“Christianity is essentially a religion of belief in the coming of the Kingdom of God. It begins with the message preached by John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Mt 3:2). It was with the same preaching that Jesus came forward in Galilee after the imprisonment of the Baptist (Mt 4:12,17).”
Thus Albert Schweitzer's The Kingdom of God and Primitive Christianity begins.
In order to understand the Christian view of the Kingdom of God, we must go back to the Jewish view of the Day of Yahweh. The original idea of the Day of Yahweh was that God would execute judgment on the nations whom fought against the people of Israel.
Amos challenged this picture:[@more@]
“God's judgement would be executed not only upon the enemies of his people but upon the people itself as well. Because Yahweh is an ethical God, to show himself as such he must execute judgement upon all peoples, including the people which belongs to him in a spical way, and the verdict would be based solely on the good or evil of their deeds.”
“In these tremendous utterances (Amos 3:2; 5:18, 20-24; 5:14; 7:17; 9:8-10, 11, 15) the knowledge of the completely ethical personality of God is for the first time made known, and it follows that ethical thought and action along give the right to a place in the coming Kingdom of God.”
“Elijah and Elisha were zealous for the purity of worship of Yahweh. For Amos the cultus no longer has any meaning. It does not create any relationship between man and God; only moral action does this. The culic reverence for Yahweh demanded by his two forerunners turns in Amos into an ethical reverence. The change means a spiritualization of religion which has never since been lost.”
Wow! This could not of come at a better time…. last night in our Bible study, I had a disagreement whether or not the 'true' Israel was one of blood or faith. To hear Schweitzer echo the words of my heart that God's people are tied together by a common faith in Him – not by dna – was refreshing.
Adding to this refreshing view is a verse God gave me from Amos about a month ago… at the time, I did not see Amos in this light. Now I will have to go back and re-read Amos in the light of the Kingdom.
Gloria al Dios