The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wyoming National Guard

The Tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel
(or, prophecies concerning the Church)

How, when, and where did the Church begin? Some would say, and I would be inclined to agree, that Adam and Eve were the first members of the Church, after God had clothed them with animal skins (from the first sacrifice?). Although I do agree, I would say further that this was the beginning of the invisible Church (the Body of the Elect, universal), but I believe that the visible Church (catholic) had it’s beginnings at the tower of Babel (Babylon). That said, it goes without saying that the Church was actually appointed by God, in His infinite predestination, before the worlds were formed. As to the how, I believe that God first dispersed His people (elect) throughout the world, in order to “ gather them from all nations where I have driven them “ (paraphrase of Jer. 29:14) .

I got the idea for this paper while reading chapter 5 of The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, from Anti-Nicene Fathers Vol. 1: to quote; “For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.”

Now you may ask, and I’ll be the first to admit that my thought patterns are a little hard to grasp sometimes; but what does this have to do with the tower of Babel? The thought came to me while reading this passage, that, since it is true, (and I had never thought of it before), Christians have no particular country, but live in whatever country God, in His infinite wisdom, has placed them, that the first dispersion (Gen. 11), although we have no scriptural proof that there were any elect (Rev. 17:8) present at the tower of Babel, but I propose that there were, and that this was the first (visible) step in Gods eternal plan to gather (disciple) His Church.
In the Scriptures, God talks many times of gathering His people, “ from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you”.(Deut.30:3)
Again, “ though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, : (Neh.1:9)
Again, (He calls to the heavens and the earth), “Gather my saints together to Me.............” (Ps. 50:5)
He says in Is. 43:5-6 “ Fear not, for I am with you, I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west: I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!, and to the south, ’Do not keep them back’, Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth “ .
Again He says in Isaiah, “ For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you”. (Is 54:7)
In Isaiah 66 verse 18, He says, “ It shall be, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my Glory “.
In the book of Jeremiah, He tells us, “ I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.” (A couple of interesting side notes; In the latter part of this verse, God is using Genesis language* ; in the few previous verses of this chapter God pronounces judgement against His shepherds for scattering His flock, then in verse three, He says that He has driven them!)
In Jeremiah 29:14, God says,” I will be found by you, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all nations and from all the places where I have driven you........” There are many more to study and to quote, but these will suffice for now.
You’re probably thinking by now that all these verses have to do with God’s covenant people, the Israelites.
You’re right, of course!
Let me quote you a few more verses from the New Testament. He say in John , chapter 10 verse 16, “ and other sheep I have which are not of this fold.”, and in the 9th chapter of Romans, verse 6, “ For they are not all Israel(ites)* who are of Israel “, further on, in chapter 11, Paul says, “ I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite....” He goes on to point out that God’s covenant people are called by grace, not born of the flesh(John 3:1-6, Rom. 9:7-8).All that said, I fear I digress!

The point I’m trying to make here is that, throughout scripture, God builds His Church, like a good father his children, by putting them through the fire, ( Exodus 1: 8-22, Deuteronomy 9-13, Joshua, Judges, Ruth 1, I Samuel 10-12, and etc, ), by chastising, ( Deuteronomy 8:5, II Samuel 7:14, Psalm 94:12, Hebrews 12: 5-11), and by dispersing and then bringing back His special people to dwell in His land*!

by God's grace ( to be continued ),
Charles Shank

'Mercy, and not sacrifice'

Mercy , and Not Sacrifice
(Matthew 9:12-13, 5:20, 19:16-26, 23:23, 21:28-31, Hosea 6:6 , Psalm 51, Matthew 18:23-35, Mark 7:6-13, 11:25, 12:33, 38-40, Luke 10:30-37, 15:11-32, Romans 12:1)

Jesus says, in Matthew chapter nine, in the thirteenth verse,
“But go and learn what this means , ’I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

In this study, I am going to try to learn, and to share with you, what I think that He means by this statement.
I think first of all, we need to look at the context, not only of the quote in Matthew, but the original saying in the book of Hosea.

The immediate context ,of course, in Matthew is when the Pharisees called our Lord Jesus to task for eating with sinners. When confronted with this, Jesus in essence tells them that since the Pharisees were righteous, even though it was their own, outward righteousness, He had come not to minister to them, but to those who were sick and had need of Christ’s righteousness. (Of course, we all know that it is not our righteousness
( Isaiah 64:6), that justifies us, but the righteousness which is imputed to us by God( Isaiah 54:17 ) )

In the fifth chapter of Matthew, He does say that our righteousness must be greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven, but, again, taken in context with what the rest of Scripture says about our righteousness, I think we can see that He is saying not that our righteousness is what gets us to Heaven, but that our zeal for obedience to God ( Romans 6:14), must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees.

An instance of this is found in the nineteenth chapter of Matthew, verses sixteen though twenty-six where the rich young man confronts Jesus with a problem and received an answer he didn’t like because he was not willing to give up his uncertain riches and have mercy, but thought that his sacrifice was enough. In our Christian life, we also must realize that we cannot, in fact will not obey any of God’s laws without our imputed Righteousness, that is Christ. As He says, in verse twenty-six, “With men, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible”.

In the twenty-third chapter of Matthew, verse twenty-three, Jesus pronounces a woe on the scribes and Pharisees because, while they outwardly obey the law, they miss the point of the law, justice and mercy and faith. While outward obedience, Jesus says, is important, justice, mercy, and faith are just as, and indeed more important because they pertain to the inward man, or the heart.

So what did our Lord mean by this?

Looking deeper into passages such as the one found in the twenty-first chapter of Matthew, beginning with verse twenty-eight, the parable of the two sons, might begin to give us a glimpse of what we are searching for. Now, although at first, the first son would not even make the outward sign of obedience, he had a tender heart(mercy) and later went and did his Father’s will. The second son, while at first showing the outward sign of obedience(sacrifice), I think, never intended to obey, because he ended up not doing what he promised.
We as Christians, and I count myself here especially, need to remember to practice what we preach, i.e. do what we say, for as Scripture says in another place, “Better not to vow, than to vow and not pay”. (Ecclesiastes 5:5)

Now we turn to the main verse here that Jesus quoted in Matthew, from the book of Hosea, the sixth chapter and sixth verse: “ For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Reading the entire chapter, we see that it starts out with Gods compassion on us, undeserving as we are, then about the seventh verse, we see how undeserving of God’s compassion we really are, but thankfully it ends with God saying that He will have compassion nevertheless.

In Psalm fifty-one, I believe, David truly recognizes, one ; that we need God’s mercy, two ; that we are not deserving of that mercy, and three ; that true forgiving mercy comes from God alone.
The main passage that I think we should look at, according to our topic, are verses sixteen and seventeen where he reminds God, and us, that God does not require just an outward sacrifice(Romans 12:1), but also a humble, thankful, repentant, and therefore, merciful heart.

For some further insight into the matter, let us now return to the New Testament of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, verses twenty-three through thirty-five, the parable of the unforgiving servant. In this passage the unforgiving servant, who owes his Master a large amount of money, offered his Lord a sacrifice by getting on his knees and praying for mercy, which he received but when put to the test, did not show a humble, thankful, repentant, and merciful heart, but threw his fellow servant into prison until he should pay all. When his Lord heard of it, and here, I think, is the message we all should take to heart, He sentenced him to the torturers until he paid Him all that was owed Him, because , I believe, he offered sacrifice, but without mercy.

To further illustrate my point, let us turn to the Gospel of Mark, chapter seven, verses six through thirteen.
In this passage, Jesus quotes from the book of Isaiah, saying “ This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” In other words, the Pharisees were willing to sacrifice to God with their words, but when it came to the heart they obeyed the commandments of men rather than obeying God. Continuing with the quote from Isaiah, “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.” Jesus here is saying that even though they offered sacrifice, or worship; by teaching their commandments as doctrine, they figured that they were free to disobey God’s commandments as long as they offered Him sacrifice with their lips. As David says in the 35th Psalm, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” .
by God's grace,
Charles Shank

Sunday, November 12, 2006

John Owen-on election



The Spirit of God has caused it to be placed on record
that -

"Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the
election hath obtained it"
(Rom. 11:7).

Of what is the apostle speaking? What is it Israel was
seeking for and had not
obtained, but which the election had obtained and was in possession
of, at the time the
Epistle to the Romans was written?

The apostle deemed it not necessary to specify what he
had in mind. We may infer it
was something so well known that they to whom the Epistle was
addressed would
understand his meaning without a more explicit statement. And
surely, what Israel was
expecting was, and is, so well known by all who have any
acquaintance with Bible
prophecy and Jewish history, as to make a definite specification
thereof unnecessary.
Moreover, the context makes plain what it was that the election had

But let us, before proceeding further, observe that,
whatever had been the object of
Israel's quest, Israel had now (at the time the Epistle was written)
lost it irretrievably; for
the inspired utterance declares that, not only had Israel failed to
obtain it, but another
company, "the election," had obtained it. And furthermore, one of
the chief purposes for
which this passage (Romans IX-XI) was written was, to make known
that God, in
bestowing the coveted blessing upon the believing remnant of Israel
and in incorporating
with that remnant the saved from among the Gentiles, was fulfilling
the promises He had
made by the mouth of His holy prophets to Israel; "for they are not
all 'Israel' which are of
Israel" (9:6). Clearly then, what is here referred to is not
something which that generation
of Israelites had missed and God had temporarily withdrawn, with the
intention of
bestowing it upon a future generation.

And further let us observe preliminarily that Paul is not
speaking here Of something
that lay in the then future purposes of God, but of a promised
blessing whereof the set
time had come, a blessing which had in fact already passed into the
possession of those
for whom it had been intended, the People of God "which He foreknew"
(v. 1). For the
word is, "The election HATH obtained it.',


At the beginning of the Passage the apostle gives a list
of seven things whereby God
had distinguished the Israelites from all other Peoples (9:4, 5) ;
which list includes "the
promise." And there is no dispute, or room for it, that the
blessings God had "promised
Therefore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures" were all expressly
for "Israel," for "the
seed of Abraham." Therefore, although the Jews of that day had
misunderstood "the
voices of the prophets" (Acts 13:27) and had carnalized the things
their prophets had
foretold, they were nevertheless not in error in the belief that the
glorious things
promised by them were all for "Israel." Their error, as has now been
plainly pointed out in
the N. T. Scriptures, was two-fold: first (as already shown) they
misunderstood the nature
of the promised blessings, for they supposed them to be natural and
earthly, instead of
spiritual and heavenly; and second, they did not understand that the
promises were, not
for the natural seed of Abraham, but for his spiritual seed; or in
other words, that they
who compose the true "Israel of God" are not those who have merely
the outward "sign of
circumcision," but those "who also walk in the steps of that faith
of our father Abraham,
which he had being yet uncircumcised" (Rom. 4:11, 12).

And so to-day, the differences that have arisen between
those who study the prophetic
Scriptures and seek the meaning thereof, are not as to whether the
promises of God
through the 0. T. prophets were expressly for Israel, for the Jews,
for the circumcision,
for the seed of Abraham; but as to who are the "Israel" of promise?
Who is "a Jew?" Who
are "the circumcision?" and who "the seed of Abraham?" But how
comes it that there are
differences as to those questions between those who accept the New
Testament as the
Word of God? seeing that the first is expressly answered by Romans
9:6-8; the second by
Romans 2:28, 29; the third by Philippians 3:3; and the fourth by
Galatians 3:7, 29?


But at this point some will say: "True, there is a
spiritual Israel as well as a natural
Israel, an Israel of God' as well as an 'Israel after the flesh';
but may it not be that some of
the blessings promised of old by the prophets of Israel are intended
for the natural Israel,
and are reserved for a yet future day? And is not the gift of the
land of Canaan to
Abraham and his seed a promise of that sort?

We believe a clear answer is to be found in the very
passage we are now considering.
For to begin with, if what Israel was then seeking after was the
restoration of its nationality
and there-possession of the land of Canaan - and undoubtedly that is
what they were
most ardently seekin- then manifestly the words, "the election hath
obtained it," would be
a complete bar to thei r hopes .But we look further into the matter.

The promises of God were numerous and were expressed in
various ways; yet they
were often viewed in their totality as a comprehensive whole. For
example, in Galatians 3:
7 we find the words, "heirs according to the promise"; as if all the
promises scattered
through the messages of the prophets constituted in the aggregate a
single all-inclusive
"promise," which in due time was to be fulfilled to "the seed of
Abraham." Doubtless it is
this comprehensive, all-embracing promise that Paul had in mind when
he wrote of "that
which he (Israel) seeketh for." And it is also quite certain, both
from the Scriptures and
also from Jewish history, that what that intensely patriotic people
were ever seeking for
was the repossession of the land of Canaan. And one of the Scriptures
upon which their
hopes were founded is this:

"For lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again
the captivity of my people
Israel and Judah, saith the Lord; and I will cause them to return to
the land that I gave to
their fathers, and they shall possess it . . . "For it shall come to
pass in that day, saith the
Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and
shall burst thy bonds, and
strangers shall no more serve themselves to him; but they shall serve
the Lord their God,
and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them" (Jer. 30:3, 8,

This is a typical _expression of "the promise," and of
what Israel was seeking after,
according to their interpretation of it. Hence it is what they had
failed to obtain, and what
the election had obtained.

God's original promise to Abraham and his seed of a
territorial possession is recorded
in these words:

"And I will give unto thee, and unto thy seed after thee, the land
wherein thou art a
stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession"
(Gen. 17:1-8).

Upon a close examination of this passage it will be seen
that the promise is so worded
that it would have been literally fulfilled had God thereafter given
that land to the
descendants of Ishmael; for Ishmael was as much the seed of Abraham
as was Isaac. Later
Scriptures, however, limit the promise to Isaac's descendants -
"which things are an
allegory" - and still later Scriptures limit it to the children of
Jacob, excluding the off
spring of Esau. But as between the twelve sons of Jacob no
distinctions were made; and
hence, if God should give that land to any single descendant of
Jacob, it would be a literal
fulfilment of the promise. And is not that precisely what God has
done? But let us go a
little further in quest of what the Scripture says concerning God's
promise to Abraham.

In Romans 4, immediately following the verse quoted
above, which tells who the real
children of Abraham are, we read:

"For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to
Abraham or to his
seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith" (Rom.

By this we learn that God's promise to Abraham was much
larger than He chose to
reveal in 0. T. times. It embraced the whole world. And now that we
know the full breadth
of the promise, we clearly recognize that God, by giving the whole
world to the seed of
Abraham would literally fulfil this promise; for the greater
includes the less.

The apostle then goes on to show that it is impossible
that the promise to Abraham
could be fulfilled to those who were merely his natural descendants:

"For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and
the promise made of
none effect" (Rom. 4:14).

In other words, the bestowal of the promised land upon
the nation of Israel ("they
which are of the law") would be -not the fulfilling of "the
promise," but the nullification of

And the passage continues -

"Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace, to the end the
promise might be sure to
all seed; not to that (seed) only which is of the law, but to that
also which is of the faith
of Abraham, who is the father of us all. (As it is written, I have
made thee a father of many

By this we are given to know that the promise to Abraham,
recorded in Genesis 17:1
-8, runs to Abraham and his spiritual seed, those who are of the
faith of Abraham, and
that the clause "I have made thee a father of many nations" (Gen.
17:5), means that saved
Gentiles were to be among the heirs of this promise.

The subject is still further elucidated in Galatians;
where we read:

"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not,
And to seeds, as of
many; but as of one, And to thy SEED, which is CHRIST (Gal. 3:16).

Thus we see that Christ is the true and only legitimate
Heir of the promise to Abraham;
but by the same Scripture (and by others as well) we learn that
Christ's members are
included with Him in the promise. In Galatians it is put thus:

"Even as Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for
righteousness, know ye
therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children
of Abraham."

"And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs
according to the promise"
(Gal. 3:6, 7, 29).

Now, since "they which are of faith," they that are
Christ's, are the elect remnant of
Israel (with believing Gentiles incorporated with them into one
body) we have reached a
clear explanation of what is meant by "the election hath obtained
it." Christ and His
people are the heirs "according to the promise," which embraces all
the promises. It
follows that there remains for the natural Israel nothing whatever
of God's promise to
Abraham concerning a territorial possession in the world. The
election hath obtained it,
and will never be dispossessed.

But, in order to put the matter beyond all doubt, the
apostle not only states
affirmatively who are the heirs of God's promise to Abraham, but he
also shows negatively
that Abraham's natural descendants have no share therein. He rebukes
those of his
contemporaries who held the contrary, charging them with not
understanding the
Scripture which records that "Abraham had two sons" (Gal. 4:21-31).
We will not expatiate
further on that wonderful "allegory"; but would merely remind the
reader again that
Ishmael represents Abraham's natural seed, and Isaac his spiritual
seed, the latter being
the heirs of the promise; and that the words, "cast out the
bondwoman and her son, for
the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the
freewoman," were a
prophecy that the natural descendants of Abraham should not share
the inheritance with
his spiritual seed, the elect remnant.

Manifestly therefore, those who now maintain that the
natural Israelites as such are
the heirs of God's promise to Abraham, do not only fail to understand
the allegorical
significance of his family history, but they also close their eyes
to the clear explanation
thereof in Galatians 4:21-31.

In Romans 9:6-8 the same truth is stated in these words:

"For they are not all 'Israel,' which are of Israel. Neither because
they are the seed of
Abraham are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be
called. That is, They which
are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God:
but the children of the
Promise are counted for the seed."

This Scripture gives us, in addition to the important
truth that not all Israelites are
included in the "Israel" of God's prophetic purposes, the closely
allied truth that "the
children of God," that is, those who are saved by the gospel, are
"the children of the
promise" (definite article in the original) ; and that they are
"counted for the seed" (of
Abraham). By this passage it is also seen that Romans IX continues a
subject that was
begun in Chapter VIII, the inheritance of the whole redeemed
creation by the children of
God. For in Chapter VIII it is written:

"The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the
children of God: and if
children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ")
(Rom. 8:16, 17).

And the succeeding verses show that the inheritance here
referred to is the entire
creation of God, which is hereafter to be delivered from the bondage
of corruption into the
glorious liberty of the children of God.

Here is another Scripture which never could have been
written if there were to be a
Jewish millennium intervening between "the sufferings of this
present time" and "the
glory which shall b revealed in (or to) us" (v. 18).


If therefore, God had cast out the bondwoman and her son
(Israel after the flesh) and
had decreed that the son of the bondwoman was to have no share in
the inheritance
promised to Abraham ("the world"), could it be said that He had
"cast away His people"?
Manifestly if the natural descendants of Abraham were "His people,"
the answer would be,
Yes. But Paul's answers to that question is an emphatic and
indignant, "God forbid." And
he goes on to explain that the natural Israelites were not His
people; but that "His people
which He foreknew" was that very small "remnant according to the
election of grace"
which believed in Jesus Christ (Rom. 11:1-7). The plain and decisive
answer given by the
apostle in this passage is, that God had not cast away His people,
because the apostate
nation which He had cast was not His people. Those were "the vessels
of wrath fitted to
destruction," which for centuries past He had "endured with much
longsuffering" (Rom. 9:
22), and to whom He had said through Isaiah, "All day long I have
stretched forth My
hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people" (10:20-21).

Those were not His people, and they never were, for when
Elijah made intercession
against "Israel," and instanced some of the enormities they had
committed, what was
God's answer? "I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men who
have not bowed the
knee to Baal." That "very small remnant" were all He owned as His
people in that day; and
Paul says, "EVEN SO" it is "at this present time also"; and he had
shown in the preceding
chapter (9:25, 26) that "this present time" is the "that day"
foretold of God through
Hosea, in which He would disown His nominal people as "not My
people," and would "call
them My people which were not My people" (Hos. 1:9; 2:23). There is
no obscurity in the
apostle's answer to his own question, "Hath God cast away His
people?" the answer being
in effect that God had in contemplation a people, "which He
foreknew," which were not
the natural Israel (for only a small fraction of that nation were to
be included among
them) and these He had not cast away, but on the contrary they had
obtained and were
already in possession of that which the natural Israel had been
vainly seeking for.

And yet, in the interest of modern Dispensationalism,
this luminous explanation is not
merely disregarded, but is reversed; and the passage is made to mean
that the natural
Israelites are God's people, and that as such they are to "obtain" in
a future dispensation
that which they have been seeking for."


What Israel was seeking for was usually in those days
designated by the then current
expressions, "Kingdom of God" and "Kingdom of the heavens"; and the
Holy Spirit has
made use of those terms in the New Testament. Therefore, in closing
this chapter, it is
appropriate to call attention to the fact that, what Paul was
inspired to reveal in detail in
Romans and Galatians, had been briefly foretold by the Lord Himself
in His last words
spoken to chief priests and elders of the people just before His
death. It is recorded by
Matthew that, after speaking to those Jewish leaders the parable of
the Wicked
Husbandmen, the Lord put to them a question which led them to
pronounce the doom of
their nation. For, replying to His question - "What will he [the
lord of the vineyard] do to
those Wicked husbandman?" -they said:

"He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his
vineyard to other
husbandman, which shall render him the fruits in their season" (Mat.

Little did they imagine that, in so speaking, they were
uttering a true prophecy of what
was about to happen to that nation. But the next words of
Jesus make this clear; for
He said:

"Therefore I say unto you, The Kingdom of God shall be taken from
you, and given to a
nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" (v. 43).

What Christ declares in these words is the same thing in
substance as what Paul
afterwards stated, when he said: "Israel hath not obtained that
which he seeketh for, but
the election hath obtained it"; for obviously, "the election" is
that "nation" to which,
according to the words of Christ, the kingdom of God (which Israel
was seeking for) was
to be given. The election is that "holy nation," which "in time past
were not a people, but
now are the people of God" (I Pet. 2:9).

Further discussion of the subject of the people of God,
and particularly of the place
which Gentiles have in that company, will be found in the next
succeeding chapter.


A specific instance of that which Israel was seeking for
and had not obtained, but
which the believing remnant had obtained, is found in the reference
which Paul makes in
Romans 10 to the last prophecy of Moses concerning Israel. That
citation is of the
highest importance; for it furnishes in and of itself conclusive
proof that the promises of
future mercy to Israel, when they should repent and return to the
Lord, are promises of
gospel-salvation, not of national restoration. Therefore we ask
special attention to what

Immediately preceding the words quoted by Paul from
Deuteronomy 30, are
prophecies of the complete apostasy of Israel; foretellings of the
days to come when they
would turn from the Lord, would break His covenant and serve other
gods, even
sacrificing unto devils; because of which He would bring upon them
all the curses written
in the book of the law, "until He have destroyed thee" (Deut. 28:45,
48, 61; and 29: 24

But now, against the background of that dark cloud of
coming judgment, God sets the
lustrous bow of promised mercy. Let us therefore pay careful
attention to the words of
Moses and to the explanation of them the Spirit has given through
the apostle Paul:

"And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee
... and thou shalt
call them to mind among all the nations whither the Lord thy God
hath driven thee, and
shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey His voice,
according to all that I
command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart and
with all thy soul; that
then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity. and have compassion
on thee, and will return
and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath
scattered thee ...

"And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land thy fathers
possessed, and thou shalt
possess it . . . And the Lord will circumcise thine heart, and the
heart of all thy seed, to
love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul,
that thou mayest live ....
And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all His
which I command thee this day." (Deut. 30:1-8).

Here we have a clear statement of what Israel was seeking
for; and we can readily
understand how the unspiritual rabbis, those "blind leaders of the
blind," should have
interpreted this and similar scriptures as promises of political
restoration for Israel and of
the repossession by that nation of the earthly Canaan; for they were
blinded to the truth
that the land of Canaan was but a fleeting "shadow" (Heb. 10:1) of
the true land of
promise (Eph. 1:3) ; even as the earthly nation itself was but the
shadow "for the time
then present," of the true Israel of God.

And then follow these words, to which we special- ly
invite attention:

"For this commandment, which I command thee this day, it is not
hidden from thee,
neither is it far off . It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest
say, Who shall go up for us to
heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it? Neither
is it beyond the sea,
that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring
it unto us, that we
may hear it and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy
mouth and in thy heart,
that thou mayest do it" (Deut. 30:11-14).

Paul quotes from this scripture and says that Moses Was
referring there to "the word of
faith which we preach," that is, the gospel; and he declares the
inner meaning of these
words of Moses to be, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the
Lord Jesus" - Moses
had said "in thy mouth and in thy heart" - "and shalt believe in
thine heart that God hath
raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Rom. 10:9). And the
apostle goes on to
say that the promise was not for repenient Jews only, but for all
men: "For there is no
difference between the Jew and the Greek; for whosoever shall call
on the name of the
Lord shall be saved" (vv. 12, 13).

The essence of all this, stated in the fewest words, is
that "this commandment which"
- Moses said - "I command thee this day," and which was to be
brought "very nigh" unto
them, was to hear and obey the gospel of Christ.

And from this Paul argues the imperative necessity of
preaching the gospel to all men,
Jews and Gentiles alike; "for how shall they believe in Him of whom
they have not heard?
and how shall they hear without a preacher?" And, still keeping
Moses' prophecy in view,
he Continues:

"But - I say, Did not Israel know? [that God's promised mercy was to
embrace Gentiles
also]. First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them
that are no People, and by
a foolish nation I will anger You. But Esaias is very bold, and
saith, I was found of them
that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not
after me. But to Israel
he saith All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a
disobedient and gainsaying
people." (Rom. 10:18-21).

And then the apostle sums up the truth of the matter by
saying: "Israel hath not
obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained
it, and the rest were

Here we have an authoritative explanation of God's
promise of mercy for some future
generation of Israelites upon condition of repentance and faith; and
thereby we learn that,
although it spoke of things seemingly material and earthly, such as
the re-possession of
the tiny bit of earth's surface formerly possessed by their
ancestors, it was in reality a
promise of gospel-salvation. Further we learn thereby that the
promise is being fulfilled
now to all those Jews (the remnant according to the election of
grace) who confess the
crucified Jesus as LORD and who believe in their heart that God has
raised Him from the
dead; and that the promise is for believing Gentiles as well as for
believing Jews.

By this explanation we learn also that the failure Of
Israel as a nation to obtain the
promise of Deuteronomy XXX, which the remnant has obtained, is in
fulfilment not only of
the prophecies of Moses but of other prophecies as well; such for
example as that which
God spake through Isaiah, saying: "All day long I have stretched
forth My hands unto a
disobedient and gainsaying people." Both classes of prophecies -
blessings and cursings
- are in course of fulfilment now. For it necessarily follows that
all similar prophecies of
mercy and restoration for the Jewish people are prophecies of gospel
salvation, and have
their fulfilment in this present day of grace. And it is appropriate
at this point to recall
once more the enlightening word spoken by Peter, whereby we know
that it was revealed
to Israel's prophets that the things foretold by them they
ministered, "not unto
themselves, but unto us"; which prophecies are the very things now
reported by those
that have preached the gospel unto us with the Holy Ghost sent down
from heaven. (1 P.
1: 10-12).

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Fulfilled Life

Since God now dwells with/among us now ( Revelation 21:3, Leviticus 26:11, Zechariah 2:10,11 ), 'how should we then live?'

I'm not meaning to 'build upon another man's foundation' or 'lay another foundation, other than what has already been laid', by writing this little remonstrance; just to remind us all that even though we now live in the 'New Heavens and New Earth', or the New Jerusalem, we are still in bondage to the Law of Christ ( Matthew 22:37-40 ) and should fashion our lives no differently than we did when we thought that Christ was not among us yet, or when we still looked for the fulfillment of that 'Blessed Hope' ( Colossians 1:27 )!

With that said, I was just thinking that we as 'preterists', or, believers in "Fulfilled Eschatology', have an even greater responsibility, not only to share this knowledge of realized redemption, but to shew forth in our lives the reality of 'Christ in us'!

I'll admit that many passages ( like John 14, I Corinthians 15, I Thessalonians 4, etc ) don't have quite the same message for us as for their original readers; but really, when you think about it, they have, if anything, a more 'blessed' meaning for us today!

Proverbs 13:12 says that, "Hope deferred ( drawn out ) makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes ( re. Isaiah 52:3, Haggai 2:7 ), it is a tree of life!"

I know that we all ( I'm speaking from experience here ) get frustrated, at times ( more often than not ) with our brethren that can't yet 'see' ( II Kings 6:17 ) that Christ has Come, that we have been fully 'changed' ( I Corinthians 15;52 ), and that God now dwells in, and 'houses' with us ( John 14:1-6, I Peter 2:5 ); but when we 'realize' that God is 'over' all, and in all ( Ephesians 4:6 ), we should remember that He is in control of all things, and for some reason ( maybe to teach 'us' patience ) He hasn't chosen to 'reveal' that particular truth to them, whether it's because they 'can't handle the truth' yet, because He has chosen His own time, rather than ours, to 'open their eyes to this truth, or whether it's because it is not important to their salvation.

I think that we, as 'preterists' ( especially ) need to remember that we are 'temples of the Holy Spirit', in reality, Christ on earth; and we need to start living ( and I fail grossly at this everyday ) the 'Fulfilled Life' before the world, since we ARE all they'll ever 'see' of Christ!

What is the 'Fulfilled Life', you ask?

We ( because of Christ 'in us' ) are living it...

Prayerfully realizing 'It',

In Christ,
Charles Shank