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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Saturday, 9 August 2008

The Gospel of Israel, part 6 (Death, Resurrection and the Hope of Israel)

OK, I confess - Here I owe everything to N.T. Wright (you can read his work for the arguments - this is simply a brief overview). I must confess that the link NTW makes between the death-resurrection of Jesus and the exile-restoration of Israel is an insight of major significance (my forthcoming commentary on Lamentations makes a big deal of it, reading Lamentations as Israel's Holy Saturday literature).

In his role as Messiah Jesus represented the whole nation of Israel in his own person. He was 'one man Israel'. In his crucifixion at the hands of pagan Rome and his resurrection at the hands of Yhwh, Jesus plays out the story of Israel’s exile and restoration. His death is a prophetic enactment of the exile of Israel and his resurrection is an embodiment of their return and restoration. Jesus embraced in his own innocent life the covenant curse incurred by his people and through his resurrection opened the way into the new age.

Many Jews had expected the Messiah to come, to defeat the pagan enemies of his people, and to inaugurate the new age of the kingdom of God. The dead would be raised, the Spirit would be poured out and the nations would come. They had not expected the Messiah to be killed by their enemies. They had not expected him to be raised from the dead ahead of the general resurrection at the last day.

The resurrection of Jesus then introduced an unexpected twist into the way in which God had planned to fulfil his covenant promises. If the Messiah was raised from the dead then the new age had already been inaugurated. In the Messiah Israel had already been restored . The time of the new covenant had arrived!

And yet clearly there was still more to come. The new age was inaugurated with the Christ’s resurrection but was not yet here in its fullness. So the restoration of Israel/kingdom of God was both ‘now’ and ‘not yet’.

4 comments:

Teresita said...

In his crucifixion at the hands of pagan Rome and his resurrection at the hands of Yhwh, Jesus plays out the story of Israel’s exile and restoration.

Except that Israel's exile was a deserved punishment for their unfaithfulness to Yahweh, so the only symbolic link is that both Israel and Jesus were briefly wiped off the face of the Earth. And Christ's resurrection was to full glory and power, while Israel's restoration after the exile was tentative. For instance, the temple of Nehemiah was a pale shadow of the massive edifice erected by Solomon, such that some of the old timers wept at the comparison.

Jesus embraced in his own innocent life the covenant curse incurred by his people and through his resurrection opened the way into the new age.

The procedure in Leviticus for cleansing the people of their sin was to take two goats, and draw lots. One of the goats was killed, and its blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. The high priest then laid his hands on the head of the other goat, confessed the sins of the people of Israel (thus transferring them to the goat) and the "scapegoat" was released into the wilderness. Christ became both the goat that was killed and the living goat which bore our sins into oblivion, the unknown "wilderness" which is the realm of the dead. It wasn't Christ's innocence which selected him for this role, but his preparation by Yahweh himself as the Word made flesh, the very Son of God.

And yet clearly there was still more to come. The new age was inaugurated with the Christ’s resurrection but was not yet here in its fullness. So the restoration of Israel/kingdom of God was both ‘now’ and ‘not yet’.

On the Mount of Olives Christ said, "That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." Either Christ was mistaken or ill-informed about the timeline, or the Kingdom of God has come with power. Let's assume the latter. Was the sign of this power the resurrection? No, because the risen Christ appeared to only a select few, and was rather coy about it (we have Paul's statement that he appeared to 500 brethren but he was a late convert and he could only relate an oral tradition that was not recorded in the gospels). The inauguration of the Kingdom of God, therefore, must have been Pentecost Sunday, when the cowering disciples in the upper room were transformed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into bold apostles and went out into the world to preach the gospel accompanied by signs and wonders. It is Pentecost, not Resurrection Sunday, that marks the true birthday of the Church.

James Pate said...

'Thus says the Lord God, "No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the sons of Israel, shall enter My sanctuary.

Joel said...

Robin, I am with both you and Wright on this. But one thing has always bothered me. If in his death Jesus bore Israel's curse in her place, and in effect wrapping up the Mosaic covenant, how do we udnerstand 70 AD. Do we see that merely as we see every other such event in history, as one rather dumb client state getting the smack down? Do we looks at it as more or less a "secular" historical event not related to the old or the new covenant? And if we do how do we understand the various comments in the gospels that seem to equate what would become "70AD" with judgment? I'd be interested in your take. Thanks.

Robin Parry said...

Joel

I am not sure that I see precisely what your problem is but I'll have a go.

First of all I would say that it depends what you mean by Jesus 'wrapping up the Mosaic covenant'. My view is that the Law of Moses still applies to Israel but, as Jeremiah said, the Law is now internalized by the Spirit and interpreted by the Messiah. So I would wish to note both the continuity and the discontinuity between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

Anyway, you asked about AD 70. The NT is very clear that the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 was indeed a divine judgement on Israel for rejecting the narrow way that Jesus called it to. So it must be seen in theological terms.

I believe that Jesus also looked to a post AD 70 restoration of Jerusalem and Israel (there are various textual clues). This too is of theological significance.

Not at all sure that this answers your question but it is my first stab at doing so