There is something sad but poignant about Moses not quite making it to the promise land (Deut 34). He remains among the greatest of the Israelites his story all the more powerful for its end, so near and yet so far. He gets to see but not to touch, he symbolises the importance and the limitations of the law which is linked with his name. As Paul might say it (The Law) will get you so far, it will get you to the brink of the Jordan but you'll need someone else to get you across and that someone else will be called Joshua Yeshua Jesus.
The way Jesus talks about the law points the way. Love God-Love your neighbour because it is wrapped up in Law language and it’s prompted by a question of ‘what is the greatest commandment’ (Matt 22:34-46). It’s seen as a demand but it's not first of all a demand, it is rather a gift. It is what Jesus himself was doing and would do supremely on the cross. It is what, by the spirit, Jesus’ surprised followers found themselves doing or beginning to do. It’s what Paul was determined at all costs to do in his evangelism and pastoral work. It represents, in one sense, the Law working on the inside written on the hearts, and it also encompasses all the continuing externals as well. If you asked a pharisee the question of the greatest commandment he is looking for a way of defining Israel now and in the age to come. But if these two commandments are the greatest, love for the creator and love for one's neighbour that means throwing open the borders to all and sundry and at the heart of Israel law is a sign that reminds Israel that she exists for the sake of the world, and not vice versa.
It all comes together in Jesus as Priest and King. Jesus seems to put forward the possibility that he is Psalm 110’s central figure, both King and Priest and one to whom even David, that greatest of all kings, look up to as Lord. Jesus upstages the existing Jerusalem, priesthood and royal house. Somehow David’s Lord would be David’s son. Get your head around that! And when you do, you begin to appreciate how this new Joshua (Jesus) can do what the Law (Moses) could not do, lead you home, get you to that promised land. Dave
I love a good mystery, Agatha Christie, a good Morse, classic whodunnits etc...
Question: did God really intend Israel to have a King? read 1 Samuel 8 and answers on a postcard please. Another question: did God intend Israel to have a temple? read 2 Samuel 7 and again answers on a postcard.
You know at one simple level these things, a king, a temple seem to be just concessions to Israel’s desire to be like everybody else. To be like every other countries Kings like all the nations. A temple like the one down the road. But there our problems borrowing light from the world instead of being the light of the world. Kings can become corrupt and are exiled, beginning with David himself whose immorality copied amongst his children leads to Absalom’s rebellion.
Temples can very quickly become first idols and then ruins, and yet God desires justice and mercy for his people not unredeemed anarchy. God desires to dwell among his people not to remain distant. A King after God's own heart, a temple that is, I don't know somehow, simultaneously movable and appropriate to God’s Majesty. These kinds of ambiguities, these mysteries converge in an apparently jokey pun in 2 Samuel 7:11. David wants to build God a house so God promises that he will build David a ‘house’, a son who will be God’s own son, whose Davidic throne will be established forever. Why did God change the subject? Had he forgotten David’s suggestion about a temple? No, there was an appropriate way for the living, loving God to dwell in the midst of his people. The stone temple would point the way towards it but would remain just a kind of mysterious signpost. The reality would be a human being reflecting God's image, a King embodying Gods wise ordering of the people. A man after God's own heart whose heart will be broken by the pain of the world but who would, in that moment, render all manmade temples redundant.
Paul says that this is a mystery, it's hidden long ago and it's only disclosed in Jesus (Rom 16:25-26). Luke tells us that Mary wildly becomes the temporary dwelling place of the living God. The presence of the Holy Spirit and the overshadowing of the most high both evoke the temple idea. The passage struggles to say something for which words can hardly exist, that in Mary's womb the temple and King come together once and that the scriptures came true in ways never imagined (Luke 1:26). God found at last the house, neither tent nor temple but flesh and blood that would most truly and fully express his Royal self-giving love. A mystery solved, it was Jesus all along.
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