Friday, November 12, 2010

"The kingdom that turned the world upside down.." contd'

Chapter 2...The Right-side up Kingdom.....,
As we shall see shortly, thekingdom that turned the world upside down is a unique kingdom. It's a kingdom of upside-down values.
In 1978, Donald Kraybill wrote a book entitled, The upside down kingdom, in which he explored some of these upside down values of the kingdom of God. But to fullly understand this upside down kingdom, we must first look at a kingdom that was right-side up.
The Scriptures introduce us to this right-side up kingdom in the Book of Exodus, where God speaks to the Israelites:"Now therefore, if you will obey My voice and keep My convenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people, for all the earth is Mine, and you shalll be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."(Ex. 19:5,6)
This was Gods offer to the israelites: that they could be His special kingdom of priests. And the Israelites accepted His offer. They entered into a covenant with Him at Sinai. Like most covenants, this covenant was 2 sided. IF the Israelites obeyed Gods voice, then they would be to Him a "Kingdom of prieses and a holy nation>" Like any other kingdom, the nation Israel was to have a ruler and laws. However, their King, Lawgiver and Judge was to be God Himself(Isa. 33:22). The laws of the kingdom of Israel were the Masaic Law, given directly by God.
   Despite these special features, the kingdom of Israel was still an eartthly kingdom. In most aspects, it was similar to the kingdoms of the world. It had a physical, geographic territory. Its people were a distinct ethnic nationality. They defended their kingdom with earthly soldiers, armed with swords, spears, and bows. Like all other earthly kingdoms, the Israelites expanded their territory through the use of the sword. In the eyes of the surrounding nations, the most distinctive thing about the Israelites was that their Law forbade the use of idols.
   In fact, even Gods promised blessings to the Israelites were earthly, material blessings: "If you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, ...blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increases of your herds..the Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses. ...And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground...The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its seasosn.>>>You shall lend to many nations, but shall not borrow(Deut. 28:1-12)
   But it was not only the blessings that would be matyerial. If the Israelites broke their covenant, their punishments would likwise be earthly, physical: The Lord will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed. The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies...You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it. You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine or gather the grapes;  for the worms shall eat them"(Deut. 28:24,25,38,39).
   In short, the ancient kingdom of Israel was a right-side up kingdom. Its pattern was even understandable to the other nations of the world. In fact, in many aspects, ancient Israel was modeled after the same pattern on which their nations had been built. The primary difference was that the other nations imagined it was their gods who had established them as a people. They believed it was their gods who prospered them materially when they worshipped these gods. And they believed it was their gods who punished them with droughts and famines when their gods were displeased with them. In many ways, the world view of the Gentile nations was quite similar to the world view of the Israelites. The primary difference was in matters of religion and morality, not in matters of state.
   But the ancient kingdom of Israel, which was predominantly earthly, was not intended as an end in itself. It was meant to be a tutor leading the Israelites to something far grater----a kingdom that would truly not be of this world.

More next week..onto chapter 3..

Love to all who read..

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