THE BASF - ITS IMPORTANCE AND TEACHING
“That the governing body of the kingdom so established will be the brethren of Christ, of all generations, developed by resurrection and change, and constituting, with Christ as their head, the collective “seed of Abraham”, in whom all nations will be blessed, and comprising “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets”, and all in their age of like faithfulness.– Dan 12:3; Luke 13:28; Rev 11:18; 1Thess 4:15-17; Jno 5:28, 29; 6:39,40; Luke 14:14; Mat 25:34, 46.”
When Messiah returns in power and great glory to restore the kingdom to Israel, and reign over all the earth from the holy hill of Zion, he will not exercise dominion alone. The Scriptures reveal that his immortalised brethren shall reign with him in glory, subduing all the earth to the righteous precepts of the Most High. In that Age, the Lamb shall be known as “Lord of Lords, and King of Kings” (Rev 17:14, 19:16); titles which imply other Lords and other Kings over which he is chief. These are his brethren, immortalised and glorified, who sing praises unto the One who redeemed them with his shed blood: “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by they blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:10).
These are they who have overcome, to whom it will be granted to sit with Christ in his throne, even as he overcame and is set down with his Father in His throne (3:21) – in other words, to share the restored Davidic seat of power with him. Comprising “the meek”, during the days of their mortal weakness, this multitude shall “inherit the earth” (Mat 5:5, Rom 4:13) with their Lord, and exercise dominion thereupon with him, as it is written; “a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgement” (Is 32:1 – see also 1:25).
THE 12 THRONES OVER ISRAEL
As an innumerable number of “kings and priests” requires a similarly innumerable number of nations over which they might rule, if one “king” reigns over one nation, it is evident that this will not be the Divine order. Rather, there will be a hierarchical organisation of their dominion. The 12 apostles (with the exception of Judas, being replaced by Matthias, (Acts 1:26)), it is revealed, shall have a most exalted position, each reigning over a tribe of Israel’s sons: “Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mat 19:28). These twelve then, shall execute the office of Divine Judges over each tribal canton, acting immediately under the authority of the Lord Jesus. The Psalmist likewise spoke of their thrones, “Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: whither the tribes go up, the tribes of Yahweh, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of Yahweh. For there are set thrones of judgement, the thrones of the house of David” (Ps 122:3-5). Thus it will be, that arrangements will be made within Jerusalem itself for Israelites to appear before their respective judge, according to the tribe of their origin, and receive justice at the hands of one of the Lord’s apostles.
But under these 12, there will also be other judges, entrusted with the role of instructing the people the ways of God. Speaking of the priests in Jerusalem, the Lord informed Ezekiel: “they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. And in controversy they shall stand in judgement; and they shall judge it according to my judgements …” (Ezek 44:23,24). That these priestly judges are the immortal saints is made clear in the words of Paul to the Corinthian ecclesia, in his rebuke for their failings to judge righteously in their mortal days: “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” (1 Cor 6:1,2). So it is that the saints shall also be involved with the dispensing of justice in the Millennial Age, something which we must prepare for now, in our relations to each other.
JUSTICE DISPENSED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
But notice, the apostle declared that the saints will be involved with the dispensing of justice for “the world”, not just in Israel. Thus, we may suppose that just as in Israel, there will be thrones placed for judgement and teaching, this same pattern will be replicated in centres throughout the earth, with immortal saints (subject to the Lord and his apostles), judging other nations.
A possible indication of how these judges might be appointed; both in the nations and Israel, under the exalted 12, is in the Lord’s parable of the pounds. When considering the responses of those to whom he had given varying amounts, he speaks of the blessing conferred on the fruitful: “Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, be thou also over five cities” (Luke 19:16-19). Immortal saints then, will be appointed to dispense justice over varying numbers of cities, comparable to their degree of fruitfulness in the days of their probation, quite possibly with the saints over 5 cities, being subject to those over 10 cities, and so on. Indeed, after the pattern of previous ages, there does appear to be grounds for the suggestion that above these city judges, there will be other saints appointed over each nation, to oversee national affairs, (see for example Ex 18:13-26, Num 11:16,17 and compare Deut 32:8, Gen 10).
The quality of judgement thus dispensed shall be of the highest standard – infallible, for the Great King “shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked” (Is 11:3,4), and those who reign with him, “shall be like him” (1Jno 3:2). In contrast to previous times, when the poor and needy, the widows and fatherless (those who lacked both the resources, and the guidance of father or husband to instruct them), were dealt with hardly, suffering oppression and injustice at the hands of wicked rulers who favoured the wealthy, their cause shall be determined righteously. Indeed, their King is himself One who “became poor” (2 Cor 8:9), that through his poverty, and unjust execution at the hands of the wicked, we might be made rich. “He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight” (Ps 72:12-14).
Again, the Psalmist speaks of those future days, when Yahweh will be king in the earth; “Yahweh is king for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land. Yahweh, thou has heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress” (Ps 10:16-18).
WILL THERE BE PERSONAL TUTORS?
But in order to keep the statutes and ways of the Israel’s God, peoples will need to be taught those ways, and that task could either be another role of the divine judges, or there may be other saints appointed to do this. Most probably, it will be the work of other saints, or even both, as this appears to be suggested by Isaiah. In speaking of the teachers of Israel, the Lord promised: “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind (Heb. “after”) thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (Is 30:20,21). And although this passage primarily speaks of Israel, we might reasonably suppose that these arrangements will be replicated throughout the Kingdom, that all nations might be so taught. The picture presented here, is suggestive that each mortal will have an immortal tutor to watch over his/her affairs, in a way not totally dissimilar to the role of the Angels in the life of a believer today. But of course, the difference is this, the mortals in the Age to Come shall see their tutors, and hear their words of instruction. And if, despite having been instructed of the right Way, due to the inherent propensity of human nature to seek out other ways, (cp. Eccl 7:29) they begin to turn aside, their teachers shall be watching over their affairs, and will be at hand to give further guidance along the way. Possibly not by a voice suddenly booming at them out of nowhere, at the moment in which a mortal is about to commit a sin, as some suppose – this would surely bring about a life of terror for them, being afraid to do anything, lest they hear “the voice” of rebuke! Rather, when a mortal’s walk in life is beginning to take a new direction, beginning to move away from the Divine Will, and back to their old ways, their tutors will call “after” them, to come back, and receive further counsel and instruction, that they might be corrected, and that their walk might be guided back onto the right path once more. The Psalmist spoke of such guidance: “Good and upright is Yahweh: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgement: and the meek will he teach his way” (Ps 25:8,9).
THE SEED OF ABRAHAM
The BASF makes a most interesting use of one of the promises made to Abraham, saying that the immortal saints will be, “with Christ as their head, the collective ‘seed of Abraham’, in whom all nations will be blessed …”. The allusion is to Genesis chapter 22:
“… thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed …” (Gen 22:17,18).
Here, the “seed” can be readily seen to be the Master, Jesus Christ, for Paul declares, citing another of the promises, “ … ‘and to thy seed’, which is Christ.” However, the BASF applies this promise not to Christ alone, but to the multitudinous body of which he is head (Col 1:18).
The saints become part of the Seed of Abraham through faith and baptism: “for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ … and if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:27-29). All nations are to be blessed in Abraham’s seed – all nations therefore are to be blessed in the Master, Jesus Christ and his brethren who are collectively that seed.
This is a most exhilarating prospect to consider. It is in us, if we be baptised into Christ, that all nations are to be blessed. It will be through us, under the auspices of Christ himself, that the world will be subdued to the dictates of the Almighty, and ruled according to his precepts. We are, if we remain faithful, the future world rulers. We shall live and reign with the Son of the Almighty over all of the earth. How then, do we conduct ourselves in the present dispensation? Do we walk soberly, recognising the high calling to which we have been called? Do we maintain a separation from the sinful kingdoms of men, pledging our allegiance solely to the King and Kingdom to come? We can only answer these questions individually, but one thing is certain; there is a glorious future in store for those who “seek first” the Kingdom of God in this dispensation.