The Gospel of the Kingdom, Pt. 5

I wrote the other day that Christians should learn to think from and talk from Genesis 1-2 and Israel in conceiving of and talking about the gospel.  Thinking from Genesis 1-2 reminds us of God’s original intentions for humanity and for creation.  This is crucial because these shape Scripture’s depiction of what God seeks to recover in salvation.

We begin to see this in God’s relationship with Israel.  God responds to human rebellion and the inevitable loss of the knowledge of God among humanity (Gen. 3-11) by calling Abram (later, Abraham) and promising to restore all things through him and his family.

God’s commitment to Abraham eventuates in his rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt.  God calls Israel to be the unique recipients of his love and to be the agents of his redemptive pursuit of the nations.

Israel is important in understanding “the gospel of the kingdom” because here we see God’s initial move to set things right (“salvation”).

God calls a nation to embody in all aspects of their national life the rule of the Creator God over them.  In their practices of justice, care for the poor, and mundane behaviors of neighborly love, they were to inhabit a way of life that recalled God’s original intentions for creation.

And they were to draw the nations into that love, too, leading them to worship the Creator God of Israel through repentance and cultivation of renewed habits of life.

In short, Israel was called to enjoy God’s shalom and oversee the spread of that shalom throughout creation.  In Israel, God revives his creation intentions for humanity from Genesis 1-2.

Tragically, Israel failed.  They became like the nations rather than being a light to the nations.  God sent them into exile but promised to return and gather them and to bring to completion his purposes for them.

When Jesus comes preaching the gospel of the kingdom, therefore, he comes announcing the arrival of God’s restored order of flourishing—shalom—with his arrival.  He calls Israel to inhabit that restored order by taking up life-giving practices of restoration, confession of sin, forgiveness, justice, and love for one another.

Jesus calls Israel to become a people that embody in their corporate life the reign of the Creator God.  This entails also renewing the mission to the nations to draw them into God’s love through repentance and discipleship.

In thinking about the gospel, then, we should imagine the set of language that describes God’s creation of a people who embody the gracious reign of the Creator God in Christ through practices of joyful self-sacrifice, service, justice, love, compassion, care for the poor and for creation itself, confession of sin, and forgiveness.  And God’s creation of a people who embody God’s passionate pursuit of the whole of creation.

In the New Testament, “the gospel” is the news that God is currently doing this.

Now, I’m not necessarily talking about including all of that in a “gospel presentation.”  But when we think about the gospel of the kingdom, we should start with God’s intentions for creation and his aims in calling a people that embody on earth his rule and his love for his world.


9 responses to “The Gospel of the Kingdom, Pt. 5

  • gjohnston2244

    Nice job. That (in my opinion) is the gospel within the overall narrative.

    QUESTION: Has the Gospel accomplished its purposes? I ask this with Isaiah 55:10-11 firmly in mind. If in the NT, the “gospel” was the good news that God was creating “a people who embody the gracious reign of the Creator God in Christ through practices of joyful self-sacrifice, service, justice, love, compassion, care for the poor and for creation itself, confession of sin, and forgiveness,” can we realistically say that God is still doing that today? Or to put it another way: How do we think or talk about the gospel in its narrative context in contrast to the history of the church, a history that doesn’t really manifest the sort of community or corporate life you’ve described?

  • imaginewithscripture

    Reblogged this on Imagine with Scripture and commented:
    “God calls a nation to embody in all aspects of their national life the rule of the Creator God over them. In their practices of justice, care for the poor, and mundane behaviors of neighborly love, they were to inhabit a way of life that recalled God’s original intentions for creation.” Tim Gombis

  • Andrew T.

    Perhaps Tim’s theme of renewal was being applied to the Kingdom of God before it was such a glorious thing; when it was still a Kingdom waiting, with no King. This from Isaiah’s address to Israel:

    [Isa 55:3] “Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I shall make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.“; and
    [Isa 55:5] “Behold, you will call a nation that you do not know, and nation that did not know you will run to you, because of YHWH your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

    [Isaiah 62:2] saw (as Hosea did) a Kingdom rejected then called Loammi (“Not My People”) given a new name CHRISTian (“little anointed ones” – you are my people. He said “The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you will be called by a new name that the mouth of YHWH will give ([Acts 11:26]).

    Ezekiel [Eze 16:22] said this renewal “And in all your abominations and your whorings you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, wallowing in your blood. and yet God responds mercifully, looking forward to renewal [Eze 16:60] “… yet I shall remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I shall establish for you an everlasting covenant.” … [Eze 16:63] “.. that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord GOD.. Paul said “For I would not have you ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you be wise in your own conceits; that a partial blindness has befallen Israel, until the ˻multitude of nations˼ is come.” [Rom 11:25].

    Before it returned from its prodigal journey the Kingdom of God was a very different thing than what it became once its King renewed it. Once its King renewed it, beastly Rome fell upon it and was smashed.

    Renewal applied in the way this post hints at provides a nice parallel:

    If the example of the resurrection of Jesus is evidence that our promised resurrection is true, what more can we infer about God’s mercy from witnessing the resurrection of an entire Kingdom?

    • gjohnston2244

      Andrew, would you mind stating your proposition (what you are advocating) up front? I’m having trouble evaluating your argument(s) because I’m not exactly sure what you are arguing.

      I’m also having trouble connecting your concerns to what Tim is advocating. But perhaps that is because i’m not sure what your concerns are.

      • Andrew T.

        I’m sorry. I’ll try again, aiming for complete transparency (though it may be the logic’s premises that are foreign to you; in which case we’ll have to discover which ones these are).

        Tim wrote “Israel is important in understanding “the gospel of the kingdom” because here we see God’s initial move to set things right (“salvation”).” (I accept with his logic. Do you?)

        If so, there’s a relationship between the salvation of Israel, and of a person, but what is it? Question: Is Israel’s salvation (as Kingdom of God) simply a model for a person’s salvation, is it the other way round, or something else such as Israel vs personal salvation itself as a false dichotomy (since both are really the same thing; there be no Kingdom where there be no King in relation to His subjects – In other words, a covenant, or a marriage, whatever we want to call it to make it intelligible).

        In comments for Tim’s last post, the idea came up that if the implications of his post were true, to best understand the Kingdom’s message and it’s implication on salvation (even in a pastoral sense) it becomes extremely important to clearly understand Israel’s history of redemption as the Kingdom of God; yet on this point there seems to be more sophistry than sagacity (is this a settled question or no?)

        By noting “In Israel, God revives his creation intentions for humanity from Genesis 1-2.” Tim is raising yet another issue (incidentally, there is great insight in this assertion). There are at least two significant artifacts in Israel’s Kingdom history we can look to for evidence of revival; first, there is the exodus into and out of Egypt; second, there is the exodus into and out of the wilderness ([Rev 12, 17][Hos 9] etc.), aka the divorce, or the second “Egypt”, in other words, the lesser recognized exodus into the four beastly superpowers, starting with Assyria/Babylon.

        Unfortunately most of the major and minor prophets treat the first Exodus as a footnote (but signpost) to the second (as does John). They almost exclusively attend to the second. So we cannot claim to understand the Gospel message fully, if we do not understand what they were on about (and yes – Yehshua and the Cross were absolutely central, but you cannot have a marriage without both a bridegroom and a bride – or a Kingdom without a King and His subjects. Clearly there are these questions about how much of the first covenant is reflected in the eternal covenant, and what the relationship is between the Kingdom of God, whose King was rejected (and abandoned), and the restored Kingdom of God, whose King was killed (but worshiped): Paul’s ‘first and second Adam’ theme found all over again in the history of the Kingdom (Bride) as well as the history of the King (bridegroom).

        So my point is that Tim’s suggestions are exceedingly fruitful and likely tru, but apt to lead Christians to places they do not wish to tread (shall we follow?)

      • gjohnston2244

        Andrew, if the bottom line of what you are getting at is that Tim’s points (with regard to a more holistic understanding of the gospel in its context of the New Exodus and New Covenant (Kingdom of God) promises to Israel) are true and relevant to gospel proclamation today, then I am happy to agree with your conclusion.

  • Andrew T.

    I’m glad. Accord is almost as savoury as truth.

    Towards a more holistic understanding of the gospel then … lets see how far Tim will take us.

    Perhaps we might see old and new covenants, old and new Kingdoms, through a single lens (say perhaps, the Abrahamic promise).

    I look forward to the next post!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: