Summary: Examining what is God’s purpose for the Jewish nation
What about the Jews? (Rom 11)
When re read the bible, we often see it as two sections. After all, we have divided it up as such – Old Testament and New Testament. The Old Testament is all about the Jews and the New Testament about Christ and another group of people called the Gentiles. We probably should call it “The Tale of Two peoples.” But in doing so, we often miss the link between the two. You see the Old Testament is not about the Jews as much as it is about God. Similarly, the New Testament is not so much about the Gentiles as it is about God. Yes Christ feature pretty heavily, but who is Christ? The incarnation of God. The God of the Old Testament is said to be the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the God of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, which is surprising really since from our brief reading of the two testaments, he certainly seems to have changed.
What do I mean? Well the Old Testament is full of promises made to the Jews – promises made by God to the Patriarchs, promises made through the prophets. Promises about being a chosen people – but they seem to have dropped off the back of the pack and been left behind. They seem to be lost – even forgotten. And then there is the question of how do we treat them. We are taught in the New Testament that Christ is the only way of salvation. Any one who wants to approach God must do so through Christ. What does this mean for the Jews? They don’t even recognise Jesus as a prophet, let alone the Son of God. Does that mean we should reject Judaism as a false religion? Or should we respect them since that is after all where Christianity came from in the first place.
The apostle Paul faced this exact dilemma when he was writing the letter to the Romans. He was a Jew by birth, but was also a Christian. He had come to the realisation that Jesus was the Messiah, he had accepted this on faith and he felt like screaming at the rest of the Jews “Wake up! You are missing the best part!” In actual fact, Paul regularly did say this to the Jews he came in contact with, and this is what got him into so much trouble. Of all the people who should have got it, they just couldn’t seem to get it. And they were lost as a result. But if the Jews were lost, what about all the promises of God? Was God’s promises and plan defeated because the Jews wouldn’t coopperate? Did God simply transfer the promises over to the Christians and just let the Jews slip out of the picture?
Paul’s answer is a strong No. God’s word stands true – it is trustworthy.
In September, 1938, a man who lived on Long Island was able one day to satisfy a lifelong ambition by purchasing for himself a very fine barometer. When the instrument arrived at his home, he was extremely disappointed to find that the indicating needle appeared to be stuck, pointing to the sector marked "Hurricane."
After shaking the barometer very vigorously several times, its new owner sat down and wrote a scorching letter to the store from which he had purchased the instrument, and on the following morning, on his way to his office in New York, he mailed the letter. That evening he returned to Long Island, to find not only the barometer missing, but his house also. The barometer’s needle had been right. There was a hurricane!
God has not rejected the Jews because he has said so. And it has to be the case for God never changes His word. He never goes back on a promise, He never is defeated and He never makes a mistake! So if this is all true, what on earth is going on with the Jews!
Over the next 2 weeks, we are going to try to answer the question “What about the Jews?” To do this we are going to have to go on a journey back to their very inception as a nation and trace their history through. We need to be able to grasp how they were meant to fit into God’s overall plan and how that plan is being worked through even in the world today.
So let’s begin by praying and then we’ll have a look at some history.
Lord we know that you are a God who is faithful and true. Your word is reliable and trustworthy and for this we give you thanks. We ask now Lord, as we begin to look into the whole issue of the Jews, the covenant and the place we share in your plan, that you would illuminate our eyes to your overall plan. Help us to get excited that you have indeed chosen us to serve you and we pray that these studies would spur us onto live a life worthy of your calling. Amen