to the Lord'
"All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations." Psalm 22.22,23 (RSV)
It is interesting that in this Psalm that so graphically describes the sufferings of the Messiah, and perhaps his people, we have also this great affirmation of God's victory, a victory that was promised to father Abraham long centuries before - "By you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves" (Gen.12.3).
In the beginning God was sovereign and his power supreme. That has never changed. What did change were the hearts and lives of some of those that he in his love had created. In their stupidity they rejected God and so took themselves outside his loving care. But God remained sovereign Lord over all creation. He alone could plan and prepare for the 'wanderers' to turn back to their true home.
It was in knowing this God that Abraham differed from those around him. This is why it was essential for him to leave his natural family and go to a place where he and his descendants could worship and serve the one true God.
He never went back to 'father's house', nor did Isaac go there. When Jacob did so it soon was evident that his family was contaminated with idolatry. The stories are told in Genesis 31-35, and reveal the dishonesty and violence that went with their failure to retain the pure worship of God. He must reign in the hearts and lives of his people without deviation or rival.
As the family grew into a larger society and later into a nation, it needed laws. One reason for having laws is, that it allows members of the bigger community to anticipate each other's actions. But for Israel, it meant more - it meant that Israel knew how to serve and please their God.
It meant, basically, that Israel would act by the same principles as Yahweh acted, by love - real unselfish love. Jesus quoted from the Law the two great commandments - love God with your whole being - and love your fellow men and women as you love yourself. That is where God's kingdom begins - that is the rule of righteousness.
Love of self readily incubates idolatry, violence and immorality. That has been the story of God's people through four millennia. Yet it is not the whole story, for God has left for himself a remnant. These have been men and women, boys and girls, who in loving loyalty have served God in purity of heart. They have been the real Kingdom of God on Earth, and have kept alive the promise to Abraham.
That promise must be fulfilled, for it was made sure by God's covenant. Its fulfilment has been made possible by the events that are described in the early part of Psalm 22.
"All the families of the nations shall worship before him
For dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations."