Moving on to Exodus, Moses and the Law, and once again the broader providential perspective has been eluded by the many, who, following the pattern set by Augustine of Hippo have adopted a highly allegorized approach to interpreting the Old Testament, endeavouring to read Christ and the “Pauline gospel” (as they have understood it) into too many narratives whilst failing to pay due care and attention to the ancient text within its own context. Thus the purpose and context of the calling of God’s chosen people has itself been misconceived by the majority who believe the seed of Isaac as the favoured and exclusive grouping prefiguring the Church to be alone the ones whom God had a mind to spare from eternal punishment. In the words of Augustine commenting on the cosmic horror story depicted in book 21 of his “City of God”: “Many more people are to be left under punishment than are delivered from it, in order that it may thus be shown what was due to all (mankind)”. It is the purpose of my book and this series of posts to expose that sentiment for what it is – a miserable perversion of the Good News concerning God’s plans for the people created in His image. To be fair, the Creator’s defining characteristic of merciful compassion was always likely to be obscured and misunderstood as a result of the extraordinary plan He has devised by which the re-embodied souls of His earthly children currently contained within disordered mortal vessels (cf. Rom7:24) are ultimately to attain a glorious destiny in association with His own Son, to Whom He has assigned universal authority (Mt28:18).
That is not to say that Israel and the Church are not favoured and exclusive, they assuredly are; but they were brought into being so as to be the first-fruits of God’s creation (James1:18) and the means by which the Creator would work from within to restore His fallen world through His own sanctified, divinely tutored people. Such are privileged indeed, especially having been ELECTED not on the basis of merit, either actual or anticipated, but free grace. Yet God has been fair to all, for faithful Israelites were intended to act as God’s suffering Servant in the world and those who were unfaithful would pay a heavier price than the nations who acted in relative ignorance:
Paul to the Athenian pagans:
“Truly these times of ignorance God HAS OVERLOOKED but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts17:30 NKJV)
Yahweh to Israel:
“You alone have I intimately known of the families of the earth. THAT is why I shall punish you for all your wrong-doings” (Amos3:2NJB)
Likewise those given to Christ have been called to a life of self-discipline and endurance; such are no longer free to indulge themselves but in Jesus’ words must lose their own lives in order to find Life (cf. Mt10:39;16:25). Those who are to reign with Christ in the future must be ready with Paul to suffer with Him in the present (2Tim2:12 – note tenses).
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