1-6-3 “Condemned with the world...”
However, there is a strong and powerful corollary to all this. Those
among God's people who break their covenant with Him, He sees as the world.
Thus Moses prophesied of an apostate Israel: " They have dealt corruptly
with [God], they are no longer his children because of their blemish;
they are a perverse and crooked generation" (Dt. 32:5 RSV). These
very words are used by Paul regarding the Gentile world (Phil. 2:15).
Apostate Israel are spoken of as the pagan world; and therefore at the
day of judgment the rejected of the new Israel will be condemned along
with the world (1 Cor. 11:32); assigned their portion “with the unbelievers”
(Lk. 12:46). God will mock and laugh at the Gentile nations who come against
Him in the last day (Ps. 2:4), and yet He will do just the same to those
of Israel who refuse wisdom’s voice (Prov. 1:26). If we are not separate
from this world now, we will not be separated form them when the judgments
fall. If we don’t come out from Babylon, we will share her judgments (Rev.
18:4). This is foreshadowed by the way apostate Israel were treated like
the surrounding Gentile world in the time of their judgments (Jer. 4:7).
Israel worshipped the Babylonian gods, and so they were sent along with
Bel their idol to Babylon, where their hearts were. Likewise in the ‘judgment
day’ of AD70, the ‘rejected’ Jews were sent back into Egypt as slaves.
Their condemnation was expressed in terms of an undoing of the redemption
from the world which they once experienced. The disciples were to shake
off the dust of their feet against unbelieving Israel (Mt. 10:14; Mk.
6:11; Acts 8:51), in allusion to the Rabbinic teaching that the dust of
Gentile lands caused defilement. Israel who rejected the Gospel were thus
to be treated as Gentiles. Indeed, John’s immersion of repentant Israelites
would have recalled the way that Gentiles had to be likewise dipped before
being accepted into the synagogue. He was teaching “that all Israel were
Gentiles in the eyes of God” (1) . Time and
again the prophets describe the judgments to fall upon Israel in the same
terms as they speak of the condemnations of the surrounding nations. The
message was clear: rejected Israel would be treated as Gentiles. Thus
Joel describes the locust invasion of Israel in the language of locusts
covering the face of Egypt (Joel 2:2,20 = Ex. 10:14,15,19). Israel’s hardness
of heart is explicitly likened to that of Pharaoh (1 Sam. 6:6); as the
Egyptians were drowned, so would Israel be (Am. 9:5-8). As Pharaoh’s heart
was plagued (Ex. 9:14), so was Israel’s (1 Kings 8:38); as Egypt was a
reed, so were Israel (1 Kings 14:15). As Pharaoh-hophra was given into
the hand of his enemies, so would Israel be (Jer. 44:30).
Even if we are separated from this world externally, we can still act
in a worldly way, and share the world’s condemnation. The Lord taught
that the believer who makes his brother stumble should have a millstone
hung around his neck and be cast into the sea (Lk. 17:2). This is exactly
Babylon’s judgment (Rev. 18:21). The unloving in the ecclesia will be
treated like the unloving world whose spirit they share. In all these
things, we have a choice: to fall on the stone of Christ and be broken,
or live proudly in this life without breaking our fleshly ways at all,
until at the Lord’s coming we are ground to powder (Mt. 21:44). This is
an obvious allusion to the image of the Kingdoms of men being ground to
powder by the Lord’s return. The Lord was saying that if we won’t be broken
now, then we will share the judgments of the world, and be broken by Him
then in condemnation.
(1) David Bosch,
Transforming Mission (New York: Orbis, 1991) p. 25.