Psalm 80b - The Regathering
"The Regathering" (Continued in the next blog in the series on Psalm 80)
The Mystery Of Ephraim
Ephraim is a symbolic term. Ephraim is the strong, rich tribe that rises up against the tribe of Judah. It was the jealousy of Ephraim that caused the civil war that split the nations in two parts:
1. Judah. Judah had the temple at Jerusalem, the chosen Dynasty Of David for kings, and the tribe of Levi for God's chosen priests.
2. Israel - led primarily by the tribe of Ephraim. They had two STATE APPOINTED high places - with golden calves as symbols of God. These were not idols like Baal, but a symbol of the Hebrew God in the popular imagination. That is why even Aaron made a golden calf.
So Ephraim is the proud, strong and rich - with a religion backed by the power of the State. And this anti-Christ force persecutes God's chosen lineage - The Dynasty Of David - Jesus - and ultimately we who are completely identified with Him in His Sufferings.
When Ephraim is crushed and scattered among the gentiles - the most prominent of the "10 lost tribes of Israel" - the picture changes. Now, since Ephraim is scattered among the world's people like yeast, it becomes an image of the chosen among the gentiles. Ephraim returns! The chosen people among the gentiles return to God.
The first wave of the regathering takes place when the Assyrians crush the northen kingdom of Israel in 721 BC. The process began a little earlier when Hezekiah invited their beleaguered brothers in Israel to come to Judah to celebrate the Passover. They came in large numbers and had an extended Passover. It's an amazing story we will cover in detail elsewhere.
The names God uses for His People in this Psalm show that it is directed toward the return of the remnant of Israel - when it is crushed - to unify with Judah and "the son" - the Dynasty of David - Jesus. Note that the old woman who prayed for the infant Jesus - Anna - was from the tribe of Asher - descended from that remnant. Saul (Paul) was from the tribe of Benjamin - which joined itself to Judah.
So God directs his words to Joseph, Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin. Joseph is the FATHER of Ephraim and Manasseh. So it is redundant. This does a 'fast forward" to Revelations chapter 7 and a symbolic listing of the tribes. (12 is symbolic of God's people. so you have 12,000 from each tribe - impossible since 10 tribes were pretty much "lost") In that listing we have Joseph (the father) and Mannasseh (one of the two sons of Joseph). But Ephraim - the other brother - is MISSING!
Interpretation: The prideful tribe which was in opposition to the Dynasty Of David is gone - though symbolicly present in Joseph his father. Dan is missing too - but we haven't space to discuss that. And remember that we also have Ephraim dispersed and scattered like yeast among the gentiles who are part of the chosen of God.
This listing exists NOWHERE ELSE IN SCRIPTURE - and holds a spiritual message to us.
We do, in fact, want to focus on the fact that between Psalm 80 and Revelation 7 we have an AMAZING spiritual and mystical picture of the People Of God.
The Regathering is the bringing together of all God's Chosen People in ONE UNITY - ONE BODY - and completely identified as being completely ONE with JESUS HIMSELF. This is the "Body Of Christ".
We're just scratching the surface of some of the amazing "pattern language of scripture" - connecting marvelously with "The Mystery Of Christ".
Note that even Chinese and Indian peoples can feel included in the people of God - in "Ephraim" - since the Israelites were exiled to the far reaches of Afghanistan - directly adjascent to both people groups - and they never returned.
The Church is called "The Israel Of God" - in the last verse of Galatians. So all peoples who are now among the chosen of God can find "citizenship in Israel". The "tree" of Romans 9:11-24 is Israel and the Church. Jews are there by nature. Gentiles are "grafted in". It is one body in Christ!
By proclaiming the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel we are participating as the lost are saved in "the man who is at God's right hand" - in "the son God has raised up for Himself"!!
What an AMAZING MYSTERY this is!!