Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Promises to Abraham, Part 2

Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:29  And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
Col 3:11  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Genesis is the book of beginnings; it tells us where the material universe originates and most importantly where mankind originates.  In giving us human history it records some genealogies of Adam’s descendants but then something happens at the end of chapter 11.  From that point on the only genealogies we read of are those that came from Seth’s descendants.  It takes us to Abram and then from there the genealogies are only about Abram’s descendants.  The Gentile population is only mentioned as it relates to the Jews. 

And then once we get to the ultimate Jew, Jesus, all genealogies stop and the focus changes from the Jewish people back to the general population both Jew and Gentile.  The verses above speak of this change so that we see that the focus is not who came from Abraham or who did not but now what matters is who is in Christ. 

I think of lot of Christians have been fooled somewhat by the focus on the Jews in the OT.  It seems their theology sprang up long before they got to the NT.  They tend to forget that the point of Jewish history is not because God’s plan for the world revolved around having some sort of eternal relationship with the Jewish nation but the point of his relationship with the Jews was in order to bring about the incarnation of the Son so that he could have an eternal relationship with sinners. 

I think it is significant that not only are there no genealogies after the Lord did his redemptive work, but the Temple and all the genealogical records were destroyed as if God was saying that all that is of no consequence any more.  The old relationship he had with Israel is over because it was only temporary in order to bring about that one Jew who can take away that which separates us from the love of God.   

What all men need, both Jew and Gentile is not an arid rock over in the Middle East and certainly not a temple to make animal sacrifices on any more.  The only thing any of us need is to get right with God and live in his presence forever. 

Now I said most of this in the previous blog article but I wanted to add this: A lot of Christians don’t think the OT is particularly important and if they study it at all it is primarily to get some moral principle out of it to live by.  But it is actually a study of the Christian’s history.  It is a study of how God worked out his plan to glorify himself by redeeming a people from sin.  When we study the history of the Jews we are studying our own history and it has eternal consequences.  If this is true then we shouldn’t find it dry and remote to our lives today because everything we are and do is rooted in it. 

Today many people spend a lot of time and money trying to find their roots.  They want to understand where they came from, how they connect to the past and how that makes them who they are today.  I guess I don’t have a big problem with that as long as they realize how little any of that matters.  Unfortunately a lot of people think who they are related to in the not too distant past matters far too much.

Look, we are all related; we all came from Adam which means we all are ruined sinners.  That alone explains why we think the thoughts we do and why we act the way we act.  You don’t have a temper problem because you are Irish or have red hair; you have a temper problem because you are a human being.  And what ethnic group you belong to should not have near as much influence on your life style as whether you belong to Christ’s family or not.  Notice in Colossians above where he mentions barbarian and Scythian, slave or freeman.  Paul says that none of that is particularly important because if we are in Christ we are not who we once were and we are not headed where our kinsmen in the flesh are headed.  And certainly our lifestyle has much more to do with what we read in the Bible then what land your parents came from.

The OT explains who you are and how it was going to be fixed in the coming Messiah.  And you don’t have to pay a website online to find it out.  God had several men write it down for us so we can study it whenever we want.  Making distinctions between Jews and Gentiles causes us to lose focus on what we all have in common.  Paul points this out in the verses above.  He is telling us how to read the Bible.  Don’t read it as if the Jews have some kind of future and the NT church has a different one.  Read it as all men are one in sin and that the promise made to Abraham was not really about the Jews it was about Christ who would save us from our sins.  

Notice that the word for promise is singular.  The many promises of Gen. 12 had a lot to do with the nation of Israel but they were only to bring about the one promise which was Christ.  The OT isn’t about the Jews and the NT about the Church.  The Bible is about Christ and all those who are in him, not in Abraham.  

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