Ezekiel 37:24 “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.'”
From the time of Nehemiah on, distinctions between Northern and Southern tribes were largely forgotten, and were certainly not an issue at the time of Jesus. However, the point of one Ruler, and especially of the people being faithful to the Lord, is still in the process of being fulfilled as the Jews recognize Jesus as their Messiah. We tend to take prophecies as one piece, when often they are fulfilled gradually or in stages. That doesn’t make them any less real or valid, but it can certainly skew our perception of them. As many times as we say it, or think we understand it, we really have great trouble grasping the reality that God is outside of time, seeing everything at once, so Peter’s statement that “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8) is perceptive and something we really need to remember. Peter was dealing with exactly this issue in his letter. God does work in the flow of time. Jesus came at just the right time, but His suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection are effective for all time, for all mankind from Adam to the end of the world. As the saying goes, “That does not compute.” Some have spoken of this as the paradox of already/not yet. Paul dealt with this issue a lot, in Romans and elsewhere, saying things like, “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11) We have been crucified with Christ, (Galatians 2:20) but we are still tempted, and occasionally stumble. Paul himself was very clear that he was not yet perfect. (Philippians 3:12-14) In the same way, the unity of Israel under the Messiah, spoken by God through Ezekiel, is totally accomplished from God’s viewpoint but still in process from ours, and that’s just one example. The neat thing about all of this is that we have the privilege of participating in what God is doing, not being anxious because we know that in Him it’s already a done deal, whatever it looks like to us at the moment.
This has absolutely huge implications for me. We have been given a magnificent vision of Omura again being the foremost Christian city in the nation, actively advancing the kingdom of God to the end of the earth. We have also been given specific prophecies that give me cold chills to go back and read. However, we don’t see these things in our time frame. My parents labored for the salvation of the Japanese, yet in their lifetime saw very little of what they hoped for. It’s just as it says in Hebrews: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39-40) I am to rejoice that everything God has said is already accomplished, and at the same time have patience until I see it in my own experience. And I am to rejoice even if the fulfillment is after I am out of the picture. It’s as Jesus said: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Jesus said that before He was crucified and resurrected, as far as linear time goes, but from God’s perspective, Christ’s victory was already accomplished fact.
Father, thank You for this Word. I had no idea what I was supposed to speak on Sunday, and certainly didn’t expect to get it out of this passage! However, far more than just one sermon, help me live this out for the rest of my days on this earth, because from Your perspective I’m already in eternity! May I walk more and more, even on this temporal level, in all that You have already accomplished for me in Christ, so that I may be fully useful to You in tearing down the devil’s works (1 John 3:8) and setting the captives free, (Luke 4:18-19) for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!