by Al Benson Jr.
The realization that lots of folks will not be overly thrilled with what I say here has not escaped me, but I feel it needs to be said anyway.
In looking at the history of Israel in the Old Covenant we can see many problems that most people today would rather not address and some even want to sweep under the rug. There are various reasons for that, one of which is that a true rendering of Israel’s real history just might affect the sales of “End Times” prophecy books because many would now start to begin to realize that there is really no crying need for such material.
A good friend of mine who is a pastor recently preached a sermon, the title of which was, Israel’s Only Hope. And Israel’s only hope isn’t the “rapture” or the rebuilding of the Temple or the reinstitution of the Old Covenant sacrifices or any of the stuff most of us were taught as kids or young Christians. We have to learn to put this stuff aside. My friend aptly noted that Israel’s only hope before 70 AD was the acceptance of Jesus the Christ as their Messiah–something Israel’s religious leaders steadfastly refused to do for the most part. He observed that, by the time of Jesus’ virgin birth, Israel had a long history of unbelief, hardheartedness, and outright rebellion (which has carried over into the present age). Now, with Jesus’ appearing, Israel was being given one last chance to repent, turn around, and do what God had beforehand ordained for them to do–be a light to the world, to be faithful servants of God, and most of all, to accept Jesus for who He was and is. Israel’s response, through her religious leaders, was to plot His death. In reply to Pilate’s attempt to turn Him loose the Jews cried “Crucify him, His blood be on us, and on our children.”(Matthew 27:25). I doubt that most of them knew what they we’re asking for.
As recorded in Luke 4, Jesus in Capernaum was confronted by a demonic in the synagogue. We’ve all probably read this story over the years and never thought to question why was this man in the synagogue to begin with? Demon-possessed people were not supposed to be in the synagogue to begin with and yet they were. What does that say for the spiritual condition of the synagogue? And, though Jesus healed many people there, it is interesting to note that only the demon acknowledged who He really was (Luke 4:41).
The sermon referenced here noted: “In chapter 5 Jesus heals a leper–demonstrating not only His power but His willingness to restore those who have become unclean and cut off from God’s presence. Then He heals a paralytic–which shows not only His power to heal and to cleanse but also His authority to forgive sins. Jesus is the fulfillment of all that the Temple signified.” Therefore, in Christ, there is no more need for the Temple–and many in our day need to let this sink in.
The sermon concludes with this thought: “Israel’s unbelief has brought sickness and uncleanness. The only hope for Israel is Jesus who is both willing and able to cleanse and heal and restore them. If they reject Him they will perish.” And that holds as true today as it did before His crucifixion and resurrection. But mostly Israel ain’t having any of that and their spirit of rebellion exists today as it did then. How many radical, leftist groups in our day are peopled with those that have embraced the religion of Judaism, whether they can even trace their ancestors back to Abraham or not! In fact, since His death and resurrection their spirit of rebellion has intensified. Having rejected their Messiah it seems they have no place else to go to but radical revolution and this has become the god for many–a god that will ultimately fail.
Just this past weekend I read an article on http://www.israelnationalnews.com by a David Rosenberg, the title of which was American Jews strongest backers of gay marriage, abortion. The article stated: “Jews are the most libertine religious group in America according to a new Gallup poll, and are more likely even than people with no religion to find same-sex relations and abortion to be morally acceptable…According to the survey, American Jews were more likely than any other religious group–including those with no religion–to find abortion and gay relations morally acceptable. With few exceptions, Jews reflected strongly libertine views that deviated from those of Catholics, Protestants, and Mormons. A whopping 76% of American Jews said they felt abortion was ‘morally acceptable,’ compared to just 38% of Catholics, 33% of Protestants, and 18% of Mormons.” Again, with sodomite and lesbian relations, 85% of Jews had no problems, and that even beat those who claimed no religious affiliations of any kind. They registered 83%. There was more to the survey but I can’t cover it all here. Anyway, you get the idea.
So I have to ask–is there a lesson here for the Church also? All that has been recorded in the Scriptures pertaining to Israel’s unbelief has been written so we could learn from it and not repeat the same grievous errors that Israel committed. So how is the Church doing today with some of this? When it comes to sodomy, lesbianism, and abortion in our day the Church seems to be sending out a mixed message. Some get it right and others are way off in Left field, and then there are those in the broad middle that don’t seem to want to “offend” anyone and so they seem to take no position, not realizing that in so doing they are silently siding with the perverts and abortionists.
The warnings to Israel in Jesus’ day are something the Church needs to be aware of in our day, lest in trying to be even more merciful than God, we bring judgment upon ourselves.