AN APOSTATE TEMPLE

Recently there was news announcing that the Temple Institute in Jerusalem had finished building an altar suitable for the rebuilt Temple if and when the Temple is ever rebuilt.

The altar referenced is the altar for animal sacrifices and an article written about this made the following statement:

“What makes the altar so unique is that it can be disassembled and reassembled easily, allowing it to be transported quickly and efficiently from its current location, on display at the institute, to the Temple Mount when the time comes.”

Yet according the scriptures, the altar of sacrifice, which foreshadowed the cross of Christ, was to be handled as follows:

And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and SPREAD A PURPLE CLOTH THEREON: And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the flesh hooks, and the shovels, and the basons, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall SPREAD UPON IT A COVERING OF BADGERS’ SKINS, , and PUT TO THE STAVES OF IT. (Deuteronomy 4:13-14).

The staves were polls which were inserted through rings on the four corners to lift the brazen altar so that the Levites could carry it on their shoulders. It wasn’t broken down then put back together again.

While many Christians have been taught to anticipate a rebuilt Jewish Temple, they have not been taught to expect that this Temple should be built according to the “divine pattern” revealed in scripture. Nor have they been taught to understand how this temple would be approved by God when it undermines what God has already accomplished in Christ.

How can God approve of the aforementioned altar when the altar of sacrifice in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple was a type and shadow of the cross of Christ.

According to the Bible, the tabernacle constructed under the leadership of Moses, was to be constructed according to the divine pattern (Exodus 25:18; Hebrews8:5). This included everything concerning the tabernacle, its furnishings and decor, the priesthood and their garments, the sacrifices, etc. Everything concerning the tabernacle was to be according to the pattern given to Moses. Later the Temple built by Solomon (its pattern was given to David) was in sync with the pattern of the Tabernacle given by Moses.

The pattern for the tabernacle was given by divine revelation as a foreshadowing of the heavenly reality fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Since Christ has fulfilled all that was foreshadowed in the former tabernacle and Temple, another Temple would be apostate, and not following the divine pattern which foreshadowed Christ would make it “twice apostate” if there is such a thing.

JESUS IS THE CHRIST, THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD

It is not uncommon to hear someone refer to Jesus as the Jewish Messiah or to hear someone say, “the Jews rejected their Messiah.”

Jesus certainly is the Messiah of the Jewish people and he came to redeem the people of Israel. Yet the promise of the Messiah wasn’t a promise to redeem the people of Israel only. The promised Messiah who was to bring deliverance to the people of Israel, would bring salvation to the Gentiles well.

A distinctive characteristic of the Messianic promises is that the Messiah would bring the knowledge of salvation to all nations. One such prophecy, quoted from Isaiah by Matthew, says the following:

Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and a smoking flax shall he not quench, till he sends forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. (Matthew 12:18-21)

In another place, the prophet Isaiah prophesied the following:

You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6 TNLT)

In Romans 15 the apostle Paul, quoting the Old Testament, says the following:

Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. (Romans 15:8-12)

The Gentiles becoming the people of God through the Messiah was not an afterthought, but the fulfillment of the promises of God instead.

Paul says in Romans 15 (mentioned above) “Rejoice, ye Gentiles, WITH HIS PEOPLE.” His people is a reference to those who among the Jews receive Christ and trust in him as their Savior.

Throughout the New Testament the predominate thoughts concerning the recognition of Jesus as the Christ (the Messiah) is He is (1) the Son of God (2) the Son of David (3) the king of Israel (4) the Savior of the world.

All of these truths work together in sync as the family of God is gathered together in Christ Jesus. In Christ, the separating wall which divided the Jewish people from the nations has been removed, for the Messiah is not only Israel’s deliverer but the Savior of the whole world, and now -through the Messiah –  both Jews and Gentiles are united into one family and there is no longer any distinction  between the two in the eyes of God. 

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all ONE in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye ABRAHAM’S SEED, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)

Gentiles who have faith in Jesus are one with the Jews who believe in Jesus and together they are the seed of Abraham according to the promise.

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. (Romans 10:12)

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

In closing, Notice the words of Paul from Ephesians 2:10 – 3:6:

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days, you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him, you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles…assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending his grace to you Gentiles. As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets. And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.

REDEEMED FROM THE CURSE OF THE LAW – THE TRUE REDEMPTION FROM EXILE

I am intrigued by the messages of the prophets who prophesied to Israel the return from captivity. These prophecies came true when many of the Jewish exiles returned after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. Yet, there is a much deeper and richer fulfillment concerning these prophecies than the Jewish people returning to their homeland after the captivity.

During the time of Jesus, the Jewish people were still a people looking for the full restoration from the captivity. Even though many of them were back in the land and their temple had been rebuilt, the effects of the exile were still lingering for they were (at that time) under the rule of the Roman Empire.

They were looking in hopes for the coming of the Messiah because He would be their Savior, their Redeemer, and their King! He would be a descendant of David who would be established on David’s throne and once again they would be a great nation, so they thought.

They were looking for the Messiah to bring a visible kingdom and thought of redemption and deliverance in this way (Luke 19:11). For them, the anticipation of the coming of the Messiah meant freedom from Roman domination.

According the Bible, the kingdom of Israel was divided after the reign of King Solomon. The northern tribes became known as the house Israel and the southern tribes as the house of Judah. The house of Israel was ruled by a series of wicked Kings and was eventually expelled from the land by the Assyrians.

The southern Kingdom, Judah, continued to be ruled by Kings who were descendants of David and in due time, they also were expelled from the land because of their idolatrous ways.

This fulfilled the covenant promise given through Moses concerning the curse that would come upon them if they forsook the Lord and did not keep His covenant according to Deuteronomy 27-30.

During the exile of Judah, the prophet Daniel prayed the following:

Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore THE CURSE is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in THE LAW OF MOSES the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath CONFIRMED his words, which he spoke AGAINST US, and AGAINST our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. AS IT IS WRITTEN IN THE LAW OF MOSES, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice (Daniel 9:11-14).

The curse of the Law was the exile and under the Old Testament, the land of Israel and especially Jerusalem and the Temple represented the presence of God. Being sent into exile or expelled from the land was a physical parallel to a much greater spiritual truth which is banishment from the presence of God because of our sins.

In Deuteronomy 30, God told Israel that when they were in exile, He would turn their captivity if they would humble themselves and circumcise their hearts. On the surface this had a natural application, yet it had a much deeper spiritual meaning which Paul speaks of in Romans 10. Paul takes the language of the Torah with regards to the return from exile and finds Jesus in it.

But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Romans 10:6-9).

Paul is drawing on Deuteronomy 30:11-14 and translating it from the natural to the spiritual, from the Law to Christ.

Being exiled from the land and then gathered again into the land was only a foreshadowing of the true redemption which the Messiah would bring. During the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the anticipation of the coming of the Messiah was understood by many of the Jews to be a “national deliverance” and restoration. Yet, God had much more lofty and wonderful plans for His people.

When Jesus came, his mission was nothing like many were expecting. The fulfillment of the promises spoken by the prophets would not be a “national restoration” of a physical kingdom but a “spiritual restoration” and the creation of a “holy nation” in the Kingdom of God – in Christ.

The Son of God came in the flesh to bring an end to the REAL exile for we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. He died for our sins and was raised again and exalted at the right hand of God. This is the fulfilling of God’s promise that the Messiah would be a descendant of David and would sit upon his throne forever (Luke 1:32; Acts 2:29:36).

Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of David (Matthew 21:9), seated on the throne of David (Acts 2:29-36), having the sure mercies of David (Acts 13:34), and He holds the Key of David (Revelation 3:7). He is the root and offspring of David (Revelation 5:5; 22; 16) and in Him all the Messianic promises of deliverance and redemption are fulfilled.

Peter preached to the people of Israel concerning Jesus and said, “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days” (Acts 3:24).

The fulfillment of the words of the prophets, even those prophecies concerning the return from exile comes to fruition in and through Jesus Christ.

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:13-14).

ONE SHEPHERD AND ONE FOLD

In John 10 Jesus says the following:

I am THE GOOD SHEPHERD, and know MY SHEEP, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be ONE FOLD, and ONE SHEPHERD.

There is only “ONE FOLD” not two and this one fold has one Shepherd, the Lord JESUS!

God does not have two “covenant people” Israel and the church, He has only one. Modern Israel is not the fold, the church is. The church is not a Gentile entity, the church is the body of Jesus Christ, comprised of JEWS AND GENTILES.

For by ONE SPIRIT are we all baptized into ONE BODY, whether we be JEWS or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into ONE SPIRIT (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Jews who reject Jesus as Messiah are not the people of God as the scriptures clearly attest to over and over again. Jesus is the true shepherd of the true people of God and those who are not in HIS FOLD are not God’s people.

Then came the JEWS round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT MY SHEEP as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and THEY FOLLOW ME…. (John 10:24-27)

Is it possible to be God’s people if Jesus is not your Shepherd? The answer is a resounding no!

THE TEMPLE OF GOD

Nowhere in scripture will you find a “rebuilt – man made – temple” of which the Lord Jesus Christ will return to fill with His Glory.

Jesus is the corner stone, which God has laid in Zion. He is the “foundation stone” of the true house of God which is built not by man but by the Spirit of the Living God. The true house of God is built with “living stones.” These living stones are Jews and Gentiles who obey Jesus Christ and abide in Him.

The ideology of a rebuilt temple was created by man and cannot be supported by scriptures. The true Temple of God of which Jesus is the foundation, and His followers are the building, is out in the open – loud and clear – in the New Testament!

John 2:19-20; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16 -17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:12-22; 1 Peter 2:5.

Under the Law, Jerusalem in Israel was the place of worship, but in John 4:21, Jesus made it clear that the time was then near when those who worship God would no longer worship in a physical location within Israel, but true worshipers will worship God in the Spirit and in truth.

In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul says, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

While some continue to anticipate a Jewish Temple to be rebuilt (a temple that would only cause unsaved Jews to continue in their rejection of the Messiah should it ever be built) the true Temple of God consisting of Jews and Gentiles is being built together as the holy habitation of God through the Spirit.

For through him we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:18-22).

THE ISRAEL OF GOD

In Paul’s theology, those who are united in Christ, whether circumcised Jews or uncircumcised Gentiles, are the true Israel in the eyes of God.

In Galatians 6: 12-16 Paul says the following:

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Paul applies the title “the Israel of God” to those who have been reborn in Christ and not as a reference to ethnic Jews.

If the Israel of God mentioned in Galatians 6 were a reference to the ethnic Jews, then the cross has been made of no effect, for there would be two covenant families of God and not one. Furthermore, if the Israel of God is a reference to born again ethnic Jews, then there is still a dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles, and again, the cross is made of no effect.

In view of all Paul has written in Galatians, the Israel of God can only refer to believers in the Messiah, who, in the fullest sense of the word are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. Paul has made it abundantly clear that, in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision (which was the mark of Jewish national identity under the law) nor uncircumcision means anything. What matters is being a new creature, and those who are such are the true Israel in God’s sight.

CIRCUMCISE YOUR HEARTS

The first generation of Israelites which left Egypt, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, all died in the wilderness and never inherited the land because of their unbelief.

On the contrary, Rahab, who was previously a Gentile harlot, lived in the land of Promise as a member of the nation of Israel because she feared God. She married Salmon and became an ancestress of both King David and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s not about DNA, and never has been. It’s about a right heart towards God.

Ruth, who married Boaz was a Moabite woman (Ruth 1:22; 2:2, 21; 4:5, 10). Yet it was in her heart to serve the God of Israel. She said to Naomi, “thy people shall be my people, and THY GOD, MY GOD” (Ruth 1:16).

Ruth was a Moabite by physical descent, yet she too became an ancestress of King David and the Lord Jesus Christ because of her desire for God.

On the contrary, we read in Numbers 25 how some Israelite men committed fornication with some unholy Moabite women and became idolatrous of the Moabite’s false gods. These men were judged by God and put to death.

It has always been about the heart with God. It has never been about “race or nationality.” Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

May I encourage you not to miss this truth within the narrative of the story of Israel. It was never about those who were Jews outwardly. It has always been about those who were Jews inwardly; not, those whose flesh had been circumcised, but instead, those whose hearts had been circumcised (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Romans 2; 28-29).

GENTILES IN THE FAMILY TREE

And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias…(Matthew 1:5-6).

The verses above are from the genealogical record of Jesus.

The King James version says, “Salmon begat Booz of Rachab.” A better rendering would say “Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab.”

Do you remember Rahab? She was formerly a prostitute who feared God and hid the Israeli spies before Israel entered the Promised Land. God blessed her and she became a member of the nation of Israel. She married Salmon and became a ancestress of both King David and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Boaz, aka the kinsmen redeemer, was a descendant of Salmon and Rahab. Boaz married Ruth who was a Moabite and Boaz and Ruth became the great-grand parents of King David.

Notice that King David had Gentiles ancestors on both sides of his family tree. His great grandfather, Boaz, had Gentile ancestors because he descended from Salman and Rahab. And King David’s great grandmother Ruth was a Moabite Gentile before she married Boaz.

Remember as you study scripture, Israel under the Old Testament was not called to be a holy “race” but a holy “nation” instead. And every descendant of Salmon and Rahab, and, Boaz and Ruth, had Gentile ancestors including King David the beloved king of Israel, King Solomon the builder of the temple, and Zadok the righteous priest!

ARE ALL JEWS CHILDREN OF GOD?

In scripture, Jesus did not think the religious Jews of His day, those were bent on opposing Him, had any special privilege with God. When they claimed that Abraham was their Father, Jesus said, “If you were Abraham’s children, then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father” (see John 8).

They responded “We are not illegitimate children, the only Father we have is God himself.” To which Jesus replied, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies”(see John 8).

Notice that Jesus told the Jews who were actual physical descendants of Abraham, “You belong to your father, the devil.”

Jesus Continues; “And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT OF GOD (John 8:45-47).

Abraham’s children are those who are of faith that lead to Christ and who practice righteousness. The Apostle Paul also rebuked a Jewish socerer, calling him “thou child of the devil”.

And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain SORCERER, a FALSE PROPHET, a JEW, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, THOU CHILD OF THE DEVIL, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord (Acts 13:6-12).

Later in 1 Thessalonians 2 we we the following from the words of the apostle Paul as well:

For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.(1 Thessalonians 2:14-16)

Notice that Paul is referring to evil within Jewry. He says of these Jews, (1) the churches suffered from them (2) they killed the Lord Jesus (3) they killed the prophets (4) they drove us out (i.e. they opposed Paul’s ministry). Paul says they displease God, they are hostile to the spreading of the Gospel and because of these things they are heaping up their sins to the limit and the wrath of God has come on them at last.

Though there are many respectable Jews, and there are some who trust in Jesus as their Savior, being Jewish doesn’t mean that a person is a child of God. In fact Paul tells us in Romans that not all within Israel are truly Israel in God’s eyes because of their unbelief.

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed (Romans 9:6-8).

It is those who are of faith, who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, who are the children of God.

DISPELLING A WRONG INTERPRETATION OF ROMANS 3:10

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…(Romans 3:10).

Romans 3:10 is probably one of the most misunderstood and misquoted verses among Christians. It is often taken as a sweeping condemnation of every individual, but is this the proper interpretation? If it is, it should harmonizes with the balance of scripture.

To begin with let’s look at Romans 3:10 within a larger framework.

10. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

14. Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

15. Their feet are swift to shed blood:

16. Destruction and misery are in their ways:

17. And the way of peace have they not known:

18. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Again, is this true of everyone? Is this a sweeping condemnation of all people? The words “there is none righteous, no not one,” belongs with all the other charges such as none who seeks God, none that does good, tongues full of deceit, feet that are swift to shed blood, none who fear of God, etc.

WHAT ABOUT ABEL?

In Matthew 23:35 Jesus refers to Abel as RIGHTEOUS ABEL. And the author of Hebrews tells us By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, BY WHICH HE OBTAINED WITNESS THAT HE WAS RIGHTEOUS, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh (Hebrews 11:4). The apostle John tells us that Abel’s works were RIGHTEOUS (1 John 3:12).

WHAT ABOUT ENOCH?

The Bible says, ENOCH WALKED WITH GOD (Genesis 5:24). The author of Hebrews tells us, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation HE HAD THIS TESTIMONY, THAT HE PLEASED GOD.

Enoch was such a man of God, who pleased God, he never died! Jude tells us that Enoch prophesied of the coming of the Lord as well (Jude 1:14).

WHAT ABOUT NOAH?

The Bible says Noah was a JUST MAN and PERFECT in his generations, and NOAH WALKED WITH GOD (Genesis 6:9). Noah was RIGHTEOUS in the sight of the Lord (Genesis 7:1) and in Ezekiel, God mentions Noah along with Daniel and Job as RIGHTEOUS (Ezekiel 14:14, 20). In the New Testament, the apostle Peter refers to Noah as A PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (2 Peter 2:5) and the writer of Hebrews testifies of Noah’s righteousness.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, MOVED WITH FEAR (the fear of the Lord), prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, AND BECAME THE HEIR OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS BY FAITH (Hebrews 11:7).

WHAT ABOUT ABRAHAM ?

The scriptures tells us, Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for RIGHTEOUSNESS (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3, 9, 22; Galatians 3; 6; James 2:23). Abraham was called the FRIEND OF GOD (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23) and throughout scripture God is referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 32:22; Mark 12:26; Luke 20:37; Acts 3:13; 7:32).

Jesus said Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad (John 8:56) and God’s promise to Abraham was to bless all the nations through his seed, Jesus Christ (Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:16). Abraham is called the FATHER OF FAITH and the FATHER OF ALL WHO BELIEVE (Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:7, 9, 29) and the BLESSING OF ABRAHAM comes on the Gentiles through faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:14). God found Abraham’s heart faithful (Nehemiah 9:7,8).

Abraham was a man of faith who obeyed and feared God (Genesis 22: 12; 26:5; Hebrews 11:8). We see also that Isaac, Jacob. and Joseph were men of faith who feared the Lord and obeyed Him as well.

Also, the apostle Peter refers to Sarah, Abraham’s wife, as an example of HOLY WOMEN, who TRUSTED GOD, by adorning themselves with A MEEK AND QUITE SPIRIT (1 Peter 3:4-6).

Lot, Abraham’s nephew, also was a righteous man. In 2 Peter 2:7-10, the apostle Peter references Lot as an example of how the Lord is able to deliver THE GODLY out of temptations. Peter calls Lot a JUST and RIGHTEOUS man whom the Lord delivered from the fitly lifestyle of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha.

We also read of others who feared God in scripture before we ever get to Moses and the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. For example the Hebrew midwives FEARED GOD and refused to obey the King of Egypt (Genesis 1:17, 20-21) and because they feared the Lord, many lives of Hebrew children were spared.

WHAT ABOUT JOSEPH, MOSES, JOSHUA, AND CALEB?

Joseph fled from sin when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:7-12).

Moses is called THE MAN OF GOD (Deuteronomy 33:1; Psalm 90:1; 1 Chronicles 23;14) and was a very HUMBLE MAN (Numbers 12:3) and interceded for Israel seeking God’s forgiveness and favor (Exodus 32:11). Moses feared the Lord (Deuteronomy 9:16-29) and was faithful in God’s house (Numbers 12:7; Hebrews 3:5).

Furthermore, the author of Hebrews says, By FAITH Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; ESTEEMING THE REPROACH OF CHRIST greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned (Hebrews 11:24-29).

Moses’ successor, Joshua was chosen by God to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land because he was a man who sought God, feared God, and trusted God. Also the mantle which God had placed on Moses was transferred to Joshua before he led Israel into the Promised land (Deuteronomy 31:14, 23; 34:9).

During the time of Moses we read of others like Caleb, who along with Joshua were the only 2 among the 12 spies who trusted God and because of their faith they were rewarded by God. In fact God said of the following about Caleb.

But MY SERVANT CALEB, because he had ANOTHER SPIRIT with him, and hath FOLLOWED ME FULLY, him will I bring into the land where into he went; and his seed shall possess it (Numbers 14:24).

WHAT ABOUT PHINEHAS AND OTHERS?

We also read of Phinehas, who was of priestly descent. He was zealous for God’s Holy justice and turned God’s wrath away from the children of Israel (Numbers 25:7-13) and his zeal for God was counted as righteousness to him and to his generations (Psalm 106:30-31). God gave to him and his descendants “a covenant of peace” because he was jealous with zeal for the Lord.

Job also was a RIGHTEOUS man (Ezekiel 14:14,20). In fact the Bible says he was PERFECT and UPRIGHT, and one that FEARED GOD, and ESCHEWED EVIL (Job 1:1). Job was such a godly man that God even showcased him in the face of Satan (Job 1:8). Job was God’s servant, a man accepted by God (Job 42:7-8) and an example of patience (James 5:10-11) and he learned that God was merciful and compassionate.

As we venture through the scriptures we read of God’s servants such as Gideon, Deborah, Ruth, Naomi, Boaz, Hannah, Samuel, Jonathan, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nehemiah, Ezra, Esther and others who feared God, sought Him, and were righteous in His sight.

We read of David, A MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:32). In 2 Samuel David said, “the Lord rewarded me according to my RIGHTEOUSNESS: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me” (2 Samuel 22:21) and “the Lord hath recompensed me according to my RIGHTEOUSNESS; according to my cleanness in his eye sight” (2 Samuel 22:25).

King Solomon was blessed by God because his father, David, walked before God IN TRUTH, and IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, and was RIGHTEOUS IN HIS HEART (1 kings 3:6; 1 Kings 9:4). David is also the one who said, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin”. This is cited by Paul in Romans 4.

Josiah who was a descendant of David and the King of Judah, was like his father David in that had a tender heart before the Lord and he humbled himself before God when he heard the Word of the Lord (2 Kings 22:19).

We also read of Daniel who had an EXCELLENT SPIRIT (Daniel 5;12) whom God called RIGHTEOUS, along with Noah and Job (Ezekiel 14;14,20).

In Nehemiah 7:2, Hananiah is mentioned as a faithful man and more God fearing than most others.

Furthermore we read in Psalms and Proverbs about those who are righteous and those who seek God and who fear the Lord. Phinehas, mentioned previously, is spoken of in Psalms 106 as “RIGHTEOUS.”

The apostle Peter tells us that God spoke by the mouth of all HIS HOLY PROPHETS (Acts 3:21) and makes reference to the words which was spoken by THE HOLY PROPHETS as they testified of the coming of the day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:2). Furthermore, the author of Hebrews expounds on the faith of some of the Old Testament saints calling them A GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES that have gone on before us (Hebrews 11-12:1).

NEW TESTAMENT EXAMPLES

When we come into the New Testament we see more examples of people who served the Lord, feared Him, and sought Him.

We read of Zacharias and Elisabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. The Bible says, THEY WERE BOTH RIGHTEOUS BEFORE GOD, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord BLAMELESS (Luke 1:6).

We also read of Simeon, a JUST and DEVOUT man, who was waiting for the consolation of Israel: and THE HOLY GHOST WAS UPON HIM (Luke 2:25).

We read of Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser. She was an elderly lady who had been a widow for a long time. The Bible says she departed not from the temple, but SERVED GOD with fastings and prayers night and day (Luke 2;36-38).

In Matthew 13:17 Jesus said to his disciples, “many prophets and RIGHTEOUS MEN have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

In Matthew 23:35 Jesus condemned the Pharisees and scribes of all the RIGHTEOUS blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of RIGHTEOUS ABEL unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, who was slain between the temple and the altar.

Furthermore, we read how John the Baptist, the forerunner to Jesus the Messiah, was a JUST and HOLY man (Mark 6:20) and he was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). We also read how Jesus came to be baptized by John the Baptist, to FULFILL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS (Matthew 3:15) and how Jesus said to the temple authorities, “John came unto you IN THE WAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him (Matthew 21:32, see also Luke 7:30).

Joseph, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus was a JUST man (Matthew 1:19) and Jesus commended Nathanael for being an Israelite indeed, in whom is NO GUILE (John 1:47). In Luke 23:50-51 we read of Joseph of Arimathaea who was a GOOD and JUST man.

After Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, we read of men like Cornelius, a Gentile centurion from Caesarea. The Bible says he was a DEVOUT MAN, and one that FEARED GOD with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always (Acts 10:1-2).

Not only did Cornelius fear God, but those of his household did as well.

When the apostle Peter was sent to testify of Jesus to Cornelius and his house, Peter said, “of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation HE THAT FEARTH HIM, and WORKETH RIGHTEOUSNESS, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35).

In Acts 13 the apostle Paul said the to those to whom he was preaching, “Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you FEARTH GOD, to you is the word of this salvation sent” (Acts 13:26).

In both cases, when Peter preached to Cornelius and his house, and when Paul preached in Acts 13, those who FEARED GOD had not yet been born again and because of their reverence for God, the word of salvation was sent to them.

Finally, in Romans 3:10-18, the apostle Paul is quoting from Old Testament scriptures which came by HOLY MEN OF GOD AS THEY WERE MOVED BY THE HOLY GHOST (2 Peter 1:21).

With these examples we can see that the words in Romans 3:10-18 cannot be rightly interpreted as a sweeping condemnation of every person who has ever lived, but should be understood as the condemnation of those who reject God and do such things because of their unbelief (Romans 3:3-18).

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ADDITION NOTES:

Romans 3:10-18 uses quotes from the Old Testament which make a distinction between the wicked and the godly.

Romans 3:10-12 is taken from Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 which are almost identical. Both begin with the words, “the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”

Romans 3:13 is a quote from Psalm 5:9 and Psalm 140:3. In both, the context is referring to deliverance from wicked and evil people. In both Psalm 5 and 140, the Psalmist appeals to God to deliver him from those who are wicked because he is righteous.

Romans 3:14 is a quote from Psalm 10:7 which is a Psalm regarding the wicked who show contempt towards God in their pride. This is in contrast to the humble and poor who trust in God.

Romans 3:15 is a quote from Proverbs 6:18: Consider Provebrs 6:16-19:

16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

It seems that verses 16-17 is a comment made by Paul regarding what has been said in verses 10-15 and not necessarily a direct quote from the Old Testament.

Verse 18 is a quote from Psalm 36:1, which is another reference to the wicked in contrast to those who trust in the Lord.

When we consider the Old Testament contexts from which Paul quotes in Romans 3:10-19, we cannot conclude that Paul is making a sweeping statement that every person is wicked, wretched, and evil, for in those places from which Paul is quoting, there is a contrast made between those described in Romans 3:10-19 and the righteous, humble and needy.

Romans 3:9 is a pivotal verse regarding Paul’s words in 3:10-19. Consider verse 9:

What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin…

Paul is echoing his statements from Romans 1:18 – 3:8. His argument is that both Jews and Gentiles are under sin and in need of salvation.

In Romans 1:18-32 Paul expounds on how the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of man who were not given the Law as the people of Israel were. In chapter 2, Paul takes the “law breaking Jew” to task showing how he is condemned. As we move into chapter three Paul is still expounding on the theme of Jew and Gentile showing how ALL are under the power of sin.

Romans 3:10-19 is not a discourse about how wicked and evil every unsaved person is but rather an argument that ALL are under sin and in need of salvation. In chapter 4 Paul expounds on Abraham as the father of faith because he believed God and was declared righteous. Certainly Paul did not think that Romans 3:10-18 was a description that could be placed on Abraham, the friend of God and father of our faith.