Random Blog Clay Feet: December 31, 2007
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Monday, December 31, 2007

Our Jewish Roots - Who will be Saved?

...for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)

I have noticed over time that whenever it becomes clear that something I am reading has a spin put on it by religious people that is incorrect, then I am at a place, an opportunity to listen to what God wants to reveal as to what it really does mean. For many years I was trained in a culture that often remained stuck in a defensive posture about many texts but failed to move on to explore the deeper truth lying beneath the surface. That is what fear-bonded thinking usually does; it remains fixated on proving someone else wrong but is not nearly as interested in seeing what real truth could be applied to our own heart.

That is one reason God is so repeatedly insistent all throughout the Bible that we should not live in fear. Fear blinds our minds to so many things and keeps us stymied from maturing very much. Fear is antagonistic to joy and freedom and experimenting and exploration. Fear is enslaving and keeps one under tight restrictions and ever-increasing rules to prevent something wrong from entering in. Fear inhibits thriving. Fear is at the heart of all false religion and is the power of the false gospels. Fear is the primary motivation of legalism and turns our attention to externals and away from the true condition of our heart. Increasing fear moves us from the front part of our brain where our logic, reason and creativity originate (utilizing both halves of the brain) to the mid or back part of the brain where our baser emotions lacking moral restrictions churn and tend to overwhelm us.

Well, I didn't intend to get off on that topic. What I want to explore is the idea of looking deeper into thoughts in Scripture that on the surface do not seem to fit with other more clear revelations about God. The opening text here from Romans strikes me as one of those opportunities. Most of my life this text has been only addressed from a defensive position with explanations about why it is not teaching that all Jews will end up being saved somehow as some Christians often try to claim. From my own study I agree with that conclusion, not because I was taught to believe it but because from the context it is becoming clear to me independent of external teachings. All Jews is not synonymous with all Israel.

But I want to move beyond just defending a position in resistance to what others may be propounding and explore what this passage may be really saying. I want to have a spirit of anticipation free of fear so that I can think outside of any box put around this by someone else and see what the text has to reveal on its own with the guidance of the original Author. That is the nature of inductive study which I am finding to be so rewarding and nourishing.

I can see that it is clear in the passage context that Paul is referring to biological Jews in this verse; the previous verse makes it reasonably clear that the group he refers to are enemies when it comes to the gospel. Most of the Jews in Paul's day and ever since then have generally been enemies of the gospel. Unfortunately, after Paul's time the gospel has become so distorted and misunderstood by those promoting it that the Jews often have good reason for being repulsed by its presentation. I have heard sad stories of professed Christians working to convert Jews to “Christianity” insisting that Jews profane key elements of their beliefs like eating pork and rejecting the true Sabbath as proof that they are now “true Christians”.

With false ideas of the gospel like that circulating around among Jews it is no wonder that they remain intensely hostile toward all Christians. Most versions of the “gospel” being espoused today have little resemblance to the real “good news” about God that is the real essence of the true gospel. For the truth about God does not negate the truth that God entrusted to the Jewish people throughout all of history. Real Christianity is not a separate and new religion from Judaism, and I think that is made clear here in Romans. True Christianity is an extension, an outgrowth, a metamorphosis of the true religion founded upon the fundamental truths established for centuries in the Jewish faith.

While it is true that some of the symbols and ceremonies came to fulfillment and therefore concluded at the death of Jesus, much of what God entrusted to the Jewish nation is still valid and unchanging. Christianity in general has made a tragic mistake in assuming that anything Jewish must be wrong and that God started all over again with the early Christian believers. That is not the view taught by the apostles and is not supported in the Bible. Their understanding and teachings assumed that the Christian church was simply the true continuation of the body of believers originating and founded on all those from the Jews were willing to accept the unveiling of expanded truth beyond their present perceptions.

Paul always approached the Jews first whenever he traveled to new places with the gospel. He did not do this to draw away from Judaism as many as he could but he did it because he understood that Judaism was still the group of people who had the gifts and calling of God and were the foundation for the truth of the gospel. A true understanding of real Israel entails seeing an unbroken line of truth throughout all of history from Adam to the end of time. Israel had been entrusted with most of the prophecies about Jesus as well as prophecies about events all the way to the end of the millenium and the wrap up of the whole Great War going on in the universe.

While it is clear from Paul that God did not reject His people, it is also true that as a nation they rejected Him and forced a divorce to take place in their relationship with Him. But even that did not neutralize the reality of the truths that Judaism still contains. They may as a people (nation) be enemies of the gospel because of lies about God entrenched in their hearts, but that does not change the love and passion of God for His chosen people. We are just beginning to realize that the deep mindset and traditions and culture found in Judaism is much closer to a true understanding of reality than any other culture on earth. And just because it is poisoned with prejudice and hardness of heart does not change that fact.

What I noticed in this verse this morning was the fact that what Paul says is irrevocable is not the salvation of all Jews but the gifts and the calling that they had. I think it is rather clear throughout history how gifted the Jews are as a people. They are so gifted that they have often become the object of intense jealousy and hatred by those who accuse them of being even diabolical. Antisemitism is all too accepted among many who claim to be Christians. But I believe that it is driven by a Satanic jealousy of the natural gifts that exists in the gene-pool of the Jewish race.

Of course these are not the only gifts that Paul was referring to here. The Jews were blessed above all nations on the earth as a means of revealing the kind of God who is trying to attract the attention of all people on the earth. God made it very clear in the Old Testament that His blessings on this nation were not due to anything they deserved or earned but wholly to the goodness of God. (see Deuteronomy 8 and 9) It is absurd to think that God suddenly decided to throw out all the truth revealed through His dealings with His chosen people to start over again with a new group under a “new Christian dispensation”. It seems even more bizarre to me how many Christians attempt to force Old Testament prophecies into strange contortions to prove that at the end of time God will have yet another “dispensation” in which the literal nation of Israel will again be reinstated so that God can fulfill through them all the conditional prophecies that they failed to inherit due to their unbelief and rejection of Him and His Son. As a nation they invoked a divorce from their unique relationship with God. But God's promises will still be fulfilled through a people identified as Israel but this time made up of all those from every nation who unite in faith as the bride of Christ.

Insisting on another round with a literal, political nation of Israel is a classic case of coming up with ideas and then forcing everything in the Word to fit and support those ideas. That is always a very dangerous way to read the Word of God and always leads to disaster in the end. We must allow the Word to speak for itself and not force our preconceived ideas to shape and distort the truths that are laid out in it. It is always very helpful to keep in mind the bigger picture of the universal War going on for the context from which to view things here on earth. Truth is not established by stringing convincing chains of texts together to prove a theory. Truth is only discovered by first having an honest, open heart and a humble, teachable spirit willing to listen to the Spirit of Truth and then immersing itself in the Word to seek the face and truth about God.

I believe that it is highly possible that in the last massive shake-up about to take place on this planet that many Jews will indeed accept the truth about Jesus when presented with more honest revelations about God that most Christians will not even accept. Whether every last one of them will do so or not I think is beyond what we can yet reasonably know. But this movement will actually create more jealousy than joy among most so-called Christians because they will insist that these believers in the real truth about salvation are being misled by a small group of non-mainstream Christians that are scorned by most of the world. But I still do not see in this passage justification for the idea that the Jews “as a nation” will be once again used by God as they were in Old Testament times. Paul makes it explicitly clear earlier in Romans that true Israel is composed of all those who enter into a faith intimacy with Jesus and are connected to the body of Christ, which body is really an extension that expanded from the true parts of Judaism that never changed.

There is a growing movement today among many Christians to research and take a closer look at our roots in Judaism. I believe that much of this is God-inspired though I also believe that it has false elements that have a wrong emphasis. But God is skillful in using all things and circumstances to work together for the good of those who love and serve Him and He will do the same with this. I believe this movement will awaken the attention of many people to the rejected truths in Judaism that many Christians have ignored for centuries. I am already seeing this happen in a number of people I have talked with recently and it is very exciting.

God is drawing the hearts of honest people to Himself through every means possible. But sooner or later they will all come together under the same convictions of the truthfulness of God's laws and a correct picture of the character of God. They will for the first time be overwhelmed with amazement at the perfect unity between the law and the gospel as they see the unbroken line of truth extending down to us through the “tree trunk” of authentic Judaism. As the life-giving sap of the Holy Spirit begins to fill all the grafted limbs and the alluring fruit naturally begins to mature on the branches, we will be very close to the time when Jesus will return to claim all those who are connected to Him in their hearts.

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