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Sunday, June 05, 2016

Redemption Story

The Story of Scripture is the Story of Israel. Most would probably say that the Bible begins with the 'creation' of the material universe, narrows in on the nation of Israel beginning in Genesis 12, then returns to the physical universe again toward the other end. Others are of the opinion/belief that the Scriptures are a Book of Covenant & that, although the Creation Story refers to the Beginning of Time & the End of Time, like book-ends, the Covenant with Israel is/was significant of the Greater Covenant, the Eternal Covenant that the Creator established with His Creation. There are yet others who would posit that the Scriptures are all about the Covenant with Israel, from Beginning to End, from Alpha to Omega!

The Story of Redemption begins in the Garden ( Eden ); interestingly enough, its End also involved a Garden ( Gethsemane ). The End did not Come in the Garden, however; like Moses ( a type of the Christ ), Jesus promised to return within a generation to finish the Work He had begun. Having promised to return within the lifetime of some of those standing there, Jesus came, as He had also promised the Jewish High Priest ( Matthew 26:67 ) 'in the clouds' of judgment, having called for the Roman armies to descend upon Judea & Jerusalem like Babylon & Syria had done in times past. While it is reported that the Jews themselves actually set fire to the Temple, the Roman armies destroyed both Jerusalem & the Temple, effectively bringing an end to what the apostle Paul later referred to as 'the ministry of death' ( II Corinthians 3:7 ).

The Fall, as referred to in the third chapter of Genesis, was perpetrated by Adam & Eve, but instigated by a sentient being known as 'the serpent'. Though this 'Fall' traditionally plunged mankind into the darkness of sin & death, it should be noted that closer & further study will reveal that the Beginning recorded in Genesis, rather than referring to the genesis of mankind, allegorically alludes, in prophetic prose, to the 'creation' or formation of the Covenant, that which God chose to reveal through Israel. The Redemption of Israel was necessary because of the Fall of Adam & Eve, the Fall which had enveloped the children of Israel in a shroud which plagued them for their entire existence, until finally the Creator of Heaven sent His only ( begotten ) Son to bring an End to that Curse.

The Redemption of Israel was prophetic, yes, of the redemption of mankind; as the apostle Paul also wrote, it was 'for the Jew first and also for the Greek', but Jesus came as the Messiah of Israel! Some might interpret Paul's words as referring to Jewish privilege & in some sense they might be right, but even beyond that, he alluded to the fact that Israel was ( to be ) 'a kingdom of priests' ( Exodus 19:6 ); they were the ones entrust with the ministration of Life, though through the Fall & subsequent failures, they became the 'ministry of death'. Adam & Eve, because of their selfishness, had doomed the generations to follow ( thousands of years ) to continually fail to rule in a way that was pleasing to their Lord. Jesus came to redeem His People from the Sin & Death of Adam: through Redeemed Israel, then, would come the redemption of mankind!

The Judgment of AD70, also known as 'The Day of the Lord', not only ended in the destruction of Jerusalem & the Temple, thus bringing an end to the reign of terror that had enveloped the Land, it also revealed True Israel, those who remained true to their calling as priests in the Kingdom of their Lord. Not only Jews, but Gentiles made up this True Israel, 'the Israel of God', as Paul called them in His letter to the Church at Galatia ( Galatians 6:16 ). Beginning with the Ministry of Jesus, the Final Chapter of this Redemption Story was inaugurated & brought to its final Glorious Conclusion ( End ) with the Revelation of Jesus the Christ as the Son of God.

The Redemption Story is the Story of Israel; it is also the Story of Covenant, the Covenant that the Creator of Heaven & Earth made with His Creation. There is no doubt that the One who formed Israel in His image also made the universe & all that it contains. The Fall & Resurrection of Israel affected the remainder creation as well, but it was through Israel that He chose to bring Redemption to birth. 'The Time of the End', that Daniel prophesied of, referred, not to the final conclusion of the covenant that Yahweh had made with Israel, but to Jesus Himself, who was the Goal of Redemption, the Dwelling of God in the Flesh!

The Redemption of Israel IS the Redemption of Mankind! As the Resurrection of Jesus signaled the Resurrection of Israel, so the Redemption of Israel signaled the Redemption of Creation. Don't worry, I'm not advocating the sort of universalism that most people think, but I AM advocating universalism to a certain extent! The sort of Universal Redemption being advocated here is not one that says everyone, no matter their actions, will enjoy the Presence of their Heavenly Father for all Eternity, but rather one that says, as Scripture does, from 'every nation' ( Acts 10:35, 17:26 ), the Creator has brought & is bringing His People to expand His Kingdom. As we work within His Kingdom, then, in Redeeming Culture, let us continue to enjoy & share the blessings of Communion!

Charles Haddon Shank

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