And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:1 & 2
Friday, May 03, 2013
A Chosen People
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him,
and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
(John 14:23 NKJV)
The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples.
(Deuteronomy 7:7 NKJV)
Who are God's 'Chosen People'?
There can be no doubt that, under the Old Covenant, anyway, God did choose a special people for Himself, 'a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth', but it may be asked, with the Advent of the New Covenant, whether this still holds as true. With the inclusivity of the New Covenant in Christ, as has been taught by an increasing few, and the reconciliation of His people to Himself, as can be shown from Scripture, one could almost make the logical assumption here that this is the case. Many or most still cling voraciously to the biblical traditions of predestination, election and other related doctrines. Because of this, those who openly explore this option are often viewed as 'universalists' to whatever extent. Although there are those who have arrived at this conclusion, this is not necessarily true of all those who have bravely gone down this avenue. Those who have reached this conclusion have, for the most part, I believe, done so for one of several reasons. One reason is the question of what kind of God would consign a part of His good creation to hell, and to back up this emotionally-based, but reasonable, theory, they might point you to passages such as I John 2:2, which states, 'And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.' This passage can be 'proven' to be speaking, in the covenantal context, of the 'world' as the covenant world of that day, and arguably is so, but it is not too hard to conclude that this 'world' has been expanded to include all of His ( human ) creation. Another argument may be made here that He was/is the propitiation for the sins of only some out of the 'world', but this may be seen to be as much or more of a stretch, as some 'universalists' have been accused of!
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
(Psalm 1:6 NKJV )
Scriptures like this, in context, point fairly clearly to the fact that God, as most any father would, shows favor to those who follow the way of righteousness. This follows explicitly the biblical principle of reaping what you sow. This, as many other Scriptures that have been used to prove the pettiness of our Father, simply teaches the afore-mentioned principle; if you do this, this will happen, but if you do that, that will happen: it's only the conclusion of a naturally occurring principle!
The eschatological nature of many of these texts insist that the meaning is somehow of a slightly different nature to those reading them today. Though these Scriptures most surely hold application for us today, they do not hold quite the same import for us as they did for them. Now, lest we be accused of teaching that God has somehow changed His modus operandi from that first ( covenant ) to the New, it is not that God has changed His mode of operation, nor that His requirements have somehow become lesser, but He has revealed the expansiveness of His Covenant; 'in the fullness of time' He sent His Son as the Messiah of His people, to reveal His greater plan for His people!
Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,”
“Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
(II Timothy 2:19)
These and other texts as well make clear that our Creator knows those who are His people ( children ), and though these texts as well, can be seen to be at least somewhat eschatological in nature, since Scripture also says that He does not change, it is as obvious that He, and He alone, knows the heart of man, and who is His.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people,
that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light!
(I Peter 2:9)
Hearkening back to the Hebrew Scriptures ( Exodus 19:6 ); we can clearly see that Yahweh did choose a peculiar people out of all He had created, to show His Grace and Mercy to! As the apostle Peter, as well as others, revealed in Scripture, we can also ascertain somewhat of His purpose in the creation of the covenant; it was that 'you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light'. One might rightly say that our Creator's purpose was/is an evangelistic one! In creating, first, a national ( geographic ) priesthood, Yahweh gradually revealed His true and glorious intent; to bring His entire ( human? ) creation into fellowship and communion with Himself!
Israel, under that first ( covenant-Hebrews 8:7-9 ) failed in their purpose, for the most part, for 'finding fault with them, He says: Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah', quoting the prophet Jeremiah ( 31:31-34 ). This New Covenant, as we have also seen previously, was revealed in the form of Jesus, first as the Son of Man, and finally the Son of God! Through this New Covenant, and the Revelation 'from glory to glory' ( I Corinthians 3:18 ), our purpose has been revealed: cowering behind a pulpit, and holding the fort till Jesus comes back and whisks us off to 'heaven', much to the chagrin of many Christians, is not fulfilling God's purpose for us!
As the true priests of God in His true Temple, His Son's chosen Body, our purpose is to spread abroad, within our own sphere of influence, the knowledge and love of our Creator! The Church, as God's chosen instrument has not been the priest that She should have been, as history will attest to, but even though, the Kingdom of God has been advancing mightily in it's spread over His entire created order! His people, even outside ( maybe especially outside ) the institutional church have been forming relationships, some better than others, with their Heavenly Father! His will is being done 'on earth as it is in heaven.' More and more people are practicing Kingdom Living, no matter the cost ( often very hefty )! The Church, though She has failed in many ways to rightly fulfill her priestly duties, is still, as the Bride and Body of Christ, in very essence the Wife of God, and is thus a fit vessel for His love, and has been instrumental in advancing His ( visible ) Kingdom on earth!
In conclusion, because we have been perfected ( corporately ) in our ( individual ) imperfection, we must strive to show that perfection in our daily lives! Acknowledging and lauding the Kingship of Jesus alone in even what many Christians call secular ( everyday ) life, we must serve Him and His Kingdom in the capacity to which we have been called! Let us live the Life, and the Love, that we have been given, though it may often be deemed heresy!