The secret of Israel (2) – The coming of the Kingdom

editor - 11 December 2018

Not only the two men from Emmaus, but also the other voices in the Gospel make it clear that with the coming of Messiah the restoration of Israel became possible. When the first disciples gathered around Jesus, Nathanael from Kana greets Him with the title “King of the Jews”. Earlier Jesus’ mother sang out the expectation that her Son would bring down mighty people from their thrones and would renew society completely.

His uncle, Zechariah the priest, prophesies that God has raised up a horn of salvation in the house of His servant David “to save us from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us”, so that Israel ultimately can serve God in freedom and in peace under Messiah’s guidance.

It is impossible to spiritualize this all and apply it to the Church. Of course it can be done and it is done actually, but only contrary to the original meaning of the words. The redemption of Israel has a spiritual angle of course. The prophets are clear about it: In the deliverance of Israel it’s all about her being cleansed of her sins and her will to turn to God in love and devotion. But this inner deliverance goes hand in hand with the outward deliverance of the Jewish people. The Messiah that will come sits enthroned in Jerusalem. He will complete the return of Israel’s children from the Diaspora and even re-establish the rift between Judah and the other tribes. In His time the lost tribes will become visible and come home. When Jesus uses Ezekiel’s image of the good shepherd in John 10 and with that points to himself, he also pursues the message of Ezekiel 37: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16 and Ezekiel 37:24). In Jesus’ Olivet Discourse He says that His angels will gather God’s elect from the four corners of the earth, a direct reference to Isaiah 11:12.

The final question of the disciples is not: when are we allowed to go to heaven, following you? But, when will you return to restore the kingdom for Israel? They ask this question after forty days of teaching by the best preacher and teacher the world has ever known. Their future expectation was not wrong, was not too nationalistic or too earthly. They only needed to understand that Jesus’ death therein was vitally important.


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