Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Promises to Israel, Fulfilled in Christ

In II Corinthians 1:19-20, the Apostle Paul tells us, "The Son of God, Jesus Christ, Whom we proclaimed among you, ...was not Yes and No, but in Him is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him." So, to my mind, those who advocate all sorts of divine promises for the modern State of Israel, apart from conversion to the only Messiah, are depriving them of the true promises to them. And, more importantly, they are stealing the glory of Christ and giving it to constructs of their own making, a form of idolatry.

Look at the prophecies of Jeremiah, where so many of the political promises are supposedly found. In Jer. 33:14, God says, "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah." What is that fulfillment? Jeremiah continues (verse 15), "In those days and at that time, I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up  for David, and He shall execute justice and righteousness in the land." So, the promise isn't fulfilled by a political or economic blessing, but in a Person.

This Branch is prophesied in other books, as well. We see Him in Isaiah 11:1-5, and twice in Zechariah, Zech. 3:8 and 6:12, to name just a few.

What does Jeremiah tell us about the Branch? Chapter 33 continues, in verses 17-18, "For thus says the Lord, 'David will never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in My presence to offer burnt offerings and to make sacrifices forever," So, the Branch will fulfill both the political and religious roles in providing for the people of God. That is something that was impossible under the pre-Christian economy, for the the kingship came only through the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), and the priesthood was limited to the line of Aaron, in the tribe of Levi (Numbers 16:40, cp. Hebrews 7:13).

That Aaronic reference is the connection to the prophetic references to the Branch. In Numbers 17:8, the sign God gives of the choice of Aaron was that his staff, out of all the staffs of the tribal representatives, sprouted. This is the source of the image of the Branch.

God first unites these two lines in Zechariah 6:12-13, "And say to him [i. e., the High Priest Joshua], 'Behold the Man Whose name is Branch: for He shall branch out from His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord. It is He Who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on His throne. And there shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." Here we see two of the offices of Christ, His kingship and His priesthood (His prophetic office not playing a role here), united and described.

In the New Testament, His kingship is prominent in Hebrews (e. g., Heb. 1:8), and especially the Revelation, e. g., 17:14 and 19:16. His priesthood is especially prominent in Hebrews, (e. g., chapters 7 and 8), but especially Heb. 9:11-14. Through our union with Him, we share in His  royal priesthood (see, for example, Isaiah 61:6, I Peter 2:9, and Rev. 5:10). That is the fulfillment of the promises (Romans 4:13) to the people of God, the true Israel (Galatians 3:7, 6:16). Thus, to use the modern political State of Israel as a fulfillment of promises to the people of God is to misidentify the people of God, the promises, and the fulfillment, as well as to downgrade the blessings we have in Christ.

No comments: