1-6-3 "Condemned with the World..."

However, there is a strong and powerful corollary to all this. Those among God's people who break their covenant with Him, He sees as the world. Thus Moses prophesied of an apostate Israel: " They have dealt corruptly with [God], they are no longer his children because of their blemish; they are a perverse and crooked generation" (Dt. 32:5 RSV). These very words are used by Paul regarding the Gentile world (Phil. 2:15).  Apostate Israel are spoken of as the pagan world; and therefore at the day of judgment the rejected of the new Israel will be condemned along with the world (1 Cor. 11:32); assigned their portion “with the unbelievers” (Lk. 12:46). God will mock and laugh at the Gentile nations who come against Him in the last day (Ps. 2:4), and yet He will do just the same to those of Israel who refuse wisdom’s voice (Prov. 1:26). If we are not separate from this world now, we will not be separated form them when the judgments fall. If we don’t come out from Babylon, we will share her judgments (Rev. 18:4). This is foreshadowed by the way apostate Israel were treated like the surrounding Gentile world in the time of their judgments (Jer. 4:7). Israel worshipped the Babylonian gods, and so they were sent along with Bel their idol to Babylon, where their hearts were. Likewise in the ‘judgment day’ of AD70, the ‘rejected’ Jews were sent back into Egypt as slaves. Their condemnation was expressed in terms of an undoing of the redemption from the world which they once experienced. The disciples were to shake off the dust of their feet against unbelieving Israel (Mt. 10:14; Mk. 6:11; Acts 8:51), in allusion to the Rabbinic teaching that the dust of Gentile lands caused defilement. Israel who rejected the Gospel were thus to be treated as Gentiles. Indeed, John’s immersion of repentant Israelites would have recalled the way that Gentiles had to be likewise dipped before being accepted into the synagogue. He was teaching “that all Israel were Gentiles in the eyes of God” (1) . Time and again the prophets describe the judgments to fall upon Israel in the same terms as they speak of the condemnations of the surrounding nations. The message was clear: rejected Israel would be treated as Gentiles. Thus  Joel describes the locust invasion of Israel in the language of locusts covering the face of Egypt (Joel 2:2,20 = Ex. 10:14,15,19). Israel’s hardness of heart is explicitly likened to that of Pharaoh (1 Sam. 6:6); as the Egyptians were drowned, so would Israel be (Am. 9:5-8). As Pharaoh’s heart was plagued (Ex. 9:14), so was Israel’s (1 Kings 8:38); as Egypt was a reed, so were Israel (1 Kings 14:15). As Pharaoh-hophra was given into the hand of his enemies, so would Israel be (Jer. 44:30).

Even if we are separated from this world externally, we can still act in a worldly way, and share the world’s condemnation. The Lord taught that the believer who makes his brother stumble should have a millstone hung around his neck and be cast into the sea (Lk. 17:2). This is exactly Babylon’s judgment (Rev. 18:21). The unloving in the ecclesia will be treated like the unloving world whose spirit they share. In all these things, we have a choice: to fall on the stone of Christ and be broken, or live proudly in this life without breaking our fleshly ways at all, until at the Lord’s coming we are ground to powder (Mt. 21:44). This is an obvious allusion to the image of the Kingdoms of men being ground to powder by the Lord’s return. The Lord was saying that if we won’t be broken now, then we will share the judgments of the world, and be broken by Him then in condemnation.


(1)   David Bosch, Transforming Mission (New York: Orbis, 1991) p. 25.

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