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Tri-Part Formula

God reveals Himself and His people in a progressive way as we progress through Scripture. Below are three of many verses that speak of a people of which God declares "you will be my people, I will be your God and dwell with you." Some Bible scholars speak of this as a tri-part formula.

"I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people"(Leviticus 26:12). - Speaking of Israel.

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (2Cr 6:16) - Speaking of Church.

And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. (Zec 2:11) - Prophecy of end time

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. (Rev 21:3) - The bride of Christ.

One way of viewing the concept of God's people is seeing the typology of the Old Testament people Israel as a shadow of the New Testament church and the true people of God are the ones Paul says are the true Jews in Romans 8:28-29 that states "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God."

Thinking about God's people in this manner line up with concept of "the mystery of God" and the "Everlasting Covenant" of God mentioned in our theology lesson 4.

Today, many claim to be numbered among the people of God much like many of the Jews when the Lord Jesus came as Israel's Messiah. Jesus informed the nation Israel that many who thought themselves to be the "people of God" were mistaken: Jesus said "Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness" (Matthew 7:17-23).

Many professing "Christians" today mistakenly believe they are a part of God's people. Like their Jewish counterparts of years gone by, they believe they have done many good deeds in the name of God. The concept of the "people of God" is not well understood by those who believe themselves to be numbered among God's people.

The study of the "people of God" is important for several reasons. First, it is important because God's Word makes a point of the fact that God has chosen a people for His own possession and purposes. In the Old Testament, the "people of God" are those who are associated with God's purposes and promises related to Israel, and especially to the God of Israel. In the New Testament, the "people of God" are those who have come to faith in Israel's promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, and who are thus members of the body of Christ, the church. The Bible uses the same Old Testament terminology in referring to the Israelites as the "people of God" as it does for New Testament saints (compare Exodus 19:5-6 with 1 Peter 2:5, 9).

One way of interpreting the concept of God's Mystery is that God's plan "before the World was formed" that His ultimate people would be the "bride" formed through the "passover" blood of "everlasting covenant" of Jesus. These would be the people prophesied in Zec 2:11 and described in Rev 21:3.

God's People are a people with a very special calling. They are to be a "holy nation" and a "kingdom of priests." God therefore made a covenant with them and gave them His law as a standard of His holiness to which they are to conform. Consequently, the most significant element in the prophetic eschatology is the projection of the historical past into the prophetic future. The prophets reflect upon the glory of the past, the failure of the present, and anticipate a future in terms of a new exodus, new passage of the sea, new sojourn in the wilderness, new covenant, new entrance into the land [cf. also new creation, new David, new temple, etc].

In Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, but especially in Isaiah, the exodus of the past is projected into the future. Isaiah speaks of a new beginning - a new exodus more glorious than the old exodus from Egypt. The first exodus is the prototype for the eschatological exodus.

Isaiah describes the future great act of redemption for the elect people of God in the following way. The new exodus brings liberty to the captives: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord hath anointed me . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" [61.1]. This kerygma of emancipation will be proclaimed by God's chosen instrument of deliverance for the new exodus, i.e. the Servant of Jehovah, the elect of the Lord: "Behold my servant (Isaiah speaking of Jesus) whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth" [42.1]. As at the burning bush, the agent of the new exodus is commissioned by One bearing the theophanic name [41.4; 43.10, 13; 48.12; 51.12]. Vicarious suffering will be the ransom-price of the people of God in the new exodus [53]; only here the lamb is the Servant-Mediator himself!

In the new exodus, the people of God will once again inaugurate their sojourn by passing through the sea: "thus saith the Lord, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters . . . When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee" [43.16, 2; cf. 44.27; 50.2; 51.9-11, 15; 63.11, 12]. The new exodus will bring a return to the wilderness for the Israel of God. In the land in between, the pilgrim people of God will sojourn: "Behold I will do a new thing . . . I will even make a way in the wilderness" [43.19; cf. 40.3; Ezek 20.35, 36; Hos 2.14; 13.5].

The paragraphs above above were taken from an internet article by James T. Dennison, Jr., "The Exodus and the People of God". This article brought to my mind the concept of 1 Cor 10:1-11 that speaks of the Exodus story as an example (typology) for the church.

God's requirement for His people has been consistent for fellowship (my people, your God, dwell with) starting with Adam and Eve do not take of the tree of Knowledge. He has laid before all mankind a choice of life or death and tells us to choose life.

Deu 10:12-13 And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?

Jhn 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Jhn 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Jhn 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

The people of God are His sheep and He is their shepherd. They hear His voice and follow (obey) Him. The parable of the Vine in John 15 has a similar thought , He is the vine and we are the branches, only when we are plugged into Him do we produce fruit.

God is unchanging and His requirements for His people have not changed. The way of escape from spiritual bondage is through the blood of the "passover lamb". John says "behold the lamb that takes away the sin of the World" (John1:29). Paul says "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Cor 5:7). The John comes back in the Book od Revelation and says "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing" (Rev 5:12).

God has written the names of His People in the "Book of life". Those are the true children of Abraham. Those are the ones who have come to repentance. Paul responds to the question "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" with the response " Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:30-31).

Have you? Is your name written in God's "Book of Life'?