Friday, October 28, 2011

Israel (3) - Light to the World

The covenant with Moses on Mount Sinai was the first opportunity for the descendants of Abraham to bless the world. God gave Moses a system of law and government that would have been the envy of the surrounding nations, if the Israelites had made it work. They could have spread great blessing to the world, by exporting it to the nations.

Israel was called to be a light to the world. They could not give spiritual peace to the world, because they did not have it themselves. The temple sacrifices were a sideshow that did not achieve anything. They pointed forward to Jesus perfect sacrifice, so they only worked for people with faith that God would bring a better solution for sin. Abraham understood this truth.

Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness (Rom 4:9).
Israel could not give spiritual peace, but they could be a light by demonstrating God’s ideal system of government. This was their real calling in the Old Testament age.

God gave the law to Moses to enable the children of Israel to establish a peaceful society. Their role was to demonstrate how voluntary judges applying God’s law allows a peaceful and prosperous society to emerge. The observance and implementation of God’s law was meant to impress the nations.
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today (Deut 4:5-8).
Israel’s main purpose was to demonstrate God’s unique system of government. God’s law applied by good judges, together with temporary military leaders can restrain the worst effects of sin and allow a safe, peaceful society to emerge, even in a sinful world. Many of the nations would have copied this model, but they never saw it demonstrated, because Israel never took this role seriously. God had given them a unique system of government with voluntary judges applying God’s law, but instead of celebrating God’s calling, they envied the surrounding nations and demanded a king.

Although they were choosing an inferior form of government, God eventually gave in and allowed Israel to have a king. They got one or two good ones, but most were duds. That was bad, but by copying a system of government from nations, they lost their distinctiveness and purpose. The Queen of Sheba saw Solomon’s wisdom, but she did not see God’s method of government. If she had, she would have been really amazed.

Israel’s failure is still affecting us. Because God’s system of government was never seriously tried, most people do not take it seriously. Most Christians are still fascinated with worldly government systems and do not even know that God has revealed his ideal form of government.

Israel is unlikely to recover this role. The responsibility for demonstrating good government now rests upon Christians. Hopefully, some will take up this calling and be a light to the world for godly government.


Simon said...

Finding this series very thought-provoking. In the first post you mention the diverse ways of understanding the term "Israel", but it's not always clear exactly how you are using the term in each of your posts. When you say, for example, that "Israel is unlikely to recover this role" - the role of demonstrating good government, which "Israel" are you referring to?

Thanks - please keep writing.

Ron McK said...

Thanks Simon
I guess I am saying that the current state of Israel will not take it up. Israel in the broader sense may take it up after the Fulness of the Jews.