Thursday, August 06, 2009

Saul shall save my people from the hand of the Palestinians

My CMS Reflections

We've been reading 1 Samuel in bible study recently. I love this book, not least for the twists and nuances of the narrative (it is one of the oldest highly developed narratives around). There's plot development, and really complex characters. It's beautiful.

However, I've have a lurking nervousness in the back of mind as we've read further into the story. It's not 1 Samuel itself that makes me uneasy. Instead, it's knowing just how similar things are now as they were in Saul's time. What we know call the Gaza Strip has been a source of conflict in 1 Samuel as much as it has been in our time. Israelites are still fighting with the Philistines, although we call the Palestinians (you do know that Palestine comes from the word Philistine?).

Talking to a couple yesterday who've been ministering to Palestinian refugees in Jordan, there has been a real issue for Palestinian Christians. Still, in Arabic today Palestinians are called Philistines. It is a real issue for them, especially as they read the Old Testament.

Palestinian Christians have often been caught in the middle of Arab-Israeli conflict. Please pray for them.
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." - Galatians 3.28-29


Mike W said...

Perhaps they need to teach us how to read our Bible. Mostly we don't get how great the news is that Jews and gentiles can get together as a new people of God. We need to remember that at a particular point, Yahweh really freaken hated us, he killed our parents, took our land etc

Mike Bull said...

If we actually read the book of Romans, well, the entire New Testament, in context, there have been neither Jews nor Gentiles since AD70. Not in God's eyes anyway. In one day, the Abrahamic rift was closed forever.

There are only Christians and unbelievers. The Jewish-Palestinian churches are the new world in action.

Matthew Moffitt said...

Mike W - Amen!

Mike Bull - I'm all for reading Romans past chapter 8 (I've recommended it to people on several occasions). But not remembering any references to AD70 in chapters 9-11, I'm pretty sure Paul was sure the new humanity (Jews plus Gentiles) happened at AD 33.

Otherwise, Galatians 3.28-29 might look something like this:

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (once the temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed). And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

Mike Bull said...


From memory, God was going to make a short work on the Land.

The period from 30 to 70 was all part of the same process - stitching Jew and Gentile into one body. The Herod's were doing the same thing for all the wrong reasons.

In 70, the process was completed. One goat went to heaven (the bride) and one goat went to hell (the harlot).

So, fair point, but after AD70 Jews are not provoked to jealousy. The apostolic ministry was complete. The "Day approaching" arrived.

Matthew Moffitt said...

Mmm, close but no cigar. I'm happy to see the events of AD70 as the vindication of Jesus ministry. But the reality from the resurrection was that Jews & Gentiles could now be one body.

And do you think AD70 stopped 'provoking the Jews to jealousy'? Much of the evidence suggests that the church was still overwhelmingly Jewish well in to the late second century.

Mike Bull said...

I don't doubt it, especially after Jesus' vindication.

From the ministry of Christ to the end of Judaism was a harvest, all part of the one process. This is what Paul is talking about. With the end of the "circumcision economy", the Jew-Gentile divide was no longer an issue. It was clear who the "sons of God" were (Romans 8:22), and it wasn't the unbelieving Jews. It was the Christians. The NT is full of warnings to those who were looking back to Egypt and believing Judaising doctrines. Not the case after AD70. It was the end of the Old Creation.

The issue is the overlap. God always begins new worship before the destruction of the old. He always sends Joseph into Egypt before the end of Jacob's tent. He sends Daniel to convert Nebuchadnezzar before Jerusalem is destroyed.

Paul was in the middle of these two events. Christ as Joseph/Daniel was already at the right hand of the power, but the old tent was still around.

In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Heb 8:13)

And it did.

That is what Romans 9-11 is about. I highly recommend Jordan's essay: The Future of Israel Re-Examined.

Anyone confused about Jews today and their claims (or the counter claims of Palestinians) should read that. The Jew-Gentile body was finished in AD70, and even celebrated at a marriage supper! While the birds of the air cleaned the world of the Herodian carcass. This time, Abraham didn't chase them away.

We see the same process in the four horsemen of the gospel, released at Christ's ascension when He opened the scroll. The Word comes, then it brings a division (as Jesus promised), then the old order is starved, then the green horse, the Levitical sword, comes to finish it off. Paul wrote during the "black horse".

But yes, the process began in AD30.

We see the exact same pattern in Adam to Noah. Enoch preaches (as Christ) and ascends as firstfruits. Noah (as the apostles) preaches and the clean and unclean animals (Jews and Gentiles) submit to him. And, well, we know the rest of the story. Daniel saw it this way too:

"And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it [shall be] with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined."

It was certainly as it was in the days of Noah.

andrewE said...

Great post Matt.