Whose God Is He Anyway?

Whose God Is He Anyway?

Whose God is He anyway? - Olives, Vineyards and Figs

I have throughout this series, voiced my criticism of the
teaching that the modern church has replaced biblical Israel -– because of
Israel's unbelief and inability to cooperate with God's purpose. I have
received several letters voicing concern over my ignorance of God's 'change
of plan'
and also my apparent pro-Israel stance or lack of regard for the
Arab peoples...

In short, the religion of Islam is the enemy of the Jewish
State and ultimately God's people worldwide. It is a religion which keeps its
true adherents in the dark ages -– a visit to the Middle East will quickly
illuminate the truth of this statement.

We Gentiles have a wonderful part to play in God's plan, we
have also been given the gift of salvation. It is a privilege to have been
grafted into the vine (Israel), no longer aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel
-– the wall of partition has been pulled down which once separated us.
Ephesians 2 outlines this picture for us.

We must however understand the following: God's promises to
His Covenant People remain; prophecies relating to a specific people group in a
specific geographical setting will still be fulfilled. Furthermore the Bible was
written from a Jewish perspective, meaning a progressive understanding of both
culture and language is extremely helpful in interpreting certain Biblical
pictures. God is completely impartial, His love for each group of people
is equal! He simply has a plan and a purpose for which we can but wonder...

One of the most solid securities in life for me is the 'immovable
Word of God' -– seen in the incredible intertwining of concepts/pictures from
old and new testaments. God's Word is simply too big for a finite mind to
fathom...I liken it to a giant jigsaw, with pieces which can be gems in their
own right BUT can only ever become complete when put into their rightful place
within the big picture/puzzle. We may get so wrapped up in the truth of an
individual gem that we miss the more useful, purposeful meaning found in placing
the gem into it's context.

It is little wonder that many Western Churches get
sidetracked away from the roots of our faith, not understanding that there is
life in these roots, destined to regerminate and sprout again in these days.

Lets look at olives and figs. In Matthew 24, we find Jesus
speaking with His disciples on the Mount Of Olives. He's answering a question
we would most probably throw at Him right now if He were standing here: 'When
will you come back and be our King, not spiritually or 'in our hearts' but
actually physically and geographically?'

Jesus says -– before I come you will see the following:
deceptions, false anointings, wars and conflicts, famines and pestilence,
earthquakes, persecutions etc... Verse 6 points out "..for all these things
must come to pass -– but the end is not yet".

The time frame for the fulfilment of these hardships could be
over many decades! The holocaust certainly fits the picture...as does the war in
Bosnia, and today's civil unrest in Zimbabwe...numerous earthquakes and
famines recently...but as Jesus says, these things will happen, but are not 'the
end'.

To understand the pieces of this midrashic jigsaw we have to
take a glimpse at the original examples underpinning Jesus' message (Jesus
knew the Old Testament prophets well, the disciples would have no doubt had some
understanding too).

The example of Noah is referred to, denoting a time of
relative 'normality' with eating, drinking and weddings continuing on
until the day.
It appears that everything will be fairly normal at the time
Jesus makes His move...except for a little sign we can be looking for.

"Now learn a parable of the fig tree. When it's
branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves ye know that summer is nigh; so
likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at
the doors."

A fig tree? Israel?

Firstly, lets look at the vineyard. Isaiah 5:7 "...The
vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the House of Israel". I can interpret this
bit quite easily.

The picture continues: a man working hard at establishing a
vineyard -– his 'well beloved vineyard'. In this viticultural scenario, He
fenced his vineyard, de-stoned it and planted the choicest varieties of grapes
there. He built a tower in the middle of the vineyard and made a winepress ready
to process the fruit...harvest time comes and he is completely let down! It
yields only horrible fruit..."what more could I have done to my vineyard?"
he asks.

Historically, the picture is that God takes this group of
people from out of Egypt -– He protects them in the wilderness -– gives them
laws and clear directives for both survival and blessing. He dwells among them
by way of the Tabernacle and leads them to the Promised Land...giving them
dietary laws and annual feasts to direct their lifestyles. He provides
protection from their many enemies...

What did God want in return? He desired a 'great
relationship with His people'...instead He was confronted with idolatry.

In Matt 21 Jesus is telling this story to listeners at the
Temple -– He is using midrashic allegory (types). He adds a dimension to the
story...the vineyard owner (God) sends his servants (prophets) to collect fruit
from the vineyard, they were of course killed. Finally, the vineyard owner sends
his own son...who should be respected -– but they kill him too!

We will pick up on the 'fig tree' in the next edition
but in closing, we know that Jesus identifies Himself as the vine, His Father is
the husbandman (John 15). The exciting part of the picture is that whether Jew
or Gentile, we are identified as 'the branches'. Whether from the original
vineyard
OR from the new graft, what a privilege. I don't believe
we can grasp the depth of the message without the background picture.