Modern Reality - Part I
Why did Israel fail to receive Jesus Christ as her Messiah? The Apostle Paul makes it very clear in his Epistle to the Romans that Israel,
Romans 9:31-32 – “. . . which followed after the Law of Righteousness (presents Israel following in the wrong way, by works), has not attained to the Law of Righteousness (couldn’t attain to Righteousness by works; it can only be attained by trusting in Christ and the Cross).
“Wherefore? (Why?) Because they sought it not by faith (proper Faith can only be exercised by accepting Christ and the Cross, which Israel rejected), but as it were by the works of the Law (by their performance, which can never measure up). For they stumbled at the stumblingstone (presents the necessity of Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the One Whom all the Sacrifices had symbolized).”
Israel’s rejection of her Messiah would cause her much grief, even unto today. God promised in his Word that he would not entirely forsake them. In Romans, Chapter 11, Paul displayed his love towards Israel, how God deals with Israel, the reason for Israel’s failure, a warning for the Church, and the restoration of Israel as a Nation in the last days, by her acceptance of Jesus Christ as Messiah:
“I say then, Has God cast away His People? God forbid . . . God has not cast away His People . . . What then? Israel has not obtained that which she seeks (for) . . . I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall Salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy . . . For the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? . . . You will say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they (Israel) were broken off . . . And they (Israel) also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in . . . And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion a Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob . . . For the Gifts and the Calling of God are without Repentance, for as you in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained Mercy through their unbelief: even so have these also now not believed, that through your Mercy they also may obtain Mercy.”
America’s Historical Support Of Israel
There was a time in America when it was accepted that the covenant Promises of God made to Israel were embraced for a new era and a new people. The Puritan’s embraced the concept that their sufferings paralleled those of the Hebrews. They believed that God had spoken directly to the Chosen People, kept His Covenant with them, and delivered them from bondage. The Puritans concluded that they were heirs to this new contract, a New Israel embarked on a second Exodus from slavery to freedom, destined for a Promised Land. They went as far to stamp their own identity onto that of the Jews. Edward Robinson was a descendant of the Puritans and is recognized as the father of Biblical archeology, and once said, “The names of Sinai, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Promised Land, became associated with American’s earliest recollections and holiest feelings.” Towns and streets were named Salem, Shiloh, and Zion. Colleges including Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, and Columbia used Hebrew logos on their emblems. Hebrew was mandatory at these new world colleges.
American religious identification to Israel was routinely heralded by preachers. Reverend Samuel Wakeman told his Hartford congregation in 1865, “Jerusalem was, New England is, they were, you are . . . God’s Covenant People.” Even Benjamin Franklin’s grandfather Peter Fogler said, “In New England they are like Jews, as like as like can be.”
The ideal and belief that America was divinely chosen and elected by God helped ignite the Great Awakening in the mid-Eighteenth Century. New churches were established – Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian. Colleges were founded with the primary goal of spreading their doctrines. During this awakening the Old Calvinist notions of predestination were replaced by confidence in an individual’s ability save himself through vigorous devotional action. Christian’s were not only to seek their personal Salvation but also the Salvation of others. Many in America now looked towards the Millennium as their goal, a time when “every nation would be a free people,” as the theologian, Jonathan Edwards predicted. So obvious was the zeal of American devotion to God that it was made evident by Alexis de Tocqueville as one of America’s most extraordinary qualities. He concluded that Christianity exerted, “a greater influence over souls of men . . . in America.” Only in America was religion linked to “democratic instincts” and the “spirit of individual independence.” American’s were prepared to save the world and to restore Israel. The early Missions board was originally established to win Jews to Christ Jesus and return them to their homeland, Israel. The idea of expediting the fulfillment of God’s Promises to repatriate the Jews to their homeland, Christians could re-create the conditions of Jewish sovereignty that existed in Jesus’ time and set the stage for his reappearance. Increase Mather, Harvard’s first president, called for the destruction of the Ottoman Empire to make way for the Jews’ return. American colleges, preachers, and politicians agreed that our support of Israel was essential. God, in return, greatly blessed America. Slavery was abolished at the end of the Civil War. Women’s rights gained momentum and child labor was abolished. We have not arrived yet, but in part, God blessed America for blessing His People.
God dispersed Israel (Jews) throughout the world after they rejected Jesus Christ the Messiah. In His Mercy he cast them aside, however, a remnant shall be Saved. The Gentiles embraced the Grace of God by faith, as did some Jews. The Promise of Salvation is for “all” who take it by faith. By the Law of God, Israel sentenced themselves to bondage by unbelief in God’s Grace, and are bound by the demands of the Law, even until now. Israel was not permitted to return to the Sacrificial system and the Temple because it is against the Law of God, since Jesus Christ, “the end of the Law for Righteousness to everyone that believes” has come and has fulfilled the Law. It is only lawful now for one to believe upon His Name and what He did at the Cross by His Sacrifice for sins. Israel is in bondage to sin and held there by Law, and suffers chastisement and judgment for her rejection of the Messiah.
The Apostle Paul would say, “As concerning the Gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes. For the Gifts and the Calling of God are without Repentance.” History bears witness to the suffering of Jews. From the Time of Christ and the subsequent destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70, Jews have been persecuted and ridiculed. From Rome to the Islamic Empires to Europe in the Eighteenth Century, Jews have lived under subjugation. God in His Word has Promised their return to the Land He Promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as we discussed that in the last article. The sign of the Jew in the world today is to us like a rainbow to the Earth for Noah.
God will not forsake His Covenant Promises.
What Israel and the Church must understand is the purpose of the Law. God’s Law was not meant to replace the principles of Promise, Grace, and Faith. It was four hundred and thirty years after God gave His Promise to Abraham when the Law was given to Moses. The Promise of God to Abraham was an inheritance. Galatians 3:18, “For if the inheritance be of the Law, it is no more of Promise: but God gave it to Abraham by Promise.” In Verse 19, Paul would tell us why the Law was brought in, “Wherefore then serves the Law? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the Promise was made.” The Law could not justify us. Galatians 3:11, “But no man is justified by the Law in the sight of God. . . .” The Law is external while Faith is internal. The just are to live by Faith. Law and Faith are two separate governments. You cannot operate in both at the same time. If you are ordering your life under Law then you will be bound to its consequences. Galatians 3:12, “And the Law is not of Faith: but, The man that does them shall live in them.” If we choose to order our manner of living by Law then we will be subject to the curse of the Law. God removed Israel from the Promised Land because he had to. Israel severed God under Law and the Law pointed them to accept the promise of Abraham, the Seed, Jesus Christ. When they rejected the Messiah, God scattered the Jews to protect them from annihilation so he would have a remnant to fulfill the Promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The in-laws need to become out-laws so they may live by Faith.
John Newton penned:
“By various maxims, forms and rules,
“That pass for wisdom in the schools,
“I sought my passions to restrain;
“But all my efforts proved in vain.
“But since my Saviour I have known
“My rules are all reduced to One,
“To keep my Lord by Faith in view,
“This strength supplies and motives too.”
When the Believer walks in Faith in the Finished Work of the Cross by Jesus Christ, he rests. He is no longer in bondage and is no longer under a curse. He abides in his relationship with God and the liberty he experiences is freedom from the power of sin (sin nature). The strength of sin is the Law. When the Believer operates in grace through Faith, sin (sin nature) will not dominate, or rule over him. But God has given us the Victory through Jesus Christ. The Law has to do with sin. The Law was to condemn all that came from Adam. The Law was made for lawless and the disobedient, and not for the righteous. The Law gives no one the power to live righteously. The Promise given to Abraham of the Seed to come has come. When we put Faith in what He did for us at the Cross we inherit the Promises. We are justified by Faith and accounted righteous. This is the only message we can give to Jews and Gentiles alike.