Thursday, March 24, 2011
Israel, Still God's People!
As happens on occasion when I aspire to write on a political subject, God has a better idea. Thus, this morning I was studying the book of Exodus, doing research for an article that I had a mind to make a companion piece to my last article “My People, My People!”.
I was pouring through the relation of the plagues as recorded in Exodus inflicted upon Egypt and the subsequent results leading to the inevitable liberation of God’s “peculiar” people.
As I read the very origin of the nation of Israel, I was struck by a passage which screamed forth from those bygone days, giving me an understanding of Israel’s nature and its still “peculiar” people today.
Specifically, I read God’s instructions to the Hebrews in regards to the marking of Passover, wherein God instructs:
“¶And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: 44 But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. 45 A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. 46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.”
That was the set up; now here comes the bit that really struck me:
“47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.”
I must confess that, as a “born again” Christian, Israel is never far from my mind! I am always disturbed when the apple of God’s eye is impugned or attacked. Israel means so much to God and, by extension, Israel should mean a great deal to those of us who profess a faith in the God of Israel.
Last May, during an interview with Rabbi David Nesenoff for RabbiLive.com, when asked what she thought of the Israelis, Helen Thomas, the grand dame of the Presidential Press Corps, opined: “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.” Thomas went on to say: “Remember these people (The Palestinians) are occupied, and it’s their land.” When asked where the Israelis should go, she retorted: “They can go home, to Germany and Poland and America and everywhere else.”
Helen Thomas is wrong as to whom the land belongs. She is wrong spiritually, as well as historically. Israel’s claim to the land is unimpeachable to the unbiased student of history, a subject I will leave for a later article. The spiritual claim we will deal with in the here and now.
God is in the people-saving business and He never closes or takes a holiday! The Holy Bible makes it plain that it was not just Hebrews who left Egypt on the day of Exodus. God says there were others who were “Strangers” among the Hebrews.
When you examine Exodus 12 verses 48-49 above, God says that if the “strangers” will keep the Passover, and be circumcised, “they shall be as one that is born in the land.” God says under such circumstances the "strangers" that keep God’s covenant are covered by God and therefore God’s people.
It seems that Helen Thomas, whose Lebanese immigrant parents raised her in the Greek Orthodox faith, puts more credence in the doctrine of Lebanese Muslims than the faith she grew up in. The Bible also makes it plain to whom the land of Israel belongs:
“This day came ye out in the month Abib. 5 ¶And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month.”
God repeats it in verse 11:
“ ¶And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee,”
Easy to understand and right there on the surface of the text, it says that God gave the land to the Israelis. As for the Canaanites, the Hittites and all the other “ites”, Israel was God’s instrument of punishment meted out to people who were by all accounts Biblical and secular, exceedingly wicked and vile.
In Scripture, there is always a surface meaning and a deeper spiritual understanding. The spiritual understanding is far more important but often missed by people whose only ambition is to denigrate God, His people and His Word!
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2: 14
This is certainly the case in the recounting of the first Passover. As an example of how God lays out dual meanings lying below the surface, let us take a look at Exodus Chapter 12:
"Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you."
The Hebrews acted in faith that the blood of a lamb would spare them from the wrath of their righteous God, and God was faithful to spare them by that blood. God used that same pattern again; He sacrificed His Son, the perfect Lamb of God on behalf of all the “Strangers” in the world. As Christians, we have faith in the blood of Christ shed for the remission of our sin.
As on the first Passover, God will see Christ’s covering and pass over us as well:
“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. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:28,29
Today, it seems God is using the ways of Exodus 12:47-49. God performs His promises down to the minutest detail. Exodus 12:46 quoted above, by itself could be the subject of at least three completely different messages. But, what sticks out as odd, is God decrying the Passover Lamb’s bones could not be broken.
In the prophetic Psalm 34 we see the message again:
“ He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. 21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. 22 The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.”
This is interesting when one considers the manner of Roman crucifixion to which Christ was subjected; On the cross, to hasten death, the subject's legs were broken. Yet, in the fulfillment of scriptural prophecy, not one of the Lord’s bones was broken.
“For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.” John 19:37
Helen Thomas is back in the news. It has been recently reported Helen took part in an in-depth interview for Playboy magazine. I suggest that she hearken back to her Christian roots and consider what God says about Israel before she follows the world.
The very existence of Israel as a nation in the modern world is a miracle! Israel was completely destroyed by the Romans. As an insult, the Emperor Hadrian renamed it Palestine after the Jews ancient enemy, the Philistines. The reforming of Israel, after a millennia long Jewish diaspora, is a testament to God’s power to bring to fruition what He promises.
Based on the world’s animus towards Israel, it is indeed a “burdensome stone”! Yet, the United States has always been a staunch supporter of Israel. I pray we remain so. In many ways of late, our present administration has been non-supportive of Israel. Helen Thomas, Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright, who also recently resurfaced with an anti Israeli screed, along with all others who call themselves Christians or Muslims or whatever, would do well to heed the Word of the Lord:
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3
Christ’s work on the cross fulfilled the blessing “all the families of the earth” part. However, it does not follow that the cursing part has been rescinded.