Jesus told the disciples that if they had seen Him, they had seen the Father (John 12:45). Jesus was God manifest in the flesh. However, in the Old Testament, God was unseen. He was the invisible God. Even in the New Testament, Paul says that the invisible qualities of God were made visible through creation (Romans 1:20). It is important to understand who Christ was in this context since He came as the True Vine supplanting the nation of Israel, God’s original vine (Psalm 80, Isaiah 5). The nation of Israel was supposed to be the vine planted by God that lived according to righteousness and justice. Now, hold on to that thought for just a moment because it is also important to note how Israel was established.
The Lord established Israel first through Abram and told Abram to leave his country and go to another where he would be a foreigner. THIS IS HUGE! We know the actual nation is Israel really did not begin to develop until after Joseph went to Egypt. It was there, the Lord gave Him favor to interpret dreams and he was lifted up out of prison and made second in command of the entire nation of Egypt under Pharoah. Through his ability to interpret dreams the the power given to him as a result of this ability, Joseph was able to save his family from starvation by bringing them to Egypt where they were foreigners. HUGE AGAIN!
This family thrived and grew until after a great many generations had past, Joseph and how he has saved the nation of Egypt and made them so incredibly wealthy through his management of their resources. The subsequent Pharaohs became nervous and afraid of the Jewish nation because they were so numerous until one Pharaoh finally decided to enslave them to remove any possible threat though nothing in history shows that the Israelites even wanted to overtake Egypt. In their enslavement, this people grew mightily in number until the time of Moses when he led them out of Egypt with a population in the millions. They had no land of their own and the Lord did not lead them to unclaimed land. He led them back to a foreign country. Again, they were foreigners.
The Lord intended to establish them in places where other peoples lived. In those days, other peoples did not know the Lord at all. They worshipped other gods. Israel was the only nation the Lord had made Himself known to. And everywhere they went as they conquered lands. These lands would become Israel, but because they lands were conquered, there would still be lots of foreigners who did not know the Lord. And God commanded Israel to treat the foreigners with love, mercy, and justice (Leviticus 19:33-34, 23:22). The Lord intended for the people of Israel to have compassion on the foreigners remembering that they were a people who had always been foreigners all the back to Abram.
So, we begin to see the Lord’s plan develop. The people of God are interspersed with other peoples who did not know the Lord. They were to be a civilization filled with justice and righteousness for all. It was also God’s intent for them to be a theocracy meaning that this government of righteousness and justice was established as a result of a direct command from God. The effect was to be a society living under the protection of God and being a blessing to others because of the command of God. Like creation, this nation was to be another way in which the invisible God made Himself known to the peoples of the world. Israel was supposed to be a light to all the world. But it did not happen. So, Jesus enters the scene supplanting the nation of Israel establishing a new nation, a new kingdom, the spiritual kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
The plan was the same however in this new kingdom. The citizens of Heaven living on Earth are to live by the laws of Heaven rooted in love, righteousness, and justice. The church is to be sanctified spiritually, but we are to separate ourselves from the world. We live in the world among unbelievers. We have not been called to separate ourselves from unbelievers, but to live among them establishing the righteousness and justice of Heaven here right now. As we discussed in previous blogs, justice is doing what is right by someone according to the principles of Scripture. Righteousness is the attitude of love behind the action. Justice is not favoritism. Justice is not denying one for the favor of another. Justice is treating each individual, no matter what, according to the laws of Heaven. And we, as Israel was supposed to be, are to be a light in the darkness.
As we live loving each person equally, we bring light into a society that hates, despises, and shows favoritism. Though I am an American citizen subject to this republic, I am also a citizen of Heaven, a theocracy. As a Christian, my loyalty is to the Kingdom of Heaven more than the republic of the United States. The heart of my true citizenship is not of a republic, but a theocracy. I live by the laws of Heaven always giving credit to my King for what I do. The church must be a light. We must live as citizens of Heaven, a light in the darkness, while giving credit to the Lord for the way we live. In this way, the invisible God is revealed to an unbelieving world and the presence of God is made manifest by the way we love one another, love the world, and give glory to God. The Kingdom of Heaven established on Earth by Jesus Christ is the vine and we are the branches producing fruit for an unbelieving world.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (NIV)
Lord, help me to remember that I am to remain in You filled with your righteousness, love, and justice. Help me not to separate myself so much from the world I am living in that I do not produce fruit for others. Help me to remember that I am to take Your light into the darkness and I can't do this unless I purposely set out to make You known to those around me. Help me live as You have called me and help me to openly declare my reason for living as You have called. Help me to love and give You the credit. Help me to forgive and give You the credit. Help me to be generous to those in need and give You the credit. Help me to love the unlovable and remember the forgotten and give you the credit. Help me to counsel the confused and bringing healing to the hurting and give you all the glory. Let Your light shine bright in me. -Amen