UNITY IN OUR FRAGMENTED POST MODERN WORLD

(EPHESIANS 4)

 

I.  Creator God and Unity of the Cosmos: Absolute Monotheism!

 

                                                      1.  Monotheism, in an exclusive sense, was not a self-evident fact in ancient Israel (Israel worshipped idols (I Kings 11.3-13)  (God of the nation?  God of the cosmos?)

                                                      2.  Existence of other gods was not denied (e.g., 15.11; Judges 11.23f; I Samuel 26.19; Psalms 82.1; 89.7; 95;3) Monotheism in Josephus, Antiquities  5.112; Siriac 42.21.

                                                      3.  Apocryphal/Pseudopigraphic literature is filled with assertions of YHWH as one God (Marmorstein, The Rabbinic Doctrine of God 1, p. 65).

                                                      4.  Old Testament Unity  is grounded in the God who created, thus the unity of the universe, the cosmic.  JHWH is called ŇThe Lord of the whole earthÓ (Jos. 3.11,13; Ps. 97.5; Micah 4.13; Zech 4.14.; 6.5).

                                                      5.  Man was a unity because God created him.

                                                      6.  God is the origin and one Lord made the world into a unity (Genesis 1.1).

                                                      7.  The biblical claim of creation was in dynamic opposition to PythagoreansŐ claim of immanent order of the universe, nor Stoic cosmic logos, which unites the different parts of the cosmos into a unity.  Unity in the Old Testament claims everything in the world conforms to the will of the creator.  The personal relationship between God and the world, especially mankind, is thus characteristic of the O.T. idea of unity.

 

II.  Disunity Derives from Man (Ra) or sin is rebelling against the unifying God of creation.  ManŐs disordering fragmented (a) GodŐs relation to man; (b) ManŐs relationship to his fellow man (social); (c) ManŐs internal wholeness; and (d) God and ManŐs relationship with creation, the cosmos and the universe.

 

                                                      1.  People of God (laos) disunited from other people (the goyim).

                                                      2.  Non-Israelites were called goyim (ethnic gentiles).

                                                      3.  This separation was based on Promise Election and Covenant (Dt. 7.6).  While Israel is the people of God, the Gentiles (goyim) appear as sinners and godless, the children of sin, subject to idols and demons..

                                                      4.  Especially after the Exile, it is particularly The Law that forms The Great Wall of Partition between Jews and Gentiles (The Law, Covenant, Promise, Grace, etc., in Christ for ŇAll,Ó) for supernatural separation between Jews and Gentiles see the book by Strack/Billerbeck, Kommentar Zum N.T. 3, pp. 48-51). 

                                                      5.  Satan stands behind the opposition in the world.

                                                      6.  The Unity of creation is broken.  It is dissolved by the opposition between God and idols, between Israel and the Gentiles and ultimately between God and Satan. 

                                                      7.  Unity is not as in Hellas a mental requirement, a necessity of mind, but a Restoration of the Unity of Cosmos.  In Jesus God was in Christ, restoring the universe to Himself. (Col. 1.15-23).

                                                      8.  Unity coincides with Salvation and unity will only be realized in the Kingdom of God through ChristŐs Lordship.

 

 

 

III.  Unity and Disunity of Israel (Unity, Creation, Promise)

 

                                                      1. Unity is realized in the present and the future (Eph 4.3, ŇMake every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace;Ó Eph 4.9ff. (esp. 11-13) ŇIt was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare GodŐs people for the works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ;Ó  Col. 3.14, ŇAnd over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unityÓ).

                                                      2.  GodŐs promise to Abraham (Gen. 12.1f Haran) is the basis of unity.

                                                      3.  GodŐs promise to Abraham and the Exodus (Exodus 20.2; Deut 5.6).

                                                      4.  GodŐs promise, presence among the ŇPeopleÓ and the Temple.  GodŐs unity of all creation was located in His presence to elect and make covenant with Israel for Purpose, not Privilege.  IsraelŐs constant rebellion against God and ultimately, our Incarnate Lord.

                                                      5.  GodŐs unity of His people was broken between Pharisees and Ôam ha^ares primarily over their hermeneutic of The Law and The Canon of GodŐs word (the Sadducees accepted only the Five Books of Moses).  This division was between those who kept the Law and those who did not.

                                                      6.  Another dimension of the division was the Diaspora.

                                                      7.  The Restoration of Unity at The End of Time (see G.F. Moore, Judaism I, p. 323ff.)

                                                      8.  The Messianic Line and GodŐs representative.

                                                      9.  The Messiah restores the cosmic disunity between every factor of reality.  God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.

                                                      10. The greatness of the Davidic kingdom and the glory of the Temple as the dwelling place for God in the midst of His chosen people was no insurance against apostasy (see my study, The Remnant). 

 

                                                      Because Solomon tolerated idolatrous shrines in the environs of Jerusalem, the greatest kingdom Israel achieved in Old Testament times was abruptly subjected to divine judgment in partition.  The Davidic Family continued to rule from Jerusalem over Judah (Southern Kingdom) for about 3 1/2 centuries (931-586 B.C.).  Religiously these centuries in the history of GodŐs chosen people are characterized by idolatry and apostasy. The balance of power shifted with the changing times.  Through these centuries of stress and strain, prophet after prophet came to remind the people and the Kings about that which was revealed through Moses.  Love for God is manifested in daily life and love for man is practised (see esp. I Kings. 1.26-40 and chp. 13).  Under Rehoboam and Abijah evil worship prevailed throughout the land of Judah, but AsaŐs revival removed idolatry (I Kgs. 15.11-13 and II Chronicles 13).

 

                                                      Elijah came with GodŐs message during a period of unprecedented political power and national idolatry in the Northern Kingdom.  Elijah faced Ahab when Jezebel was silencing the prophets (I Kgs. 18.4,13,36).  The Southern Kingdom during the time of Ahab provided a contrast to idolatrous Israel (II Chron 17-20).  Relief came to both kingdoms in the death of Hazael, the Syrian king.  Jonah was a prophet of GodŐs mercy to the Gentiles; in Amos, Israel was confronted by God (1.3-2.5).  In Hosea GodŐs love portrayed IsraelŐs prophet of GodŐs judgment and the Gospel of love (chp 40-53 (compare Hosea and Luke 14), the suffering servant Messiah.

 

                                                      Jeremiah (ca. 627 B.C.) was the prophet of mercy before judgement.  The core of IsraelŐs problem, says Jeremiah, is cultic apostasy: they have forsaken God (2.73).  Jeremiah is the prophet par excellant of GodŐs broken relationship with His people.  Israel has ignored GodŐs love, which was lavished upon her in her redemption from Egypt and her settlement in Canaan and has sinned in turning to idolatry.  The core of JeremiahŐs message is surely expressed in 9.23,24, ŇNever boast if you are wise. . . in your wisdom, strong in your strength, rich in your riches.  If you want to boast, boast in your insight and recognition that God delights to rule with kindness and love, give true decisions, exercise righteousness on the earth.Ó 

 

                                                      Ezekiel is the prophet of Judgment for Restoration (Ezek. 8-11).  The reason for GodŐs judgment is Israel has defiled and the elders tolerated, approved and participated in idolatry; the women were weeping to the foreign god Tammuz in the gate of the LordŐs house; and 25 leading men were worshipping the sun with their backs to the Temple.

 

                                                      Daniel places the Kingdom in perspective.  DavidŐs revelation was about the future development from the international perspective.  Malachi, a God-sent messenger, speaks directly to manŐs relationship to God (1.14; 2.5-9; Dt. 31.1-13).

 

                                                      Jesus was ŇThe Only Expected Man in HistoryÓ (see my study). The Messiah, God incarnate, is King.  ŇNo other gods before me.Ó

 

                                                      The Gospel for Post Modern Idolatry:  The Promise of Redemption (Genesis 3.15; 12.1-3).  Moses epitomizes the two governing principles in two brief statements:  ŇLove God with all your heart; love your neighbour as yourself.Ó 

 

                                                      The God-Man Recognized:  (Luke 1.26-38; 2.11; John 1.41,45, ŇWe have found the MessiahÓ)  Peter identified Jesus as the prophet promised by Moses and the other prophets (Acts 3.18-26).

 

                                                      Stephen delineated before the Sanhedrin, the divine revelation through the Old Testament, beginning with Abraham.  Philip, as he conversed with the Ethiopian eunuch, identifies Jesus with the suffering individual portrayed in Isaiah 53 (Acts 8.26-40).

 

                                                      Paul declared that the Old Testament asserted the promises made to Israel beginning with Abraham were fulfilled in the person of Jesus (Acts 13.16-41; 17.2-3; 26.1-3)/ 

 

                                                      Jesus came to fulfil the Law (Mt. 5.17-20; Heb. 1.1-4; Rom 5.8; I John 4.9).  Jesus fulfils the Gospel of Moses. Jesus demonstrated the Ňgreater loveÓ which was unprecedented in the religion of Israel (John 15.13); The Gospel of Jesus (Jn 1.1-18)  (the unity of creation) like GodŐs love for Israel (Dt. 10.12-22) (compare Hosea and Luke 15).  

 

JDS