How balanced has the Church been?
Did God really reject the Jews?
God and the Jews
Let's look at two verses:
First, when we consider the Jewish nation at the time of King Solomon: "When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and confess your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their fathers." (1 Kings 8:33)
Then we compare it with the New Testament verse speaking about the individual Christian: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
You can see the pattern. In the Old Covenant, forgiveness and restitution tends to be applied to the Jewish nation as a whole but in the New Covenant it is with individuals, Jew and Gentile, who have entered a personal relationship with God.
A major point, and one often misunderstood by Christians, is that individual Jews are not treated any differently by God than individual Gentiles. For them personally to know a life of purpose and destiny, a life everlasting and a life filled with love from their Creator, they have to follow the same rules as Gentiles - a personal relationship with the risen Jesus. Jews who have become believers in Jesus already are twice blessed, on account of their personal relationship with God and on account of the national covenant relationship between God and all Jewish people (whether they know it or not).
But history shows us that this relationship between God and the Jewish people does not come without cost. Where there are privileges, there are responsibilities, even when the privileges are not accepted.
Still thinking about theology, a difficult question presents itself. Why were the Jews exiled from the land under the Romans, anyway? Did God reject the Jews, as Replacement Theology says? Let's just look at some Scriptures and, in true Hebraic style, read them in a plain, literal sense. I will let the Scriptures speak for themselves.
"But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are My servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.'" Isaiah 41:8,9.
"How can I give you up Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? ... for I am God and not man." Hosea 11:8,9.
"I have loved you with an everlasting love." Jeremiah 31:3.
"O descendants of Israel his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones. He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth. He remembers His covenant for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant ..." 1 Chronicles 16:13-17.
"For the LORD's portion is His people, Jacob His allotted inheritance." Deuteronomy 32:9.
"He remembers His covenant forever, the word He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant ..." Psalm 105:8-10.
"He has revealed his word to Jacob, His laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation." Psalm 147:19,20.
"The LORD will not reject His people; He will never forsake His inheritance." Psalm 94:14.
"Remember that at one time you were separated from Messiah, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise ... Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's household." Ephesians 2:12 &19.
"The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in His grace gave it to Abraham through a promise." Galatians 3:17,18.
"9-11" has entered public consciousness as a watershed event in the modern World, when the old certainties crumbled as dramatically as the Twin Towers. Yet there's another '9-11', mostly ignored by the Church since Bible translators arbitrarily divided up Paul's letters to the Christian communities of his day. Romans '9-11', the 'missing chapters' that bridge the supposed gap between 'nothing separating us from the love of God' and 'offering our bodies as living sacrifices', is as neglected by pulpit preachers as Isaiah 53 ('the suffering servant') is by the Jewish rabbis in orthodox synagogues. It is embarrassing; it doesn't fit in. It talks of things that simply don't square up with the carefully constructed arguments of Mr. Shoots. It speaks of the Jews ... having a future!
As Paul asserts, in Romans 11:1, 'I ask then: Did God reject His people? By no means!' God may be punishing the Jewish people during the exile, or Galut, according to the terms of the covenant with Moses, but he hasn't abandoned them.
And God provides a stark warning to the Gentile Church.
The Jews, natural Israel, are considered the natural branches of a spiritual Olive Tree. Gentiles are to be considered wild, grafted-in branches.
'Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.' Romans 11:20,21.
Did they heed this warning? We will find out next week.
(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book Outcast Nation )
A Lib Dem candidate who was due to stand in the upcoming election...