The People of God - Intro

This post is part of the the people of god series (click to view the other posts in this series).

On this same site, Greg Billingsley has a blog series that began with the question, “What does the Bible say about promises of land?”  I want to ask another broader question in this series that profoundly affects the answer to his question.  What does the Bible say about the people of God?  Perhaps one of the most misunderstood issues in the evangelical church, at least in the area in which I minister, is the matter of the people of God. 

Who are they?  How many “peoples of God” are there?  And how does that, if at all, affect Christian faith and life?  Many might regard this subject as one that should be reserved for the ivory tower of academia or at least reserved for those who call themselves theologians.  But I think the importance of this theological concern truly is nothing less than the glory of Christ Jesus.  A proper understanding of the people of God magnifies the One in whom that people is found – it magnifies Jesus.  To misunderstand this issue or to fail to understand the Scripture’s unfolding plan of redemption culminating and climaxing in Jesus Christ is to cloud the glory of Christ and place something else above Him. 

Today there are Christians calling others to serve and bless the nation of Israel as if this is where their own blessing is found.  Whether it’s Genesis 12, Isaiah 60, or Isaiah 40, there is a profound failure to see the fulfillment of these texts in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  The call is not to serve and bless a nation that was a type to point us to the reality – the call is to serve and bless the reality – the antitype as it were, the true Israel, Jesus Christ.  In Him there is blessing; in Him there is hope; and in Him there is salvation.  And it is in no other.  As Paul so clearly says in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him.  That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory.” 

There’s been a disturbing trend to “return to our roots” as Christians.  If that root is properly understood as Christ, that would be wonderful.  But as it is, more often than not, it’s seen as a return to mere types and shadows. It’s a return to that which simply pointed forward to Christ as the reality – and Christ is eclipsed.  One of my favorite passages in the New Testament is Zechariah’s prophecy concerning Jesus that he spoke at the birth of his son, John the Baptist.  In this passage he glories in the fulfillment of the promise of God in Christ Jesus. 

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us, that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”  Luke 1:68-75

The Jews didn’t see Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament promises.  They expected something different.  They expected a political king, one who would rescue them from their surrounding enemies.  And what they missed is that Jesus Christ did rescue them from their enemies but they profoundly misunderstood who their enemies were.  Zechariah is very clear concerning the fulfillment in Christ. 

The Jews are still waiting for the Messiah – but He has already come!  Sadly, tragically, too many Christians are waiting right along with the Jews, thinking that His coming to deal with sin was somehow simply an added bonus to the program.  This was the program!  And many think, “well, they’ll catch Him on the next coming – after all, He is coming again.”  Yes He is!  But this time, not for sin, He’s already done that.  Hebrews 9:28 says,

“So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”  

You see, here’s the bottom line, this is why this is so important – one can’t look forward to a messiah to come who hasn’t already dealt with sin, because if the first coming is denied, one misses the forgiveness of sin; for after all, the Messiah, by definition,  IS the one who has dealt with sin.  A messiah who has not done so is not the Messiah. 

The driving force of this blog series is simply this:  that Christ may not be eclipsed by a people for whom He came.  May He be exalted.      

This post is part of the the people of god series (click to view the other posts in this series).