Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Christians and war (part two)

I want to begin with Jesus. With his life and teachings. But first, we must set the background, briefly, of that time.

When Jesus came, Israel had various factions with differing agendas. There were those who were benefiting from the Roman government, and occupation (Herodians and Saducees). There were others who were in caves, awaiting the coming of Messiah and God's judgment and vindication of them, as the new covenant people (the Qumran community). There were those who were devoted to Torah, and were looked up to, in general, as the most true adherents to the Law/Torah (scribes and Pharisees). And there were those who were determined to overthrow God's enemies in the Old Testament tradition of "holy war" (the zealots).

But Jesus comes. The "Intertestamental period" had prepared Israel for a longing for one, the Messiah, (meaning, "anointed one"), called "the Son of Man" in Daniel 7. He would through God, bring to fulfillment the Old Testament prophecies and picture of a restored (from exile), renewed Israel. That would be a blessing to all nations.

So Jesus comes. And does proclaim himself as one who has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. But it doesn't look like anyone had foreseen. This new covenant in his blood, that Jesus brings, and the proclamation of the kingdom of God that went with it, is different in some important ways, from the covenant Israel had been given from God to Moses for Israel, on Mount Sinai.

One key point, before we get to Jesus' life and teachings (tomorrow): Jesus told the Jews (especially directed to the Jewish leaders) that the kingdom would be taken from them and given to a nation/people that would bear its fruit for God. There was to be a new Israel. A new nation. And it ends up, in mission, being scattered througout the earth. Sent to all nations. Blessed to be a blessing, in fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham.

This is the setting for Jesus' life and teachings. A small sketch. But important to get a feel for how Jesus saw himself as the fulfillment of God's covenant to Israel. And what Israel is to become, in view of that. And we in Jesus, being included in this.

Tomorrow, we'll get to some actual teaching from Jesus, along with related Scripture, on the Christian and war, as I read and interpret it, along with Christians from the present and the past.

Any thoughts, questions, corrections- on what I've typed so far?


Kyle said...

Looks like a good summary so far, mate.

Ted Gossard said...

Thanks, Kyle. Read on, if you like!