Sunday, July 23, 2006

Broken Covenant

Preface: this started out as a simple attempt at correcting a theological error that is rampant amongst Christians today. But it turned into a bit more than I bargained for. If you are not spiritually inclined, this will bore the heck out of you. But if you are so inclined, feel free to respond. It is a controversial subject to be sure. I've gotten into it with many of my church-going friends

Normally I enjoy the ranting and raving of Misha at the Rottie, but his understanding of the New Covenant, and his Biblical hermeneutic in general, is sadly lacking.

Via LC & IB Dave from Israellycool whom you should read daily for hourly updates of the war.

Greek Orthodox Church says Israel should fear `wrath of God` for Lebanon deaths (AP)

That’s a rather unorthodox interpretation of the Bible, don’t you think?

We turn to Gen. 12:3

I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you.

You’d expect an entity that calls itself a “church” would at least be passingly familiar with the FIRST BOOK OF THE BIBLE and the Covenant between G-d and Israel, wouldn’t you?

Here we have a first class example of taking verses and applying them where they are not applicable. Misha does not take into account the Bible as a whole, but focuses on the words of one passage (albeit a very important one) without regard for the rest of scripture.

Yes, God promised to bless Abraham's offspring. Yes, He fulfills His promises. Yes, He is faithful to His people. We have the entire Bible that declares just how faithful God was to them, despite their rebellion. But the Old Covenant was a conditional covenant:

14 "Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. 15 But just as every good promise of the LORD your God has come true, so the LORD will bring on you all the evil he has threatened, until he has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. 16 If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the LORD's anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you."

1 Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.

2 Joshua said to all the people, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River [a] and worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the River and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, 4 and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.

5 " 'Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. 6 When I brought your fathers out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen [b] as far as the Red Sea. [c] 7 But they cried to the LORD for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the desert for a long time.

8 " 'I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. 9 When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.

11 " 'Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.'

14 "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

16 Then the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! 17 It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God."

19 Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you."

God's promise to Abraham was fulfilled. It was fulfilled in Joshua's time. But as you continue to read the Old Testamant, it becomes clear that the geographical nation of Israel, and the Jews who inhabited it, were not willing to be faithful to their Lord. Their sins still covered them, in spite of God's provisions to them. They were a vile, evil, rebellious people who were punished by God repeatedly for their wickedness. And yet God, in His infinite mercy and grace, provided a sacrifice, a Saviour, a once-for-all-time Lamb, Prophet, Priest, and King - first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. And in that Saviour, Jesus Christ, is the fulfillment of all things.

God still blesses Israel today. I firmly believe that. But spiritual Israel is not a geographical location. It is not a kingdom or a democratically elected republic. It is not parlimentary democracy or a system of proportional representation. You cannot find it on a map, because it is a nation without borders. The New Israel; indeed, the New Jerusalem, is not a nation with external boundaries and border crossings. The New Israel consists of people who have the everlasting peace and joy of Jesus Christ. We are not bound by man, we are a nation of people whose hearts and minds are in Christ. The rule and reign of God in the lives of those who are His.

I support Israel, but not because they are the chosen people of God. It may very well be that some of the Israelis living today can trace their roots back to Abraham, but it seems inappropriate to call them "Hebrews" or "Jews". Jewish people follow the commandments of their God. They worship God in His Temple, because according to the Old Testament, that is the place where God's presence dwells. They have their sins atoned for by a High Priest, who enters the Holy of Holies in the Temple and offers a sacrifice for the people. But none of that occurs today. When the temple was destroyed, centuries worth of genelogical data was lost. Can anyone prove they are the physical offspring of Abraham? The very essence of Judaism... the thing that makes a person a Jew, has been lost for two millenia. The follower of Judaism is essentially hopeless. He can never say his sins are forgiven, because there is no way to fulfill the commands of God regarding the removal of sin.

And yet I do support Israel. I support their work fighting terrorism because the terrorists they are fighting are barbarians. They are the cultural equivalent of cavemen. Israel is also a democracy, and is a relatively free place to live.

But the inhabitants of geographical Israel cannot rightly be called the chosen people of God. The blessings of Abraham cannot rightly be applied to them.