“Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth…” (Galatians 3:1)
It’s only right, I think as a Christian, to be interested in Jewish culture and history and whatnot. Without sounding too naive, I would like to say that I wholeheartedly respect the place from which my faith came. And as my faith informs most-if-not-all aspects of my life, I would like to touch on just a little bit of that basis.
“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” (Galatians 3:8-9, my emphasis)
I was reading through Galatians three recently and meditating on the enormity of what we (i.e. non-Jews) have. As all early exponents of the early Christian religion were converted (read: Messianic) Jewish, they knew whence they came and they lived and walked around in the density that their culture and society is. Therefore the present contrast to the preceding four-thousand years was all the more stark in light of what had come and been given with Jesus (Seriously, can you imagine that feeling of change in the air?). This being said, and as referenced in the passage above, that loophole, that holding out for those, Gentiles though they may be—was enlarged. Jesus said “think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17) That Jesus lived and died, ending humanity’s need of the Law in the sight of God, ushering in an age when anyone who believes, regardless of lineage, can access the Father, harks to the ultimate point of what the Law was given to do. Namely, let people in on the goodness and inherent love of God. We don’t understand the serious of sin with reference to the holiness of the Father. Think about it: why should God have had to get angry in the first place, at all?
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith in Christ Jesus. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Galatians 3:24-25)
Okay. So, read that and wrap your mind around it. Read it again if need be and really soak in what Paul is expressing in those lines. Now read this, a couple verses prior:
“But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” (Galatians 3:22)
The same idea is echoed in Paul’s letter to the Romans (11:32). What can I say? Paul was “an Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Philippians 3:5), he knew what he was talking about. Here’s the verse from Romans:
“For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.”
If I may—and I know I’m speaking from a standpoint of having been “graffed in” (see Romans 11:13-26)—everything aimed at reconnecting to God prior to Jesus is only the best that humanity could do. All of the strictures that are employed to see society progress (in whatever field you’d like to point at) and, therefore, humanity, are necessary and for-all-intents-and-purposes look to be very much like the six-hundred plus rules of the law. But get this (this time from James 2:10, emphasis mine), “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. All we can do anymore with reference to God is believe, is have faith in Jesus. To know and walk with Him. To, in a word, love Him. See, everything from circumcision to the wearing clothes of utmost purity in weave to any number of odd animals that you surely wouldn’t think were appetizing but that you daren’t touch (read through Leviticus chapter 11) were all guidelines and guardrails that, really, were aimed at proving the futility of humanity’s attempts at changing their essential nature. But the keeping of a bunch of rules doesn’t change anything. Jesus said the same thing when he tells the Pharisees to “search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life.” (John 5:39) In other words, just because we can read, doesn’t mean we know the Author. The author of life. I will never experience what it feels like to be Jewish. I can partake of the Passover seder in April and read what it’s like to have my Bar Mitzvah (Bat Mitzvah is for a girl) when I am 13 years of age, but it’s all foreign to me. This being said, I love it. The rules and the rubrics and the history, the tradition. But even more than that, I want to know God, the God of my father(s). Jesus says this about those who believe in and on Him:
He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he (and she) that receiveth me receiveth Him that sent me.” (Matthew 10:40)
It’s the difference between mere comprehension and true understanding. God the Father wants to be known, and, to a degree, demands to be known. And the only way to do this is to meet Jesus. I pray for your introduction.