Up until Nimrod's tower, all the people of the earth were one family. Eber the Sethite lived during this time, and "Eber" is where the term "Hebrew" comes from. Eber begot Peleg, who lived when the earth was divided by the confusion of the one language into many. From this, the people were spread out, and the one family made into many families.
Originally Posted by wpm
The promised seed prophesied of in Gen. 3:15 had to come through one family, and God called Abram out from among his fellow Gentiles, promising him that if he would 1) go to the land that was already prepared for him (where Eden once was), and 2) be a blessing to others, then God would bless Abram and his descendants (the concern was specifically for a king); those who then blessed this Hebrew would in turn be blessed by God with the same blessing as He blessed Abram with.
After 1) going to the land, and 2) being a blessing to others (Lot and the kings), Melchizedek, the king of the future city of David and priest of the Most High God, "Possessor of heaven and earth", comes and blesses Abram as a faithful representative of God (not as a Christophany). It is then in that place that God makes covenant with Abram because of his faith, causing Abram to be unable to pass in between the sacrificed pieces, and God alone passes through, signifying that this covenant will remain forever, as it was not based on Abram's (or his seeds') faithfulness, but God's alone (cp. Gen. 50:24-26; Deut. 4:25-31; 1 Ch. 16:15-18; Luke 1:68-75; Acts 3:19-26; Heb. 6:13-18).
Later, after the covenant is ratified so that nothing to it can be added, God tells Abraham that the sign of this everlasting covenant is the circumcision of his and his seeds' flesh. Those who were not circumcised were not a part of this one family through whom would come the promised Seed. Circumcision was not about salvation, for all who blessed Abraham would receive the same blessing as God gave Abraham, and circumcision came after faith, however, it was about being in that family and inheriting the physical land promised him (ownership of the land was and is still unconditional, but possession of the land has always been conditional).
Now that Christ has come, who was circumcised according to the covenant, and has sprinkled our hearts after His death and resurrection at His ascension, ratifying the renewed covenant with natural Israel, the witness family is no longer known by circumcision of the flesh, but by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 4:30). Note though that the story is still focused on Jews (a word which comes from exiled Judah), and that the door to salvation has not yet been understood to have been opened to the Gentiles. The question is not "How do Jews fit in?", but "How do Gentiles fit in?"
Salvation, or justification, has always been by grace through faith, and now by the inter-indwelling Holy Spirit, we can say that circumcision and uncircumcision are nothing when concerning that person's salvation, but only the Spirit. Circumcision is by the taking off of the old creation, and the Spirit within cries, "Abba, Father."
So has God cast off His people Israel? No, of course not, and that's not what you're saying - but are they still called in a distinct way that Gentiles are not? Well, to them alone was promised unconditionally forever a faithful remnant (Gen. 17:7; Deut. 29:10-15; 30:5); never does God promise this to Gentiles. What is the importance of this nation, that they not only remain, but remain distinct and separate throughout all generations?
Paul tells us that by their fall, the way was made for the Gentiles to be grafted in among them (it's their tree, their root, their fatness, their forefathers' promises); how much better then will it be at their acceptance and fullness?! Life from the dead for all creation! Why them specifically and not any other nation/family? It's because they are beloved for the sake of the patriarchs!
God made unconditional everlasting promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to their natural descendants - they will never cease to be a people, a promise that must continue up until the Great White Throne Judgment. Their ethnic distinction is not important for their salvation, but for their preservation, unto the salvation of all other nations through their witness (Eze. 36:23)!
So is Israel any better than Gentiles? No, and neither are Gentiles better than Israel. Israel is the hardest nation to save, not the easiest; they alone as a corporate people have a veil over their hearts. God chose Israel for that very purpose: to prove His faithfulness, not theirs. And by that all nations are saved: not for the sake of Israel's faithfulness, but for the sake of God's faithfulness despite their faithlessness.
So do not seek to lower your brethrens' vision of the people of God, nor to hinder them from provoking Israel to jealousy, the very means of which they must be saved. If God is unfaithful to Israel, then what hope have we, for we are in their covenantal promises. Judging by Rom. 9:3, our view of them is not high enough...
Last edited by Nihil Obstat; Sep 12th 2008 at 01:49 PM.
Reason: added to quote box
analyze. synthesize. repeat.
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