A Transcript Of The Video Study
As we saw from the previous study, there are three biblical divisions of history, equally divided into 2,000 year time periods. The focal point of the first and last divisions are all the nations of the earth—the word Gentile is used to identify anyone who is not Jewish. Whereas, the focal point of the second time period is that of the Jewish people as a nation.
This view of history is comparable to an hourglass. An hourglass is a device designed to measure the passage of time. The top and bottom ends of the glass are large cylinders, with sand filling one end. The middle section of the glass is a narrow passageway, where only a few grains of sand are able to slip through the opening. This narrow passageway is carefully sized so as to gauge a certain length of time to get the sand from one end of the glass to the other. An hourglass was the early form of a stop watch. Now, if you flip the hourglass on its side, it helps illustrate how the middle section of history is designed to serve a similar function in connection with God’s masterplan for the ages. The first and third divisions are two larger sections of history with the focal point on all the nations of the earth, whereas the second division is a narrow section of history with the focal point on the Jewish people as a nation. This then leads to the question—Why did God create the Jewish race and organize them into a nation? Why is the majority of the Old Testament scriptures focused on the Jewish people as a race and a nation?
Well, this is an important question to answer, if we are to understand and appreciate the books of the Old Testament. There are at least four reasons why God created the nation of Israel, and, why the focal point is put on them during these 2,000 years of history.
First, the Jewish people are the lineage through which the Messiah would be born. From eternity, God the Father appointed the Son to serve as the Redeemer of His elect people. In this capacity, the Son of God is called the Messiah, or, the anointed one—anointed by the Father to save His people from their sins. When the fulness of time had come, the Father sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem His people from the curse of the law and their sins. Henceforth, the Father prepared the human nature to which His Son would be united—a human nature of body and soul. The body prepared by the Father would be of Jewish descent. The human ancestry of the Messiah would be that of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; that of Ruth, Jesse and David; that of Mary, a virgin, and espoused to Joseph. The Jewish people, therefore, served the distinguished role of becoming the lineage through which the Messiah would be born.
Second, the Jewish people, as a nation, were also the repository for the Old Testament Scriptures. The first five books of the Old Testament were written by Moses, the founder of the Jewish people as a nation. When these books were written, they were safely guarded and carefully preserved near the Ark of the Covenant. When God inspired other Jewish prophets to write portions of the Old Testament scriptures, those writings too were added to the books of Moses. Certain men were appointed to safeguard the Old Testament scriptures, whose job it was to also make perfect copies of the text. Such was the meticulous nature and high reverence for God among the Jewish people, that scrupulous rules were followed ensuring the preservation, accuracy and purity of the original text of scripture. The Jewish people, therefore, served the distinguished role of becoming the guardians of the Old Testament Scriptures.
Third, the Jewish people, as a nation, was also appointed a house of gospel witness. A house of gospel witness is a community of people bearing testimony of the gospel of sovereign grace. The first house of gospel witness was the family unit, beginning with Adam and Eve after they had been born again. Throughout the course of history, those family units unto whom God was pleased to make His grace known, automatically became a house of gospel witnesses. Like Job—having experienced the new birth, he assumed the role of priest, or pastor, for the members of his family, leading them in worship, building them up in the gospel and interceding for them at the throne of grace. You see, family units have always served as local houses of gospel witnesses. However, it pleased the Lord, when He instituted the Jewish people as a nation, to appoint the Tabernacle and Temple worship as a national house of gospel witness among the Jewish people. The Tabernacle and Temple, with their furnishings, tapestries, altars, sacrifices, ceremonies and priesthood, all pointed to the gospel of Christ—to His Person and work. The Jewish people, therefore, served the distinguish role of becoming a national house of gospel witness.
Fourth, the Jewish people, as a nation, were also a parable of God’s spiritually elect people. A parable is an earthly picture of a spiritual truth. What is the spiritual truth the Jewish people as a nation illustrate? Before the foundation of the world, from eternity, God the Father divided the human race between those whom He set apart as special objects of His love—His elect people; and those whom He set aside as objects of less love—His non-elect people. The elect are men and women belonging to the human race—they are among all peoples of the world, Jews and Gentiles. Likewise, the non-elect are men and women belonging to the human race—they are among all peoples of the world, Jews and Gentiles. What distinguishes the one from the other is not RACE, but GRACE. It is by grace God the Father has chosen to save His elect people from their sins. Now, when God created the Jewish race, setting them apart as a nation, from all other nations of the earth, and calling them His elect people, that is a parable, or a picture, designed to illustrate this spiritual truth of eternal election. Henceforth, there are two types of election to distinguish when reading the Scriptures—there is a temporal, racial and national election of the Jewish people; and, there is an eternal, gracious and spiritual election of the special objects of God’s saving love. It is, therefore, a mistake, to think of the Jewish people as God’s elect people unto salvation, as if God saved them from their sins on the basis of their race and national identity. No sinner has ever been saved from his/her sin and delivered from the wrath of God on the basis of his/her race or national identity. The record of the Jewish people as a nation in the Old Testament scriptures is given to us for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope—that blessed hope, of our eternal, gracious and spiritual election unto salvation.
This, of course, raises the question—does God have a purpose for the Jewish people as a nation today, or in the future? We will consider that question in our next study.
Jared Smith served twenty years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist church in Kensington (London, England). He now serves as an Evangelist in the Philippines, preaching the gospel, organizing churches and training gospel preachers.