Christology

Is Messianic Judaism Biblical?

My first encounter with Messianic Judaism (MJ) was in 1992 soon after I became a believer. A man was a special speaker at our church and he was introducing MJ to us. Whether or not he was Jewish, I do not know. He was a nice man and I enjoyed some moments of interaction with him. He wore a shawl when he prayed and sang in Hebrew. It was moving and had a touch of historicity which lent itself to its attraction. I was a brand new believer and had no idea that there was any such thing as a distinctly Jewish “Christianity.” I felt that what he was doing was odd, but interesting. Either way, I really did not think much of it. However, I bought one of his music CD’s and still have the songs in my head.

But, 20 years removed from that time, I can now safely ask, “Was this man participating in a more authentic Christianity than us Gentiles?” Is the MJ movement truly closer to the mark than what a predominantly Gentile church experiences each Sunday? This bears the need for examination especially as this movement appears to be taking hold on many.

One website for Messianic Judaism is MJAROI (“Messianic Jewish Alliance for the Restoration of Israel). Their website indicates that there may be as many as 1.2 million Messianic Jews and “Messianic synagogues are springing up in almost every major city across the U.S., and Messianic Judaism is quickly growing in other nations throughout North and South America, Europe, Oceania, and the former Soviet republics” (http://www.mjaa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=n_messianic_movement_messianic_judaism, site accessed 1/29/2013). With a growing trend toward this ideology, I think that it is fair to take a moment and examine, in sum, its tenants and compare them against Scripture.

According to the directory of the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (http://www.iamcs.org/), there are no Messianic Synagogues in Montana, where I live. Other directories from another MJ service indicate there are three (http://www.man-na.com/Messianic_Congregations_in_Montana.htm). The narrative I began this post with occurred in Bozeman, Montana. I live in Northwest Montana. I am aware of some in this area who believe MJ to be a viable, biblical, even right, expression of true biblical worship and practice over and against a more Gentile expression of worship and practice. Their reasoning goes like this.

Since Jesus was Jewish, followed Hebrew Scriptures, studied and spoke in the Synagogues, and taught his followers to do the same, so must we. The need, therefore, is to return to this expression, as defined by the evidence compiled by MJ, in our modern expression of following “Yeshua.” What does that look like? It looks like a return to the feasts, or biblical holidays. It is a call to worship in Hebrew. It is a call to dance during the services, much like David did (2 Samuel 6:12-23). It would include a return to dietary restrictions and keeping of the Sabbath. These expressions of authentic discipleship find their establishment in the MJ movement. The movement is a call for Jews who believe in Jesus Christ to gather into their Jewish Congregations, Messianic Synagogues, for worship replete with the above-mentioned items. Although they would demand that these things are simply because they, as Jews, do not want to lost their distinctiveness as Jews, I would think that more than that is going on (particularly since many in the MJ movement are Gentiles!).

Is this really what defines a biblical perspective? Does the Bible teach these doctrines of a return to the “Jewishness” of following Jesus? No. The Bible does not teach these things. The Scriptures do not call Jews and Gentiles to redefine worship in these terms. The distinction between Jews and Gentiles, in fact, have been removed in Christ (Galatians 3:28; cf. Rom 3:22; 1 Cor 12:13; Col 3:11). To attempt a distinction, at the very least, is an assault upon the church Jesus is actually building, culture notwithstanding. If those who follow Jesus Christ must embrace the “right” style of worship, i.e. Messianic Judaism, then we have, in effect,

1.Denied the establishment of the church.

2.Denied the eschatological truth of the restoration of Israel.

3.Elevated Jewishness above Christ.

Denied the establishment of the church:

Israel refused to repent. God had called over and over again for their repentance (2 Chronicles 36:15-16; Matthew 21:22-41; 23:34-35). The result was

Matthew 21:42–46

42 Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures,

‘The stone which the builders rejected,

This became the chief corner stone;

This came about from the Lord,

And it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

44 “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them.

46 When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet. (underline mine)

The Jews, as representative of the entire nation, refused to repent. Moses had written that unless and until Israel repents, confessing their sins and the sins of their fathers, the promise of Abraham cannot come (Leviticus 26:40-42). Since, Israel refused to repent, Jesus then turns to the Gentiles and gives to them the kingdom rightly belonging to Israel (Romans 11:11-24; cf. Matthew 21:43). This does not mean that Israel will never inherit the kingdom promised them through David. It means that they have judged themselves unworthy of such a high honor when Messiah arrived; they have been neglected by God for a time, as God calls Gentiles to Himself. The restoration of Israel is to come, all twelve tribes, in Jerusalem, as promised, with David’s Son reigning over them and the world. However, alongside the Messiah will be the twelve apostles, and the church, ruling over Israel (Matthew 19:27-30; cf. Revelation 20:4). By the way, this is not a cause for arrogance, but deep humiliation for God to extend this grace to us without any covenant or promise to Gentiles (except the reference to some kind of Gentile blessing through the descendants of Abraham [Genesis 12:3]) is unfathomable! We were without God in the world, and apart from the commonwealth of Israel [Ephesians 2:11-12; cf. Romans 11:17-21]. Now, during our current time, it is the age of the Gentiles (Luke 21:12-24; Romans 11:25). Thus, the church, the assembly of regenerated, Spirit-filled, and baptized (by the same Spirit into Christ-Romans 6:3-7) people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are distinct from Israel and we are those who will reign with Christ over the world during the Millennial reign of Christ. If a person says that we must regain the former Jewish distinctions of Judaism and amalgamate them into Christ and His body, the church, we have then confessed a desire to return to the “generation” who refused to repent. It would be like Israel wanting to return to Egypt. You can’t go back. In Christ, the distinctions are done away with. In Christ, not even our gender aids in our merit with Christ (Galatians 3:28). We are clothed with Christ, not Abraham (Galatians 3:27). And if Abraham were here, he would expect the same (John 8:39, 56-59).

Denied Of The Eschatological Truth Concerning The Restoration of Israel

One tenant of MJ is the desire to restore Jerusalem.

We believe in God’s end-time plan for the nation of Israel and for the world. A central part of Messianic Judaism is the belief in the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel, as taught in the Scriptures. The greatest miracle of our day has been the re-establishment or rebirth of the State of Israel according to prophecy (Ezekiel 34:11-31; 36-39; Hosea 3; Amos 9:11-15; Zechariah 12-14; Isaiah 11; 43; 54; 60-62; 66; Romans 11:1-34). (http://www.mjaa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=n_about_us_statement_of_faith).

Unfortunately, the above-mentioned statement of MJ indicates an ignorance of God’s program for Israel. The establishment of Israel as a state in 1948 does not fulfill the return of Israel to the land. The passages used to support that it does are misapplied and misinterpreted.

Ezekiel 34:11ff. refers to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as to when Israel will be restored to the land. We know this because the sheep and goat judgment referred to in the rest of the chapter is taught by our Lord in Matthew 25:32ff. The context of which being His return to the earth for judgment and Millennial rulership.

Hosea 4 is a little chapter of wonderful promise for Israel’s return to the God with Whom they played the harlot. They will personally return to David their King (the Son of David, Jesus) with fear and trembling in the last days. Until Jesus is personally resident in Jerusalem, Israel will not return.

Amos 9:11-15 refer to the blessed time when Israel is restored to their land and the land will be characterized by peace and productivity. There will be a stop placed upon the curse of the ground (Genesis 3:17-18) and the ground will, once again, produce bountifully.

Zechariah 12-14 will only occur when Israel “looks upon Him whom they have pierced” (12:10). Their repentance will be known and evident. Jesus will reign from Jerusalem, there will be geographical changes to benefit Jerusalem, and Christ will rule over the nations. None of which have occurred to date.

Isaiah 11, 43, 54, 60-62 all indicate events that have not occurred. Israel is not safe. The nations surrounding Israel have not been judged. The new heavens and earth have not been created. Although these passages teach the restoration of Israel, it has not occurred yet.

Romans 11:1-34 is Paul’s teaching, from the teaching of our Lord, that Israel will be returned God and to the land in fulfillment of His promise. That has not occurred. As stated above, Israel has been hardened partially until the times of the Gentiles has been accomplished (Romans 11:25-26). Then, after the times of the Gentiles (which ends at the Rapture of the church before the Tribulation), at the end of the prophesied Seventieth-Week of Daniel, Israel will be rescued and will have their veil lifted to see Christ.

It is important to understand that these passages do not teach that these things happen progressively. The restoration of Israel will only happen when they see Christ, the One Whom they have pierced; when they repent, which will happen when the Spirit is poured out upon the house of David, and will result in a submission to the Son of David as King and they will enjoy fellowship in the land. None of this started in 1948. Therefore, we cannot see 1948 as any kind of fulfillment of a Scripture passage related to the restoration of Israel. Is 1948 significant? Yes. Is 1948 prophetic? No. Eschatologically, Israel will repent through the provision of the New Covenant inaugurated by Christ. God will give to them that covenant which will regenerate the entire nation at that time (just like He did with Nineveh through Jonah), and they will mourn for Christ and for their sins and they will, at that time, return to the land having been called out from the other nations around the world. The Bible teaches that that will occur only at the end of the Tribulation, at the beginning of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ. Until then, Israel is hardened.

Elevated Jewishness Above Christ

If we believe that Jesus Christ came to restore “Jewishness” to worship, we have failed to understand Christ. He is the Last Adam, not the last Abraham. He did not come because God inaugurated Jewish worship in the garden and He planned to restore it. He came to fulfill His promise to His people Israel, which, in turn, would bring Edenic-like blessing to the world (Genesis 12:3), and reconcile the world to Himself so as to make us all (those who believe) sons of God, with Christ as our eldest brother (Romans 8:28ff.). Although these things were divulged to Israel (except for the mystery of the church), that does not make these things submissive to Israel or Jewishness. Paul wrote

Colossians 2:16–17

16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—

17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

The fact is, food, drink, festival, new moon (observance), and Sabbath-day keeping are shadows. The substance that casts the shadow is Christ. I would much rather have what bears the shadow than the shadow. These functions were never meant to be observed eternally. We know this because the heart of all of this was the sacrificial system demanding the temple in which animals were slain. We have no temple now in which to offer sacrifice. Those who espouse MJ have contracted a twisted understanding of Moses’ Law concerning the festivals and Sabbaths. These things cannot commend you to God any more than the blood of bulls and goats could actually atone for sins (Hebrews 10:4). To dance like David simply feeds an already established sense of self-righteousness, but is not the indication of true righteousness. David danced, embarrassingly to some degree, because of the re-entry of the ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). We do not have such a condition. The church continued in the apostle’s doctrine, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayers (Acts 2:42). The antics of MJ are conspicuously absent in the NT. Not to say that being absent makes them impossible. It simply means that being absent is consistent with the teaching of Christ and the apostles that a greater than the Temple is here (Matthew 12:6, 41, 42).

I am afraid that the establishment of MJ into the church will accomplish what Paul warned long ago:

Colossians 2:18–19

18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,

19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.

Further,

Colossians 2:20–23

20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,

21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!”

22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?

23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

The self-abasement and appearance of wisdom in self-made religion cannot help you overcome the flesh. You might believe in these things and promote these things. But that is not the issue. We cannot share the glory of Christ with anyone or anything. He is Lord. In fact, He is Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:1-11). Follow Christ! Reject man-made commandments and teachings. Learn of Him. Follow Him. Serve Him. Love Him, with your whole heart, and in this way you will fulfill the whole Law of Moses and the Prophets (i.e. Tanakh):

Matthew 22:34–40

34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together.

35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him,

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

37 And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

38 “This is the great and foremost commandment.

39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

A Wise Son Is The Reflection of God

 

The book of Proverbs is a book that is written very clearly for the sake of parenting. No doubt parents often think, “If only there was a guidebook to parenting!” Well, whether they know it or not, Proverbs is that book. However, it is a book that is far from rules and formulas. In fact, it is widely understood that Proverbs is not only a book that gives wisdom, but it is also a book that requires wisdom to understand. So, if we put two-and-two together, we realize that raising children and running a home require supernatural wisdom and that wisdom is available and required by Proverbs.

Parenting, therefore, needs to be understood as demanding the most exacting wisdom. It needs to be understood that the bar for parenting is extremely high in Proverbs, since the tools of raising children require the wisdom that only comes from God. To rely on gut instinct or worldly standards with a Christian twist is not good enough since it cannot produce what God desires. Paul summarizes centuries later what God desires, which is the backdrop of all of Proverbs, indeed all of Scripture. God’s desire is to make people who are conformed to the image of the Son of God (Romans 8:28-29). Whether it was the elect of the time prior to the cross or the elect after the cross, God’s intention is to make sinners into sons/daughters. The only example that we have is the Son, Jesus Christ. His discernment, wisdom, righteousness, understanding, and obedience to the Father is the only example we have. In fact, if you consider all that Scripture says about parenting, what you will eventually realize is that what is the only pattern there is, the only relationship after which parenting was designed to follow by creation, is that relationship between the Father and the Son. The more you comprehend that relationship, the better parent you will become. We are made in the image and likeness of God and God is the relationship between the Father, Son, and the Spirit. Therefore, since God’s original design has never been annulled, we see that the original design is the picture of a son and a Father (cf. Genesis 1:26 w/Genesis 5:3). The gospel of Luke picks up on this by calling Adam a “son” of God (Luke 3:38). He is not only a son by direct creation, but a son because he was made in the image and likeness of God. Likewise, Jesus Christ is the image and likeness of God (2 Corinthians 4:4b; Hebrews 1:3).

With that in mind, it is important, then, that we see parenting as the work, and I mean work, of making sinners into sons. That is, we work in the lives of our children through their hearts to train them toward obedience to their earthly fathers as the Son is to His Father. This is Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 6:1. Children obey your parents. Why? Because parents are to be honored. Why? Because parents are to children as the Father is to the Son. And, obviously, making our children into disciples of Christ is the only goal as that is the only path to making them true sons.

This reality is tremendous. I confess that I have been working through these issues theologically and hope to publish these things in time. But for now, I have found it hard to contain myself. Every time that I hear of some new method of raising good kids, or some new success story of another program, I almost become nauseas. Why? Because, in the end, the product is far lower than what the Scripture demands. The consummate picture of children in the Scripture is that of the Son toward the Father. Proverbs tells us what that relationship looks like in many passages. But one of the more conclusive ones is Proverbs 23:26, “Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways.” The Son, Jesus Christ, delighted in the ways of the Father which evidenced itself in the life of obedience that Christ exhibited (John 4:34; 5:30). And the heart of Christ was given to the Father (John 14:31). The life of Jesus Christ demonstrated an absolute love for the Father. He clearly loved His God with all of His heart, soul, mind, and strength. And that is the pattern after which a father and son relationship is to be patterned. This is a fundamental concept in the original intra-Trinitarian conversation that occurs as recorded in Genesis 1:26-“Let us make man in our image, according to Our likeness…” That image and likeness most certainly included the relationship of the Father to the Son as pictured (‘imaged’) in a man to his children.

Further, at the completion of all redemptive history there is left a glorious reality that is described in Revelation 21:7. John writes, “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” That is more than anthropomorphism. That is more than trying to communicate in a way that we will understand. That is an eternal relationship that was God’s original design in the garden and the substance of that shadow is the eternal relationship between the Father and the Son. Thus, Paul writes, “…those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). And earlier, Paul writes that all of creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).

Therefore, because of the profundity of the theology involved, the building and establishment of a household demands the wisdom of God. This wisdom is not intuitive. It is divine. Moreover, it is contained in only one volume, the Scripture, so that we might “know wisdom and instruction, discern the sayings of understanding, receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity;  give prudence to the naive, the youth knowledge and discretion” (Proverbs 1:2-4).

The Joy of Marriage

Yesterday I began a series on Marriage and the Family. I believe it will be a foundational and important series because of the fundamental importance the topic holds in most everyone’s life.

The home is the place where a man, and his wife, have children. It is the place in which, or from which, all of life is lived out. It is in the home, that the newborn infant is cared for as well as the teenage son is trained. It is in the home where the husband and wife can enjoy the best of times, and the worst of times. It is in the home where relaxation can occur or the most horrendous conflict. The home is a very central place for any people, culture, or nationality. Whether you live in huts, or in a mansion, that home represents the decisions and habits of everyone living there. Therefore, a true and biblical understanding of marriage and the family is foundational to all of life for the church.

The first place you have to begin in this kind of teaching is to reiterate the sufficiency of God’s Scripture. God’s Word is not a fix-it kind of manual. It is not some kind of book of opinions and “try this, it might work” kind of a thing. Rather than looking for ways to “apply the Scripture” to my life, we should be trembling before it (Is. 66:1-2), and obeying its instructions. It is life and it is dangerous, as it will cut through to our hearts. Yet, it restores and replenishes our souls. Notice the process in 2 Timothy 3:14-16:

“You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14–17, NASB95)

Notice the process: in order for Scripture to be profitable, it first must be learned. Second, it must teach us. Third, it will reprove us. Fourth, correction has to take place. Fifth, the result is a training in righteousness that will ensue. Thus, the man of God will be equipped in this fashion. There is no other way. It hurts. It is hard. But, the “profit” is immeasurable. It, in fact, leads to life and joy.

When considering the family, this process is no different. The Scripture will confront all our failures, misconceptions, wrong ideals and then shred them to pieces. However, to those who are trained by it, it leads to life and the glory of God. So, let the Scripture have its way with you. It is to your benefit and leads to the joy of God. Jesus said it simply, “Sanctify them in the truth (Father); Your Word is truth” (John 17:17).

Put simply, the foundation of every marriage and every home is the glory of God. That is, the original design for the home, marriage and children was ultimately and absolutely, for the display of the glory of God.

When God originally designed and created the heavens and the earth, he was purposeful. The apparent goal in it all, was His own glory. The heavens themselves cry out the glory of God day and night (Ps. 19:1). The animals He created were created as a display of His power (see Job 38-40). But the greatest display of His handiwork was the fantastic design and creation of the man and the woman. God is glorified by the heavens and the animals. However, God is on display in a personal way by the man and the woman. This is the foundation of marriage and the family.

How do we know this? In Genesis 1:26-27, Moses writes for us this very thing. He states,

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26–27, NASB95)

When God spoke within Himself for the creation of a man, He said that He intended to make a man to be His image and likeness. Thus, the man, inherently, would be the glory of God. This is true today according to 1 Corinthians 11:7 and James 3:9. The fact of the matter is, the man was created to display God and that did not change when he fell. He is still the image and likeness of God, however, he has been separated from the glory that accompanied that in the original creation (Romans 3:23). The power of the gospel is to restore that glory, through Christ, to the man and the woman respectively (2 Corinthians 3:18; see Ephesians 4:20-24). This is called sanctification. Sanctification is the restoration of the original glory we were designed to bear. However, this is no longer in Adam, but in Christ, which far exceeds Adam. Therefore, we can truly be sons of God.

In order to be the glory of God, man would have to display the nature of God as well as His character. The summary of all nature and character of God is found in the overall function of the man in that he would rule over the entire earth. God is a ruler. He is sovereign. And, as such, He would give to the man to rule as well. In reality, God would rule through the man as that man would represent Him on the planet. The man would have absolute authority and dominion, but with the character and nature of God Himself on display in him. Thus, there is no room for dictatorship, selfish ambition, cruelty and hatred. This rulership would be commensurate with the nature of God Himself. How glorious!

This foundational requirement of the man would demand multiplication. That is, for the man to exercise dominion over the earth and rule in the fashion that God does from heaven, the man would have to be accompanied by another. There are overtones of the Trinity in this. This is why God says that it is not good for man to be alone. If man is the image and likeness of God, then he cannot be alone since God is three Persons in One. God is singular, but Three. Thus, if the man would be the image and likeness of God, he would have to be more than one, and yet, in some way, still maintain his unity. The solution-put the man asleep, take from his side, fashion a compliment for the man, yet taken from the man. In other words, the man would be two from one. Thus, marriage is the reunification of the two into one. This is, as Paul says, “a great mystery” (Ephesians 5:32). There is a representation of the Triunity of God in marriage. Adam and his wife are one, made of the same essence. Yet, they are two different persons with individual wills, minds, and hearts. However, the essence of marriage is the making of the two into one again in all those things. The relationship of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit were to be on display in the relationship of the man and the woman and then, in time, the children. Thus, the family would be a display of the image and likeness of God. Therefore, when Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is made up of such as children, He is referring to the fact that children are a display of that Triunion of God. It all stems from the original creation. By the way, this basic understanding is the groundwork for a biblical perspective of children, which we will cover in later posts.

Marriage, then, when understood in this light, is sacred. It is holy. It is exalted and it is joyous! So much for the superficial descriptions and so-called quick-fixes of modern psychologists and Christian therapists. Marriage is more than 5 steps of good communication. Marriage is the display of the immense and far-reaching glory of God!

With this foundation, we can then see why the woman would be submissive to her husband just as Christ is submissive to the Father (1 Corinthians 11:3). With this in mind, we can see why children are called to submit to their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3). With this in mind, we can see why fathers are given the responsibility to train their children, as all knowledge and instruction of God should come from the father just as it does the heavenly Father (Ephesians 6:4). And, with this in mind, we can see why there is so much trauma in a home that does not set its sights upon these glorious truths and put this into action.

The glory of God. that is the foundation of the home. The glory of God is the foundation of the family. The glory of God is the foundation of a marriage. Anything less will end up in empty self-made reformation. When will we, the church, return glory to God and pursue Him in our most fundamental components of life?

Over the next number of posts, I will be attempting to develop this “Theology of the Home”, as I call it. The realities that God instilled into this thing called marriage and its resultant fruit of a family are profound. Personally speaking, nothing less will do.

Preaching Christ From the Old Testament-Jesus and the Law of Moses-pt.6.

The last reference to Christ and the Old Testament as seen in the Law of Moses that I want to consider is the most important. In a sense, I have been waiting a long time to just get to this one reference.

Jesus said to the Jews of John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you  think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” Jesus was reprimanding the Jews for their misguided zeal and willful misplacement of Scripture. They, in their religious system, had taken Scripture, the Law of God, and believed that in bisecting and dissecting it to their own ends, they can gain eternal life. This is the heart of all their misunderstanding of Torah. Numerous times Jesus rebuked the Jews for their lack of understanding of Scripture. And, in many ways, Jesus, were He physically walking among His churches today, would say the same thing to us. Just like the days of the Jews, we too have taken the Scripture and used them to our own prescribed religious and personal ends. You know that this is the case when pastors, 1) Don’t believe that they really need to study in order to prepare for their messages on Sunday. 2) Don’t believe there is a need to know the original biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek (I would like to see a medical doctor get away with thinking, “I don’t need any specialized training.” 3) Have already convinced themselves of the meaning of the text before really dealing with the text. 4) Follow established systems of theology without subjecting that system to the exegetical findings of the actual text of Scripture. 5) Refuse to study anymore because they have been in the ministry for years and think they understand the Bible well enough by now. 6) They ridicule those who refuse to do all the above. You also know that this is the case with those attending church when, 1) They don’t carry a Bible to church. 2) They disagree with the Scripture when correctly understood. 3) They believe that they own the church because they give a certain amount of money. 4) They judge the pastor by the way he dresses, and not how he handles Scripture. 5) They expect to be entertained while in church and if that does not happen, then they threaten to leave. 6) They refuse to show love to someone who hurt them 20 years ago. 7) They make light of the sufficiency of Scripture, thinking in their hearts, “We can’t just study the Bible when we come to church. We need something more.”

The above scenarios divulge a modern-day Judaism that Jesus was essentially clamoring against. We use the Scriptures to our ends, but refuse to be taken by the Scriptures to God’s ends, namely Jesus Christ. Or worse, we build our methods and ‘ministries’ and attribute them to Jesus, when in reality they contradict and undermine His very work.

Jesus corrects the Jews. Rebukes them really. He says that they think that in the Scripture they have eternal life. That is, simply codifying the Bible like a textbook and following subsequent religious functions is what gains eternal life, and that is not so. It is true that Scripture is living and active (Hebrews 4:12; in that context, it is referring to the power of the Word of God to judge) and the “incorruptible seed” (1 Peter 1:22-25). However, the Scriptures testify of Christ for eternal life. Eternal life is the issue. The Scriptures did not die for sins. Our religious systems did not atone for our sins. Our Calvinism did not remove our sins from God’s books. My Doctrines of Grace did not permit God to justify me. Only Christ holds that supreme position. Only Jesus Christ is capable of these things, not the systems that we hold dear. I find it amazing that people are so proud of their Calvinistic leanings, their dispensational stance, their Covenantal tradition and their independent, fundamental history, and yet speak very little of the Person, work and economy of Jesus Christ. This tells me where their allegiance and worship is. And, by and large, just like the Jews, it is misplaced.

The Scriptures testify of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, they describe and define Him, His work, and His eternal kingdom. His accomplishment is the subject of Scripture. This is far more than a devotional understanding of Jesus. The depth and height to which God has gone in order to gain all the glory for redemption is breathtaking. And Jesus Christ is in the center of it all. However, we cannot breathe the air of that glory unless, as Jesus said, we are “willing to do the will of the Father” (John 7:17).

The panorama of God’s work of redemption (John 5:17), begins in seed-form. It, like a tree, begins with a small reference to the hope that God announced to the couple who plunged the universe into futility and separated man from his Creator and from their blossoms unto maturity in the arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was also an announcement to the one heavenly being responsible for the generation of sin in the first place. The declaration to Satan by God is a judgment and a warning of his impending death. The passage that we will be examining in some detail is Genesis 3:15. It is the foundation of all the redemptive revelation found in the rest of God’s Word. Its shoulders are broad and strong. It is the footer upon which the entire building of redemption, both Jew and Gentile, is built. It is all summarized in one single sentence.

    And I will put enmity
      Between you and the woman,
      And between your seed and her seed;
      He shall bruise you on the head,
      And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Having already covered the first days of creation in past posts, I won’t do so now. However, it is important to realize that at this point, the pristine glory and beauty both in creation and in the man and woman are lost. They have ‘died’, as it were. Their hearts have been darkened and their consciences seared. This is all evident from the responses that God received from Adam and Eve after they ate of the tree. God, now, has to punish all parties involved. He does so.

He begins with a curse upon the serpent, the animal. He makes the animal to slither on the ground, changing the animal anatomically into eternal humility because of its role in corruption. However, the being who inhabited the snake, he sentences him not to eternal humiliation, but eternal damnation for his role in the whole event. It is to him that the above-mentioned verse is spoken.

Notice that God continues the sentence upon the serpent, speaking to the being behind the act of the snake, by using the conjunction “and.” In doing that, it continues the curse upon him that was started with the animal. The curse upon the being, Satan, is that God will put a hostile disposition between the offspring of Satan and the offspring of the woman, i.e. righteous offspring. Their “children” will be at odds. This is the source of all spiritual struggles (Ephesians 6:10-20).

However, there is something very unique about this curse. At the end of the verse, it states, “He shall…” We need to stop and ask, “Whom?” At this point, we understand that it is a singular, masculine pronoun. This is referring to a singular, male offspring of the woman. God did not say, “it”, or “she.” God specifically said, “He.” Further, God states that this One will “bruise you on the head.” There will be a final, fatal blow to the head that will end up in the death of the Satan. This will result in bruising which indicates fatal, internal damage. This intimates that the One giving the blow will be stronger than he. Thus, this seed must not be a human, since mankind has just bowed the knee to Satan via the man and the woman. And yet, He will be a human since He will be the seed of the woman. So, this will be one who is above Satan, and yet is made of the same material as those who bow to Satan, i.e. a man. Satan, then, is told that he will die at the hands of a child of the woman.

What is interesting is the reference to the woman. This is peculiar since obviously the seed is from the man. So, for God to relegate the seed to the woman indicates a purposeful peculiarity of the Child. So, this offspring of the woman will be the One who will fatally deal with the enemy of God, and thus, undo all his handiwork (Hebrews 2:14; 1 john 3:8), and he will be powerless to stop it. At this juncture, God’s plan for redemption of sinners is begun. And what a plan it is! The central figure in it all is none other than Jesus Christ Himself. He will crush the serpent. He will pay the penalty of death for man. He will be the unique seed of the woman, and not of a man. However, He will be fully man and yet without sin, which makes Him superior to Satan.

This reference to Christ as the seed of the woman and the enemy of Satan is what feeds the rest of Scripture. It is the hope of all the redeemed. It is the purpose and plan of God. It is the magnanimous foundation upon which the whole structure of God’s redemptive plan rests. And, it is spoken in just one sentence. Truly, our God is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3).

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