I have been leading “Jesus Calling” devotions during the week on a live streaming app called, “Periscope.” It has been amazing thus far. I never know who will join in and who will comment or ask questions. What a blessing it has been to be a part of a global bible study!
Well, today we had a lot of really great philosophical questions that I didn’t have time to answer (plus I knew my husband, who is going to school for this, would have a better way of replying than myself.) So I told him what the questions were and he answered them for us. So here are the answers to the questions shared during our time this morning on Periscope:
“The Jews during Jesus’ time were expecting their Messiah to come and set up His political kingdom, throwing out the foreign government which would have been Roman rule at the time. Before Rome, it was the Greeks under Alexander the Great (hence the New Testament in the Bible written in Greek). There was a brief time after the Greeks where Israel was self-governed after the exile, but it didn’t last long (Hasmonean period). The Romans then came and conquered them so at the time of Jesus it was the Roman Empire the Jews were working with and fighting against. They weren’t thinking in terms of an eternal plan, but a political one. Because Jesus came from the lowest tribe of Israel and from Nazareth (lowest town), and was known by the people of Nazareth, they couldn’t believe He was the one to set up their view of what the the kingdom was going to be like. Presently, they are still waiting for that day to happen and many will likely be duped when the anti-Christ comes (he is spoken of in the last book of the Bible; Revelation.)
The Jews were chosen by God by way of Abraham. God made more than one covenant to bless the nations through Abraham; the first is in Genesis 12. Genesis 15 talks about how God will bless his descendants in foreign lands. The seed of Abraham is the Jewish race. God chose to reveal Himself to this group of people and called them to live according to His law which was how He revealed His love and His heart. Culturally, the Israelites as they were to be known, were called to be contrary to the other people groups. Instead of worshipping several gods (polytheism) like the surrounding cultures, they were to worship Yahweh – one God and have no other idols. There are several more laws and commands that when looked at in relation to the surrounding cultures it is clear that Israel was called out to be different meaning a holy people (as a nation, not so much individually as people sin). Even their treatment of foreign slaves was better than what’s recorded in the Hammurabi code about 1800 years before Jesus; the first known example of written law.
Temple worship at the time was also different than how other cultures worshipped. There was a movement from outside the temple into the holy of holies done in ritual. In one of the sacrifices (Day of Atonement), a bull was sacrificed by the priest and two goats were presented; the sins of the people were placed on the goats. One goat was the atonement and was sacrificed as the Lord’s goat, the other was the scapegoat which was set free and carried the sins of Israel into the desert. When this detailed process is examined in the book of Hebrews, Jesus is both the priest and the sacrifice. So while you have a comment that “Jews were Jesus’ religion,” this isn’t quite correct. It is more that Yahweh taught the Jews how to worship Him with rituals and rules that would one day point to Jesus. So it is more appropriate to say “Jesus was the fulfillment of the religious practices given by Yahweh.”
In regards to race, race no longer matters… God first chose Israel, but then because they continued to reject Him, He opened up the door to heaven through Jesus to the Gentiles (Rom 1:1-6,16). The Jews were chosen to bring about Jesus; but now that Jesus has come it is not a matter of being Jew or Gentile, but by living by faith in Jesus as the Messiah. So Jews that accept this will be saved, just like Gentiles. And those that reject this, regardless of their race, will not be saved. Jews should “change” isn’t quite correct… they should “accept” that the Messiah has come, from the line of David, as prophesied in the Old Testament. They are still the “chosen” as they are genealogically connected to the covenant with Abraham… however, this doesn’t mean that they are saved. They still need to accept Jesus as Messiah.”
Whew! Thanks Brian! Great stuff! Hope that helps those of you on Periscope who asked those great questions today. Keep them coming. If I can’t answer them, then I will find someone who will. =) If you other readers would like to join me on Periscope, you can. All you have to do is download the Periscope App on your IPhone (they are working on having it available for androids) and find me, Lara Marriott or look for “Jesus Calling Devotions” live at 6:30am PT on the weekdays. Would love to connect with you there.
Until next time. God bless you ~