Monday, June 10, 2019

Pentecost as Foretaste of the Great Gathering

Pentecost marks the culmination of the Easter-Ascension event. It is the foretaste of the great gathering of all faithful people, both the living and those in repose. Matthew 8:11 alludes to the great gathering: "Many shall come from the east and the west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."

The phrase "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" is a formulaic expression for the righteous ancestors in repose. They enjoy God's peace as they await the Day of the Lord. All the faithful shall be gathered to the bosom of God the Father. In the Risen Messiah a scattered people are gathered and made one by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Peoples of many tongues receive the same message of salvation and rejoice together.

God both gathers and scatters. The "scatter-gather" motif is found throughout Scripture. The peoples of the Afro-Asiatic Dominion spoke one language (Gen. 11:1) until they were scattered. According to the Tower of Babel story, this scattering was the result of linguistic diversification attributed to God.

In Judges we read that the king of the Scattered People resided in Bezek. Bezek means “scatter.” The king of Bezek delighted in cutting off the toes and thumbs of the rulers he conquered. The toes and thumbs were scattered and the rulers were made to gather crumbs like dogs under Bezek’s table. Perhaps this absolute domination was in the mind of the Syrophoenician woman when she came to Jesus begging that He restore her daughter (Mark 7, Matthew 15). 

Consider this historic Anglican Prayer: "We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen."

When Judah and Simeon captured the King of Bezek, they did to him what he had done to the other rulers. Later God warns the clans of Jacob and Joseph through Joshua (Yeshua) that they will be treated the same if the people slip into idolatry: "The LORD will scatter you among the peoples” (Deuteronomy 4:27).

In Ezekiel, we find a prophesy that God was bringing a “sword” upon Israel and would “scatter” their bones (Ezekiel 37). Ezekiel is shown a valley strewn with dry bones and he is asked, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel is told to "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

The Spirit (Ruach) came from the four directions and the gathered bones lived. Ezekiel prophesied “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live” and breath came into the gathered bones and they lived (Ezekiel 37:9,10).

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