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Weekly Update: The God of the future

Andrew Tucker - 17 January 2020

In his most recent weekly reflection, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks talks about God as a forward-looking, active God, who intervenes in history. This understanding of God was lost by the early church fathers, who focused on God the eternal, unchangeable being remote from worldly events. As a result, many in the church today, influenced by Greek thinking, have lost our understanding that God is on the move, that He has a plan and that He calls us to participate in the fulfilment of His purposes with the world. We are no longer looking for the coming of God’s future, because we think He has already fulfilled all things. There is nothing left for God to do.

I think this loss of a prophetic, expectant mindset has been one of the greatest tragedies of the Christian church, which was created not to replace the Jewish mindset, but to enter into it even more fully. One of the results is that for many Christians, the prophetic scriptures have become closed books. The book of Revelation – instead of drawing us closer into an understanding of God’s most intimate secret – is barely read any more.

Another result is that many Christians no longer understand the Jewish mindset, which is constantly looking forward, seeking creative ways to participate in the fulfilment of God’s purposes, working towards the coming of Messiah to usher in God’s kingdom.

When Moses heard the mission he was to be sent on, he said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” That was when God replied, cryptically, Ehyeh asher ehyeh (Exodus 3:14). Sacks says:

“This was translated into Greek as ego eimi ho on, and into Latin as ego sum qui sum, meaning ‘I am who I am’, or ‘I am He who is’. The early and medieval Christian theologians all understood the phrase to be speaking about ontology, the metaphysical nature of God’s existence as the ground of all being. It meant that He was ‘Being-itself, timeless, immutable, incorporeal, understood as the subsisting act of all existing’. Augustine defines God as that which does not change and cannot change. Aquinas, continuing the same tradition, reads the Exodus formula as saying that God is ‘true being, that is, being that is eternal, immutable, simple, self-sufficient, and the cause and principal of every creature’.

But this is the God of Aristotle and the philosophers, not the God of Abraham and the Prophets. Ehyeh asher ehyeh means none of these things. It means ‘I will be what, where, or how I will be’. The essential element of the phrase is the dimension omitted by all the early Christian translations, namely the future tense. God is defining Himself as the Lord of history who is about to intervene in an unprecedented way, to liberate a group of slaves from the mightiest empire of the ancient world and lead them on a journey towards liberty….

Whenever I visit Israel, I find myself awestruck by the way this ancient people in its history-saturated land is one of the most future-oriented nations on earth, constantly searching for new advances in medical, informational, and nano-technology. Israel writes its story in the future tense.

And the future is the sphere of human freedom, because I cannot change yesterday but I can change tomorrow by what I do today. Therefore, because Judaism is a religion of the future it is a religion of human freedom, and because Israel is a future-oriented nation, it remains, in the Middle East, an oasis of freedom in a desert of oppression. Tragically, most of Israel’s enemies are fixated on the past, and as long as they remain so, their people will never find freedom and Israel will never find peace.”


 

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“Focus on the future” – Video teachings by Rev. Willem J.J. Glashouwer

Rev. Willem Glashouwer helps us understand God’s prophetic word, and how prophecy is being fulfilled in our generation.

Volume 2 episode 8: In Matthew 24 Jesus speaks about the final days. He talks about wars and famines and lawlessness and false prophets and so forth. But Jesus also mentions two positive signs. One positive sign is in verse 14: “And the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.” Not the end of the world but the end of this phase of world history. And the next phase will start. So, the Gospel will be preached to the ends of the earth.

 

“The land that I will show you” – Video teachings by Johannes Gerloff

Watch this series of teachings by Israeli-based Bible teacher and journalist Johannes Gerloff:

Episode 8: God promised Abram a land, an inheritance. But why did He not tell Him from the very beginning which land it was?

 

View Amir Tsafarti’s latest update:

View Bible teacher Amir Tsafarti’s latest weekly roundup (13th January 2020):

 

Shabbat shalom,

Andrew Tucker
Editor-in-Chief – Israel & Christians Today

 


Scripture for the week: Matthew 24:3-8
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

 

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