Welcome back to the study table, friends. This week’s focus is the parting of ways of Jewish and Gentile believers, and yesterday we ended our session with a list of ways this has played out over the years. The Jewish people (both believing and unbelieving) experienced great persecution through major world events such as the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Reformation and the Holocaust…all in the name of Christianity.
Is it any wonder, then, that a chasm in relationship occurred between Jews and Gentiles?
Over centuries, the split led to Judaism without the Messiah and Christianity without Jewish roots. What a sad result. However, what amazing wisdom God provided Paul in writing Romans 9-11, the blueprint for reconciliation. I wonder if Paul knew how greatly it would be needed in the 20th and 21st centuries!
But, let’s turn our focus back to Israel for today, and let’s review some key points we have already talked about in this study:
- Israel was chosen by God for a specific purpose. Do you remember what it is? To be the vehicle of world redemption. Genesis 12:3c (The blessing is salvation!)
- God’s covenant with Abraham was an everlasting covenant, promising land and descendants.
- Vultures will attack! (If you don’t know what that’s all about, check out The Suffering Call.) Spiritual battle rages over Israel.
- God guarantees Israel’s survival! God’s promise to Abraham was an everlasting promise. Therefore, if God’s promise to Israel fails, God fails. Impossible!
But now an interesting question: are God’s promises conditional or unconditional? In our live class on Sunday morning, the best answer was: “It depends on which promise!” Indeed, it does! God put Abraham to sleep to make covenant with him. Thus, God depended upon Abraham for nothing. That is unconditional.
However, in other places, God’s promises are conditional. While land and descendants are non-negotiable, Israel’s blessings are fully conditional! Need to see it with your own eyes? Read Deuteronomy 29:10-13, 26-28. There, we find God drawing the Israelites into covenant with him (verses 10-13), yet making it very conditional upon their faithfulness to God (verses 26-28).
God often demonstrated it in Scripture, such as in Isaiah 11:11-12 where He talked about regathering His people a “second time” (meaning, there was also a first time)! Twice He allowed Israel to go into captivity (to Babylon in the 6th century BC, to the 4 corners of the world in 70 AD), yet twice He brought them out! (I have never found anything about a third exile and return. Thus, if Israel is disobedient now, I believe God will do a new thing…He will save His people!)
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 sums it up nicely as God lays out two options for His people: blessings or curses. Life or death. They may have either, and they get to choose by the way they honor God!
Tomorrow we’ll continue our focus on Israel as we talk about four Biblical principles concerning God’s dealing with Israel and the nations. What does God have to say about choosing blessings or curses, life or death? We’ll dive into it tomorrow, so check back then!