God meets man where man is at.

In the last study we looked as how man’s rebellion has changed him into someone different. He is no longer the innocent man of the garden living in open relationship to God and enjoying the abundance of God’s blessings.  He is now called the natural man meaning he lives in this world and does what is natural to him.  It is natural for him to follow his own interests and ambitions, to do what is right in his own eyes; to seek power to protect his own and promote his will.

We considered that the world before the flood demonstrated that when man is unrestrained and autonomous the result is that he is evil from his youth and the end result of a world full of self-willed sinners creates unrestrained violence.  To restrain man God cursed the ground and has caused him to spend a good part of his time laboring for sustenance.  But in an unrestrained world, there are always those willing to take the labor of others. So we see man developing societies where he can magnify his power and gain some assurance that he will be able to protect and provide for the things he holds of value.

The world, existing without interference, became so filled with violence that God destroyed it. Noah and his family survived.  To prevent this violence from overtaking the world again, God did three things. First he instituted capital punishment (Gen 9:6).  When Nimrod organized all of mankind to build the tower, God scattered man by confusing man’s language and understanding.  The population then split into 70 nations (Gen 10-11).  In addition and over a longer period of history God shortened man’s life span.  In the pre-flood world, where the genealogical life-span of Adam to Noah was 912 years, a man could live to see fifty of his generations be born. He had ample time to perfect his trade or deceit and to create prodigies that were masters in perfecting their evil ways.  The shortening of man’s life span cut down on the transmission of this knowledge.   As an aside, it was not until the invention of modern media devices that the sophistication of evil of this magnitude be possible again. All you need t do is look at a TV guide to see the fascination with evil and to learn from all the mistakes of those who are being biographed.

God uses societies to preserve life

We observed the fact that God meets man in the real situations of human history.  God and man are interwoven in human history.  The Bible demonstrates that God’s revelations are specific to man’s situations.  Because man seeks to build societies and other types of community God has entered history creating his own community to stand in contrast to what man has done.

In the last lesson we began an overview of salvation history considering the importance of the city and society under Cain and Nimrod to understand how the impulse of the natural man used communities to replace and hide from God and to create his own means of self-justification. We considered spiritual blindness in seeing that Satan used cites and societies to blind the minds of men by letting them develop their own moral order and decide for themselves who or what was good or evil. To leave it there could tempt some to despise all of societies, so a word is needed for some balance here.

In considering Cain, Nimrod and the division of mankind, as well as man’s psychic connection with social orders, i.e. his need to introduce institutions into his society , economics, police, military, legal, and so forth.  These institutions have become a permanent  furniture in the mind of the natural man. If man destroys an economic system or a political system he does not live in a void he replaces it with a different system to provide the same function. He must survive and this means he seeks from a group security, provisions, order, validation, and protection. Institutions are archetypal.

The other half of this story is the part these institutions play in God’s salvation history. The Reformers spoke of common grace. Common grace was grace that enabled men to live together without killing each other. It allowed man to develop better means of living.  It is not salvation grace. It is things that restrain man. It is God’s means to set limits on the wickedness that man or nations are allowed to achieve. So what Satan uses to blind man; God uses to preserve man. What Satan uses to destroy life; God uses to inhibit destruction. In that environment faith becomes possible for the individual.

It is because of this dual purpose of societies that Paul tells us to pray for governments and kings; to have as our priority peace with man so that we can preach the gospel openly.

God commanded man to scatter after the flood.  Instead man built the first world empire. By these two things we can discern that man had developed duel impulses; from God’s command to Noah to scatter and fill the earth he gets the impulse to draw back, be an individual, stand alone and make his our own place in the world. From Cain and Nimrod we see the impulse to bind together for power, security, affirmation and gain. Inherent in man’s condition is the ability to reflect; to accept and reject; to draw together and to pull apart. In Nimrod we see the power of a personality cult to unify man and entrap him in a universal lie. So man is separated by language and understanding.

God brought a light into the world.

The nation of Israel was to be a light in the world and to show mankind how they ought to live and how they ought to understand God’s relationship to his creation.  See the graph below.

When God set Israel apart he gave them his laws through Moses.

De 4:5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
De 4:6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
De 4:7 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
De 4:8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?….

De 28:1 ¶ And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:

Israel was called to be a holy nation.

What does it meant for them to be a holy nation?

The Law embodied God’s character.  By keeping the Law Israel would have shown God’s truth to the world. They were a light in the world. To this end God commanded them “Be holy for I am holy.”

Last week we looked at the fact that man had two problems: sin reigns in his life and death reigns in his life.  Sin created a problem for God that we must consider now. Death is the direct consequence of sin.

God’s problem:

God’s problem was that he is holy and holiness cannot be mingled with something unholy without polluting the holy thing.  God cannot change.  Man had made himself offensive so God had to provide a way for man to approach him without  provoking God’s wrath. God is offended by man’s rebellion and the self-centered self-destruction that results from it.  The rebellion polluted his creation.  God hates sin. God made man and the rest of creation for his pleasure but now it is defiled and its glory is greatly damaged. It no longer glorifies him.

His glory is still evident in his workmanship. But for all its glory it is damaged.  And man has placed himself completely outside the will of God. Man had two choices, obey or rebel and he chose rebellion. This has brought chaos into everything.

Man was made to be a mirror that was supposed to reflect to the creation the character of God. But now the natural man reflects self-will. Being separated from God he does what seems right in his own eyes. Since this pleases him he resents God for calling him to live the way God desires.  God’s problem simply put is how can a holy God continue a relationship with an unholy and rebellious creation without being offended or polluted by its constant filth?

God reveals his self with the word “holy”. Every part of his being is holy. In Isaiah chapter 6 God is referred to with the phrase: “Holy, holy, holy.” This is also what the four creatures in Revelation repeat continually. In theology this is called a Trisagion. The repetition means that God is infinitely and perfectly holy. God is set apart from everything else in absolute righteousness and perfection.  God’s holiness cannot be reduced to mere morality. It is infinitely pure.

After the rebellion God withheld death from Adam and Eve by sacrificing an innocent animal in their place. Man brought death into the world.  God clothed them in its skin.  God declares that Life is in the blood and “the blood makes atonement by the life” Lev 17:11, 14.

The consequence of eating the forbidden fruit made them aware of their nakedness and fearful of God.  They made a feeble attempt, the first religious act was to cover their nakedness with fig leaves. Nakedness is not simply nudity; it is vulnerability and exposure on every level physically, psychologically, and socially.  This is made clear by observing how man plays hide and seek with the truth.  He wants truth but fears accountability.  He is held responsible for what he knows.

When God set up a society to represent his character to the world; it was necessary that it be founded on these blood sacrifices.  The chosen people were not changed people; they remained as natural man. They were self-willed and consequently sin was constant and the need to cover it was equally constant.

“Be holy for I am Holy.”

Deuteronomy was written to the second generation of Hebrews who were allowed to go into Canaan and possess it.  Moses wrote to them:

De 7:6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
De 7:7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
De 7:8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
De 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keeps covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Verse 6 declares For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
Here for the first time God declares openly his love for his people. But in the generation before them five times he declared “You must be holy for I am holy.”  In the course of salvation history man was given this duel command:  you must love the Lord and you must be holy.

Is this twining of holiness and love foreign in the New Testament?  Jesus said “if you love me keep my commandments” (John 14:15, 15:10). Peter (I Peter 1:16) gives this command in the context of the finished work of Christ: be holy for God is holy,” God’s goal never changes.

The declaration that God is love has to be in the context of his holiness, and all his other attributes as well as his inability to change.  Love does not compromise with sin, but it seeks and saves that which is lost by creating a way to deal with sin.

God in these passages calls the Hebrews holy people. How did that happen? How did they transition from being condemned in their sins to being holy in God’s eyes?

Making a nation

God begins this new and greater dialogue with man by taking a people for himself. We get our first glimpse at the perfection he demands from man in the building of the tabernacle. It had to be made to the exact specifications that God required or God would not dwell in it. When he did dwell in it His presence was the same as it was on Mount Sinai. Boundaries were set up around the mountain. If any man or animal crossed those boundaries the people were commanded to kill them.

In the same manner God divided the Tabernacle into a common area, a holy area where only priests could go and a holy of holies where he would dwell. Anyone who violated these boundaries was to be cut off from the people. This phrase occurs often and in some instances means separation as with someone leprous, but in others it means death.  The means of death is not clear; whether it was te duty of the priest to kill a violator or whether God would bring a judgment on them. In the case of Aaron’s two son’s death was immediate.  Other passages suggest a judgment that produces a withering away.  At Mt Sinai it was the duty of man.

In constructing the tabernacle, God ordered Moses to make sure everything was built according to the pattern God had given. Then the priesthood was established and priests were given specific duties and instructions. If they deviated in their duties or presumed to do a duty not assigned to them they were cut off from the people.

The sacrificial system

The people were still carnal or natural men. They sinned constantly, so God instituted a sacrificial system that enabled them to have their sins covered. They were holy because their sins were covered. But this covering came at a heavy price.

These sacrifices were for sins of ignorance. Willful sins carried a penalty and many sins required the death penalty. God demanded holiness and willful disobedience brought judgment.

The cost for any sin was incredible, but it was never enough because they continued sinning. The Hebrew were not rich, not materialistic, and most did not possess great herds. David was told about a man who only had one sheep (2 Samuel 12). He believed the story. It didn’t seem incredulous to him.  If this was common then the cost of sin was enormous.

Much of the Hebrew worship is expressed through this act of sacrificial obedience.  The worshipper had to bring a perfect lamb or ram and stand before the brass altar. When the priest came to him he was required to press his hands upon the head of the animal, confess his sins and then cut the throat of the animal. As it bled out the priest caught the blood in a basin, and as the priest attended to the blood, the sinner skinned the animal, cut it into pieces, washed the pieces so nothing unclean was on them, and then the priest put the pieces upon the altar where the sinner watched the sacrifice completely burn up in front of him. This was not Pentecost where something was sacrificed once a year. This was people dealing with their own sins. If they were too poor to bring one of these animals they brought a dove. Sin had a cost.

The types of sins were not willful sins.  People became aware of vows they forgot to keep (Lev. 27); they realized they had sinned in ignorance (Lev. 4 & 6) or they began experienced guilt and needed to bring their guilt to God (Lev 5:14-6:7, 7:1-6). Sometimes people began to die and realized God was killing them because of an offence, so a specific sacrifice was made to reverse the curse. These things all required sacrifices. They had to bring their perfect and expensive animals, kill them, and watch them go up in smoke. If they tried to cheat by bringing a less than perfect animal God would reject it.

There are five different sacrifices mentioned in the first five chapters of Leviticus. We won’t discuss them here.

I think it is a waste of time to try to allegorize or look for a meaning about Jesus own sacrifice within each sacrifice. The New Testament makes references to four of them.  What we see in Exodus and Leviticus was that everything was ordered in such a way that it related to the holiness of God.

God’s holiness is evident in the precise dictation of the details of the temple; and in the obedience and ritual of the sacrifices. In them we see the revelation of God’s holiness and unchangeable character.  They were called to be a holy nation.  Everything they did was a witness to other nations around them that God was with them; that his relationship with them was conditional; that he did not change. Any deviation in the rituals would suggest that God did change. So over and over you find warnings of being cut off from the people if something was not done right.

There were sacrifices made by the priests for themselves, sacrifices made for the nation or to commemorate holy days, but all day long sacrifices were going on as individuals came before the Lord. Every morning the priests began the day with a burnt offering and ended the day with a burnt offering. Offerings were made for many reasons. Some were for forgiveness; some for thanksgiving; some were even necessary to remove a state of holiness that was upon a person so he could become common again. This was the case with the Nazarite vow which was ended with four different sacrifices.

Holy or common, clean or unclean, sacred of profane:

A holy thing could not come in contact with a common thing so some form of cleansing or purification was necessary for the Nazarite to become common after he completed his vow.

Many of these sacrifices were offered at the same time. If a burnt offering was made it was usually accompanied with a cereal offering.

God wanted a witness of himself in the world. They needed to conform to him so God could be revealed.  The focus was about God dwelling in the world among men. He couldn’t do that if their sins were open before him or if they failed to properly obey him up in sacrificial worship.  To this end, in the wilderness, no clean animal could be killed and eaten unless it was brought to the tabernacle and killed there. Here perhaps, we see the hand of God preventing sectarianism.  He held the people together by orienting everything around the tabernacle.  If they killed an animal elsewhere or did a sacrifice elsewhere they were to be cut off from the people. Consuming blood resulted in being cut off from the people. The life was given back to God. Rule applied to hunting wild animals as well. The blood was to be covered with earth. All of this outwardly showed a respect for God and the life he created.

Through this process the Hebrew’s were learning the language of redemption. Worship was never based on man’s spontaneity or creativity.  It was strict adherence to God’s protocols in every aspect of the tabernacle, priesthood and sacrifices.  God was always worshipped by the same obedience in sacrifices. No changes. If anyone deviated they were killed or their sacrifice was rejected. Arrans two sons were burned up by God for offering strange fire. A priest was simply told to clean up the ashes. The epistle to the Hebrew may be pointing to that when it says God is a consuming fire. In the end, all that offends God will be utterly burned up.

God made a way for man to walk before him and when that way was compromised, even with good intentions, the result was judgment. In 2 Sam 6:7 Uzzah tried to stop the ark from falling out of a cart and God in his anger killed him. Why? Because the ark had poles in it and it was the duty of certain Levites to carry it. The Hebrews were hauling it in a cart. Uzzah no doubt had good intentions. God was not interested in man’s good intentions. Cain probably had good intentions when he offered a sacrifice to God that did not please God.  Obedience and strict conformity was how they worshipped God.

In this way the fear of God was drilled into them.   God was exalted in the perfection of their rituals.

For His pleasure we are created

The first three sacrifices addressed in Lev ch 1-5 were all for a sweet smelling savor unto the lord. God needed to be pleased. We see reference to this in 2 Cor. 2:15-17 where Christ’s sacrifice is a savor of life to us but a savor of death to those who reject his sacrifice.    In Eph. 5:2 Christ became a sweet savor onto God by his sacrifice.

As you follow the Pentateuch from the tabernacle onward God divides everything into groups; the clean and unclean the common, the holy and the profane.

Leviticus was the first book Hebrew children learned. It was essential because worship required perfect conformity and recognition of boundaries. The clean could be made unclean and needed to be cleansed.  The holy things could be defiled and needed to be cleansed. The profane was always profane.  The common could not come into contact with the holy, but in some instance like the Nazarite vow, a person became holy until the vow was fulfilled and had to do sacrifices to become common again.

Leviticus has many examples of this. For example a priest who became unclean could not do his priestly duties. If his clothes came in contact with something common he became unclean. If his duty was to carry out the ashes from the brass altar he had to put on priestly clothing to gather the ashes. This included britches so that he would not show his private parts to God. Anything that suggested disrespect or might be interpreted as mockery or condescension towards God was prohibited. Once the priest had gathered the ashes he would have to put common clothes on to carry the ashes outside the camp.  Holiness is demonstrated by order and boundaries. It requires buffers that propitiate Gods offence and anger over sin. Care had to be taken to prevent anything defiled from God’s presence. In this way he could dwell in the Tabernacle.

A priest, the veil to the holy place, the tabernacle furniture and the tabernacle required regular purification; once everything was cleansed then the priests could approach God to do their duty. It was probable in the process of repeated ritual sacrifices that something might have defiled the temple so everything required ritual cleansing.   This is what John the Baptist was doing preparing the people for the Messiah.

Limited access

In this we see holiness expressed by means of the protocols and prohibitions.  The people were being taught how easily God was offended by uncleanness and impurity.  This points back to Mount Sinai where the people trembled and any man or animal that touched the mountain was to be killed.

The first sixteen chapters of Leviticus detail these responsibilities particularly for the priests whose job was to teach the people the law and perform the sacrificial duties.

The entire five books of the Pentateuch are history books. Consequently they do not always follow a logical progression; revelation is being given within a historical context so in the middle of laying out a logical order for priestly duties you read something like Moses stopping and dealing with a problem such as blasphemy in chapter 24.  God is teaching them and adding to the body of law as they travel.

In this respect some law had a pragmatic element.  For example in Lev. 17:3-7 no clean animal could be killed and eaten unless it was brought to the Tabernacle in the form of a Peace Offering.  In the same chapter no offering could be made anywhere except at the Tabernacle. This kept the focus of the camp on God; it served to mitigate against sectarianism; and created boundaries between the sacred and the profane. In this the blood was honored as the source of life in man and animals. The chapter continues with rules about hunting wild animals; taking care that the blood be coved by the earth.

The command to kill and eat the clean animal as a Peace Offering  was practical in the wilderness. It would have been unrealistic once they occupied the promise land.  As the second generation was preparing to enter the land the law was altered in Duet. 12:22. The respect for the life in the blood remained.  Once Leviticus had established the duties of the sacerdotal system it turned to the issue of practical holiness.  Practical holiness was never what mystics have made it; some form of asceticism or otherworldliness. It had to do with restoring order and respect within the world they lived.  It was restorative. God made the physical world and intended that they live out their holiness in a proper relationship to other things.  Holiness involved care and respect.  What you find is an expanded version of Exodus 20 where the Ten Commandments were given.  The commandments as a whole called for moral integrity and care of the body.  The prohibitions were against things that clearly violated God’s intended order or in some other way might have inferred ambiguity.  They were called to be a light to the world.

J.H. Hertz summarized them in beautifully:

“Holiness is not so much an abstract or a mystic idea, as a regulative principle in the everyday lives of men and women…. Holiness is thus attained not by flight from the world, nor by monk-like renunciation of human relationships or family or station, but by the spirit in which we fulfill the obligations of life in its simplest and commonest details: in this way- by doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God-is everyday life transfigured.”

A testimony to holiness

For the sake of brevity I’ll quickly just touch on some hard passages.

Skin blemishes were forbidden. Anything that detracted from the holiness and perfection of God was unclean and could not be associated with the temple or his holy people.  It was not about the individual; it was about witnessing to the Jews and the world of the holiness, perfection and glory of God.

This carried over to the Deuteronomy laws as well.  There are numerous sins that require capital punishment.  Blasphemy was one. Working on the Sabbath was another.

God had entered a fallen world where chaos and perversion was everywhere. To communicate his holiness anything that was ambiguous was prohibited. God was communicating that he had created a world of order and so in the law things that suggested ambiguity or cynicism were forbidden. One of the five passages in Leviticus that says be holy for I am holy adds “you shall not boil a kid in his mother’s milk.”  Why? It conveyed a sense of cynicism.  A couple of times when God addresses sexual sins that require the death penalty he gives as his reason the fact that they cause confusion.

If you look at the dietary laws some of them seem to say eat food that is clearly of one species or another. Fish had to have fins and scales or they were unclean. This suggested preventing anything that might appear to lack order. No animal that ate blood could be eaten because man was forbidden to eat blood.

When God made the world he had a purpose for everything he made. I’ve spoken to you before about teleology. Telos in the Greek means destiny. A sun flower seed is a sunflower because it is genetically predestined to be one. That is its destiny. I think many of the laws were designed to reflect destiny and order so consequently anything that might suggest ambiguity was forbidden.

Le 19:19 ¶ Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with two kinds of seed: neither shall there come upon thee a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together.

De 22:5 ¶ A woman shall not wear men’s clothing, neither shall a man put on women’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to Yahweh your God.

This was a mingling of different destinies.  Things were created to reveal different things God wanted us to understand.  Always the concern is whether God’s holiness, his purity and order were being honored. The world the Hebrews had come out of (Egypt) and the one they were entering (Canaan) had completely broken down all boundaries and were mired in confusion.  Seven times the Hebrews are warned in Leviticus not to do what the Egyptians or Canaanites were doing.  The detailed examples list many forms of incest, bestiality,  homosexuality, human sacrifice, bodily mutilation, and other things that defiled what God had intended.

All though the Old Testament we see God’s anger and judgment because of disobedience. God is holy. Things must be done the way he wants them.  This was what he built into the Hebrew mindset.  They were warned against foreign influence.  They were to be a community in contrast to other comunites.

Conflict for Hebrew Chritians

The iconoclastic gospel message Jesus brought sometimes compelled the Hebrews to rethink their history and doctrine. That was serious business.

The Hebrew Christians who received the letter to the Hebrews had grown up fully immersed in this awareness of holiness as well as the belief in God’s theocratic kingdom.  They knew they had grown up in a society created by God. Their belief was God was going to free them from their conquerors and reestablish the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus was presented as the fulfilment of all those things.  In the epistle to the Hebrews they were told they needed to see that not only was Jesus better than angels, Moses, Aaron, the law and the sacrifices; he was better than their whole religious society.

The whole society was all just a shadow of a heavenly reality. The geographical Kingdom of Israel remains a promise to the Jews through Abraham and it will be fulfilled, but in the context of man’s problem with sin and death, it had no answer. Furthermore it did not restore man to an open relationship with God. Salvation history must bring man back to complete peace with God.

Changing history:

Before the fall God was everything to man. There were no institutions in the garden. There was just man and God. The end result of salvation history is when God fully restores and expands what man had before the fall. What we see at the end of Revelations is not a garden coming down out of the sky; we see a city whose builder and maker is God. It is not a place to hide from God; it is where saints will dwell with him. God cares about what is important to man so he has redeemed some of those things that are precious to man, one being the city.

It is important for us to see how much sin offended God and then we can appreciate what he did to save us.  Jesus said he who is forgiven much loves much; he who is forgiven little loves little. We have been forgiven so much that we cannot even comprehends the depth of our own sin. It is almost the air we breathe because its source is self-will.

In the first study some detail was given to describe how the institutions of man, the legal system, the social norms, the police, military, schools economics etc., replaced what God had provided before the fall. God entered the world of societies by creating his own society.  Israel was a necessary step in making the Hebrews as well as mankind understand the depth of offence man’s sins are to God as well as to demonstrate the love and mercy of God in making a way for man to escape God’s wrath by having their sins covered.  All of this was a step towards something better. This did not solve the problem of sin and death. It made it possible for the Hebrews to live in God’s presence and enjoy his blessings if they obeyed God and it meant the severity of his curses if they denied to him the witness he was making to the world.  What in fact happened was that the Hebrews gloried in the means of access to God which God provided and made them into ends that produced self-righteousness rather than faith.

Jesus came as an iconoclast.

Jesus in the Gospel of John made seven I am statements.  Jesus’ ministry was iconoclastic. He was attacking all the shadows and surrogates that had become the mental furniture of the natural man and Jesus was transferring their purpose to his own person. Consider them:

I am the bread of life (John 6:35).  Jesus offered himself as the true sustenance and provision.

I am the light of the world (John 8:12). The true witness and glory of God is seen in the birth, life death and resurrection of the Son.

I am the gate for the sheep (John 10:9). He now provides access to God through his blood. The faithful come in and out from the Throne of grace and find refuge in him. He is the true place of meeting.

I am the good shepherd (John 10:11). He is the protector, nurturer, guide and provider.

I am the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). Jesus conquered death and is our life. We have eternal life in him.

I am the way, the truth, and the light (John 14:6).  In Jesus we have the truth of God’s purpose in contrast to the reality of man’s condition. In Jesus alone truth and reality are one.  He alone is, in his person the way to come to God and the light to guide us to completion.  Nothing can be added to what he did.

I am the true vine John 15:1-17).  Israel was called the vine of God. The vine symbolized it as God’s government on earth.  (See Psalm 80:8-16; Isaiah 5:1-7; Joel 1:7).  Israel fell as a nation and will not be restored until they see Christ as their true king and Messiah at his Second Coming (See Hosea 5:14-6:30).   Because of the national sin of Israel the true Israel is fulfilled and expressed in Jesus Christ.  In him will all the promises to the descendants of Abraham be finally fulfilled.  Isaiah 9:6 says For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder.

What we must understand is that Jesus has made us a new race of people; we are new creatures, old things have passed away. We don’t play by the old rules anymore. Everything about our faith is in Jesus Christ alone.  We have been brought into the Kingdom of Light. We walk in the Spirit as we continue to seek and obey Jesus.

We will begin to examine this in the next study starting with Hebrews chapter 8.