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Friday, February 11, 2005

One Kingdom in Ezekiel 37

Ezekiel 37:15-28 gives us a glimpse of God's Kingdom. The prophet Ezekiel receives a message for the divided people of the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Christians will easily recognize the kingship of Christ, son of David, foretold in these verses. It brings hope but it also makes the present situation of Christendom divided more poignant. Some would suggest that this prophecy pertains to the oneness of the new Heaven and Earth after the end of time, after the last day. That does not appear to be the case (emphasis below is mine):
And the nations shall know that I am the Lord the sanctifier of Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for ever (Ezekiel 37:28).
This echoes John 17:21 when Christ prays for Christians to be one, "that the world (or nations) may know that thou has sent me", again I took liberty in emphasizing the italicized text. The Lord repeats this prayer in 17:23. "The nations" or "the world" refers to those who do not believe in Christ whom the gospel must reach. My point is that the unity of God's Kingdom under Christ is meant to be a sign to the non-believers, to invite them into faith in Jesus Christ. This clearly happens before it is too late to save them: meaning now. Something else to keep in mind is that this kingdom had already been established by Christ 2000 years ago. The Church was born at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit annointed the disciples. Seated in council then, led by St. Peter, they appointed a 12th apostle, an elder, to take the office vacated by Judas Iscariot. These 12 elders signify the complete tribes of Israel. They are the new people of God united: they were one. They/We have Jesus Christ, king of kings. For centuries afterwards, the Church was one, united by one baptism, by frequent martyrdom and persistent persecution, united by the breaking of the One Bread. Apart from heresies that came up from time to time, this kingdom was mostly united for more than 1000 years until the sad split between East and West in the 12th century, and more fragmentation in the 16th century for the West. I repeat previous pleas here when I repeat Paul's appeal in 1 Cor 1:10. Let there be no divisions!

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