For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.
He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups.
Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from Him, and peace to the Jews who were near.
Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.Ephesians 2:14-19
I told you yesterday that we would deal with the Jewish – Gentile issue.
Why did God choose the Jews?
Why were the Gentiles excluded?
I also told you that God intended for the Gentiles to come near, be included from the beginning. But salvation with the Jew first and then the Gentiles. That’s the principle we have seen before as we went through the book of Romans. Let’s take a look at the question of God choosing the Jews. Why did God choose the Jews? I dealt with this issue in God’s Awesome Book seminars in numbers of places. It is interesting the reactions I stirred up. Revealing in itself.
Why did God choose the Jews?
Because they are the smartest? It could be, because more Jews have won a Nobel Prize compared to any other single ethic group on a pro-rata basis. Because they are the best business men? It could be, just look at the Jewish prowess for business. It has to make you wonder. (The Chinese could also fit in that category) Because they are the most fervently religious? Jer 2:10, 11 says No. (The Muslims seem to fit that category – given that Kedar was Ishmael’s second son.) Because they are the most good looking? Mmm I won’t get into the one. Because they are the most righteous and filled with goodness? No Scripture makes it clear what they were like and perhaps why they were chosen. (Deut 9:4-6, 13) They were stubborn and rebellious. Not for their goodness or their righteousness.
“After the LORD your God has done this for you, don’t say in your hearts, ‘The LORD has given us this land because we are such good people!’ It is not because you are so good or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land. You must recognize that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land because you are good, for you are not—you are a stubborn people.Deuteronomy 9:4-6
The LORD also said to me, ‘I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are.Deuteronomy 9:13
I think there is one other reason too. They were small and insignificant as a nation. God delights to take such people or such a people group and demonstrate His glory. A quick read through Scripture will verify that.
Then why choose a rag-tag obstinate bunch of slaves in order to show forth the glory of God. If God can take a nation of obstinate slaves and make them great and protect them through the ages then others would have to sit up and take notice. Effectively after the flood and the repopulation of the earth, the Tower of Babel fiasco, God takes one man, Abram of Hur in Chaldea, and tells him he will make a great nation comes out of his seed. Then effectively says He says, watch this nation I will call them my people. I will put my hand upon them to protect them. You were come to understand how I deal with human kind through this nation. When they follow my commands, laws and words they will be blessed. When they don’t they will be cursed. Watch them and understand the principle of how I (God) work with mankind. (Ian’s potted version of history) it is clear that is the way it has worked down through the ages. See too the way He has protected this people and realize that it is God doing the work. But realize and understand also, the principles that lie behind it all and seek to put them into practice in order to come to know God more intimately.
Why then were the Gentiles excluded from the plan? The first step in the plan was for the Israelites to be chosen as His special people so others could see how God manifests His presence among them. There needed to be a distinction between God and the gods of the other nations. For the nations to see that only God was God. There needed to be exclusivity to demonstrate the power of God and His distinctiveness from the nations’ gods. But at the same time God makes it clear the Israelites had to care for the foreigners in their midst and were to be a blessing to all nations. But separatist feelings developed. By the time of the New Testament there is a strand of thinking which makes it clear it is not the time for blessings to go to the nations. Because without the sacrifice of Christ there is no universal way of salvation as such. Many times the reference is made to His hour not being come. That refers to the reason Christ had come to save the lost. His sacrifice on the cross is required for there to be a way for the Gentiles to be saved. Well for us to all to be saved actually. (See the discussion in the Gems on John. Gem 57, 79, 88, 89)
When the time was right after Jesus pronounced “It is finished”. I.e. The debt has been paid, God then speaks to Peter about uniting the Gentiles and gives Paul a mission to take this Gospel to the Gentiles. The wall of separation is well and truly removed.
Ah but what wall was it that was removed? There a number of alternatives available. We will find out in the next Gem.
Missions is less about the transportation of God from one place to another and more about the identification of a God who is already there.Rob Bell
When people who SEEM so right about the Gospel are so wrong about their own character, they don’t really know the Gospel.Rick Warren
God removed his anger from me at great cost (Rom. 8:32). Shall I not then remove my anger from you no matter the cost?John Piper