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Author Topic: The Old Covenant and Its Law—Only for Israel?  (Read 1568 times)

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Azenilto Brito

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The Old Covenant and Its Law—Only for Israel?
« on: July 19, 2009, 03:57:56 PM »

This article is part of the discussions related to the publication Proclamation! Magazine. See the article that is part of these discussions, “Strange and Unheard of  Supposed Comments By Seventh-day Adventists” through the following link:

The Old Covenant and Its Law—Only for Israel?

       Mr. Ratzlaff clearly misunderstands the reasons of God’s choosing the nation of Israel, which is a common deficiency in contemporary Protestant Theology. Many Protestant/Evangelical Christians don’t know exactly the reason for that election of Israel, and due to this lack of comprehension of the matter we see wrong statements, like this of Mr. Ratzlaff, in the article “Does Paul Conflict with Jesus?”:

       “There are many indications that Jesus was seeking to move His hearers away from the ritual laws of the old covenant that pointed forward to the Messiah because now He had come. Jesus was seeking to move people away from the old covenant which was a covenant between God and Israel only to the new covenant. The old covenant was designed for the people who lived in the Promised Land. The new covenant, however, was to include people from every nation, kindred and tongue”.

That fact is that there is NO INIDICATION of that. Jesus, on the contrary, recommended the most faithful respect to the “minimal” among the commandments, and so to be taught to men (Matt. 5:19):

       “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”.

       In a certain occasion, by the end of His ministry, He even recommended to “the crowds an to His disciples” (Matt. 23:2, 3):

       “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach”.

       See that Jesus reinforced ALL that the Jewish leaders taught should be obeyed, only putting aside their hypocritical do-what-I-say-but-not-what-I-do attitude. That doesn’t seem any intention of having people DEPARTING from the law, as they knew and should practice it.
       Besides, if Jesus in any minimal way had diminished the force and importance of “the least” among God’s commandments, He Himself had to be considered the least in God’s kingdom, according to His own declaration in Matt. 5:19.

The Lack of Understanding of God’s Election of Israel

       Evangelical/Protestant Christians in general have difficulty in understanding the reasons why God chose Israel as His special people. It was not just for privilege, but for a mission. Israel had to be “IHWH’s witnesses”, the “light of the gentiles . . . to the ends of the Earth” (Isa. 43:10, 11 and 49:6).
       Israel’s mission was to proclaim the true God, His law and His plan of salvation to all the surrounding nations, for which God even placed them in the crossroads of three continents—Europe, Asia and Africa. Through this strategically located land (to this day) caravans of merchants would cross to and fro, and the “showcase” nation was to guide these people to the true worship of the true God. Unhappily the situation was inverted: instead of being the teachers of the World, Israel became the learner of how to worship the stone and the wood, with these other peoples.
       God continuously tried to attract the nation back to Him, and the New Covenant was first offered to national Israel, as can be seen in Eze. 11:19, 20; 36:26, 27 and Jer. 31:31-33.
       Mr. Ratzlaff is wrong when he says that the covenant was established with Israel and only to that nation. He certainly needs to read carefully Isa. 56:2-7:

       “Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.” And let not any eunuch complain,  “I am only a dry tree.” For this is what the LORD says: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,  who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant: to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name  that will not be cut off. And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him,  to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it  and who hold fast to my covenant-- these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.  Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called  a house of prayer for all nations.”

       How come this covenant was intended only for Israel, but God expresses His desire to have the foreigner adopting it, in a context in which He expresses His ideal that ALL NATIONS would join Israel in that covenant, showing such acceptance by the keeping of the Sabbath?
       In Psalm 67 we find the result of the wonderful plan that God had to the entire world, IN CASE ISRAEL HAD FULFILLED FAITHFULLY its mission:

        “May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.  May the peoples praise you, O God;  may all the peoples praise you.  May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.  Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.  God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him”.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2009, 04:01:51 PM by Azenilto Brito »
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