Thursday, November 21, 2013

In This Is Love (part 13)

What would Jesus do on the heels of crossing the Jordan and His forty wilderness days?  Mark reports that “Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed the Gospel of God.  He said, ‘The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the Gospel!’” (1:14b)  Jesus embarked upon His kingdom establishing mission, doing so as Israel had done, though it would take on a different appearance. 

In the book of Joshua, Rahab informs the reader that the inhabitants of the land---presented as the defiling usurpers in Israel’s promised territory (much like death was a defiling usurper in the Creator’s good creation)---feared Israel greatly, knowing that they had already destroyed great kings and gained decisive victories over other peoples during their post-Egypt wilderness sojourn.  To this reported of Rahab can be equated the fearfulness expressed by the unclean spirits with which Jesus is said to have dealt, who would cry out with words such as “Leave us alone, Jesus the Nazarene!  Have you come to destroy us?” (Mark 1:24a)  Like it had also been said of Israel (son of God), Jesus (Son of God) is even referred to by these demons as “the Holy One of God” (1:24b). 

To accomplish the purpose of His mission, Jesus first went to Galilee?  Why?  Because just like Israel, who was to be a son of God that would shine as a light of the Creator God’s glory to the world, Jesus was a Son that understood that He was tasked with doing the same.  If He was indeed the Messiah, and according to His own messianic interpretation, He had to fulfill the messianic role as understood through the words of the prophets.  Matthew assists in informing the answer as to why Jesus would do this, quoting from Isaiah from a post-Resurrection-and-Jesus-mission-comprehension-position and saying “Galilee of the Gentiles---the people who sit in darkness  have seen a great light, and on those who sit in the region of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:15b-16, Isaiah 9:1-2). 

Moving along, it can be seen that the analogous relationship between Jesus and Solomon is straightforward, but at the same time requires a bit of thoughtful application.  As son of God, Solomon was a king, and this comes to be understood to be true for Jesus as well.  Certainly, the promises of the Davidic covenant, while applicable to Solomon, can almost all be seen through to Jesus.  Because the son of God was purposed to serve, like Israel, as a light to the nations and as a destroyer of the works of the devil (in its most basic manifestation of idolatry, from which so much evil springs), one of the interesting ways to make a comparison between Solomon and Jesus through the lens of Israel’s and the Scripture’s understanding and presentation of the son of God (which, as always, must be the basis for any and all right understanding), is to be found in the first book of the Kings. 

There it is reported that “People from all nations came to hear Solomon’s display of wisdom; they came from all the kings of the earth who heard about his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).  It is said that “Solomon was wiser than all the men of the east and all the sages of Egypt” (4:30), while helpfully going on to list four prominent wise men of his day.  Relating this then to Jesus, one need merely consider the crowds that were said to have routinely flocked to Him and followed Him, presumably because of His displays of wisdom (among other things).  In Solomonic tradition, these crowds were composed of Jesus’ fellow countrymen, and would also include Gentiles from within the borders of Israel and the surrounding nations.  As was said of Jesus, which could also be fittingly said of Solomon, “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46)    

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