Saturday, 4 January 2014

Isaiah 1 from an Apostolic Perspective

Isaiah 1

The Law couldn't change the sinful nature of man. But the new covenant did.

Sinfulness reduced the nation of Israel to a moral state no better than a Gentile nation - without any covenant rights to claim.

Consequently Israel was repeatedly reduced to a remnant, not only in Isaiah's time but also before his time and even after it.

In Moses' time God was willling to destroy them all and build a nation out of Moses, but Moses interceded for them.

Long after Isaiah's time Israel was again reduced to a remnant, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

In Isaiah's time, under the Old Covenant, Israel was urged to clean their heart, to make themselves willing and obedient. But under the New Covenant, God Himself cleans our heart, and works in us both to will and to do.

But the fulfilment of God's purposes, promises and prophecies was never dependant on Israel's corporate faith and obedience. It was fulfilled through His seed, which was Christ - and was inherited by believing Jews, and Gentile believers also experienced it. And the rest were hardened, as a consequence of their unbelief.

Even during Isaiah's dispensation, redemption happened simultaneously with judgment. Redemption was not experienced by the whole nation, because the nation's sin effected the nation's loss of covenant rights. Redemption was experienced by the few at the same time that judgment was incurred upon the majority.

Soon after Isaiah's time, God refined the nation through judgement. They went into captivity, and a purer Israel was soon afterwards restored to the land. But this too did not last. Israel again returned to folly. In Isaiah's time, redemption and judgment happened together.

So it was at the time of Christ. So it is during the Church age. And so it shall be at the final judgment. Final redemption shall coincide with final judgment.

Being under the Law, Israel was doomed, as were Gentile nations, because of the sinfulness of sinful flesh.

But the fulfilment of God's redemptive purposes has never necessitated that the entire nation of ethnic Israelites is faithful. It was not required by Bible prophecy.

Thus the state of the Church is not a reflection of the state of modern Israel. Rather, the state of Israel reflects the state of (the nations of the) Gentiles.

And what state are they in? Both are concluded under sin. Both are permitted to remain, though only in remnant-form compared to the enlargement that could be possible were they without sin. And within both groups (Jew and Gentile) only those amongst them who believe inherit the promised salvation.

The receiving of Jewish persons back into God's purposes in Christ - which Paul described as "life from the dead" - was happening even at the time when Paul wrote to the Romans. Paul himself was one such individual. This statement wasn't an eschatological prediction by Paul of Israel's far-distant future, it was Paul's explanation of the then-present reality that existed for Jews. Paul was explaining the manner in which the promises and prophecies had been fulfilled, and the manner of God's dealings with Jews even then.

"Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" asked the disciples of Jesus. To which He replied that it was not for them to know the times nor the seasons which the Father had placed in His own hands.

What was not for them to know? The timing of the second coming. But the timing of other things had been revealed to men - such as Abraham (to whom the 400 years captivity in Egypt had been revealed); Jeremiah (to whom the 70 years captivity in Babylon had been revealed); and Daniel (to whom the 70 weeks that remained for the Jews until the coming of the Messiah and other events, had been revealed). But of the day of His coming, no-one knows.

So the day the kingdom gets restored to Israel is the same day of His coming. It doesn't necessarily mean the whole nation of the Jews will be Christians before Christ's coming. In a parable Jesus told of a rooting-out of all who offend in His kingdom, and only the righteous shall enter into it. There's going to be a rooting-out in Israel, as well as amongst the Gentiles, when Christ's kingdom comes. 

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