven - and this, sometimes intensely; so that one faith in one Lord, the God of creation and of redemption may now trumpet its truth throughout the universe, its tears soon to end. A new creation is to replace it, with a new heavens and earth, eternity the endurance of the elect, the Lord their boon, delight and destiny, each one (II Corinthians 5, Revelation 7, 20).
As this Jew-Gentile plan unfolds, this unity of salvation in a community of preludes, we are delighted in the wisdom, the power and the precision which attends the love of God: "Oh the depth of the riches both of the knowledge and the wisdom of God!" (Romans 11:33). Indeed, "of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory for ever. Amen."