THE HIGH PRIEST, THE GARMENTS, AND THE HOLY OF HOLIES

The holy garments worn by the high priest on the day of atonement foreshadowed the purity and humanity of Christ.

A traditional error states that on the Day of Atonement the high priest entered the holy of holies with a rope tied around him in case he were to die in the presence of God. According to this teaching, the people would understand that the high priest had fallen dead because they would cease to hear the bells on the robe of the high priest and therefore they could retrieve his dead body with the rope tied around him without having to go into the holy of holies.

This has been taught by many ministers, but it is entirely unscriptural. It is an extra Biblical rabbinical teaching, and found nowhere in scripture.

Exodus 28 gives a detailed description of the priestly garments worn by Aaron the high priest in the DAILY MINISTRATION of the service of the tabernacle. These garments consisted of the ephod, the curious girdle of the ephod, the breastplate of judgment, the robe (all blue) of the ephod, the mitre (bonnet) with the plate of gold, the linen coat, and the line breaches.

The purpose of the priestly garments is listed in Exodus 28:1-2. They were worn so that the high priest could (1) minister to the Lord in the priest’s office and (2) for glory and beauty.

These priestly garments were worn in the daily ministration by the high priest and it was the ephod (the blue robe) which had THE BELLS and the pomegranates on the hem of it.

When the high priest ministered in the holy place (not the holy of holies) the bells with the pomegranates would make a pleasant sound and the priest was heard as he carried on his service in the holy place. However, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest wore only the linen garments into the holy of holies, and not the full attire of his beautiful priestly garments (Leviticus 16:4). There were no bells or pomegranates on the linen garments which were the innermost garments.

As the high priest laid aside his beautiful garments and wore only linen garments into the presence of God, so Christ left the glory of heaven and came to earth. He laid aside his heavenly majesty (not his divine nature) and clothed himself with human weakness, as he took on the likeness of men (John 17:1-5; Hebrews 2:9-17; Philippians 2; Isaiah 53 ). In the flesh, the Lord of glory made atonement (reconciliation) for our sins to bring us to God!

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JESUS WAS GIVEN THE AUTHORITY TO LAY DOWN HIS LIFE AND TAKE IT UP AGAIN

Jesus was entrusted with complete authority from God the Father.

  • John 5:20-30
  • Matthew 11:27
  • John 13:3-4

The Father gave Jesus the authority to judge and He gave Jesus authority over all things.  In John 12 Jesus declares that his death and resurrection would mean judgment upon both the world and the prince of this world.

  • John 12:31
  • John 16:33

The Father gave Jesus the command to lay down His life and to take it up again.

  • John 10:14-18
  • John 14:28-31

Those who crucified Jesus could not take His life until Christ laid it down.

  • John 2:18-22; 5:35; 10:17-18; 11:25; 13:1-4; 14:28-31; 17:1-2
  • Hebrews 2:5-17

Judas could not carry out the betrayal until Jesus gave him permission.

  • John 13:27

They could not arrest him without His permission.

  • John 18:3-12

Jesus could have saved Himself from the cross. Instead, He chose to die to fulfill the scriptures.

  • Matthew 26:51-57

Death had no power to hold Jesus.

  • Acts 2:23-24

Jesus gave Himself for us in surrendered obedience to the will of God. Jesus was given both the commandment and the authority to lay down His life and to take it up again.

  • John 10:14-18
  • John 14:28-31

WAS JESUS CONDEMNED BY GOD, OR MEN?

Isaiah 53 reveals the suffering of God’s righteous servant, Jesus Christ. The question being addressed here is this: was it God, or men who condemned Jesus?

The key verses in Isaiah 53 are as follows:

  • Verse 3, He is DESPISED AND REJECTED OF MEN; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and WE HID as it were OUR FACES FROM HIM; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
  • Verse 4, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet WE DID ESTEEM HIM STICKEN, SMITTEN OF GOD, AND AFFLICTED.
  • Verse 6, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and THE LORD HATH LAID ON HIM THE INIQUIT OF US ALL.
  • Verse 10, Yet IT PLEASED THE LORD TO BRUISE HIM; HE HATH PUT INTO GRIEF: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

Not listed above is verse 8: He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Verse 8 is a pivotal verse in rightly understanding the nature of the sufferings of Christ. Verse 8 reveals that Jesus suffered unjustly in his crucifixion. Other translations render Isaiah 53:8 as follows:

  • Unjustly condemned, he was led away… (New Living Translation).
  • By oppression and judgment he was taken away… (Amplified Bible).
  • He was condemned to death without a fair trial… (Contemporary English Version).

Isaiah 53:8 is quoted in Acts 8:33: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth. Other translations render Acts 8:33 as follows:

  • He was humiliated and received no justice … (NLT).
  • In his humiliation he was taken away by distressing and oppressive judgment and justice was denied him … (Amplified Bible).
  • In his humiliation justice was denied Him … (Holman Christian Standard Bible).

Jesus suffered unjustly, at the hands of men, from the time of his arrest to the time of his crucifixion. Yet it was the will of God that it be so.

In Acts 4, the gathering together of “the kings of the earth and the rulers against the Lord, and against his Christ,” is said to be according to that which “the Lord’s hand and counsel predetermined to be done” (Acts 4:26-28).

When Christ was condemned unjustly, the people were gathered  against God and against Jesus, “the Lord and his Christ.

If we know that according to the hand and foreknowledge of God, the people were gathered together against God and Christ, we can conclude that God was not the one opposing his Son by personally condemning him from Heaven by pouring out his wrath. God was IN CHRIST, reconciling the world when Jesus was crucified (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Hebrews 2:9 tell us “by the grace of God Jesus tasted death for every man,” and Hebrews 9:14 tells us “Christ offered Himself without spot to God through the eternal Spirit.”

At the cross, God was not the one opposing and condemning Jesus; God was the one strengthening him and enabling him to endure the sufferings of the cross.

It is as a martyr giving his life for others, that Christ suffered and died, and it is in this way that statements such as in Isaiah 53:6, “…the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” and in Isaiah 53:10 “…it pleased the Lord to bruise him: he hath put him to grief…” were fulfilled. Not by God personally afflicting Jesus from Heaven, but by the surrendered obedience of Jesus to the will of God.

Notice the following from Paul’s sermon in Acts 13:

For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day, THEY HAVE FULFILLED THEM IN CONDEMNING HIM. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And WHEN THEY HAD FULFILLED ALL THAT WAS WRITTEN OF HIM, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD… (Acts 13:27-30).

Notice that Paul says, “They fulfilled the scriptures by condemning him,” and in opposition to what they had done, “God raised him from the dead.”

According to Romans 15:3, the reproaches of the people towards God were levied against Jesus: “Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, THE REPROACHES OF THEM THAT REPROACHED THEE FELL ON ME.” 

Jesus was God in the flesh dying for His people, and their hatred and rebellion against God were levied against Jesus and in that place he responded with forgiveness. Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).

The author of Hebrews tells us to keep “looking to Jesus who ENDURED SUCH OPPOSITION FROM MEN, DESPISING THE SHAME, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (see Hebrews 12:2).

The shame Jesus endured was humiliation which came from men who hated and opposed God. The son of God was placed on public display in the most humiliating fashion wherein he was mocked and ridiculed by those who despised both he and his and Father; God.

He that hateth me HATETH MY FATHER ALSO. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and HATED BOTH ME AND MY FATHER. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE (John 15:23-25).

The hatred of the people towards Christ, which drove them to crucify him, was hatred towards God. Yet, it was the counsel of God to overthrow them in their worldly wisdom through the sufferings of Christ at the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:6-7). For more teaching along these lines, follow the links below.

https://michaelbattle65.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/the-nature-of-the-sufferings-of-christ/

https://michaelbattle65.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/jesus-was-given-the-authority-to-lay-down-his-life-and-take-it-up-again/

https://michaelbattle65.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/jesus-glorified-the-father-in-his-death-on-the-cross/

 

 

THE NATURE OF THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST

Like many of the righteous men who came before him, Jesus died as a martyr, yet he alone is the Messiah, and the Redeemer. Only his precious blood can save us from our sins.

The rejection of Jesus by those who condemned him was the culmination of the rejection of the prophets and righteous men God had sent to their ancestors. They became guilty of the blood of all the righteous and the prophets of God by their rejection of Jesus.

  • Luke 11:46-52
  • Matthew 23:29-39

In the gospels, Jesus likened his own death to those who had died before him for the glory of God. In Matthew 17:12-13, Jesus likened his death to that of John the Baptist:

But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. LIKEWISE shall ALSO the Son of man SUFFER OF THEMThen the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. 

John the Baptist was not condemned by God, but was a martyr who died for the glory of God.

Jesus also describes his death as a martyr in the parable of the vineyard in Matthew 21:33-43. In Verses 34- 39 we read the following. 

And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them HIS SON, saying, they will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, THIS IS THE HEIR; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

As we can see in this parable, the Lord of the vineyard was not the one condemning his Son. Instead, it was the husbandmen who mistreated and killed the Son. They did to the Son as they had done to the other servants who were sent before him. This is the narrative according to Jesus and his apostles with regards to the nature of Christ’s sufferings. Jesus died at the hands of sinful men who unjustly condemned him: He was condemned by men, not condemned by God. 

As we continue reading this parable, Jesus says the following:

When THE LORD therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, he will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, did ye never read in the scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? (Matthew 21:40-42)

The significance of Jesus as the Stone which the builders rejected and the ONE God has chosen is abundantly clear throughout the gospels and the book of Acts.

Jesus never once attributed the things he suffered in death to the justice or wrath of God, as condemnation from God. He always attributed things he suffered in his death to the hands of sinful men.

Likewise, in the book of Acts, the apostles never interpret the death of Jesus as condemnation levied against Jesus from God. The apostles always held the people responsible for Christ’s death. Conversely, they attribute the resurrection to God in opposition to what the people had done in condemning and crucifying Jesus.

The message preached by the apostle Peter on Pentecost, was that Christ, whom the people had condemned, had been raised from the dead and enthroned at the right hand of God. By this message, Peter exhorted the people of Israel to repent and to believe all that the prophets had foretold of the Messiah.

Stephen, who was not an apostle, testified of the death and resurrection of Jesus while on trial before the Sanhedrin. Stephen did not preach that Jesus had been condemned by God. Instead, Stephen held the Jewish leaders responsible saying to those who were about to stone him that they had been betrayers and murders of Jesus, the Just One.

Their forefathers had persecuted the prophets who had showed beforehand the coming of Christ, and they had followed in their footsteps by their rejection of Christ. Stephen says that what they did to Jesus was that of resisting the Holy Ghost!

Because of his bold testimony for Jesus, Stephen was murdered by those to whom he testified of Christ. Stephen was martyred  (Acts 7:52).

Following in Christ’s footsteps, Stephen laid down his life for the glory of God. Stephen was not condemned by God, but rather was a chosen vessel who suffered martyrdom for the gospel and for the glory of Christ.

It is in this way -martyrdom – Jesus suffered and died. The nature of sufferings of Christ, according to the will of God, should be understood in the same way in which we understand others, who according to the will of God, suffered for glorify God.

Job and Paul are also examples. Both suffered for the glory of God, but it was not God opposing and afflicting them. Yet in their sufferings they were completely in the will of God and the purposes of God were accomplished through them. Likewise, it was the will of God for Christ to suffer for us to redeem us with his precious blood.

Isaiah the prophet had testified that Jesus would suffer an unjust death and this is exactly the same scripture that Philip began with when he preached Christ to the Eunuch in Acts 8: “In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.”

  • He was humiliated and received no justice …(NLT)
  • In his humiliation he was taken away by distressing and oppressive judgment and justice was denied him …(Amplified Bible)
  • In his humiliation justice was denied him …(Holman Christian Standard Bible)

In 1 Peter 2, the apostle Peter  says the same thing when he tells us that Jesus suffered wrongfully and committed himself to the ONE who judges righteously.

When did the the ONE who judges righteously intervene? He intervene IN THE RESURRECTION!

God exalted his Son in righteousness in the resurrection, and delivered unto him the Kingdom. The stone the builders rejected is the precious corner stone which God has chosen. Now all men are commanded to repent and serve him!

Jesus laid down his life according to the will of God, dying unjustly at the hands of sinful men, to redeem us with his precious blood. In his resurrection, God overturned the verdict of sinful men by raising Jesus from the dead and exalting him at the highest place of honor.

It is in this way that scriptures, such as Isaiah 53:10: it pleased the Lord to bruise him: he hath put him to grief, were fulfilled. Not by God personally afflicting him from Heaven, but by the surrendered obedience of Jesus to the will of God, he was bruised and put to grief for us.

The message preached by the apostle Peter on Pentecost, was that Christ, whom the people had condemned, had been raised from the dead and enthroned at the right hand of God. By this message, Peter exhorted the people of Israel to repent and to believe all that the prophets had foretold of the Messiah.

Christ died an unjust death at the hands of sinful men, and was vindicated in his resurrection and exaltation at the right hand of God.

JOHN THE BAPTIST

Isaiah the prophet, prophesied, that God would send the voice of one crying in the wilderness to prepare the people of Israel for the Messiah (Isaiah 40:3). The New Testament reveals that this was John the Baptist of whom Isaiah had prophesied.

Before John the Baptist was born, the angel Gabriel appeared to his father, Zacharias, to inform him that he and his wife, Elisabeth, were going to have a child. Among other things, Gabriel announced the following concerning John the Baptist:

“…thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. And MANY OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him IN THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIAS, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; TO MAKE READY A PEOPLE PREPARED FOR THE LORD” (Luke 1:15-17).

Notice that Gabriel says of John’s ministry, “he shall make a people ready for the Lord.” Keep in mind that this is reference to those within Israel, for John the Baptist was sent to the people of Israel, to prepare them for the coming of Jesus.

This visitation from the angel Gabriel left Zacharias startled and bewildered in unbelief, and resulted in Zacharias being struck dumb (or mute) because of his unbelief, until after the birth of John (Luke 1:20). After his birth, when John was eight days old, Zacharias and his wife, Elisabeth, brought the young child to be circumcised (Luke 1:59).

Some of the people thought that the child should be named Zacharias, after his father, but Elisabeth had told them that his name was to be John. So they made signs to ask Zacharias what the child’s name would be.

Zacharias then signaled for a writing table, and wrote, “His name is John.” The people were all amazed and Zacharias’ mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, and praised God (Luke 1:63-64).

Next we read the following:

And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country OF JUDAEA. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, WHAT MANNER OF CHILD SHALL THIS BE! And the hand of the Lord was with him (v.65-66).

Luke then tells us (in Luke 1:67) that Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied the following in verses 68-79:

68 Blessed be THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL; for he hath VISITED AND REDEEMED HIS PEOPLE,

69 And hath RAISED UP AN HORN OF SALVATION FOR US in the house of his servant David;

70 AS HE SPAKE BY THE MOUTH OF HIS HOLY PROPHETS, which have been since the world began:

71 That we should be SAVED FROM OUR ENEMIES, and from the hand of all that hate us;

72 TO PERFORM THE MERCY PROMISED to our fathers, and TO REMEMBER his holy covenant;

73 THE OATH which he sware to our father Abraham,

74 That he would grant unto us, that we BEING DELIVERED out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,

75 IN HOLINESS AND RIGHTEOUSNESS before him, all the days of our life.

76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord TO PREPARE HIS WAYS;

77 To give KNOWLEDGE OF SALVATION unto his people BY THE REMISSION OF THEIR SINS,

78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby THE DAYSPRING ON HIGH HATH VISITED US,

79 TO GIVE LIGHT to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Then, in verse 80, Luke says of John the Baptist: “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing UNTO ISRAEL.”

John the Baptist was the messenger whom God sent to Israel to prepare them for the salvation He had promised to Israel. This is specifically why John came baptizing:

This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: BUT THAT HE SHOULD BE MADE MANIFEST TO ISRAEL, THEREFORE AM I COME BAPTIZING WITH WATER (John 1:30-31). 

Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, SAYING UNTO THE PEOPLE, THAT THEY SHOULD BELIEVE ON HIM WHICH SHOULD COME AFTER HIM, THAT IS, ON CHRIST JESUS  (Acts 19:4).

All the prophets before John had prophesied by the Spirit concerning the coming salvation in Christ. The apostle Peter tells us the prophets inquired and searched diligently, regarding the salvation and grace that was to come through Christ (1 Peter 1:10).

John was the last of all the prophets which would testify of Christ to Israel, and according to Jesus, there was no prophet ever who was greater than John. While the other prophets had the honor of testifying of Christ, only John had the honor of introducing Christ. John came baptizing for this purpose: to reveal the Christ (the Messiah) to Israel! (John 1:29-34). 

The fulfillment of Bible prophecy concerning the salvation for Israel was never about the Jews being in the land of Israel. It was always about the Jews repenting of their sins and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. This comes through clearly in the ministry of John the Baptist and the gospel he preached.

For more on John the Baptist, follow the link below:

https://michaelbattle65.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/the-axe-is-laid-unto-the-root-of-the-trees/

 

CHRIST, THE ROOT OF OUR FAITH

In Revelation 22:16, Jesus says, “I am the ROOT and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”

Many know that Jesus was a descendant of David according to the flesh; he is the offspring of David. Yet, many haven’t considered that Jesus is the ROOT of David.

We are living in a time when many are using the word “root” in an effort to preach another gospel other than the grace of Christ. They’ll say things like: we need to get back to our “Jewish roots” or our “Hebrew roots.” The reality is that being Jewish is not the root. Christ is the root!

In Galatians 3, the apostle Paul tells us that God preached THE GOSPEL to Abraham when he gave the promise that through Abraham all the families of the earth would be blessed (v.8).

Paul tells us that this covenant which God gave to Abraham was confirmed “in Christ” (v.17) and Christ is the seed to whom the promises were made (v.16). Therefore, Christ is both the root and the heir of the promises God made to Abraham. In Christ, God’s promise to Abraham is fulfilled.

National Israel is not the root of the Christian faith; neither is Jewish customs, culture, or tradition. Jesus is the root of the Christian faith!

Paul tells us in Colossians to be “rooted and built up in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:7a). Paul also tells us to mortify the deeds of the flesh because we have “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge AFTER THE IMAGE OF HIM THAT CREATED HIM (Colossians 3:5-10).

We are renewed after the image of Jesus, for it was Jesus that created our new man!

Paul goes on to tell us that in Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but CHRIST IS ALL, AND IN ALL.

Dear Christian: Christ is the ROOT of your faith!

BOAST NOT AGAINST THE BRANCHES

Paul’s reference to not boasting against the branches (Romans 11:18) has to do with not boasting against the Jewish people as if God had replaced the Jews with Gentiles. God did not cast off the Jewish people in exchange for the Gentiles. Instead, God has grafted believing Gentiles into the faith of Christ with the Jews who believe the gospel. Jews who do not believe the gospel are cut off from covenant relationship with God.

Paul tells us that the Jews who have been cut off will be grafted back in again if they will believe the gospel. Paul does not say “WHEN” they believe, but “IF” they believe they will be grafted back in for God is able to graft them in again. This is not a reference to a resurgence of  a national status as a covenant nation, but a reference to individual salvation.

The gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Even though Salvation has come to the Gentiles through Israel’s fall (as a covenant nation), the call to be the people of God still stands for all Jews who will believe in Jesus Christ.

Therefore the unbelieving Jew is not outside the saving sphere of God’s grace. God did not replace one ethnic group with another, but extends the hope of salvation to all.

The point of the not boasting against the branches is that God has not cast away the Jews in favor of the Gentiles, but through the fall of NATIONAL ISRAEL as a covenant nation, salvation has come to all, and  because of the mercy shown to the world, God will be merciful to the Jew as well, granting life and salvation to those who will believe the gospel.

BOASTING IN JEWISH IDENTITY

Any time you challenge Jewish identity (circumcision, DNA, culture, tradition, etc.) as being relevant to being in covenant with God, you will be marked by some as anti-Semitic. Yet it is precisely this: the relevance of Jewish identity as the mark of covenant with God, which has been taken away by the cross.

It is because of the cross, that the unrepentant Jews were persecuting the apostle Paul as well as persecuting the other Jews who believed the gospel. The cross alone is the power of God unto salvation.

The message of the cross, which was preached by Paul,  was a scandalous offense to the unrepentant Jew, for it takes away the boasting in  Jewish identity after the flesh.

In Galatians, the apostle Paul says, “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” (Galatians 3:28).

Would you like to know why Paul says there is no bond or free, nor male or female, in the same line of thought as neither Jew nor Greek?

It is because the Law of Moses (Israel’s covenant) made a distinction with regards to all of these. Under ancient Israel’s covenant with God, the sign of the covenant was in the male’s flesh, and not in the woman’s. Women did not have the same status as men under the Law of Moses, and neither did the slaves as the free.

In essence, Paul is saying the old covenant (national Israel’s covenant) has no relevance now that Christ has come. All distinction “with regards to covenant status” has been annulled. In Christ all are ONE!

While men who boast in Jewish identity want to mesmerize you with Jewish culture and style, the God of scripture wants you to seek after Him through Jesus Christ.

In scripture it wasn’t the Jews who were saturated in Jewish culture and tradition that are highlighted. In scripture it was the Jews who were holy in the sight of the living God who are highlighted, for their lives were marked by righteous and godly character.

The emphasis of the Bible isn’t on Jews because they were Jews, or because of their culture. The emphasis of the Bible is on righteousness and unrighteousness and God made a distinction between righteous Jews and unrighteous Jews all throughout their history in scripture.

Power with God has never based on outward Jewish culture or tradition. Instead it has always been based on purity of the heart, for a true Jew in God’s sight is one who is a Jew inwardly and not outwardly (Romans 2:28-29). It’s always been about the heart with God, not about the outward things that people love to boast in.

Knowing God is not about Jewish tradition, culture, or style. Knowing God is about faith from a pure heart, and a pure heart comes through Jesus Christ. God isn’t impressed with how Jewish something is, for God looks on the heart and shows no favoritism.

DOES MODERN ISRAEL HAVE A COVENANT WITH GOD?

If the modern State of Israel is a nation in covenant with God, then physical circumcision is still relevant and binding. In the Bible no male descendant of Abraham was an heir to the covenant or the land without circumcision (Genesis 17:10-14). This is why Joshua circumcised all the males before Israel entered and took possession of the promised land (Joshua 5:2-8).

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul tells us that if physical circumcision were relevant, the offense of the cross would cease (Galatians 5:11). Paul taught that physical circumcision no longer had any relevance because of the cross (Galatians 6:14-16).

Because of the cross, Israel no longer has a covenant with God which separates them from all other nations. Through the cross Jesus brought an end to the separating wall – the law which was Israel’s covenant with God (Ephesians 2:13-16).

Through the cross, the promise God made to Abraham, which was to justify the heathen through faith and make Abraham the father of many nations, has been fulfilled (Galatians 3). Abraham’s children are now from every nation, identified by their faith in Jesus with a spiritual circumcision which is in the heart, and not in the flesh (Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11; Romans 2:28-29).

BIBLICALLY, ISRAEL’S COVENANT WITH GOD WAS THE LAW GIVEN THROUGH MOSES

Consider Deuteronomy 5:1-3:

And Moses called ALL ISRAEL, and said unto them, Hear, O ISRAEL, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. THE LORD OUR GOD MADE A COVENANT WITH US IN HOREB. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

The covenant Moses is referring to here is the Law which was given to Israel at the time of the exodus from Egypt. The Bible marks the exodus and the giving of the Law at Sinai as the time in which God made covenant with the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Notice that Moses says in the text above, this covenant was not made with their fathers, a reference to the Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

If modern Israel is in covenant with God, then the Law given through Moses is still binding. If the Law given through Moses is still in effect, then Israel is still under the curse, and the Messiah still needs to come, and salvation has not yet to come to the Gentiles.

In the book of Galatians Paul warns the Gentiles, who were being seduced by the Judaizers, that all who are of the works of the Law are under the curse. The Judaizers were not simply attempting to indoctrinate the Galatians with some sort of works righteousness. Instead, they were attempting to make Jewish converts and that is why there is such an emphasis on the issue of circumcision – the mark of Jewish identity – in the book of Galatians.

Paul tells the Galatians, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10).

Galatians 3:10 is a direct quote from Deuteronomy 27:26. Israel was to keep the Law fully in the promised land, or they would be expelled and lose their inheritance. The right to the land was not an unconditional promise, it was 100% dependent on circumcision and obedience to the Law. The curse of the law meant that Israel would be expelled and lose it’s inheritance (Deuteronomy 27-30).

Biblically speaking, the right to live in the land as a sovereign nation under the Rulership of God alone, meant that Israel had to keep the law and be a holy nation unlike all the other nations. Israel was eventually taken captive by the Assyrians, and Judah by the Babylonians because of the curse. The prophet Daniel prayed the following during the Babylonian captivity:

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 (Daniel 9:11).

God gave promises through the prophets that there would be a re-gathering of the people back into the land after the Babylonian captivity. Many Zionist attempt to apply those promises to modern Israel, and since those promises are associated with Israel’s distinction under the law, it follows that Zionists also teach a return to the Law at some point in the future. Yet the promises given by the prophets were to the ancient Jews, who returned after the Babylonian captivity. God brought a remnant of Jews back into the land in preparation for the coming of Messiah.

During the time of Nehemiah, the Jews returning from the Babylonian captivity, bound themselves with A CURSE to dedicate themselves again to God and to the covenant God made with their forefathers through Moses (Nehemiah 10:28-29).

In Galatians, Paul warns the Gentile believers not to seek justification by the works of the law; because the curse accompanies the law. All who are under the Law are under the curse.

The law (ancient Israel’s covenant) demands continuation in the works of the Law to all who are under it, and all who do not continue in all things contained in the law are under the curse.

Because of sin, ancient Israel failed to keep God’s covenant given to them through Moses, and therefore were under the curse and in need of redemption. Paul tells us that this redemption came through Christ when he died on the cross, and through His death on the cross, the blessing of Abraham has come on the Gentiles (Galatians 3:13-14). Because of the death of Jesus, the Law (Israel’s covenant) has been fulfilled and now a new covenant has been established with Israel and Judah (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13). In Hebrews 8, the writer of Hebrews tells us exactly why a new covenant was necessary:

FOR FINDING FAULT WITH THEM, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…(Hebrews 8:8).

God found fault with Israel and Judah under the first covenant!

The first covenant (the Law given through Moses) reveals sin and gives no grace to overcome sin. Everyone under the law is under the curse. This new covenant is unlike the old, in that Christ, enthroned at the right hand of God, is the mediator, and not Moses.

The new covenant is said to be with Israel and Judah but unlike the first one:

I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: NOT ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT THAT I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS IN THE DAY I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. (Hebrews 8:8b-9).

This new covenant is based on circumcision of the heart, which comes through faith in Jesus. The new covenant gives a new heart that keeps God’s law (love) by the Spirit of Christ.

In this new covenant, the blessing of Abraham has come on the Gentiles who believe in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:14). In Christ Jesus, believing Jews and Gentiles are heirs together of the covenant (Ephesians 3:1-6) and are equally the true children of Abraham through faith (Galatians 3:26-29). This was God’s intention from the beginning.

Jews who reject Jesus, consequently reject the new covenant, and are cut off from being the people of God (Acts 3:22-23). There is no longer any national covenant status for Israel.

Modern Israel has no in covenant with God, because the old has been made obsolete, and the new belongs to those, Jews and Gentiles, who are in Christ Jesus.

ABIDE IN CHRIST

During the last hours with his disciples, before his crucifixion, Jesus told them that he is the true vine. and that his Father is the husbandman. He expounded to them that without him they could do nothing.

Imagine how they must have felt when they understood that he was about to be taken away. The thought that without Jesus they could nothing must have been overwhelming, especially now that he was returning to the Father.

In John 16:5-6 we read the following: But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

It was in response to this sorrow that Jesus assures them that he was sending a Comforter (one called along side of them): “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit was Jesus’ answer to the sorrow that had filled their hearts, for the Holy Spirit was going to teach them and enable them to abide in him, the true vine.

Andrew Murray said it so gracefully: “This is the secret of the joy of the first disciples. They had received the Lord Jesus, whom they feared they had lost, as the heavenly Christ into their hearts. And this was their preparation for Pentecost: their attention was completely taken up with him. He was literally their all. Their hearts were empty of everything, so that the Spirit might fill them with Christ.”

May we seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we may abide in the glorified, living Christ.