Tuesday

ISRAEL---A People Formed By God

By Lenora Grimaud

I often hear nonbelievers ask questions like: “Why would God choose the Jews, of all the nations of the world, to be his people? Why does the Revelation of God come from the Jews and not from other nations and peoples? Why did God choose to be incarnated as a Jew?” To begin with, God called Abraham, not the Jews, and Abraham responded! God wanted to form a people that would listen to his voice and be his voice to the world. God has no favorites. From the beginning of time, God wanted to save the whole world. The earth and everything in it belongs to God. God wanted to form a people for a particular mission to the world. The Jews were not a people, not a nation, when God first called Abraham. They did not become a people and nation, with a particular mission, until God formed them. He formed a people from Abraham because Abraham believed in the promise made to him. So, the real question is, “Why did God call Abraham?”

God has communicated with people in every time and place since the beginning of the world—with anyone and everyone that would hear his voice and respond. Abraham had ears to hear and eyes to see. He listened when God spoke to him. Among all the descendents of Adam that God could choose from, Abraham had exceptional faith and trust in God. When God called him to leave his family, country, and his father’s house for a land that God would show him, he followed. He took his wife, Sarah, with him and left everything, not knowing where he was going. God promised to make Abraham the father of a great nation, through his own blood line, even though he was old and his wife was barren. Abraham believed, and the “people of God” was formed. Perhaps, another reason that God chose Abraham, rather than an already formed nation, was because Abraham was raw material, like a wild stallion that has not been broken—like the tethered colt that no one has yet ridden, upon which Jesus rode into Jerusalem. God wanted to start from scratch, to form and mold a new people, who would worship the One God, and no other gods. A third reason is that God chooses the lowly when he wants to reveal his glory. Abraham was completely dependent on God because he had nothing of his own. St. Paul reminds us: No, it was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning, and to shame what is strong that he chose what is weak by human reckoning; those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen—those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything. (1Cor.1:27-28).

Every great nation and people on earth has recorded their histories in their chronicles. But none of these histories reveal an unbroken succession of leaders, from the time of their inception, in relationship with the One God. None of these histories reveal the unbroken relationship between God and humankind. In contrast, the whole of the Old Testament is focused on God forming a people; God in relationship with his people. It is the only recorded Revelation of its kind. Israel did not even begin to comprehend what God was doing in their lives, or what he was revealing to them until they begin to write down their story. God revealed himself to them, a little bit at a time. The Revelation of God continued to evolve until the time of its fulfillment in the Messiah. In contrast, the revelation of God amongst the Pagans continued to devolve, and people were blinded by a false image of God, fragmented into a thousand little gods with no integrity.

Jesus is a descendent of Abraham—an unbroken genealogy from Abraham to Mary and Joseph. This genealogy is so important that it was included in the New Testament (Mat. Ch.1:1-17). No other nation can make such a claim. This genealogy is so important that it was included in the New Testament (Mat. Ch.1:1-17). Some people consider this passage to be the most boring passage in the New Testament, and wonder why it was necessary. This genealogy shows that Jesus is a descendant of Abraham and the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham. Jesus is the New Israel--the transformed Israel, representing Jacob, the first Israel. The twelve Apostles represent the twelve sons of Jacob--the twelve tribes of Israel.

In the first covenant, God formed a family and people of God from the blood line of Abraham. Although Jesus is not the natural son of Joseph, the Jews believe that children of adoption receive the same rights and inheritance as natural born children. This is significant because, through Jesus, all believers become adopted sons of God. However, there is also a tradition that Mary was a descendant of David, as well as Joseph, which makes Jesus a natural descendent of David as well as a descendent by adoption. There is a saying that "blood is thicker than water." Natural blood line seems to play a major role under the Old Covenant. Under the New Covenant, those who are related through the Spirit have an even more significant role. Jesus is the New Covenant, and under this New Covenant, water represents the Spirit, the means of regeneration--new life in the Spirit. In the New Covenant, God is forming a universal family and people of God through the blood of his only Son: This cup is the new covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you. (Luke 22:20). The family succession of Patriachs under the Old Covenant seems to foreshadow the Apostolic Succession of the New Covenant.

The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament—the fulfillment of the promise. God has formed a people and has come to live amongst them—to unite God and mankind. In Jesus, Israel is made new and becomes the Sacrament of God’s presence in the World for all time—the Church. The Church is a “kingdom of priests” formed to continue the mission of Jesus Christ. This New Israel—Jesus Christ—is the full Revelation of God, who has come to draw all peoples unto himself. He has come to form the whole world into the “People of God”—to form one People of God out of many nations, through a rebirth in the Spirit.

The Revelation of God is complete in Jesus. No further Revelation is necessary. We can only know as much about God as has been revealed in Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man. He is the perfect image and likeness of God. It is enough for us to grow in understanding the Revelation we have already received. As Christians, we are the Church sent to proclaim God’s Word to the World—to be God’s voice, ears, eyes, hands, feet, mind, and heart. In Jesus, we become the new People of God, formed in his image and likeness—a people destined to incorporate all of humanity: And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself. (John 12:32).

1 comment:

Effie said...

Great work.