“And I also say to thee, that thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my assembly, and gates of Hades shall not prevail against it …” Matt. 16:18 (YLT)
It is not a new discussion by any means, but the impact of the conclusion may affect millions around the world.
Conveying meaning is of great significance in the world we live in. When we don’t get the meaning right we have not understood what was conveyed. This can have serious consequences.
Israel was handpicked by God to be a messenger and a missionary to the nations of the earth. They got this role, not because of their own greatness, but so God could make His name known through them.
There are many descriptive words used about Israel. They are ‘my people’ (Ex. 3:7), a ‘holy nation’ (Ex. 19:6), a ‘nation’ (Ge. 12:2), a ‘congregation’ (Ex. 12:3), an ‘assembly’ (Ex. 12:6).
God called Israel to be set apart, granting them His blessing should they follow the call and also severe consequences if they chose another way. (Deut. 28)
As we read through the books of the Torah, no aspect of life is removed from God’s care. He is the creator of all things and from the garden on, the destructive issue is SIN, not any part of creation. Even from the story of Babel, we get the understanding that the confusion of languages happened to accelerate God’s plan to see ethnic expressions fill the earth in a multitude of diverse expressions, thus bringing glory to God through their unique gifts.
Israel became a template for these expressions and the ways and principles God taught them are for us all to learn from. He taught them about self-stewardship, individual responsibility, health, diet, marriage, family life, parenting, education, corporate worship practices, communication, celebrations, art, entrepreneurship, law and justice.
The people of Israel became the pattern of a true Biblical Nation and though they often strayed from their love to God and the practices of the Torah, the truth remains that they were called to be such a template. Because of the record of Scripture we have access to this truth and can apply it in our own ethnic expressions.
There is one humanity, not many races and God, as the origin of nations also sets the boundaries around them.
“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being …” Acts 17:26-28
Nations are God’s invention! They exist for a purpose: That people should seek the Lord and find him!
As Israel ventured into disobedience and bondage, God was not only preparing to deal with the sin from the Garden of Eden. He was also preparing a deliverer for the nation of Israel and as the story unfolds, a deliverer for ALL nations.
The Messiah is the King of Israel, a nation in God’s purposes.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Is. 9: 6,7)
The Messiah didn’t come to establish some new religious sect. He came in the fullness of time to continue God’s plan of redemption and restoration.
The Septuagint translation of the Hebrew scriptures uses the word ‘ekklesia’ when describing the congregation or assembly of Israel. The nation of Israel with all it’s community expressions are therefore an ‘ekklesia’ – ‘the called out ones’ as the word literally means.
We would be wise to revisit the story and the unfolding of events as the Jews at large denied their Messiah, because they were then awaiting their deliverer King. As their deliverer King was crucified, a sign above his head said, in the letters of the Greek, Roman and Hebrew languages: “This is the King of the Jews” (Lk. 23:38)
As we read Scripture we find that God has said this deliverer king is not only the King of the Jews, but also the gentiles, all other people. The Good News of the Kingdom of God is for everyone!
Does God’s embrace of every human being in His plan of salvation by any means limit the scope of His salvation? If anything, it must broaden it! Yeshua (Hebr.)/Iesous (Gk.)/Jesus (En.) was God’s very own Son, who from before the foundations of the earth, gave His life to be a ransom in deliverance of all of Creation!
The Son of God is the King of every nation – the King of Kings!
As we enter the Kingdom of God, EVERYTHING comes under His lordship. Because His Kingdom is a Kingdom of the heart it must be master over every expression of life.
1 Pet. 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”
There is no escape of the corporate expression of the Kingdom of God. He is in his essence community! Nations are a way for God to bring glory to His name!
The Greek uses the word ‘ekklesia’ to describe the expansion of God’s reach to include every person, not just the Jews. He calls us out to be set apart as a holy people, a generation and a nation.
Historically the Greek word ‘kurion’ became the word used in many Germanic languages as ‘church’ (En), ‘Kirche’ (Ge), ‘kirke’ (No), ‘kyrka’ (Sw). This word simply means ‘house of a lord’ and carries an institutional meaning.
The etymological roots of church and assembly/congregation can be as far apart as life and death. The claim is that it was largely a political decision that caused the word ‘ekklesia’ to be inaccurately translated ‘church’.
This grave error has for many caused our Christian life to become an institution in a larger picture, rather than seeing Scripture truthfully, understanding that entering the Kingdom of God alters EVERYTHING and sets us on a whole new LIFE FOUNDATION.
The Son of the Creator God came to deliver and redeem ALL things, to restore the original purpose. He is indeed the continuation of the promises to Israel and fulfillment of God’s purposes for all of creation.
We must rediscover our roots and connect with them. Many of us live in an orphan mindset that is disconnected from the true historic roots. The story of the Kingdom of God is our story! Let us embrace it and live it!