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Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Iconoclast, Nov 7, 2015.
THIS SHORT ARTICLE IS CLEAR;
Notice in this passage that Paul speaks to Gentiles as having been previously separate and alienated from Israel and the covenants, but in Christ, Gentiles have become citizens of Israel. Being "brought near" was their modern day parlance for Jewish proselytes. Because verse 12 and verse 19 are separated by some text (which speaks of benefits in Christ) many do not pay attention to their close connection. Let's have a look then: Verse 12 "alienated from the commonwealth of Israel" is joined to (vr. 19) "you are no longer strangers and aliens". No longer aliens to what? No longer aliens to the commonwealth of Israel. That means that Gentiles who are in Christ are now "citizens" (v. 19) of Israel built as a house with Christ as the chief cornerstone. In other words, Jesus Christ is the True Israel of God (1) (its fulfillment and foundation) as are all who are joined in union to Him. To say it another way, both OT and NT saints who are in union with Christ are citizens of Israel according to this passage. Likewise we are partakers of its promises, according to another nearby passage:
Notes on sacred space >K. Culver
This global salvation was to be effected through the Servant’s work of vicarious
atonement (53:1-12) and, as a result of it, Zion (symbolizing Yahweh’s covenant wife
who bears children for him – ref. 50:1; also Hosea 2:1-23) would be restored from her
desolation. In her restoration she would then gather in the innumerable “children” of the
covenant Lord secured for Him by the atoning work of His Servant (54:1-17).
The focal point of the Servant’s work in Isaiah’s prophecy is the recovery to God of
estranged mankind. But, in keeping with the fact that the curse extended to the whole
creation, Isaiah showed that work of recovery to reach beyond man to embrace the entire
created order. Through His Servant, Yahweh would vanquish the curse and usher in a
new creation(cf. 65:1-25, 66:5-24 with 11:1-10).
a. Thus Yahweh’s message through Isaiah was one of comfort. Desolation and
destruction had been decreed, but that wasn’t to bethe last word: Judgment and
wrath would one day yield to renewal and recovery when the Lord rose up on
behalf of His estranged creation to deliver it from its bondage and restore it to
Himself. This message and the proclamation of its impending fulfillment had been
entrusted to the forerunner – now present in John –and he was to prepare the sons
of Israel to receive the Servant coming to accomplish that work (40:1-11).
b. As the Isaianic forerunner, John’s mission was one of preparation; the Lord raised
him up to prepare the people of Israel for the coming of their Messiah and the
inauguration of His kingdom. He was to “make smoothin the desert a highway
for Israel’s God,” and there were two components ofhis preparatory work, both
of which focused on the matter of repentance.
The first was John’s baptism, which the Scripture calls a “baptism of repentance”
(cf. Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; also Acts 13:23-24); Johncalled the sons of Israel to
undergo this ritual washing in connection with the confession of their sins
(Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:5). Some have wrongly concluded that John’s baptism
itself secured the forgiveness of sins, but it actually symbolized the purification
from uncleanness that was the goal of a person’s repentance. It wasn’t a baptism
unto repentance and forgiveness, but a baptism because of the repentance that
brings forgiveness of sin. For this reason it was universal in scope (Luke 3:14),
though it primarily targeted the unfaithful house of Israel. All men were in need
of repentance, even as the forerunner was appointed to announce Yahweh’s
salvation that would extend to the ends of the earth (John 1:29).
An even worse conclusion is that John was preparing the people for the coming of
the messianic kingdom by calling them away from their bad behavior. Luke’s
account especially has been used to support this understanding (ref. 3:10-14). But
a closer examination shows that John was revealing to the multitudes that the
emerging kingdom calls for an entirely new way of thinking about and
approaching life. The kingdom of God, soon to be inaugurated in the messianic
Servant, is an otherworldly kingdom that operates according to a radically
different set of principles. It is a heavenlykingdom rather than an earthly one.
This is the reason that the matter of repentance was the marrow of John’s
preparatory work. Repentance speaks of a change in one’s thinking, and if the
sons of Israel (and the Gentiles among them) were going to be able to correctly
perceive and thereby embrace the King and His kingdom when they arrived, their
natural and historical way of conceiving those promised realities would have to be
drastically altered. In effect, Israel would have to become a new Israel. S.
McKnight, in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, comments: “While John
may have baptized in the Jordan simply because it was close to the desert, it is far
more likely that he did so to evoke the ancient Jewish tradition of entry into the
land as the new people of God. Having been baptizedin the Jordan, the people
came out of the water, re-entered the land and sought once again to take it for
God as the now pure Israel.”
John’s second preparatory work was his proclamation of the kingdom and its
king, and that proclamation reinforces the sort of repentance he sought. For at the
heart of John’s proclamation was his rebuke of Israel’s unfounded confidence
before God. He warned those who came out to him about finding their
righteousness in their Abrahamic descent and place in the covenant household.
The Jews’ ethnic pride lulled them into thinking that they enjoyed a special
standing with God, while their natural self-righteousness fostered the notion that
righteousness under the law was achieved by external, “legal” conformity to it. If
they were to recognize and receive their Messiah and enter His kingdom they
would need to repent of all such thinking (cf. Matthew 3:7-12; Luke 3:7-9).
2. The Coming Elijah
John’s role as Isaiah’s forerunner is further elucidated by his being the Elijah promised
by Malachi (4:5-6; cf. Matthew 11:7-14, 17:1-13). John’s appearance mirrored Elijah’s,
but the real issue was his coming in the spirit and power of Elijah
pt 2 ibid
The Emergent Kingdom – The Coming of Immanuel
John was appointed by the Lord to prepare Israel for the coming of the long-awaited kingdom.
And at the heart of that kingdom was the profound reality of theophany: The uniform prophetic
message was that Yahweh Himself would inaugurate His kingdom in connection with His own
personal presence in the world. The promise of the kingdom was the promise of Immanuel –
“God with us” – and this theme is most prevalent inIsaiah’s prophecy (cf. 7:1-12:6, 19:18-25,
25:1-27:13, 32:1-20, 40:1-11, 42:1-9, 49:1-13, 59:1-20, etc.).
In particular, Isaiah associated the eschatological coming of Yahweh with the coming of His
Servant. Importantly, this Servant is presented in unique terms as both the fulfillment of Israel
(Isaiah 49:1ff) and the presence of Yahweh (cf. Isaiah 40:1-11 with 42:1-16; also Zechariah
2:10-11). In this way the text indirectly indicatesthat, in this one individual, there is some sort of
conjoining of the covenant Father and son; both parties to the covenant are represented in him.
While Christians commonly recognize that the Isaianic “Servant of the Lord” represents Yahweh
Himself in His coming to inaugurate His kingdom, it is far less common for them to find in this
individual the fulfillment of Israel, Yahweh’s covenant son. The result is that they miss a crucial
aspect of Christ’s identity and role as the God-Man.
But another stream of Old Testament messianism also converged with the promise to
David of a royal “Branch”: The coming Davidic ruler was to be a king-priest– a priest
according to the order of Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the Most High God
(cf. Psalm 110 with Zechariah 6:9-15; cf. also Genesis 14:18 with Hebrews 5-7).
The royal aspect of prophetic messianism associated with David enjoys an obvious and
intimate connection with the Isaianic servant motif and the principle of Immanuel (along
with the Isaiah contexts, consider Jeremiah 30-33).The focal point of that connection is
the matter of dominion: The Branch of David is shown to be the Servant of Yahweh in
whom the Lord establishes His kingdom and executes His dominion over His creation.
But the Scripture is concerned with a corollary issue, namely how the divine dominion is
secured and carried out. It is in that regard that the priestly aspect of messianism comes to
the forefront. The Davidic Branch is the Melchizedekian Priest.
It is in relation to the concept of a redemptive kingdom that the doctrine of the
Day of the Lord emerged in the prophets. Yahweh would indeed come and
establish His kingdom through a great redemptive act, but, consistent with the
meaning of redemption, that act would involve judgment and deliverance. The
Lord was going to usher in His kingdom by defeating the enemies who had taken
His sons captive, thereby liberating them and taking them to Himself to be with
Him in His dwelling place. The first Exodus was to find its own fulfillment in a
second Exodus (Isaiah 51:1-11; cf. 11:1-16).
In history and in prophecy, God’s kingdom has been shown to be a redemptive kingdom,
but the principle of redemption always had a temporal quality. Now, in the time of
fulfillment, the Lord was revealing through His inspired witnesses that the kingdom
principle of redemption – like the kingdom itself –was taking on a spiritual character.
Deliverance from enemies had now, in the fullness of the times, become deliverance from
the spiritual enemies of sin and death; temporal deliverance had become salvation(ref.
Luke 1:39-55, 67-79). This transposition is the keyto understanding the priestly aspect of
Old Testament messianism. Like its Israelite predecessor, Yahweh’s true kingdom was to
be a redemptive kingdom, but redemption in relationto it would involve deliverance from
sin, and this spotlighted its priestly dynamic.
The priestly aspect of the eschatological kingdom was itself nothing new, for the Israelite
kingdom had also been a priestly one (Exodus 19:5-6). Even as the kingdom of Israel was
founded on the Sinai Covenant, the covenant was founded on the priesthood. The
covenant at Sinai established formal relationship between Father and son, but that
relationship – set in the context of human estrangement – depended upon a system of
mediation by which the unrighteousness (that is, the relational unfaithfulness) of the son
could be addressed (Hebrews 7:11).
And at the heart of that mediation was the principle of sacrifice. The son’s violation of
the covenant demanded satisfaction, but, more than that, the continuance of the covenant
relationship required that the son’s obligation of perfect righteousness under the
covenant be met on his behalf. Violation of the covenant by either party meant the end of
the covenant; thus, in a context in which the son was capable only of unceasing violation,
the continuation of the Israelite kingdom depended upon the son’s appropriation of an
The covenant Father provided such a substitute for His son, but that provision was only
symbolic; the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin. While Israel’s
sacrificial system spoke of righteousness by portraying how the problem of estrangement
was to be resolved, it didn’t procure it. In God’s infinite wisdom, what was portrayed by
priest and sacrifice would be fulfilled through the merging of the two. The problem of
human unrighteousness – that is, the curse of divine-human estrangement – would be
resolved by a priest who would offer Himself as substitutionary atoning sacrifice.
This, too, was not a new idea; in their witness to the kingdom the prophets insisted that
Yahweh’s deliverance and restoration – which were to come through His Servant –
would be effected by the Servant’s self-offering. Zion’s perpetual unfaithfulness had
brought desolation to David’s kingdom, but the Servant’s work would secure restoration
and a profusion of offspring for Yahweh (Isaiah 53-54). The Branch of David – the
Servant of Yahweh – would rule as a priest upon His throne: Not only would the
promised kingdom be inaugurated through a work of priestly triumph over the true
enemies of God and man, namely sin and death, it would be perpetuated through priestly
intercession. The One heralded by the forerunner as the winnowing Judge who would
burn the chaff with unquenchable fire was also the Savior of whom He declared, “Behold
the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Luke 3:15-17; John 1:19-30).