Archive for April, 2012

Covenantal relationship (Our Place, part 5)

April 20, 2012

Covenantal relationship advantages

We can learn that God’s Glory (Shechinah) did not rest upon the gentiles outside Israel. We see this in Ex.33:15-16. There it states that God would go with the Israelites and not with other people:  And Moses said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go [with us], do not take us up from here. For how then will it be known that I have found favor in Your eyes, I and Your people? Is it not in that You will go with us? Then I and Your people will be distinguished from every [other] nation on the face of the earth.”
Rashi commented on it: “how will the finding of favor be known? Is it not in that You will go with us? One other thing I ask of You [I ask] that Your Shechinah shall no longer rest upon heathen nations. -[from Ber. 7a]” And: “Then I and Your people will be distinguished: Heb. וְנִפְלִינוּ. In this respect, we will be separated from every [other] nation, like “And the Lord will make a separation (וְהִפְלָה) …between the livestock of Egypt” (Exod. 9:4).”
Verse 17: “And the Lord said to Moses: “Even this thing that you have spoken, I will do, for you have found favor in My eyes, and I have known you by name.”
Rashi on it: “Even this thing: [namely] that My Shechinah should no longer rest upon heathens, I will do.

Why does it say: “I have known you by name?” Does God not know his own creatures? We can learn from here that God knows one, but also doesn’t know one another. As is explained by Jesus were it states: “I have never known you.” (Lu.13:27, Mat.25:12)
This leaves that there’s a community of God “amongst” outsiders. In the same sense is spoken about “Your [Gods] people/nation” and other people.

This covenantal relationship has prerequisites, to be holy, it sets people apart. This not only depends on the individual, but the whole congregation or nation of the covenant has a meaning in it. And this will give great responsibilities. In the midst of this environment, in this holiness, the Shechinah, the glory of the Lord will come down. And the people are called to be holy. God demands it and even will give it in their heart. “But the word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.” (Deu.30:14)

This covenantal relationship is extended by the coming of the Messiah Jesus to the gentiles, “as many as the Lord our God calls”, according to Peter. But it is also narrowed because narrow is the path and few are there who found it. (Matth.7:14) And the fearing of God would be no less, even for new upcoming gentiles. Jew and gentile even gain more fearing from the baptism of the Spirit. “For you have not come to a mountain that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and to blackness, darkness, tempest, the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which those who heard it begged that not one more word should be spoken to them, for they could not stand that which was commanded, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned ;” and so fearful was the appearance, that Moses said, “I am terrified and trembling.” But [even more fearing] you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable multitudes of angels, to the general assembly and assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling”. (Hebr.12:18-24) They have a share in the heavenly place and in the world to come. But now they are set apart and live under the yoke of the Messiah which is light because of the Spiritual Comfort of the Godly presence, but is heavy because of the burden of persecution. No one could ever reach this heavenly Mount Zion, except those who are called and adopted through mediation of the Son of God. Who shall see God and live.

This setting apart with God will persuade the soul and will give the advance of knowing the sonship of God. This personal relationship is foremost important. But there is also a community what functions as a boundary to guard it for the bad influence of the outside world. In Christianity the church played an important role here. I mean the little local churches. (The mainstream (Roman) church always misused their power.) In Judaism the family is more important than the synagogue, but togther with the rabbinical authority, it serves the same role as the church. They guarded the covenants to some extend.

See also my post here.

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Choice of Conversion (Our Place, part4)

April 13, 2012

Conversion

In Judaism a gentile never needed to convert himself. It is even not advocated by the Jewish authorities. They found no reason for it, because they say that the righteous gentiles have a place in the world-to-come. (Tosefta Sanh.13:2) In Judaism there’s always room for the gentiles.
On the other hand, one is free to come to the “Jewish citizenship” by way of conversion. Genuine converts were welcomed and highly esteemed, as said in Mechilta (to 22:20, 95a) It is said that a gentile who obeys the Torah is equal to the High Priest. [1] Who obeys the Torah? He who loves his brother. (1John2:8-11) That’s why Peter could called the gentiles (and Jews) a royal priesthood: “But ye [Jew and Gentile, divine called] are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1Peter2:9)

The deliberate choice of conversion was always hold up by Paul. Paul never forced anybody to convert to Judaism. Everyone agree. But he also never hold off someone to convert to Judaism. What he was arguing to the Galatians is that nobody would make any (religious) act a reason to become part of the covenant of grace. He boldly declared that circumcision was not necessary. The opposite, it could become to serve as a barrier, as a false ground to build your faith on. That’s why he was so furious about that topic. But he didn’t say to the Jews that they might not circumcise themselves. Paul himself circumcised Titus who was born from a Jewish mother according to the law. Paul kept the Torah to the and of his life. (Acts.25:8 and 28:17) But he didn’t gentiles obligate to do it. (Acts15) There were many ways to fit a gentile into a Jewish community. That was not something rare or new at that time.

What was new, was the renewal of the heart by the Holy Spirit. And the apostle sought a way for the gentiles to join  the journey along with the Jews. Together with Jews who also received the renewal of the heart. Together on only one ground: Jesus the Messiah.

Jew or Gentile

There is still a remaining difference between Jew and gentile, because the gifts to the people of the covenant and calling of Israel are irrevocable, even in the latter days of Jesus. This is explicitly stated by Paul in Rom.11:29.

When Paul speaks about the calling of Israel, we can go back to the Torah portion Vayikra. In Lev.1:1 the Divine calling came to Moses who must speak to the people of Israel, the words which are directly spoken to him by God. This was the manifestation of the Godly word what came upon the people of Israel. It was part of the covenant God made with the people of Israel, which they commited by saying “we will do and hear”. In fact Le.1:1 is the beginning of the Torah, the Word what is given particularly to the people of Israel and which is incumbent upon them.
It is the final contract of the people of Israel who are called “out of Egypt” (Ez.16:16, Ho.11:10) It is the result of the calling of Abraham. It is the result of the calling of Adam. All those callings are irrevocable, but here Paul speaks in particular about the people of Israel. And they are a nation who were blessed with many promises and who bear the blessings and the curses. And if Paul speaks about the gifts, he obviously has (according to the context of Rom.9-11) the promises in mind which they would gain in future by the national acceptance of the Messiah.

Paul saw in advance that Israel in history must go another way then the non-Jews because of this special calling and blessing, but also of this special curse. They will come to redemption certainly, with great glory to all mankind, but after a long time in a way what he called a mystery. The bottom line however, was a distinction between Jew and Gentile.

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[1] This is given by the exposition of the verse of Lev.18:5, (Sifra 5): “Whence is it deduced that even a gentile who obeys the Torah is the equal of the High Priest? From the words ‘which if a man do he shall live by them.’ Similarly it is said, ‘This is the law of mankind, Lord God’ (2Sam.7:19) It is not stated, ‘This is the law of the priests, or the Levites, or of Israel,’ but ‘the law of mankind.’ In like manner it is not stated , ‘Open the gates that priests or Levites or Israel may enter,’ but, ‘Open the gates that a righteous Gentile keeping faithfulness may enter’ (Is.26:2). Furthermore it is not stated, ‘This is the gate of the Lord, priests or Levites or Israel shall enter into it,’ but ‘the righteous shall enter into it’ (Ps.118:20) In the same way it is not stated, ‘Rejoice in the Lord, oh ye priests or Levites, or Israel,’ but ‘Rejoice in the Lord oh ye righteous’ (Ps.33:1). And it is not stated, Do good o Lord, to the priests, or Levites or Israel,’ but ‘unto the good’ (Ps.125:4) Hence even a Gentile who obeys the Torah is the equal of the High Priest.”   (Cited from: Everyone’s Talmud, p.66/67)

Our Place (part3)

April 5, 2012

What is “righteous before God”

This is a most important question. According to Judaism the righteous ones of the gentiles keep the 7 Noachides and the righteous ones of the Jews keep the 613 mitswot. However, righteousness is not because of the keeping of the laws. To be righteous before God is something that derives directly from God. He is the source of it. It comes through teshuvah (repentence) and circumcision of the heart. It is both human and divine. Nobody comes to righteousness but through God. That’s the rule of the Messiah who was righteous before God, and will give that to mankind. This Godly righteousness is applied to those “as many as the Lord our God  calls.” (Acts2:19) That’s the righteousness from God which come through faith. (Phil.3:9) That’s what is said: “The righteous shall live by his faith.” (Hab.2:4)

Although it is not because of the law, it is undoubtedly true that the righteous one has a zeal for keeping the law. It’s obvious that there is a distinction between those and the ungodly people and idolaters. And who are the righteous? It’s not a Jew or Gentile, but the man whom is spoken about in Psalm 1:
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers: But his delight is in the law of JHWH; And on his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That bringeth forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also doth not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The wicked are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For Jehovah knoweth the way of the righteous; But the way of the wicked shall perish.”

But to narrow this question of who is righteous further, we have to look at Psalm 2. (Why gether the nations together against the Messiah.) Because there’s a spiritual warfare between true and false faith. Between good and bad. And this all turns out to a battle of the highest order. It is about the Godly King or the human king. It’s about serving yourself or serving God. One who serve his physical pleasures is in slavery of the world and its head, the devil. Every man has this evil inclination and by lack of fear of God the heart and desires are about to fight against the Messiah, the King. Also here, Jew and gentile have to deal with spiritual personal warfare. And the distinction line is where the soul repents and gives the glory to the only King. To take part in this battle causes the righteous soul to find “the King of the Jews”, the hidden Messiah but revealed personal in victory and majesty there were personal desires are buried.

Hidden

It’s hard to see the right picture of the true people of God. Because they become like their Master. A Man of sorrow and pain, not from this world, hidden before the eyes of the natural people. It’s only in the last days that they should say it and confess: this is the Servant, the one who was despised and rejected. (Is.53) But now they will become spiritually like the new man. (Col.3:10) Who is about to appear when the Messiah appears. Now they are buried, their flesh died in advance to the glorious revelation of the most glorious King, to live in his kingdom as righteous ones, without any blemish. The neshama (soul) is prepared for righteousness by receiving grace. That’s what Paul said: “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Col.3:3-4) They are one with the Messiah. In his dead and in his life. And the life in heaven is already but not on earth yet. On earth is dispersion. This is not the world of the righteous.

The state of the true Godly people is given by picture of the Man of sorrow in Isaiah 53. They have a share in it. They share the same state. They have a physically broken state, at least they will die, but spiritually they gain the real life which is to come from above and turns to above. This real life is not the life of this world, but for the world to come.

That’s why almost nobody sees the right picture of true Christianity, the true people, and remain in deviation from the truth. And become organised anti christian and anti semitic powers (within the church) because they deny God, the King to rule over themselves. The church also didn’t appear in a glorious state, the glory you see is all fake. The great buildings in Rome are far, far away from the picture the real people of God should show. Just a few will be saved in respect to the many who perish.

The Messiah, the King, also didn’t appear in a glorious state. He first appeared in Jerusalem on a donkey (Za.9:9) and “the judge of Israel” was smitten. (Micha4:14or5:1)

Our place is like Israel watched by the nations who watched Israel as the Servant who suffered. They suffered together with so to speak the Shechinah, the Kaboth, the glory of God, the great Messiah himself who put the human body on to be one with His brothers. He suffers as long as His brothers suffer. He exiled as long as His brothers are in exile. Are we adopted by this Messiah? Then we suffer like Him and like them. Then we are part of that suffering people.

Our place also is that of the glorified Messiah (but still seen as the Man of sorrow), exalted above all others. Why? Because of Him who is the Messiah and gives salvation and forgiveness of sin, all who have faith in Him. Given to all the nations, however, it turns out in history that only a very small part became true followers. The greatest part is anti-Messiah.

When the time (of the gentiles, Luke21:24) is fulfilled, however, He will build up His kingdom on earth. (Acts1:6)