Friday, 14 December 2018

T The governing congregation

Israel as recovery plan (Part 2)

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In the previous part we talked about two types of dominion. The dominion based upon “life” and the dominion based upon the “knowledge of good and evil”. The last type is the one we see everywhere in the world of today. It is the type that became the standard of this world for “dominion”. In the previous part I showed that God intended us to have dominion based on life. Because of sin that all changed and the knowledge of good and evil was added to humanity. For this reason mankind had no longer access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24). The original plan of God contained only life as the basis for letting mankind have dominion over the earth. But now that sin had entered the world, that plan needed to change and the knowledge of good and evil needed to be involved in the master plan. From that moment reigning involved judging. 

As we can see in the Word of God, there is only one solution to deal with sin when there is no divine intervention. That example became very clear in the story of Noah. While only the first two chapters of the Bible are showing a world without sin, in the sixth chapter sin already increased so much that God was sorry that He made the earth and mankind. In these days there were manifestations of what is described as the “sons of the Elohim”, spiritual beings with physical bodies, who had sex with women. We all know how that part of the story of mankind ended: by a deluge of water. It was the most radical way to deal with the problem of sin, and also the last time, as God promised to Noah.

In order to have a plan that works, God needed people who would be able to stand in the gap before Him, on behalf of mankind. In order to achieve that  goal, He needed a special people, a special nation. People who were called out, elected (not to be confused with democracy). This group of people never choose their selves, they were chosen. The initiative came from God, not from men. It all started with Abraham and it still continues this present day, although a few things changed along the way.

When you have to have dominion based on the knowledge of good and evil, you need to have a standard in order to know what is good and what is evil and to avoid being deceived. That sounds a bit weird, since Adam and Eve received that knowledge when they ate the forbidden fruit. Even God said it.

Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.
Genesis 3:22a

Then why was a standard needed? In the beginning satan could profit from the fact that Adam and Eve, and by them mankind, would receive the knowledge of good and evil. That was the only way he could make them commit a sin, by letting them eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But as soon as that happened, that same knowledge started to work against him. That knowledge could expose him at any place and at any time. So from that moment he started to cover the truth with all sorts of twists. The fact that the law was needed proofs that. And it was that law that God gave to His people as His standard. In the process of growing to spiritual maturity, we need to know God’s standard and we need to be able to test and compare everything that is being taught to that standard. Everything that is different, even if it is slightly different, is a lie. 

The basic task is to judge what is truth and what is a lie. Once a judgement is made and the truth is judged to be true, the next thing that follows is that God tests us. That can be seen already in the book of Exodus, when God made the people of Israel a statute and an ordinance, but before Moses received the commandments. 

There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”
Exodus 15:25-26

The whole aim of giving His statutes and commandments to the people of Israel was to reach the whole world, to reach all of mankind. When you are a priest, you are always in favor of someone else. The job of a priest is to minister to others on behalf of God. As a priest you are the representative and ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven. That is never a task that is aimed at yourself, but always in favor of someone else. In the next verses it becomes clear what God’s aim was and is for the people of Israel.

“Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
Exodus 19:3-6

For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.
Hebrews 5:1

So if God wanted the people of Israel to be a kingdom of priests, and if a priest always works in favor of someone else, then for who were they supposed to be priests? For the rest of the world! Yes, that means that God’s plan was that all twelve tribes would be priests. The original plan was that all the twelve tribes would be priests according to the order of Melchizedek. 

Melchizedek was a priest who appeared to Abraham, the first priest that is mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 14:18). A priest “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God” (Hebrews 7:3). He was named “king of righteousness” and “king of peace” (Hebrews 7:2). He was the blueprint of the priesthood that God intended to have among His people. His priesthood consisted out of two things: dominion and reconciliation. It is the perfect image of Jesus Christ, Who is our High Priest, according to the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20). 

The character of God is to save, to restore, to heal and to deliver. Everything He does comes out of that motivation. And that motivation can be summed as one word: love. So when God said that He wanted to use the people of Israel as a kingdom of priests, He wanted to reach out to a world in need. A world that desperately needed reconciliation. A world that needed restoration of all the damage that sin has brought us. He wanted to restore righteousness and peace to this earth, to us as mankind. He wanted us to regain our intimate relationship with Him and to regain our dominion over the earth. But the story got a different direction. Instead of all the twelve tribes, only the tribe of Levi became priests. Instead of a priesthood to the order Melchizedek (dominion and reconciliation), they became priests to the order of Aaron (reconciliation). 

Was God surprised that His plan didn’t work? Of course not. Like I’ve mentioned in the previous part of this study, God always knows all the steps ahead and is not taken by surprise. Yes, He knew up front that this would eventually not be sufficient. Then why trying it anyway? I don’t know about you, but it constantly surprises me that God tries all these things, while He knows that it won’t work. Or does He want to make a point? When we look the plan, we must conclude that the plan is perfect. So from God’s perspective everything was in perfect condition. But then the human factor is added to it and suddenly the plan is no longer sufficient. Why? Because of the condition of mankind. What was needed was a perfect blameless priesthood in order to make the plan succeed. But each human is born into the flesh, with an extreme desire to commit sin, for which all of mankind is fallen. What was left was the priesthood of Aaron, from the tribe of Levi. They were no longer aimed at the world, but were way to busy dealing with the reconciliation of the people of Israel. 

Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.
Hebrews 7:11-13

What was needed was a definite solution for sin. There was and is not a single solution, that included human intervention, that was or is able to do that. Corruption had already set in and in order to restore everything to what God intended it to be, a divine intervention was needed. Only a divine intervention was able to reverse the effects of sin and to restore everything to the perfect state. Every human intervention would ruin the plan, because of our sinful state. I believe God wanted to make a point indeed. The point that we created this problem, but that we are unable to solve this on our own. I believe He wanted us to see and understand our need of Him and dependence on Him, without which we are hopelessly lost. 

No matter how we look at it, we need Jesus Christ. We need His intervention. He was born into the flesh, exposed to the same desires to sin, yet He never fell for it. When we read the whole Bible, we see a huge and remarkable plan unfolding. A divine plan of salvation, restoration, healing and deliverance of mankind, for those who choose to be His. From the beginning, right after sin came into this world, God already started His perfect plan to make everything perfect and new again. It speaks of God’s undeniable love for us.

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