A Universal Kingdom: Part 1
May 21, 2007
In the beginning God created the universe in which to manifest His glory. He installed Adam as head of the creation, giving him authority ("dominion") over all things (Gen. 1:28). This was before He even had a family, so it is obvious that his authority extended beyond his descendants.
As Psalm 8 says, God put all things under his feet. Of course, Adam sinned, and brought death to all, which affected the entire creation--not just his own family. His entire estate was "sold" in order for payment to be made on the debt to the law that Adam incurred (Matt. 18:25).
We know from reading the New Testament that Jesus Christ, the "Son of Man" (i.e., Son of Adam), redeemed all that had been sold because of Adam's sin. Thus, Jesus was the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:5), and so the Dominion Mandate was given to Him. He purchased the entire estate that was lost by the sin of the first Adam.
The short Kingdom parable in Matt. 13:44 supports this as well:
"The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field."
Exodus 19:5 tells us that Israel was God's "peculiar treasure." When Israel was cast out from 745-721 B.C., the nation became "the lost sheep of the House of Israel" (Ezekiel 34) and were thus hidden in the world. Matt. 13:38 says, "the field is the world." Jesus came to search for and find His sheep.
So Jesus' parable is to be interpreted in this way: The Kingdom of heaven is like Israel hidden in the world, which Jesus found and hid.
Why did He HIDE this treasure? In those days they did not have a Bank of America, so the people often buried their money to hide it from thieves. Sometimes they would forget where it was buried, or perhaps the man died before telling anyone in the family where it was buried. If another man found it, it was still not his, and if he were to take it, he would be stealing. The only way he could claim the treasure would be if he owned the field in which the treasure was located.
This is why the parable says that the man hid the treasure and then bought the field. He had to buy the field in order to legally own the treasure that was hidden in the field.
So also it is with the Kingdom. It is the treasure hidden in the field, but in order for Jesus to obtain the treasure lawfully--without being a thief--He first had to purchase the field. That is why Jesus died to purchase the whole world (1 John 2:2). His focus of attention was the treasure, but to obtain the treasure, He had to purchase the whole world.
That is why the Kingdom of God is universal, and not limited to one nation of "chosen people."
It is certainly true that God chosen one man, Abraham, through which to accomplish His will. Abraham was exclusively "chosen" for this calling. The calling, however, was not to give salvation to one man and his children, while discarding the rest of humanity. The calling was to work through one man and his children in order to bring salvation to the rest of the world.
Hence, God told Abraham in Gen. 12:3, "and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
God later called the nation of Israel out of Egypt and formed them into a chosen nation to do nationally what Abraham was called to do personally. It was the next step in the progression of the Kingdom. Israel was called to be "a Kingdom of Priests" (Ex. 19:6). Thus, what Aaron and his sons were to Israel, the nation was to the rest of the world.
A priest had a special calling as an intercessor, teacher of the law, counselor, and judge. He had spiritual authority as a minister of God to rule as if Christ Himself were ruling through them. A minister is a servant, not a tyrant.
Thus, Israel was not called to destroy, or kill everyone else, nor were they called to enslave everyone else. They were called to BLESS. Anyone who thinks himself to be called should be judged according to how much he blesses others--not by how many others he can enslave.
After Abraham himself, the nation of Israel was the second stage of the Kingdom's development. When Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, he prayed first that God would hear the prayers of Israelites (1 Kings 8:30-40). Then he prayed concerning the foreigners:
" (41) Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Thy people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Thy name's sake (42) (for they will hear of Thy great name and Thy mighty hand, and of Thine outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, (43)hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to Thee, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Thy name, to fear Thee, as do thy people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Thy name."
Solomon also prayed in verse 50 that their sins would be forgiven. This is of particular interest, in view of the teaching that the law was given exclusively to Israel, and sin is the transgression of the law. It is said in some circles that sin is something only a physical Israelite can do. In rabbinic circles it is often said that the only laws that apply to non-Jews are the "Noahide Laws," as if they are incapable of comprehending the moral principles of the rest of the law.
Such exclusivism is based on a very low view of anyone other than an Israelite or a Jew, as if others are simply incapable of any higher understanding of God. Thus, rabbinic Judaism taught that non-Jews have satanic souls and are like cattle, rather than true men. Others (who hate Jews) teach that Jews are physical children of the devil, essentially adopting the Jewish position in reverse.
In my view, all have sinned (Rom. 3:23), whether "Jew" or "Gentile," which means that the law of God convicts all men equally of sin (Rom. 3:19). The only qualification on this is that more is expected from those who have the law and know what it says. All men are justified in the same manner--through the blood of Jesus Christ alone. It is NOT the case that "Gentiles" are saved by grace, while Jews are saved by the law (Rom. 3:20). There is only one way.
Isaiah said that the temple in Jerusalem was to be a house of prayer for all people--not just all Israelites. Isaiah 56 is a classic universalistic passage, where the prophet sees Yahweh as not merely the God of Israel, but, as he said in 54:5, "the God of the whole earth." In those days it was normal to think of deities as local gods of particular nations. Isaiah breaks free of this exclusivistic thinking and portrays God as the Creator of All, even as Solomon had done in his prayer (1 Kings 8:27).
Isaiah speaks of the foreigners in much the same manner as we read in Solomon's prayer.
" (6) Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the Sabbath and holds fast My covenant; (7) even those I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer . . . For My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples."
The concept of a God of the whole earth did not begin in the New Testament. It was always there. The restrictions were on the part of religious men, not on God's part. Jesus came to break us free from those traditions of men and to show us truly how to fulfill the Abrahamic calling to be a blessing to all families of the earth.
Appended by Thom Mills / Highcalling.
You should be aware of a recording related to this topic is available called "What Does it Mean to be an Israelite?" by Stephen Jones as noted below that complements and expands upon this weblog.
DVD - $25
In order that we may get this recording that wish to get it, we will gladly accept a donation for the DVD. Please go to our website and http://www.highcalling.ca and contact us to make the donation for this recording.
This is the first part of a series titled "A Universal Kingdom." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones