It is interesting that we Americans consider the remote tribal peoples of the world to be called “heathen”. But in reality anyone who is not part of Abraham’s lineage is heathen. Another word for heathen is Gentile. And like all Gentiles by nature, look what God considers our condition in today’s passage: Separated, excluded, foreigners, without hope, without God, and far away.
It is this without hope I would like to comment on. I remember in 1990 the first time I witnessed what this kind of hopeless looks like. There was as an elderly tribal lady all covered with the mud of mourning, she was sitting in the mud, wailing uncontrollably as she watched her deceased loved one being flown home to his tribe in one of our mission airplanes. She remained there wailing in despair long after the plane was out of sight. She was just as powerless to stop the process of death as she was to stop the flight and she knew it. Not unlike her, our spiritual condition is just as hopeless in this world of western technology, only we don’t like to think about it. But it doesn’t have to be this way of hopelessness any more. Aren’t you glad that God had a plan to correct this condition? We only have to avail ourselves of it.
Eph 2:11-22 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Who are you Lord?
I AM the Chief Cornerstone of my Church. I am bringing together members for My Father’s household from around the globe all through the shedding of my blood. There will be no more division of peoples in this new holy temple in which my Spirit dwells. You don’t deserve it because of your sin and enmity, but I have made peace between you and my Father if you would accept it. In the flesh all men fight and kill, but now only in me, all past enemies of this life can live a life of love and unity together with me as fellow citizens.
I have abolished in my broken body all barriers and anything which can stand in your way to come and be with me in this new dwelling. I have removed all the obstacles and I have finished all the requirements of the Law. There is nothing more for you to do on your own except to allow my payment to take care of your debt, so there are no excuses not to come and worship me together in peace with members of all races and nations as one new man.
This dwelling is what I planned for you from before the creation of the world in which you will live with me for eternity. In the Old Testament, the temple in Jerusalem was a picture of this spiritual dwelling of perfect holiness. In the New Testament the church is what it looks like embodied in human hearts now, but in the future it will be a glorious fulfilling of them both before the heavenly throne of God in perfection.
The Old Testament showed us the pure righteousness of a Holy God by which all humanity was to see their shortcomings against and depend upon his mercy to overlook their sins when covered by the blood sacrifice. In the New Testament, God removes humanities sins by the perfect sacrifice of the cross of Christ; God places us in Christ’s body and indwells us with His very own righteousness. Thus the Temple of God is in man, not just a model to man of the throne of God. And one day He will simply change our location into his perfect presence. This is what our hope is about, God removing our sin and giving us his righteousness so we can live with Him and not burn in hell.