The cutting edge of Christian affairs

You Talkin’ to Me??

Copyright © 2013 by Joseph Diop

It is widely believed that Old Testament belongs to the study of history, and so often we treat it as such. If we are to believe the words of Romans 15:4 and 1Corinthaians 10:6-11, then our thinking has to be dramatically reoriented.  Listen:

4For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for OUR learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.   Romans 15:4       And,

6Now these things were OUR EXAMPLES, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.  7Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for OUR ADMONITION, upon whom the ends of the world are come.  1Corinthaians 10:6-11

The fact is that their experiences – those of Isreal and Judah of old – were very real and very personal, but what is also just as true is that God was using them to speak directly and presently to us. Using historical characters as object lessons, He was teaching us and driving home points to us in a living and powerful way. There’s no other mode of teaching so real. So, yes; God was speaking to you and to me, through the scriptures of the Old Testament.

Therefore, we should no longer say things like, “This passage is speaking to Israel, and therefore has an application not directly bearing on us, but we can take something from this.” Instead, with new understanding and firm resolve, we should say, “The lessons in this passage are directed to us today, and we must either learn them, or face the same fate as the people whom we are studying.”  It is said, “Those who don’t learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”

The Word records that God delivered the words of the Law (and all subsequent scripture too, for that matter) to His people, and that “…[they] received the living oracles to give unto us” (Acts 7:38). Both Old Testament history, as well as the prophecies they contain, are meant for us in the church age. This truth is contained in the sermons of the apostles and their epistles. For example, consider this sermon Peter preached at the Temple when the lame man was healed.

24Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days25Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. Acts 3:24-26

Peter here says unequivocally that Samuel and all the prophets foretold of these days. Which days? These days—the days right now. These are the days of the apostles and onwards, the days since Pentecost, the days called the “church age.” Furthermore he says, “Ye are the children of the prophets.” Who? “Ye are.” Again, to whom is he speaking? Peter is addressing a generation of believers and potential disciples of Jesus Christ. We are believers and active disciples of Jesus Christ. Peter was talking to them and to all who would follow, until the end of time. And he tells us that we are “children of the prophets.” How so? We are their children, because like the prophets, we also believe in God. Like the prophets, we have the Holy Spirit. Like the prophets, we also are inheriting the kingdom of God. Like the prophets, we also are subject to persecution, because of our faith (Mt 5:11-12). And like the prophets, the words which they believe, “belong unto [us] and to our children” (Dt 29:29). When the prophets spoke about the children—God’s children—their words were spoken to us and about us. For we are  God’s children—without differentiation, without distinction, and without prejudice. That’s why the scripture says:

27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There 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. 29And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.   Gal 3:27-27          It also says,

10And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Col 3:10-11

This is true, because being children of Abraham is not about race, but about grace. It was never about flesh, but about faith. We are Abraham’s children, because we have the same believing, faithful spirit as Abraham. He was “the father of many nations” (Rom 4:17). Since the spirit is supreme, that makes us both children of Abraham and also of the prophets. Peter said,

39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Acts 2:39

For sure, we are a generation “afar off,” but we too have been called through the gospel. So, as the apostle declared in his preaching, “the promise is unto [us] and to [our] children.” What promise? The promise of the gospel. And whatever promises were spoken to the prophets, or to the priests, or to bygone righteous souls, or to their kings, belong to us. The promise of the indwelling Holy Ghost, and every word that has proceeded out of the mouth of God from the beginning of the world until now, belong squarely to us.

Now then, we are faced with a great identity crisis in the church today. We are confused. We know that we are children of God. What we don’t know is that we are the selfsame children that the prophets were speaking to and speaking about in the Old Testament. We think somehow that we are a different group. The Jews are “God’s chosen people.” And we are not Jews, so we think. Well then, who are we? Let’s define ‘Jews’ the way Apostle Paul defined Jews.

28For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. Roman 2:28,29

So then, true Jewishness is not at all about the flesh, but about the spirit. Our old Gentile hearts were circumcised by faith in Christ Jesus (Col 2:11). When that happened, we became new creatures (2Cor 5:17), who are children of God. And the children of God are referred to as “God’s chosen people”—chosen through the election of grace (Rom 9:11). Listen to Peter again.

9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:  10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.    1Peter 2:9-10  Hallelujah.  Amen.

So then, we now are “chosen. And we enjoy all the same privileges and promises of God as do all of his chosen people. There’s no segregation is God’s house. There’s no Jim Crow among his chosen. There are no second class citizens in God’s kingdom. There is no “back of the bus” with regards to the covenants and promises of God. Neither does being a fully-enfranchised American make any difference or give any special privileges, where the things of God and His kingdom are concerned. You are either a saint, or you ain’t. It’s just that cut-and-dried. We are all one in Christ Jesus. And we ‘chosen’ are without distinction or racialism—no Jew and Gentile here. Therefore, we must stop thinking of ourselves as ‘Gentiles.’ For there are no Gentiles in Christ, the Word says. Neither are there Jews in Christ, ethnically speaking; for in Christ there is only “One New Man” (Eph 2:15). This is a vast subject, and all-encompassing. Let us bring here the all-encompassing knowledge of Apostle Paul to bear on the subject.

11Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:  17And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21In whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Eph 2:11-21

Let me recapitulate what the apostle has just said. We used to be called Gentiles, but no more. Now we are considered “fellow citizens with the saints” (vs 19b),1 and of the “commonwealth of Israel” (vs 14b), and of all who were before us, including all the prophets, priests, and kings. We are now genuine members of “the household of God” (vs 19c). And along with every believer who has ever lived, we are “built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit— [the Holy Spirit]” (vs 22). Jesus has ‘abolished’ (vs 15a) all former distinctions in his own body. The apostle says, Christ “hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (vs 14a). And now, we are one people—a very fortunate people— who “have obtained mercy” (1Pet 2:10c).

(1The letters a,b,c designate the relative positions of the phrases of the verses from Ephesians 2:11-21)

And Paul declared that this was a great mystery in times past, which he endeavored to expound with all the gifts and power of the Spirit of God working in and with him.

3How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:  Eph 3:3-6

Now, children, we can begin anew to study and to learn from the books of the Old Testament. We can listen with fresh ears and fully attentive minds. Now, we will find the messages contained therein real, relevant, and crucial for our own days and times, because they are indeed aimed at our days and times. These messages are, in fact, speaking expressly to us. They are only using the experiences and lives of historical figures and times as a medium. Let me here reiterate the main point of this all by citing once again the main scripture.

4For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for OUR learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.   Romans 15:4       And,

6Now these things were OUR EXAMPLES, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.  7Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for OUR ADMONITION, upon whom the ends of the world are come.  1Corinthaians 10:6-11

We, the Church, the people of the New Testament – including all Jewish believers – ARE the people upon whom the ends of the world are come (1Cor 10:11). Essentially, this then is a great ‘Gotcha!’ moment. This is like Nathan the prophet, sent to finger David for his dastardly deed concerning Uriah the Hittite, using a story about a third party to illustrate the heinousness of the offence. Seeing that we have convicted the people of old for their habitual sin and rebellion, God is now saying to this generation, “Thou art the man!” Thou art that “disobedient and contrary people” (Rom 10:21 NKJV). Or, concerning the word that is good and the promise that is desirable, know now that when God says, “They… are my people” (Eze 34:30), the ‘they’ is US. 

Therefore, however and by whatever name God refers to or addresses his covenant people, we are included. As it is metaphorically explained to all gentiles in the New Testament, “You were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature  into a good olive tree… some of the branches [were] broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Romans 11:24, 17). So, we who were gentiles ethnically, have been grafted into God’s covenant people. And, God addresses us by a number of covenant names, including but not limited to: Israel, Judah, Zion, Jerusalem, children of Isreal, my people, daughter of Zion, Jacob, and etc. GOD is the God of Israel then, now, and always (Ex 3:15). And, if the Lord is now your God, it is only because you have now been “grafted into” his covenant people through Jesus Christ.

God’s Word remains unchanged throughout all ages. And now, with fresh mind and understanding, let us hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. For this generation – you and me today – are the target audience of all the scritptures are saying. So yes, children,    God is  talkin’ to us. 

 

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