"Stranger still, the ancient religion of the Jews survives, when all the religions of every ancient race of the pre-Christian world have disappeared. Again it is strange that the living religions of the world all build on the religious ideas derived from the Jews" - The Ancient World, Professor T.R. Glover

"According to the materialistic and positivist criterion, this people ought to have perished long ago. It's survival is a mysterious and wonderful phenomenon demonstrating that the life of this people is governed by a special predetermination..."
- The Meaning of History, Professor Nicholas Berdkilaev of the Moscow Academy of Spiritual Culture

"It was Judaism that brought the concept of a God-given universal moral law into the world...the Jew carries the burden of God in history and for this he has never been forgiven" - Distinguished Catholic Scholar Edward H. Flannery

Fact: Judaism is the only religion in the world that lost its holy land and has regained it.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The New Heart and the New Spirit

I was listening to Christian minister on the radio the other day explain how the Christian era brought about a new and deeper relationship with God via the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and that only "the believers" had access to this new relationship. He went on to say the under the "old" covenant (the completed temporary covenant) the Jews didn't have the availability of the Spirit of God to "indwell" within them. This has been for the most part a mainstream doctrine that the Church has carried for close two thousand years concerning the nation of Israel and the covenant that God has with them. As with all doctrinal claims be it Christian or Islam, they need to be looked at first through the Jewish Scriptures since the Jewish scriptures are the base from which all monotheistic beliefs derives from.
The Hebrew scriptures describes the relationship that God had with ancient Israel was not just as a son (which is fairly significant in and of itself) but as a "firstborn" son at that (Exodus 4:22)! Traditionally, the firstborn son held a special place in the father's heart. It was the plague of the firstborn that hit Pharaoh so personally hard that it became the only plague out of the ten that finally convinced him to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt. Concerning the ancient Hebrews, the firstborn had the "birthright" of which Esau sought Jacob's life in his struggle to regain his birthright, and under the Mosaic Law the firstborn and only the firstborn, must to be offering to God in a life-long service of the priesthood or be redeemed back to his parents at a cost (Exodus 13:1-3, 13-15). In Hebrew, this portion of the law is called "Pidyon Haben" meaning "redemption of the son" and it shows the special thought that God had towards the firstborn in connection with His holiness. When we look at the entire nation of Israel as God's own firstborn as He has declared unto Pharaoh, we should ask ourselves what kind of intense closeness did God have for such a nation? How would God as a father interact with His firstborn? How would the relationship between this spiritual father God and His firstborn son be carried out? Could God express His very nature and "indwell" Himself in such a "firstborn nation- son"? We will find out as we go on.
There is another type of close bond that God has with Israel. Israel was and is to be a bride and a wife to God. A deep reading of the Song of Songs (Songs of Solomon) reveals how close righteous Israel is to God and just how close God is to righteous Israel. After reading such a text in very graphic detail it becomes very plain that God didn't hold any indwelling back from His bride Israel. If He had, what kind of husband to Israel would He be? When Israel sinned by worshiping other gods, God didn't look at it that Israel just so happened to have failed at keeping His
commandments but was considered by God to be in an adulteress affair. This affair with other gods was not only adultery (which was plenty bad by itself) but was indeed adultery against God by prostitution which was all the more vile (Jeremiah 3:1 / Hosea 1:2). The church likes to perceive that because of Israel's adultery God had completely divorced Israel forever. This doctrine is partly based upon the New Testament passage that falsely quotes a Hebrew scripture pertaining to the forever marriage God has with Israel (see Hebrew 8:9 compared with Jeremiah 31:32) and the notion that God has taken on a new wife called "The Church" or "New Israel" based on Galatians 6:16 and other New Testament scriptures. However, contrary to this belief, it is during the glorious Messianic Age that estranged Israel will return to her husband with the same intensity contained within the Song of Songs (Isaiah 62:4,5).
Notice, when comparing Hebrew 8:9 with Jeremiah 31:32 that the complete context of Jeremiah 31:31-37 is declaring that the same nation that was "married" to God under the covenant (not a Gentile spiritual people under a another covenant) that did the sinning against her "husband" to begin with are indeed the same exact nation that returns to her husband. This time however, under a new covenant (promise) that Israel will be without the choice to accept or break away from the wedding vows - the Torah. Laying aside the choice that was first given to Israel between life and death given in Deuteronomy 30:19 God was so determined that His wife return to Him that He made a vow (a new covenant promise like that mentioned in Leviticus 26:42 and not a new Torah) that regardless of had deep Israel's sin is, God will see that she returns ever to Him, and we see this forever-return prophesied in Ezekiel 37:22-28.
The relationship between father and son and between husband and wife are the same types of relationships that the Christian Bible uses to describe the relationship between God and the believer. So, what is the difference? Mainstream Christianity as did this radio host I first mentioned, has argued that the difference between ancient Israel and the Christian believer was that since the Christian New Covenant era an indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God is available to man that wasn't available to ancient Israel. My question then becomes, if the indwelling of the Spirit that is portrayed in the Christian Bible as a father to son and husband to wife relationship (Galatians 4:6 / Ephesians 5:23) why was Israel, who supposedly didn't have the Spirit indwelling availability be portrayed in the exact same closely intense relationship with God? Why wasn't Israel portrayed as God's servants only, so that the son and bride relationship could be reserved for the Christians only? Wouldn't that put things in a better prospective and leave little doubt of Christianity being the superior religion? The truth is, like the book of Revelations, Christianity had to borrow most of it's biblical metaphors from the Hebrew scriptures, many times using them word for word. And to think that the Hebrew prophets who spoke in "Thus saith The Lord" of what God had spoken to them from lip to ear, and those like Ezekiel and Isaiah who were carried deep into the Spirit of God by vision had anything less than an indwelling of God in their human spirit is really quite absurd!
There are several men in the Hebrew scriptures in whom dwelt the Spirit of God. Many times it would be the Gentiles recognizing it: Pharaoh asked his servants concerning Joseph, "Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?" (Genesis 41:38). This same type of scenario of Gentile recognition is repeated in the book of Daniel when a pagan queen not knowing the one true God of Israel, declares unto King Belshazzar,"There is a man in thy kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the holy gods" (Daniel 5:11). For the ministry of workmanship of holy objects in the tabernacle including the Ark of the Covenant, God says of Bezaleel son of Uri, "I have filled him with the Spirit of God" (Exodus 31:3). Caleb was led by the Spirit (Numbers 14:24). God told Moses that his successor- Joshua was, "a man in whom is the Spirit" (Numbers 27: 18). Of Moses himself, God said,"I have made thee a god [a god "Elohim" in flesh] to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet" (Exodus 7:1). The Bible tells us that, "the Spirit of the Lord (lav-shah in Hebrew- meaning "clothed") Gideon" (Judges 6:34). In other words, the Spirit of God became clothed and became active in an earthen vessel known as Gideon! And the prophet Isaiah recounts how backsliden Israel would remember God among the congregation saying, " Where is He that put His Holy Spirit within him ?" (Isaiah 63:11).
Christianity began after the Ark became unaccessible and spread like a wildfire after the Temple was destroyed. Therefore, Christian foundational doctrine placed more emphasis on a human temple while looking down on a physical temple of the Lord as merely a shadow of a the new belief (Hebrews 9:13,14). However, the Temple never stood as a barrier between God's spirit indwelling with man just as the "Church houses" don't today! You have probably heard the saying, "God isn't in the church building, He is in the people". No kidding? And without the "people" of Israel, the Temple of the Lord becomes nothing as well! The Temple was a spiritual center for a chosen national people to worship God nationally with the main emphasis on the heart of man:
"And now, Israel what does the Lord thy God require of you, but to fear the the Lord thy God, to walk in all of His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and His statues, which I command you this day for thy good" - Deuteronomy 10:12,13
The question for the temple-replacement theology is, why did David who lived between the time of the Tabernacle and the First Temple beg God not to take His "Holy Spirit" from him in Psalms 51:11 if the Temple was only foreshadowing the Spirit to come? As the Temple was the spiritual center for a national Israel before the Common Era, guess what? It is to be a nation spiritual center again for Israel first, and then to all the Gentile nations!
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up the his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old"
-Amos 9:11My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore." - Ezekiel 37:27,28.
If the Temple was only a foreshadow of the Spirit to come, why is it prophesied to return "as in the days of old" and forever more at that? And if the Temple symbolized ancient Israel 's inaccessible ability to the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit within them, what's it doing in the Messianic Age where the Spirit of God will be known universally (Jeremiah 31:34 / Joel 2:28 / Habakkuh 2:14)? This brings me back to the radio preacher.
During his radio
message he stated that there was indeed a scripture that was not from the New Testament scriptures but from the "Jewish scriptures" that told Israel that they couldn't have access to the Spirit of God indwelling within them but that later they would after the Christian era. So I started to listen more intently as he began to read to his listeners the quote of such a scripture "from the Jews' own Bible". He read one verse from start to finish, Ezekiel 36:26
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I have to admit that if someone didn't know their Bible I could see how they could possibly believe that this scripture in Ezekiel is talking about the coming Christian era years after the last Jewish prophets. But because of how he setup the verse in its meaning there was a reason as to why he only read the one and only verse. If he had included just two verses either before or after his reading of Ezekiel 36:26 he would not have been able to use this scripture in the terms of how he introduced it.
I'm not a scholar by any stretch of the imagination but there one thing I do preach hard on, and that is to "stay with the context" of what the scripture is plainly stating! I only care about what the context is directly telling me and not some imaginary doctrine read into it! Just take the text for what it says, and don't paint me a picture, for I have absolutely no interest in that!
After he finished reading the verse I began yelling at the radio, "Who is the "you" in that verse? Just "who" is it that will get that new heart, that new spirit, and that heart of flesh? Is it talking about the Gentiles and the Jews all grouped together in one big indwelling as in the Christian era for the last two thousand years or is the text talking about the Jewish nation only at the End of Days? Let's look at the text in a broader spectrum:
And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. - Ezekiel 36:23-28
Without going through a lot of details that are clearly obvious, this context is the same context given in the very next chapter (Ezekiel 37:22-28). In the text above Israel will be gathered from all the Gentile nations and into their "own land" just like in Ezekiel 37:21,22. Then they will be cleansed for sin and walk in righteousness just like in Ezekiel 37:23. They will walk in God's statues and judgments and do them just like in Ezekiel 37:24. And they will dwell in the land of their ancestral fathers just like in Ezekiel 37:25. What Ezekiel 37 contains that chapter 36 doesn't is mention of the everlasting Temple.
But with all this clear information within the text, how dare any minister try to use a Jewish text against the people of the covenant that the very text is about. How dare any minister spiritualize these holy texts when they know full well God didn't gather Israel from all of the Gentile nations and bring them into the land of their fathers during the rise of Christianity, but that the exact opposite happen when the Jews were even more so scattered among the heathen nations in 70 C.E. How dare they spiritualize these holy scriptures when they know full well that the Jewish nation as a complete whole, are walking under God's statues and Judgments and "doing them"as the scriptures says that they will be doing them - I might add. And how dare they spiritualize these holy scriptures when knowing full well that a third and final Temple as described Amos 9:11, Ezekiel 37:27,29 and Ezekiel chapters 40-48 did not happen during the rise of Christianity but that the exact opposite happened when the Temple that was build by the non-Jewish insane murderer, King Herod, was destroyed!
No, these glorious events will happen at the End of Days, and not until then. Until that time we must read these holy text as they are given, which is of a holy and righteous day to come, where there will be no need for guess work concerning the text themselves. Where the terrible events of Jewish history of 70 CE give way to Biblical prophecy of a glorious time in the physical land of Israel that is promised not to cease, and the Spirit resting with and in His people.
"And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God." -Amos 9:15
"For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God" -Ezekiel 36:24-28

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Amen! Grafted in we Gentiles are. I am so sick of their pride and boasting that they are the only bride of "Christ". They call Him "Jesus" and preach this Name all over the world as part of a "trinity". YEHOVAH is a Spirit. It is that Spirit - YEHOVSH that became flesh - Yehovah Yoshia, YESHUA. The same Spirit that clothes Himself with Gideon - "put on flesh" is STILL putting on flesh! Amen?N

Love this article!