Greetings Friends everywhere!
Can the Christian faith be fully understood and achieved without Israel? Is Israel an intrinsic part of salvation for the Christian? Many don’t think so. Many have discarded Israel as irrelevant to the Christian faith. They say Israel was part of the Old Covenant that was done away and been replaced by the New Covenant. They quote passages from Romans which says, “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are no longer under the law (Old Covenant – the basis of the OC was the law or 10 Commandments), but under grace (New Covenant -the basis of the NC is Jesus Christ)” (Rom.6:14). Or, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor.5:17). Yet another says, “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear” (Heb.8:13).
Israel, Led by a Pillar of Fire to Freedom from Egyptian Bondage and to Lead all Humanity to the True God (Pic: Wiki Commons)
All these passages and others must be understood within the framework of God’s overall plan of salvation for mankind from start to finish, including Israel. So, how does Israel fit into God’s plan of salvation for Christians today, and by extension all humanity? Israel’s role under the Old Covenant was to inculcate into humanity the proper “human instinct” that ought to guide the human mind to God’s purpose for humanity. The basis of the “human instinct” is the law or the 10 Commandments. The law has two broad applications as it relates to Love for God and Love for fellowman. (Mar.12:30-31) Much like “animal instinct” the Creator equipped in non-human creatures to depict their own kind, the “human instinct” reflects the God-kind in humans – “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16). We recognize God through the “Love-kind,” that is His divine nature.
Think for a moment that prior to Israel’s nationhood, all the nations around Israel and for that matter in the world, had developed their own way of life or their choice of “human instinct” and communicated principally through their religious practices. The true God was unknown to them, leave alone His ways. Now God steps in through the nation of Israel and reveals His way of life through the law (10 Commandments). This “human instinct” is to guide man’s every thought, word, and deed, which will lead him finally to the true God and His purpose for creating mankind.
It is worthwhile to note that no nation was converted to God by Israel, that was not their purpose. Their calling was to inculcate and drum into humanity beginning with Israel the basic “human instinct” of God’s nature of Love He wanted mankind to understand and live by. Rather than changing the nations around, Israel was on a continuous war-footing with them. Israel’s war-mongering neighbors was a depiction of man’s natural revulsion against everything about the true God and His way of life.
It was a heavy responsibility to shoulder for Israel, so much so there was constant conflict and tension between Israel and God. Karl Barth called it a “Love/hate” relationship. Israel desired the freedom they saw in the other nations around them who did what seemed right in their own eyes where they chose their own pattern of “human instinct.” In many instances Israel defied God and followed other nations. God corrected and brought them back and reminded them of their purpose and calling. But the pagan form of “human instinct” did not bring them the freedom they sought after, because true freedom would come by way of the prophesied Messiah which Israel played out in their ritualistic observances like the Passover and the day of atonement. Paul said, “It is for freedom that Christ (the Messiah) came to set us free” (Gal.5:1). Instead, many of Israel’s neighbor-nations took the most horrendous form of living like sacrificing their own children to their gods.
Moses with The Ten Commandments Written with God’s Hands (Pic: Wiki Commons)
Today, we can say the basic revelation of the “human instinct” (law/10 Commandments) has been sufficiently and indelibly imprinted in the human psyche that man cannot deny or dismiss it. Much of the laws of democratic nations finds its basis upon the 10 Commandments. And Israel’s existence today continues to remind mankind of the basic “human instinct” God wants to instill in humanity. That is Israel’s purpose which continues to this day. However, we ought to be guarded as our moral decline seems to slide at an alarming speed. Jonathan Sacks, the recent recipient of the coveted Templeton Prize, said in his acceptance speech that “inner directed” individuals with discipline are needed who are not fazed by moral reversal which have spelled the fall of every other empire and superpower in history. You may read Lord Templeton’s acceptance speech titled “Rediscovering Our Moral Purpose” at www.standpointmag.co.uk
But true freedom, which Israel yearned for, would come by way of the New Covenant through Jesus Christ. In other words, freedom was the essential message of the New Covenant. True freedom’s means to be free from sin which is violation against the law. Freedom is not the right to choose your way that seems right to you. Ultimate freedom is where a person is living the Love of God in his or her life. Freedom from sin basically means the provision of a Savior in Jesus who absolves all infractions against the law. Hence, the New Covenant was ratified and sealed in Jesus’ blood that was shed for the forgiveness of human sin. As humans we can never be perfect in keeping the law because we sin by commission or omission. In other words, because we will stumble in staying true to God’s basic “human instinct,” He has provided a permanent Mediator in heaven who intercedes and absolves us from all infraction.
So in the final analysis, it is more about staying true to what Israel was called to teach humanity about the “human instinct” formed in God’s likeness than each infraction of the law because we have Jesus as a permanent Mediator at the Father’s right hand. Many times we focus on the infraction but miss the big picture. Israel’s purpose was not to keep reminding people of their infraction, although it is a fact which cannot be denied. But it was to reveal the basic “human instinct” God wants mankind to have, and His provision of a Mediator when there is infraction, thus bringing freedom.
Now, the New Covenant is expressed through the Holy Spirit, just as the expression of the Old Covenant is the law. The Spirit dwells in the believer and makes the person a temple for God, ushering freedom in Christ. (1 Cor.3:16-17) Both, the Spirit and the law are Love expressions, one inculcates our “human instinct” while the second brings “human freedom” through the provision of a Savior and Mediator. The Love expression of the Spirit is further broken down into the “fruits of the Spirit” which expounds God’s Love in greater detail. (1 Cor.13)
While the law brings death through sin, the Spirit brings freedom through Jesus and His cross. When the scripture say the Old Covenant “is obsolete and outdated,” It is not saying the law (“human instinct”) is no longer applicable or done away with, rather, it is stating the obvious truth that it’s death blow (sin) has been negated permanently in Christ who brings everlasting absolution to humans so the “human instinct” (Love) can be part of our nature in this life until we are made one with God in the resurrection to immortality in the next life. Once immortal, man will have shed his sin-susceptible humanity and clothed in God’s holy spirit nature. (Rev.21-22)
For Centuries Sofers (Jewish Scribes) Have been Faithful to Their Mission of Proclaiming the Oracles of God for Mankind (Spaceboyjosh, Wiki Commons)
Freedom is a double edged sword. Because man is naturally garbed in his God-given freedom to freely express himself or herself, it goes without saying that man is ignorant of, or can be misled, or both, about the “human instinct” we ought to adopt based upon God’s Love. Human history proves man has no conception of God’s “human instinct” based upon His law and His Love. So, why give man this double edged sword of freedom which history proves he constantly falls upon to his own demise. The reason for freedom must become obvious to man – in order to create children made in His own image and likeness, man must freely choose to Love God, just as He chose to freely Love us. Freedom is part of God’s divine nature and because we are made in His image we inherit freedom from God as His children. The Bible tells us “God is Love,” and the flip side of Love is freedom. Paul said, “It is for freedom that Christ came to set us free.” (Gal.5:1). True freedom is to be free from the shackles of sin, not the right to do what one likes and fall into all kinds of harmful pitfalls. People today have many ideas and concepts of freedom, much of which are erroneous and damaging. True freedom is to be clothed in Love, and that can only happen when man is immortal like His Creator. There is no Love without divine freedom and no freedom without Love. They both go hand in hand, and you cannot have one without the other. Love and freedom is who God is in His divine nature.
When a rich young man asked Jesus what he must do to attain eternal life (salvation), He quoted the Commandments to him. (Matt.19:16-19) The man answered, “All these I have kept since I was a boy, what do I still lack?” (Matt.19:20; Luk.18:21). Jesus then responded, “You still lack one thing. If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me. When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matt.19:21-22). In other words, the one thing the law lacks is its ability to give one a free heart to truly Love God. And history proved that is what Israel lacked and needed most in its relationship with God. Jesus acknowledged this saying, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” (Matt.15:8). That is what the New Covenant brings through the Spirit’s power (Love). Jesus was referring to a person’s freedom to give his or her heart to God. His encounter with a ‘rich young man’ was incidental, he is talking of a principle which affects us all in every station of life – the freedom to be able to give one’s heart to the Lord’s purpose and man’s ultimate destiny (“come follow Me”).
So, is Israel irrelevant to the Christian’s salvation? How would we know sin without the law? If it were not for the law (10 Commandments) which defines sin, how would we know what Jesus died to save us from? So Israel points us to the law and sin so we stand condemned under the Old Covenant, but that does not mean the law and the Old Covenant is bad and evil, as I said, it’s main purpose is to drum and instill into man the basic “human instinct” which guides our lives to God’s nature of Love. (Rom.7) So while the law condemns us, Christ appeared with the New Covenant of grace in the Spirit which brings us absolution, grace, peace, and freedom. Paul said it this way, “God demonstrated His own Love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom.5:8). So, both the old and new is now fused into a single expression of God’s salvation for man. Hence, Jesus said, “Salvation is from the Jews (Israel)” for the part they play in preserving the law to our day. The law does not save us, Christ does, and that’s how the two are blended into one, so we do not live under the old but New Covenant. Of course, the most vital reason “salvation is from the Jews” is because Jesus Himself is a Jew descended from the tribe of Judah. (Heb.7:14) So, we see that the law and the Messiah are from the same source. The two are made one in Jesus.
So, when we see creatures of all kinds living and behaving through their built-in instincts the Creator has endowed in them, it reminds us that man also is endowed with his “human instinct,” but unlike creatures of non-human species, man has a mind fashioned in God’s image to freely choose to follow Him. That’s the huge difference. God’s desire above all else is that man choose to freely Love Him. That is why Love and freedom are prerogatives which man alone can exercise.
Israel do not believe Jesus was or is their prophesied Messiah. They look to a yet future Messiah that will come in glorious triumphant appearance to deliver and free them. However, it will turn out to be an utter shock and amazement for them to discover the Messiah and Jesus are one and the same Person. Paul said that God has brought this blindness upon Israel in order to bring the whole world (Gentiles) into the faith so all may be saved. (Rom.11 read all, esp. 25-29)
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to write to me in the space provided below, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life” as a Bulamanriver.* Be strong in the Lord’s joy.
* Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. To read the many facets of life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website www.bulamanriver.com where you can order a copy of my Book.
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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