Categories
Quotations Theological Reflections

The Death of Israel

Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, pp.298,299

It was, surely, a wondrously linked chain of circumstances, which bound the Synagogue to the Church. Such a result could never have been foreseen, as that, what really was the consequence of Israel’s dispersion, and, therefore, indirectly the punishment of their sin, should become the means of fulfilling Israel’s world-mission. Another instance this, of how Divine judgment always bears in its bosom larger mercy; another illustration how the dying of Israel is ever life to the world; another manifestation of that supernatural Rule of God, in which all is rule, that is, law and order, and all the supernatural, bringing to pass, in the orderly succession of events, what at the outset would have seemed, and really is, miraculous. For the Synagogue became the cradle of the Church. Without it, as indeed without Israel’s dispersion, the Church Universal would, humanly speaking, have been impossible, and the conversion of the Gentiles have required a succession of millenial miracles.

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The dying of Israel is ever life to the world. I believe Edersheim makes his case with regard to the synagogue (fruit of the dispersion) and the church. But this principle, as is obvious from the very form of its statement, is also true in other ways. Paul takes up this thought, when thinking of the the Gospel reaching to the Gentiles, and says:

So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass mean riches for the world, and if their failure mean riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean, but life from the dead? (Romans 11:11-15, ESV)

The dying of Israel is life to the world in that through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles. An example of this can be found in the narrative of Acts 13. There Paul and Barnabas have come to Antioch of Pisidia and preached in the synagogue with a good deal of acceptance. However, in view of their popularity the Jews were jealous and opposed Paul. At which point Paul and Barnabas boldly say: It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold we are turning to the Gentiles For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to thend of the earth.” (Acts 13:46,47: see also Acts 18:6.)

But there is yet another way in which it is true that the dying of Israel is life to the world. It is in connection with the Ideal Israelite, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God. He is called out of Egypt in fulfillment of Hosea 11:1 (Matthew 2:13-15). But Hosea 11:1 is an historical statement relative to the Exodus. Jesus repeated that Exodus, however, that it might be clear that He is the true Israel, the true prince who has power with God and man. The Exodus pointed to Jesus. Isaiah 44 also established that Jesus is the true Israel:

But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen! Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by the flowing streams. This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s,’ another will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and name himself by the name of Israel. (Isaiah 44:1-5, ESV)

That this is about Christ is established by the context: for instance, the parallel with Isaish 42:1-9, which Matthew applies to Christ (Matthew 12:15-21). Taking that as a given, then, it is very clearly true that the dying of Israel is life to the world. Jesus died: He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; Jesus died: He offered Himself without spot to God; Jesus died: He triumphed over principalities and powers in the cross. Jesus died as the saviour of the world. And so His dying is the life of the world: And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh (John 6:51). And this dying of the new Israel was also through old Israel’s trespass –as Peter says to the “men of Israel”, this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men (Acts 4:23).

And that points us to another facet of this truth, something that Paul emphasizes and that is demonstrated clearly in Jesus. Death is not the end of the story. Paul anticipates the acceptance of Israel. They have stumbled, but not in order to fall. Their full inclusion will mean yet greater riches. And Jesus rose from the dead. That was His vindication: in it He was declared to be the Son of God with power (Romans 1:3,4). And His resurrection is for our justification (Romans 4:25). The dying of Israel is ever life to the world. The dying of Israel is always in connection with transgression. But the dying of Israel results in resurrection: and the resurrection of Israel is ever the inauguration of the unimaginable fullness of blessing.

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Categories
Pastoral Care Quotations

A Letter from John Knox

John Knox to his mother-in-law, 1553

Where God saith, “It repenteth me that I made Saul king,” he means not, that Saul at any time was a member of Christ’s body; but that he was a temporal officer, promoted of God, and yet most inobedient to his commandment; and therefore, that he would provide another to occupy his room: and that where he says, “I repent,” we must understand him to speak after the manner of men, attemperating himself to our understanding. For otherwise, God repenteth not; for before, his majesty knew the inobedience and rebellion of the wicked king. But, Sister, God the Father cannot repent, that he hath engrafted us members of Christ’s body; for that were to repent the honor of His own Son, yea, and his own good work in us.

Abide patiently, and give no place to the temptations of the adversary. Let him shoot his darts in his despite; but say you in your heart, The Lord is my defender, and therefore shall I not be confounded: dolor shall be but for a moment, but ever and ever shall we reign with Jesus our Lord; whose Holy Spirit be your comfort to the end.

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Categories
Quotations Theological Reflections

Leo the Great, Again: Again, on the Ascension

Leo the Great, “On the Lord’s Ascension, ii”

[Speaking of the apostles, he says that they] “made such progress after the Lord’s Ascension that everything which had previously filled them with fear was turned into joy. For they had lifted the whole contemplation of their mind to the Godhead of Him that sat at the Father’s right hand, and were no longer hindered by the barrier of corporeal sight from directing their minds’ gaze to That Which had never quitted the Father’s side in descending to earth, and had not forsaken the disciples in ascending to heaven.”

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Categories
Poetry Quotations

The Day of Wrath

A translation by Walter Scott of Thomas of Celano

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That day of wrath, that dreadful day

When heav’n and earth shall pass away!

What powe’r shall be the sinner’s stay?

How shall he meet that dreadful day?

When, shriveling like a parched scroll,

The flaming heav’ns together roll;

When louder yet, and yet more dread,

Swells the high trump that wakes the dead;

O on that day, that wrathful day

When man to judgment wakes from clay

Be thou the trembling sinner’s stay

Though heav’n and earth shall pass away

Categories
Law and Gospel Quotations

Where Grace Reigns

Rev. Matthew Winzer (armourbearer on the Puritanboard on this thread) made the following statement (emphasis mine)

…in reformed churches, where free grace is proclaimed loud and clear, blessings joined to obedience should never be called law-preaching. I tend to think it is only a soul stricken by the law that could construe it that way; where grace reigns every precept is a precious promise of God’s goodness to His people.

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Categories
Quotations

A Good Quote For When You Feel Guilty About Being Lazy

…not that that ever happens to me, of course.

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Thomas Decker, quoted in Dorothy Sayer’s “Gaudy Night”

Do but consider what an excellent thing sleep is: it is so inestimable a jewel that, if a tyrant would give his crown for an hour’s slumber, it cannot be bought: of so beautiful a shape is it, that though a man lie with an Empress, his heart cannot beat quiet till he leaves her embracements to be at rest with the other: yea, so greatly indebted are we to this kinsman of death, that we owe the better tributary, half of our life to him: and there is good cause why we should do so: for sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. Who complains of want? of wounds? of cares? of great men’s oppressions? of captivity? while he sleepeth? Beggars in their beds take as much pleasure as kings: can we therefore surfeit on this delicate Ambrosia? Can we drink too much of that whereof to taste too little tumbles us into a churchyard, and to use it but indifferently throws us into Bedlam? No, no, look upon Endymion, the moon’s minion, who slept three score and fifteen years, and was not a hair the worse for it.

Categories
Quotations Theological Reflections

What Does the Devil Think about Jesus?

G. Campbell Morgan, The Crises of the Christ, Part Three — The Temptation, Conclusion

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In the last temptation there is an intimation of the devil’s estimate of the worth of Jesus. After showing Him the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, he declared his conviction that to capture the soul of Christ would be a greater victory than all his conquests. He reckoned this perfect Man to be worth all over which he claimed to have gained authority. “All these,” said the enemy, and the offer included the result of the dreadful persistency of diabolical endeavour through long centuries, the evolution of evil through tedious processes. The spotless Son of God was, in the estimate of the devil, of more value than all. In effect the enemy said, I will give to Thee all that has cost so much, if I may but gain for one moment Thy homage. It is a stupendous and startling revelation, the devil’s estimate of the worth of Christ. There are persons who say that they cannot understand the expiatory work of Christ on the Cross, because of the difficulty of believing that the suffering and death of One could possible be sufficient for the redemption of the world. Those who speak of this difficulty evidently hold Christ at lower valuation than did the devil. He, comparing the world with the Master, tacitly acknowledged the greater worth of Jesus. Satan evidently reckoned that unless he could bring Christ into subjection, nothing he had, would he be able to hold. He evidently recognised the infinite value of this second man; and understood, moreover, the relation of that undepreciated value to the redemption of the world.

Categories
Preaching Quotations

Denmark, Clairvaux & Geneva

The observation of Bernard well deserves to be remembered: The name of Jesus is not only light but food also, yea, oil, without which all the food of the soul is dry; salt, without which as a condiment whatever is set before us is insipid; in fine, honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, joy in the heart, and, at the same time, medicine; every discourse where this name is not heard is absurd. Calvin’s Institutes II.16.1

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Categories
Controversy Quotations

Augustine: Are Unbelievers United to Christ?

On the internal/external covenant membership distinction: De Doctrina Christiana, book 3, ch. 32

THE SECOND RULE OF TICHONIUS

The second rule is about the twofold division of the body of the Lord; but this indeed is not a suitable name, for that is really no part of the body of Christ which will not be with Him in eternity. We ought, therefore, to say that the rule is about the true and the mixed body of the Lord, or the true and the counterfeit, or some such name; because, not to speak of eternity, hypocrites cannot even now be said to be in Him, although they seem to be in His Church. And hence this rule might be designated thus: Concerning the mixed Church. Now this rule requires the reader to be on his guard when Scripture, although it has now come to address or speak of a different set of persons, seems to be addressing or speaking of the same persons as before, just as if both sets constituted one body in consequence of their being for the time united in a common participation of the sacraments.