In munching upon meditative ‘morsels’ from the opening of Hebrews 12, I didn’t expect my subconscious mind to mull over their meaning. I’d assumed those couple of blogs had put the subject ‘to bed’, so to speak – but no. That was on Thursday before going ‘incommunicado’ until Monday, as usual. Yet something started stirring in my spirit.
Two days later saw me digging into scripture before going to bed myself. How could I know I’d find out that its eye-opening conclusion is relevant to others. So if that’s the case for you too, or if you’d notice a similar coincidence, the details are as follows.:
Pointer No 1
After having referred to the faith of Old Testament and New Testament believers – or a ‘cloud of witnesses’ – being perfected, I sensed a bigger picture of the Lord’s purposes. Having written about ‘original’ and ‘spiritual’ Israel I recalled Jesus’ reply to a question posed after His victory over death, and which I’ve often pondered.
During that 40 day period Jesus spoke about things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. (That is, of God’s rule in human hearts, lives and situations.) Consider doctor Luke’s carefully investigated account, per Luke 1:3, of what had happened about 30 years earlier when Jesus gave his apostles this instruction (emphases mine):
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [Acts 1:4-8 NKJV – Biblegateway.com]
As the purpose of this post is to highlight specific verses, I won’t go into any depth other than give pointers to ponder, and the following as a lead-in.
‘Israel’ would have meant not only the dominant Jews of Jerusalem and Judea, but also the other eleven historical tribes of Israel. Jesus had told his close followers about the Kingdom, presumably in greater depth than during the pre-Resurrection years of public ministry, and that they were about to receive the One who empowered His ministry direct from their heavenly Father Himself.
Thus, it was logical that the apostles were thinking they’d all be ministering in the power Jesus had exhibited. Consequently, it was reasonable to suppose they would then change the religious and cultural situation in Jerusalem and Judea.
No doubt they had in mind the greatest period in their history under King David, as well as Daniel’s prophetic vision about removing the power of the supreme earthly empire, Rome (see Daniel 7:27). But Jesus knew differently. Had they been incorrect in their logical conclusion of restoring the Kingdom to Israel, then Jesus would have said so and corrected them. (He’d done that when referring to returning to God – John 14:2)
Nor did He rebuke them for such an idea, or even remind them He’d already told them the Kingdom would be taken away from Israel and given, “…to people (ie. Gentiles) who will produce its fruit” (Matt 21:23). No, He simply said it wasn’t for them to know the timing – and it was Father’s business and His alone, not even their Master’s!
Interestingly, the original Greek indicates a conditional ‘IF’ (ei) between those verses. In other words, “If (or when) the dipping in Holy Spirit happens, is it the time you-are-restoring the Kingdom to Israel?” (See Scripture4All Greek Interlinear Bible, Acts 1)
Therefore, the relevance of and restoration for Israel MUST be on God’s agenda!
Consequently, the perfecting of faith for living and departed Jews and Christians could well be part and parcel of that agenda. I think Jesus had already given the apostles a clue and they later shared it with Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, or He may even have revealed it to him personally.
Pointer No 2
Also, Jesus would have had that in mind when describing the signs all believers should watch out for. He said there will come a time of, “great distress in the land and wrath against this people“. In this account, Luke writes that Jesus went on to say,
“…And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled…” [Luke 21:24 NKJV]
Pointer No 3
In his magisterial letter to the church in Rome, Paul described the differences between the OT and NT faith and what had happened to the Jews as a result of rejecting Jesus as their Messiah. He stressed they’d not been rejected by the Lord,
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” [Romans 11 NKJV]
I trust that my referring to these scriptures makes sense. It’s offered simply for weighing and consideration, maybe as an aid to further scriptural meditation? Yet more was to follow…
In flicking to and fro between these scriptures and adding to scribbled notes in my old NIV Bible, I spotted its note, Who Is Mechizedek? (see Topic). Hebrews 7 explains the similarities between this king of Jerusalem, who blessed Abraham, and Jesus Christ. Perhaps he’s an influential connection between OT and NT witnesses?
Just before preaching the next morning, our minister mentioned having come from Days of Wonder meeting in Cardiff with New Zealander Ian Clayton, where he’d given some insights on Melchizedek!!! Upon telling one of our group about this ‘God-incidence’, I was told the same reference had unexpectedly popped up for a friend. So the couple of days next week when Ian stops off outside Guildford during his tour of Wales, Scotland and Ireland should be very interesting indeed. I pray so Lord.