Sunday, November 4, 2007

God's People One Whole Garment

God's people of the New Covenant are like one seamless garment, untorn.

In 1 Kings 11:29ff, we read that Solomon would lose his kingship of the 12 tribes of Israel. There would be a tear in God's chosen race, as Israel and Judah would divide into separate kingdoms.

"About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. Then he said to Jeroboam, "Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes... I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molech the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws as David, Solomon's father, did. (NIV)"

Compare this pericope with John 19:23-24:

"When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

""Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it."
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,
"They divided my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did. (NIV)"

The old Prophet tore his garment to symbolize the division of God's chosen people, caused by their rebellion. But the garment of our Prophet, Christ the King, was seamless and remained untorn.

There is a tendency within Protestantism to read the account of the division of the Jews as prophetic of the New Covenant and the Reformation -- to liken Catholicism to the Israelites. But if the garment typology of 1 Kings and John bears merit, such a likening is no cause for comfort. God's people are no longer a divided garment or a divided kingdom, broken into pieces. We are called to be one (John 17:11), seamless, undivided. This would be ecumenicity.

Christ have mercy.

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