AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH     October 9,  2011

 A Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
a
nd Christ without Compromise by Faith

 

A PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE and THE PLAN 

Part II ... from Jeremiah 30,31,33

Last week, we considered the simple, scriptural certainty that Israel, despite its provocations so constant for so  long Psalm 78), despite its slaying as a nation, of Jesus the Christ, so long predicted, so totally triumphant in His suffering, saving role, would come back as a nation, and in national terms come to  this same Jesus, in a panorama of agony and anguish, contempt and dispersion,  crowned with a continuity that nothing could slay. This it would become,  as it is now on the brink of becoming, a greatest national love story of all  time, and become part of a far broader love story.

This, it is that of the Lord toward the Gentiles. It is not enough, said Isaiah 49:6, that the Lord should come and die for those who are the remnant, the chosen ones of Israel itself; to the other nations as well is His light to come, and from that source as from Israel, will the entire family of God be brought back, in one prodigal  act of mercy and tender concern, to one as to all. If, says Romans 11, Israel's loss led on (through the Gospel as preached by Paul, Peter and the apostles - as in Gal. 1) to the reconciling of many amid the Gentiles, the OTHER nations (Jer. 16:19-21); and if Israel's temporary loss in that sense, her national folly in the day of Christ, led to a vast and explosive expansion of salvation's glory to the OTHER nations, HOW MUCH MORE glorious and wonderful and delightful will it be when ISRAEL comes back to the Lord! (Romans 11:12,25ff.).

Indeed, for those who KNOW the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24), they will find this: HIS RESTING PLACE IS GLORIOUS (Isaiah 11:10 as in Matthew 11:25-30). His yoke is easy, His burden light; and indeed, "CAST your BURDEN upon the Lord and He will sustain you," (Psalm 55:22, cf. I Peter 5:7). Why ? as Peter declares, it is because He cares for you! (cf. Jeremiah 31:18-20): it is the same God with the same love, Israel an historical depiction, the Gentiles a current theme!

OBJECTIVELY, as we saw last week, this is THAT Israel which God has defined, defended and as predicted for chronic rebellion, brought into an exile which became notorious in the world,  only to bring them back to their land, the world squawking like disturbed fowls, upset  to see them as they might be at foxes. The word of God has been vindicated in the history of Israel, as of the world, as nothing else has been. There is no wisdom against it. Let us remember also this.

The Lord has used many means with one result. Israel now awaits the vast conversion through the power of the Holy Spirit noted as to come as you move from Zech. 12:1ff., to 12:10 and on to 13:1 (cf. Jerusalem 31:28-37). If then Israel is facing these end-time developments, let each see that he, she, has also been rescued, not in time only, but into eternity. What if many of the Gentile peoples who have had more than 2000 years to come to Christ, and to enter into entire, delighted and loving  submission to His divine will, in free grace, still lag behind.

Don't boast, says Romans 11 to the Gentiles. Israel has temporarily been cut off from her tree of belonging through lack of faith; God is able to cut off peoples who similarly come to the time when millions do not believe, recalcitrant, hesitant, adrift.  Let each one then see that there is no hole in heaven, where you might have been, but where you are absent.

Turn back in history to Isaiah's day. In Isaiah 13-14, 39:5-6, we find prediction of the assault of Babylon on Israel. Isaiah 45-47, and especially 44:24-45:7, show that as Israel's chronic rebelliousness would lead to that, yet the Lord's everlasting mercy would lead to deliverance from that land. Who would free  them ?

It was Cyrus, long before he was born, given his future name by God, so that when he came, it could be seen that God ruled history, and did not forget His people. Indeed, He who ruled Israel with that deft and brilliant combination of appeal, compassion, concern, exhortation, sanctification, would follow this up by providing salvation in the Messiah Himself, to come even later, the date given by Daniel 9:24-27, around  30 AD..

Though Israel's rejection of Him (Isaiah 49:7,Micah 5:1ff.), would lead to their dispersion for a time, yet He would  bring salvation both back to Israel and on to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6,49:6). Indeed, He would even return Israel from  this far greater dispersion (Ezek. 36-37).

"There is no other God besides Me," says the Lord, "a just God and a Saviour," Isaiah 45:21.  Now let us dwell on the point. IF THEN GOD IS SO RELIABLE AND HIS WORD SO CLEAR AND SO SURE CONCERNING ONE NATION, WHAT OF THE WORLD! If He went to such inordinate trouble and made such deep plans concerning one people, what of the rest! Did He not say that it was TOO SMALL a thing merely to rescue many in Israel, and that He would apply this same light to the other nations as well (Isaiah 49:6). What then does He declare in Isaiah 45:22, following what we have just seen. it is this.

"Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! for I am God ,
and there is no other.
I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow;
every tongue shall make avowal.
Surely, one will say,
'In the LORD I have righteousness and strength.'
In Him they shall come,
and all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him."

It is a mission, a message, the Gospel for one as for all. Those who insist on rebellion will find their due place where the darkness may be experienced for what it is; but the world will cease its rebellious writhings and be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11), and Christ will rule (as in Isaiah 53-55, 60-61 and 11).

Is there any comfort in hiding from Him, in withholding trust from Him in practical and personal terms, for patience though commendable, is not faith, as if a dog patiently heard the cry of his master, come, and looking at him with longing eyes, yet sat still, and did not enjoy the frolic or the hunt, whatever was in the master's mind. It is an active, a practical faith, one which moves mountains for the sake of godliness and the glory of the Lord (as in Mark 11:23), acting on the promises of II Peter 1. These declare that ALL THINGS needed for godliness are available by great and precious promises, and shows the growth in character to look for,  as God acts on the willing heart!

Last week,  we were looking at what is now a contemporary prophetic fulfilment, from  Zechariah 12:6.

"In that day,  I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile,
and like a fiery torch in the sheaves, they shall devour all the surrounding peoples
on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again
in her own place - Jerusalem. The LORD will save the tents of Judah first,
so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem  
shall not become greater than that of Judah."

It moves on in Zechariah 12:10-13:1 to display the greater yet moment when a massive conversion by the Spirit to the crucified Christ is to come; and this, some half a millenium BEFORE the crucifixion itself, is telling what will happen in terms of it, long after it, when Israel following a long rejection of Christ (Isaiah 49:7, Hosea 1-3), will at last largely come BACK to Him (cf. Jeremiah 31:18-20).

Gentile nations are not exempt. Precisely the same Gospel, and the very same necessity of repentance - if not of sin in the same way, then of the same sin of rejection of the Christ who for so long now has been openly displayed in their midst - has come and time has nearly gone. Make haste then to have that humble and contrite heart (Isaiah 66:1-2), on which, be it Jew or Gentile the Lord looks, and willingly to WAIT on the Lord, processing every detail of your need by an active faith in Him (Phil. 4:4-6), leaving nothing out and TRUSTING Him, as you REST in Him, His grace and in His love.

Our day is pregnant with prophetic power. Thus, firstly, there is war made in the power and the dignity of deity Himself, on surrounding and invasive peoples, and God will enable their defeat. This will be for them, catastrophic. It will be in contrast to the destiny decreed for Jerusalem AT THAT LATE and Messianic time. She will not be moved. She will be inhabited AGAIN. That is, the one nation which was and was received and exalted, and then destroyed, will be BACK AGAIN.

As to that place, in case there is any romancing about it, the Lord adds what it is: the site is in her own place, even Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:6).  This forceful and geographic emphasis is given as if mocking the poetic fantasisers who still seem weak on realism, as if the liberals still ruled the fallen heart of bestialised man. Thus here the Lord  emphasises, He repeats, He details: the site in view is Jerusalem! focus of history, feature of Israel, place of His death.

 It is not the plaything of thought, but the operating surgery of God!  Such is the context. Moreover, there is even a condition about what part of Israel is to be treated differently from another part.


So for each of us, our place is in the Lord who made man, Jerusalem, the Old Covenant and the New, who in Christ paid enough for all, to cover any who come, and redeem one by one. You see that in John 10:9,27-28, IF ANYONE ENTER the door, there are highly specified results, both earthly and celestial! They are eternal. This too is not poetry but practicality, achieved in blood.

On the other hand, mocking God can bring mockery right back again, and here is what appears an excellent example of that. He means what He says, and has made clear, even in this very Chapter, referring to those who crucified Christ and to their aghast repentance from what they did in Jerusalem (Zech. 12:10ff.). It is in this same city that the fountain for cleansing is now and thus opened, in the prophetic depiction of things to come (Zech. 13:1).  It will be for the washing of those who reject solidarity with this evil, and gain it with the risen Lord instead.

What then of Jerusalem in this time of consummation ? It will of course be a Christian city, since the Old Covenant and the sacrificial past is now consummated in the Messiah, and the vast movement of conversion in Israel impends as it does now in this celestial sequence, on the slain sacrificial Lord of glory. Accordingly, in Him, and in Him alone, this city of restored Judah will be one of vindicated and victorious acclamation of Jesus the Christ, in and about whom is glory (Micah 4-5). The key is the King; and all imagery makes way for its new place in Him. 

 

3. Jews, Jerusalem and the Monolith of the Messiah

After all, it is the place where the Lord was crucified (Zechariah 12:10 - 13:1); and while there will be no vainglory at the merely national level (Isaiah 19), there will be an incontestable restoration for Israel, the covenant for the world overflowing and circulating;  and one people, drawn from Jew and Gentile, will now be all spiritual in their orientation, wherever they are placed, in Jerusalem and Judah, or in the isles (Jeremiah 31:10, Isaiah 66).

In a splendour of mercy, God will be a Father to this beleaguered people, the nation which captured and killed the Messiah, ransoming them from the nations (Jeremiah 31:8ff.). Their locale AS such a people will be as promised (Jeremiah 33:15ff.), just as the message on which all is then to be based, will be as expansive as promised locations (cf. Zechariah 12:6-8) are saved (cf. Isaiah 66), by the very power of God, this not in some sentimental poetic thought, but in international overthrow of persecutors, by fire and thrust to dim their passions and deliver their quarry.

Such is the divine determination concerning that once so high, then so low people, from whom came the Messiah, through whom the Gospel by the prophets and apostles, and in whom God has His changeless place, vindicating His patience and fulfilling His promise.  This He does, to one and to all (cf. Micah 7:19ff., Isaiah 42:4, 51:5, Genesis 17:7-9).  He fulfils what He promised to Abraham, we read in Micah, as to the fathers, and so acts to these as to the Gentiles for whom also He is the promised light of blessing, omitting nothing, fulfilling all. The divine disclosures become enclosures and the promises become promontories in reality, as before in revelation.

These things include the site of the crucifixion, Jerusalem, which then comes to have a centrality and a glory which nothing can conquer (Micah 4), for it is the place where He pleases to make central: as was the Cross nearby (Galatians 6:14). It is He who is the first and the last, hallowed in historical reality, not losing sight of that cross which eternity portended (Revelation 13:8), where glory collects (Galatians 6:14) and salvation is to be found.

What was made low, is exalted, what is exalted is abased. The meaning is majestic; the site of the city of Jerusalem reminds of His shame and victory. After all, what is London or Paris or Moscow or New York, when the site of the suffering Servant, and the bodily resurrected Lord, on whom all health and wisdom and understanding and glory and salvation depends, shouts its message. He did not suffer in poetry, but in person; not in philosophy but in flesh; and His actions are not in metaphor but matrix, on the cross of Calvary; and His people know it.

Is God willing to change ? Will some special circumstances alter this simple scenario ? Can you re-organise the heavens ? Is your will what subjects the universe to its laws ? If you can, then consider your opposition to the determinate will of God. He has resolved, decided and determined what is to be, having known all from the first and to the last (Isaiah 46:9-10).In Jeremiah 33 as in Jeremiah 31, God gives a similar mordant admonition that it is immutable counsel of His own (Jeremiah 31:35-37, 33:20-26). In fact, Jacob's descendants and David's notable descendant (Psalm 2, 72) will continue. The entire structure of history is at his stricture, and as He has foretold, so it will be. As  to Israel,  certainly, it is a remnant (Jeremiah 31:7, Isaiah 11:11), but it is a people.

It has been a two phase story, Jew and  Gentile, Israel and the nations. Each has given scope for a remonstration from the Lord. What of the restoration of Gentile sinners, or any, who have gravely offended against the Lord ? It is the same Lord who appeals to one and to all while it is still the day of mercy; for His love is toward all, and His sacrifice is sufficient for all (I John 2:1-2), so let all who hear return, just as Israel will and must, in a large and late thrust of trust.

By many ways, ONE Messiah! by a multi-partite plan, one result, one Redeemer, one to Jew or to Gentile (Isaiah 45:22-25, 49:6), one certainty with many attestations, reducing all, exalting one, alone worthy to save (Isaiah 43:10-11, Revelation 5). Himself, the beginning and the end, He is immutable, as is His word (cf. Isaiah 59:21,Matthew 5:17-20, Jeremiah 33:19-22). All will be as divinely declared. The word and the deed are inseparable. So let us apply this blessed feature of the Lord to ourselves, to believe, to do, to say.

As to the word of God, It will all be, and nothing will supplant it, nor will promises of any kind be omitted in the fulfilment of all in the light of His declarations. It is as in Romans 11, where Paul reflects on the deep divine counsel and its wonder. Simple in some things, it is profound in others, and we Christians all will rejoice, as we do now in prospect and in Christ.

God has done, as He will do, all things well.

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    What then ? There was a great divide between Jew and Gentile, but the Jew lapsed in his presentation,
and the Gentile found the place for spiritual rest, vacated (as in Romans 11).
It was following the ascension of Christ, that the Jewish apostles were used
in Spirit-filled leadership of the Word-girt Church,
and that thousands of Jews in Jerusalem
showed its first beginnings.

Here was a breaking down of the division,
for Gentiles were not only added to Jewish converts,
but that was so in many countries and in large numbers, not least through the work,
as in Acts, of the acclaimed Apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8),
Paul who with Barnabus was so sent.
 

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As the time of the end of the Age rushes forward,
like a boat thrust on by the current above Niagara Falls,
so Israel's large-scale return to the Lord (Romans 11:25ff., Zechariah 12:10-13:1),
comes near. Then there will be left but one division:
that between belief and unbelief in the Lord Jesus Christ. 
It is so now, but the nation of Israel adds an appearance of more,
in that it has some of the past revelation,
but has not yet grasped its consummation in Christ.
Thus now you have belief and unbelief,
with a  baulked belief in the case of Israel, which alas to that day, joins with unbelief:
repentance and faith in Christ being the entry
(as in Acts 2:39), with no other (John 14:6).
 

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How singular will be that day
when all things are gathered in one in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:10),
and testing done, faith with its consummation, unbelief with its chosen and unhappy end,
the sun of righteousness (Malachi 4) shines without cloud
on the citizens of peace with God,
the grace-saved multitude, the people redeemed, with the Redeemer.
It is He, just the same (cf. Acts 1:7ff.),
as in His first coming, For all these two thousand years,
received by some, ignored, abused, caricatured by many,
He does not change (Hebrews 13:8); but the conditions will  do so. 
The end, like the beginning, 
will be very pure,  and  who can stand in that light (cf. I Timothy 6:16),
but those who are received BY that Light of the World,  and covered, 
are acceptable through Him.
 

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It is not sorrow for loss but action for  gain which is in order, for God, in view of the shed blood of Christ on the cross, would have ALL reconciled to Himself (Colossians 1:19). It is NOT HE who is the destruction,  for it is through His ransom that victory comes; but those who prefer darkness, become its denizens,  breaching in wilfulness, the delights of life eternal with God Himself personally!

Recall the term 'true believer' used in derision about many things. It is intended to mock degrees of faith and of truth, as if only the vehement fools could be 'true' about anything involving belief. However, when it comes to God, only the vehement or the vicious, the blind or the devotees of confusion or the irrational can believe anything else (as in Romans 1:17ff.).

It is manifest logically that neither nothing nor anything below the heights of thought and will and contrivance and mathematics could  make systems into which these things are woven inextricably. It is sure that neither was Jesus mad nor were his eminently practical disciples, but that in all sober fact, the One who has ALL His words sustained as nothing else, all His predictions fulfilled as they come, as nothing else, is the sanest of all, if evidence has any bearing on the vagrancies of impassioned mind!

As He claimed, so it is, "If any man  will to do His will, he will know the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself," John 7:17. He IS the way AND the life AND the truth. Don't flit or flirt, but trust Him. Therefore, believing, act on it; acting, rely on Him, and trusting, cast ALL your care on Him, in detail (Philippians 4:4-6), and expect from Him the answers that belong to your service and your sanctification as a child of God (Romans 12:1-2).