The Goal Of The Law Is Christ…Romans 9-11 pt 8

For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.(Romans 10:3-4) 

What did Israel stumble over? What exactly was this lack of knowledge that has left her lost and estranged from God? It was no small detail that Israel got wrong, they literally lacked the only Knowledge that would save them!

Paul says that Israel was ignorant of God’s Righteousness. This means Israel was ignorant of what the Law of God truly demanded. He was not saying that Israel knew nothing about the Law, in fact she knew very much of the Law  and by the Law. The word translated ignorant, means devoid of exact  and precise knowledge.

Isaiah 53 says, “…By His knowledge, my Righteous servant shall Justify the many”.

But gradually Israel combined her incomplete knowledge of Righteousness, with a mixture of false teaching on the subject. Thus her “knowledge ” of righteousness

Israel stumbled over nothing less than the way of Righteousness, as revealed in the Law, prophets and in the Gospel. In spite of centuries of Divine teaching, dealings, temple instruction, ritual, prophecy and miracles and the entire experience of her history,  Israel has failed to attain that which she strove for, God’s Righteousness.

What were the specific points that Israel stumbled over so fatally ?

* Israel underestimated the standards of true Righteousness-

Jesus warned us in the Sermon on the Mount that “Unless your Righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of God”.(Matthew 5:20)

God can only demand perfection! The Righteousness that He requires, is the Righteousness that His Righteousness requires Him to require.

What does God really demand of man? Behold the Pharisee’s boast, in the parable told by Jesus,

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.(Luke 18:10-12)

The Apostle calls this ‘ confidence in the flesh’.  The emphasis is on self effort, external observation of rites, and pride by comparison with others. This is not true Righteousness, and it literally stands in the way of salvation.

True Righteousness is absolute conformity to all of God’s Law, not just external observance in comparison with others. The Law of God is internal as well as external, and can only be fulfilled by those who Love God with all their being.It is none less than Loving the Lord our God, with all of our heart, Soul,mind and strength. Can anyone says that they do this at all times?

* Israel didn’t Know the difference between Self Righteousness and the Righteousness of God – Israel wasn’t indifferent to Righteousness. The pious Jew made much strenuous effort to attain Righteousness, especially the Pharisees. They made it their life’s goal to fulfill all of the 614 commandments of God.  A Tzadik, would make all of the pilgrimages, fast, tithe down to the anise seed, and pay any price to be separate, in order to amass a treasury of Righteousness.

Righteousness before God, to these disciples was a matter of self effort.This Self Righteousness is based on the false premise that Man in and of himself can satisfy the demands of God. One of the problems of Rabbinic Judaism is that she understates the doctrine of original sin.An has been ruined and can not by himself ever please God to satisfaction.

 

* Israel didn’t realize that God himself would be their righteousnessTime and again the teaching of Law and prophets assured Israel that the Lord Himself would be their Righteousness.

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.(Jeremiah 23:5-6)

God himself would be the Righteousness of Israel, He would impute to them His own Righteousness. Knowing what He (Jesus) would do for them, would become a “justifying knowledge” to the Believer.

 

* Israel  didn’t understand that true Righteousness could only be attained as a gift of Love- But this kind of Righteousness can induce no pride, for it is not attained by self effort. All this Righteousness can ever engender would be humility.

 

This is the gospel, that what the Righteous God demands of us, He himself provides for us- His Righteousness.

We who believe and love Jesus ,sing with uplifted arms and trembling lips,”He is all my Righteousness, We stand complete in Him, and Worship Him”.

 

* Israel didn’t know that Righteousness was something we are to submit to- What a difference there is between “Attaining” and “Submission”!

The one who Attains, is the champion, and to be lauded and admired for by his striving he has conquered! No wonder proud people seek to attain their own righteousness by various religious efforts. “We Thank you Lord, we are not like these others…”.

But the one who Submits has been conquered, and humbly accepts from his conqueror what it pleases him to give him. How amazing that the one who confesses his own deep sinfulness, and submits to God, receives a gift from his conqueror, the LORD from Heaven…Right Standing with God.

Righteousness from God can never be attained by men, but only submitted to.

* They didn’t know  the goal of the Law – What is the goal of the Law of God?

The goal is not Righteousness, but the Messiah. The Law cannot bring Righteousness, it can only reveal that humanly speaking, the demand of Righteousness is reasonable but unattainable to us sinners. The law shows us that we are unrighteous and deserving of death, under the condemnation of God.

The law is designed to drive us out of ourselves unto the Messiah himself, for He alone can give us Righteousness.

 

 

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What Israel Got Wrong…Romans 9-11 pt 7

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.(Romans 10:1-4)

Again the apostle Paul pours out of a broken heart his deepest desire and prayer, that Israel be saved.He has already assured us in the name of the Holy Spirit that if he could,Paul would trade places with Israel that they would be saved and HE lost! This is the Love of Jesus flowing through the tender heart of a reborn man.

There could be no question of Israel’s zeal for God. Who isn’t moved by the accounts of Jewish martyrs in the dark centuries between the Testaments, when Thousands died rather than submit to Antiochus Epiphanes’ anti-God decrees?

The Jews have been zealous in their pursuit of Righteousness, but their zeal, commendable as it is, has not been according to knowledge. Jesus mentioned the zeal of Pharisees who cross land and sea in evangelism and turn their converts into “Sons of Hell”.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.(Matthew 23:15)

What is zeal? It is the intensity in which one caries out a project. Zeal in itself is neutral, it is neither right or wrong.  The important thing is whether or not one’s zeal is “according to knowledge”. Muslims are zealous in their religion, so are all cults. Such zeal is misguided. It is commendable to the flesh, but God hates it.

If there was anyone who ought to know about the zeal of Israel it was the apostle Paul.

For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.(Galatians 1:13-14)

This “Hebrew of the Hebrews” and Pharisee, had committed himself to the observance of all 614 commandments of God as extracted from the Law of Moses, and was soon recognized as one of the leading zealots in the sect of zealots.

He (Saul), would attain “righteousness”, and Israel itself would “reform” under the tutelage of Pharisees that she might regain her Right standing with God and bring about the restoration of the Kingdom as the prophets promised. One of the sages had predicted that when all Israel repents on One day, then the Kingdom of God would come in, and Israel would rule again as in olden times.

Saul was a representative Israelite. He wanted Righteousness, and would obtain it through strict observance of the Law. He could well have been the man in the story in Luke 18 who prayed thus in the temple;

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.(Luke 18:11-12)

His zeal for the Law of God drove him to persecute the new sect of Jews who went about teaching that the Messiah died on a Roman cross as a sacrifice for our sins, that all who believe might receive a gift of Righteousness from God.

Think of how this zealous Jew wold have stumbled over the gospel. “How could the Messiah of Israel die on a Roman(Pagan) cross! Blasphemy! Every Jew knows that the Law of God says “Cursed is everyone who hangs upon a tree”. Are you trying to tell me the Messiah of God, has already come and died the death of a man accursed of God?”.

Then the penny dropped, for Saul. Perhaps he had time to think as he traveled, in his tortured last few years as a zealot, rooting out Christians and imprisoning them, driven by zeal, but knowing he himself was a deep sinner. The words of the Prophet Isaiah may have come to him more than once as he no doubt entered Messianic synagogues in disguise, to arrest them.

“They say the Messiah was cursed of God! How blasphemous!”

But then this word from God would answer his troubled conscience…

…we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.(Isaiah 53:4b-5)

He was indeed “Smitten of God and afflicted”, but not for Himself, but for we who are all sinners. The Messiah died as a substitute for sinners…Righteousness can only come to us as a free git from God and cannot be earned or merited.

Saul “got” what most of Israel sadly failed to get-

Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:(Phillipians 3:4-9)

True Righteousness cannot be attained by self effort works or merit…

It is a Gift of God, something to be submitted to in Faith in Jesus the Messiah who died for us sinners.

 

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The People And The Non People…Romans 9-11 pt 6

As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.  And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.  Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:  For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.  And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.(Romans 9:25-29)

Paul is trying to resolve the theological problem raised by the fact that Israel, for the most part, doesn’t recognize the New covenant of God, announced by Jeremiah the prophet and attested to by the Law and the prophets. From the ends of the earth, Gentiles have been flocking to the God of Israel, and the Jewish messiah,Jesus, but only a trickle of Jews has come to worship.

Those who had closely read the prophecies of Isaiah, Hosea, Jeremiah and Ezekiel would not have been surprised that only a small remnant of Jews would make the transition from Old to New Covenant. This is spite of the fact that the New Covenant is expressly for “…The house of Israel and the house  of Judah…”.

Paul cites Hosea, who announced the repudiation of Israel as God’s people for a season, and then predicted their reinstatement as “the children of the Living God”.  Hosea predicted that for a long time, Israel would be disenfranchised, exiled, and out of the Divine favor, other than a small believing remnant;

For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without seraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.(Hosea 3:4-5)

Hosea predicted a hopeful end for Israel, however, Afterward,Hosea saw that Israel would return,(from exile, and repent), turning again to the Lord in the latter days.But in the meantime, a “non-people” would receive the Divine Attention once reserved for Israel.There is nothing new about this,the prophets predicted the mystery of the Judeo/Gentile church.

Hosea  was echoing the prophet Moses, who by the Spirit warned that due to the continued Idolatry of His favored people God would turn to another, less favored ‘people’, a non-people, a foolish nation.

They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.(Deuteronomy 32:21)

Isaiah also witnessed that though Israel and Judah had been degraded by sin, and their rulers were the new “…Rulers of Sodom and Gommorah…”, The Lord would not totally make an end of them, as He did the original Sodom and Gommorah. The LORD would preserve a remnant, a small holdout, picturesquely described by Isaiah as;

And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.(Isaiah 1:8)

Paul quotes Isaiah again, when he proclaims that a remnant shall return,(repent) and that this in itself is an “overflowing” act of Righteousness, by the LORD.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.(Isaiah 10:20-23)

The fact that the once predominantly Jewish church, had become in a short time overwhelmingly gentile, should have come as no surprise to the ones who knew the Prophets.

Remember that Claudius expelled the Jews of Rome for five years. When the Messianic Jews  returned to the church in Rome, it was a growing, exploding congregation of gentile believers in Jesus, none of whom had any background in the Law,Prophets, the Temple, Torah, or any of the other preparatory tools the Lord had vouchsafed to Israel.

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.(Romans 9:30)  

What were these former pagans, idolaters and even animists looking for when they stumbled into the gospel of the crucified Savior? What could they have seen in the Jewish carpenter who substituted himself for the sins of the whole world?

When the Gentiles heard the mystery of the empty tomb, and of the risen one who had recently been pronounced dead and embalmed, but who now lives, what did the ‘foolish’ newly formed nation of ‘non-people’ expect to find?

The answer; Eternal life, reality and meaning in this once empty life, Truth which set them free from their own sins and degraded passions. In the process of believing and accepting the Gospel they found Righteousness, a Right standing with God, by faith in Jesus.

It never occurred to them to seek for Righteousness, but in the gospel they found it and came into it, among other unspeakable treasures..

Ironically the vast majority of the Jewish nation, the chosen, prepared, schooled and disciplined people of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob thought of little else than how to obtain Righteousness. Their sages taught them that if all of Israel would just repent on the same day, then the Most High would bring in the Kingdom to the world! The prayers of the Jews and their liturgies are full of pleadings for Rightousness with God.

Obsessed as they were (and some are) with ‘Righteousness’, Israel has come short of it to this day, because they stumble over the only God appointed means of Righteousness – simple faith and trust in the Messiah.

Thus for the present, The ‘non people’ are currently in possession of something they weren’t even aware of, whereas the “people” are currently on the outside,looking in hungrily and a bit jealously. But thankfully, not for too much longer.

But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone;  As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.(Romans 9:31-33)

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The Potter And The Clay…Romans 9-11 pt 5

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.  Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.  Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,  Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?(Romans 9:17-24)

In making his apologetic about why Israel has not yet made the transition into the New Covenant, Paul spoke of the freedom of God. God has the prerogative to have mercy on whom He wills and to harden whosoever it pleases him to harden.Israel has become like Pharaoh, she so often hardened her heart to God’s pleadings, that eventually God himself hardened Israel’s heart as a Judgment.

The allegory from scripture that the apostle draws from, is from the prophet Jeremiah’s visit to the Potters house.

The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,  Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.(Jeremiah 18:1-5)

What did Jeremiah see? The ancient Potter would select the finest clay, and pick out carefully any and all pebbles, or anything that would cause a flaw in the clay. He would knead and water the clay, and get it worked to just the right consistency before he would put it on the spinning wheel.

He would then begin to spin the wheel, and handle the clay gently to shape it (hopefully) into a beautiful vessel. In the process, there would be instances where the clay would collapse or prove resistance to shaping. But the potter of old would patiently re-fold the lump of clay in on itself, water it again, and begin the process all over again. One had to be long-suffering to be a potter, because this process would be repeated several times in the making of a fine vessel.

But if the clay proves to be incorrigible, and unworkable, what does the Potter do? Jeremiah’s potter would still use the clay, but not for a beautiful vessel, rather a crude pot push as a spittoon or a chamber pot.

In the Exodus, God chose to use Pharaoh. He could have been used of God as the Persian King Cyrus was, but he resisted God, and instead became a byword and witness to the wrath of God on hard-hearted men. Pharaoh was going to be used of God, one way or the other.

So also Israel. God had prepared her, worked with her with His own hands, kneading her gently, folding her in herself, and making many new starts, in order to shape her into a beautiful vessel of truth and witness. But she proved incorrigible, hardening her heart, and resisting God. Therefore for the present she is a different type of witness. Israel has become a byword and a witness to the World in her estrangement from God and in the judgments that have come upon her, even as Moses warned her;

And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.(Deuteronomy 28:37)

Jeremiah was instructed again to go back to the Potter’s house and to by the crude earthenware bottle, and in the presence of all of elders of Judah, smash the bottle down into the valley of Hinnom, (Gehenna,Hell) as a testimony of the coming destruction of the temple and the captivity of the people.

This is the “vessel” fit for destruction Paul speaks of. Pharaoh and Israel testify to all of us. God would have made something beautiful of them, He would have used them to magnify His name in mercy. But they must magnify his name nonetheless. Pharaoh stands forever as a symbol of the end of God resistance. Israel has yet a future and a hope as we shall see.

God is the Sovereign potter, and would shape our lives into something beautiful and useful. But we must allow him to shape us and mold us, and not resist him. He is Sovereign. He is going to use us, one way or another. If we stay tender and workable He can make something of our lives as a witness to all of his goodness.

But if we constantly resist Him, He will make us into a witness of something else; the judgment, misery and ruin of those who will not be shaped by Him. There can be no successful resistance to Him with whom we have to do!

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God’s Freedom…Romans 9-11 pt 4

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid!  For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.(Romans 9: 14-18)

The apostle Paul is teaching the Roman church the place of Israel in the plan of God, in the light of the New Testament, and Israel’s failure to enter into it, for the most part.

Paul’s first argument is the doctrine of election.

God chose Abraham, to be the “Father of many nations” and to bring the Messiah into the world. Of Abraham’s eight children, God chose Isaac, and of Isaac’s twins God chose Jacob, and not Esau.God chose Leah to be the mother of Messiah, not Rachel, whom Jacob chose. God’s election trumps man’s election.

Among all of the multitudes of Israel, God has chosen the believing remnant of Israel, to be the true, spiritual Israel. “Not all Israel is Israel”.

Election is God’s prerogative, there is no necessity in it, other than God’s pleasure. Why did God chose Israel above all other nations?  Could there be a reason, humanly speaking? In the Torah, God told Israel,

For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.  The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:  But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.(Deuteronomy 7:6-8)

The Lord did not choose Israel  for any quality in them, but he “Set his love” upon them. He chose to love them, because he wanted to.

The Lord alone has full freedom. He doesn’t have to do anything of necessity, everything he does, is because it pleases Him to do so, for whatever pleases God is right and good. No person could ever put him in debt to them, God doesn’t have to save anyone, if He judged all men and sent them to a fiery hell, it would be the right thing to do.

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?  But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.(Psalm 115:1-3)

It pleased God to show Israel so much mercy, after untold years of idolatry, prophetic warning and pleading, providential miracles of deliverance and provision time and again, for centuries.

The Psalmist exults in the freedom of God to show mercy in Psalm 130;

If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?  But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.(Psalm 130:3-4)

But the LORD was not indebted to Israel, they had no unconditional claim upon his mercy. 

Israel hardened her heart to God’s pleadings and warnings. She presumed upon God’s mercy, as in the days of Jeremiah, when they said “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the LORD…” as though no matter how sinful, God would always be with them because they had the temple of the Lord in their midst.

They had no idea of the doctrine of the freedom of God. He can have mercy on whoever he wants, he owes no man mercy. At the same time, the LORD has freedom to harden whoever he wants also. God hardened Israel’s heart as a judgment, just as He did Pharoah’s heart, centuries before.

Of course God is not arbitrary and unpredictable. Pharaoh first hardened his own heart to God, in spite of all of the wonders he saw and the warnings from the Word of God, which he ignored. At a certain point, God himself began to harden Pharoah’s heart,  increasing his resistance to God, and deepening his spiritual blindness. God has the freedom to do so, just as He has the freedom to show mercy and forgiveness.

We are seeing the same thing occur in the world today. Centuries of Christianity has been preached and witnessed to, giving the world the offer of personal salvation, eternal life, and the blessings of Judeo Christian civilization.

But what is happening is a rapid hardening of the hearts towards God. How else could a pro-gay, adamantly pro abortion and even infanticide proponent be elected president for two terms? America has grown hard hearted in her resistance to God band His Word. The will come when God himself will harden the hearts of this age, and this will doom the multitudes to Hell.

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.(2 Thess 2:10-12)

What happened to Israel? Why are they not leading the way of the nations into the New Covenant?

The same thing that happened to Pharaoh happened to Israel for the most part. They had repeatedly hardened their heart to God, failing to truly believe the prophets, erecting their own version of spirituality, and denying the Word of God by promoting the teachings of their rabbis and sages over scripture. The final hardening occurred when the Messiah himself came to them, and they received him not.

But unlike Pharaoh, the hardening of the chosen people is temporary and partial, God has reserved a remnant for himself.

 

 

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Has God Failed His People? …Romans 9-11 pt 3

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:  Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.  That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.  And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;  (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.( Romans (;7-14)

What happened to Israel? In view of then transition, between the Old and the New testament, why did the vast majority of Israel seem to reject Jesus and the New Covenant?

First of all, answers Paul, (the one who weep for his country men and would have taken their place in judgment if possible);  What do we mean by the term Israel?

Israel is at one and the same time an individual (Jacob) a land, a nation, an ethnic group of people, a culture, a religion, etc. What do we mean by the term ‘Israel”, or more importantly, what does God mean by it? Who is the true Israel of God?

The account of the Patriarchs is all about election. This is the underlayment of the story of Abraham,Isaac,Jacob, Leah and Judah.Who has God chosen to use?

First of all God chose Abraham to be the conduit of blessing to the whole world, not Terah his father or Lot, his nephew.

Abraham had 8 children, but only one of those children was chosen to be part of the conduit of promise, Isaac. Ishmael was born naturally, through an act of surrogacy. Abraham’s later children were born when he remarried after Sarai’s death. Only Isaac was a miracle ‘child of the promise’, and elected  by God.

Isaac’s wife Rivkah(Rebecca) had a difficult pregnancy with lots of activity in her womb. She inquired of the Lord about it and received a prophetic word;

And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.(Genesis 25:23)

Two nations, and not two individuals, are the subject of this prophecy. The One nation is chosen, not the other. This is not about personal salvation, but national calling to witness.

Individually, Isaac loved Esau over Jacob. Natural man will almost always choose the firstborn Son to be the heir, but God chose the second, Jacob, to be in the line of succession which would bring Jesus into the world. Jacob was chosen by God, but Isaac chose Esau as his heir and favorite son.

The story of how Jacob prevailed over Isaac’s choice of Esau, is not one which emphasizes deception. God didn’t treat Jacob or Rivkah his mother as wrong actors in the story, there isn’t a word of condemnation for them. The only ones who condemned Jacob was Esau and his uncle Laban.

God chose Jacob, not Esau. Even father Isaac acknowledged this, after finding out that he had been deceived into giving the patriarchal blessing to Jacob. This is how it could be said  of Isaac that by faith He blessed His Sons…”.*

“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.” (Hebrews 11:20)

The faith Isaac operated in was not in his giving a blessing to the right Son, thinking it was the wrong one. The Faith of Isaac is revealed in his Words to Esau once he realized he had been had,

And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau. And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed.(Genesis 27:32-33)

When Isaac said “…and He shall be blessed…”, He was acknowledging that God was at work, making sure that the right Son received the Patriarchal blessing, in spite of Isaac’s bias.

Jacob had two wives, and two concubines, all of whom he had children by.  Only one of them was chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, Leah. In spite of all of the machinations of herself, her sister and their maids, Judah came through Leah.

It wouldn’t be adequate to say the sons of Abraham are elect, nor to say children of Isaac, or children of Jacob. All of these could be saved, but not all of them were elected to bring the Messiah into the world.

Within the natural born children of Israel, there has always been a believing remnant. This is the Israel of God. The Israel which believes in her Messiah, and has remained faithful to God, is the Israel which witnesses to God’s faithfulness, even if it is a minuscule minority of the people.

The first answer to the question, has God proven unfaithful to His chosen people Israel, is of course not. God has never failed his true Israel, the believing remnant of the children  of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob, the true Israel of God.

* We should note that the election of Jacob over Esau should not be confused with the salvation of this or that individual. The teaching is about the election of entire nations for a specific task, and not about individual salvation. Ishmael and Esau may well have been saved, but neither were chosen to bring in the Messiah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Israel’s Irrevocable Gifts…Romans 9-11 pt 2

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,  That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.   For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:  Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;  Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.(Romans 9:1-5) 

Israel is a miracle nation. She came into existence after the tower of Babel, when all of the nations defected from the living God.

If you or I wanted to create a new nation, we would search out a virile young couple at the prime of life and start with them. But when God wanted to create a new nation, He chose an older couple, Abram the idolater, and his wife Sara,  barren and long past child-bearing years, and said “Here is someone I can work with!”

The existence of Israel is a miracle, and so is her recent resurrection. It is not amazing to hear of an Ancient nation which was exiled, enslaved and scattered throughout the world, never to be heard of again.

But for a nation to be defeated in war , (in 70 AD) , and sent as slaves into a complete international exile,(the Diaspora), and yet to be preserved as a national entity,(in spite of all attempts to assimilate) is nothing short of amazing. But the perhaps the greatest miracle is that after almost two thousand years, the nation of Israel was reconstituted in her own land, in fulfillment of countless Bible prophecies.

Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.(Jeremiah 31:10-11)

What happened in May 1948 is not only a miracle but a Billboard sized portent that God’s Word is true and the world has entered into the last days.

Here in Romans, Paul laments Israel’s failure to enter fully into the blessing of the New Covenant which was promised to her.For the present the bulk of the nation is lost, and Paul invokes the Holy Spirit as witness to the truth that He(Paul) would be willing to take Israel’s place in judgment, if it would save her. Such is the Love of God and his true saints for the children of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob.

The apostle then lists the privileges that God had bestowed upon her; Romans 11 assures us such gifts and callings were given and never repented of by God. These are irrevocable privileges, one day Israel shall take her place as a Priest and witness again.

What are these irrevocable blessings?

*The name Israel, “Who are Israelites…”- Remember that the name was conferred upon Jacob after the long night of wrestling and finally clinging to God. Who is Israel? Literally it is “He that strives with God, and prevails…”.

Jacob had long relied on his own quick wits and ability, until the ultimate showdown with his enraged brother Esau, who drew near with the seeming intent to kill him. He divided his wealth and family, and eventually himself, from all that he held dear. As the night drew near , Jacob was by himself when the Angel of the Lord drew near.At first Jacob wrestled the Angel, but after the Angel disabled his hip(The body’s strongest part), Jacob clung to the Angel and would not let go.

This drama will play out again soon , for the modern Jacob, hated by the whole world, increasingly isolated and heading into the final long night, “The time of Jacob’s trouble”. Scripture goes back and forth, referring to Israel as either Jacob or Israel, for Israel is an ideal name. The nation will cling to God until the morning and then enter into a glorious new day.

Finally,Israel will become Israel, and the world will be resurrected.

* The Adoption-   “…to whom pertaineth the adoption…”. Israel is the Son of God. God created the nation and adopted into Sonship. There is no other nation that could say this. Israel is God’s ‘prodigal Son’, one that he mourns for and awaits his return.

And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:(Exodus 4:22)

We can all hear God’s agonizing lament as he remembers Ephraim as a little child, and mourns his defection from God!

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.  I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.(Hosea 11:1-4)

* The Glory-  “…and the glory…”- God called Israel to be the people and the place where He would dwell with men in a Holy Temple. Jerusalem is the place on earth where He would set his name, forever. When the temple was completed, the Most High descended in a cloud of Glory, and literally “Dwelt between the Cherubim” in the Holy of Holies!

For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?  And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?(Deuteronomy 4:7-8)

* The Covenants- “…and the covenants…” . To Israel were given covenants, such as the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic and Davidic covenants. Even the New Covenant was given to “the house of Israel and of Judah”.

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:  ….(Jeremiah 31:31-34)

We the gentile church have been graciously included into the “Commonwealth of Israel” and by faith we have a share in the covenants and promises.

* The LAW-  “…and the giving of the law…”. How little we moderns understand the beauty and richness of the Law of God, revealed to the Jewish people.Much of this blindness is due to an antinomian emphasis in the teaching in churches these days. You would almost think that the Law was a curse rather than how the Psalmist sung of it,

Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.(Psalm 119:30-38)

The Law was far more than mere “Do’s and don’t’s” . It elevated Israel, taught them, and separated them physically, hygienically, morally, intellectually,and spiritually. The Law is the TORAH, the teaching of the Way,for  it is a revelation of Jesus.

The Law was the constitution of the nation, the teaching of discernment, psychology, medicine, ethics. The Law is the deliverer and Saviour of the family, and it is the preserver from the sexual anarchy which prevailed in the ancient world, Truly Israel was privileged above all nations to be the repository of the Law of God.

* The Worship- To Israel was vouchsafed the worship of God. Jerusalem was set as the one place on earth where God could be worshipped. Levites were the priests, they held the services, and presented through the rituals appointed by God, the vision of God and salvation. All nations would come to Jerusalem to seek God. What an indescribable privilege!

* The Promises- There are precious promises given to Israel which are conditional and there are promises given by God which are unconditional.

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.(Genesis 17:7-8)

* The Fathers- Abraham,Isaac and Jacob are so precious to God, he incorporated their names into His own name.”I am the God of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob…”. God will keep his everlasting promises to them inspire of Israel’s unbelief. The Fathers, chosen of God, despised by the world, and now even by the apostate church, are very significant to God.

*The Messiah- God used the Jews to bring himself into the world as a man. Jesus is a son of Israel, and in a representative sense, He is the true Israel. He was born and raised as a man in a Jewish context. Israel served as the receptacle nation for the Messiah, the seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head and redeem mankind unto God.

 

 

 

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