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The Advantage of Being Jewish

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
December 8, 2020 7:00 am

The Advantage of Being Jewish

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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When was the last time you faced derision as the result of your Christian faith? Can you imagine doing anything in your life as a Christian, knowing it's going to invite open derision and hatred and mockery? The moment you arrive on that campus, you'll be mocked. The moment you leave, up until that moment, you'll be mocked. You'll be found in derision. You'll be scorned. You'll be mistreated and misunderstood. Is there anything in our Christian experience that invites that?

Would we be willing to do it? I fear that the church today doesn't invite derision from the world simply because it's so much like it. The Bible doesn't encourage us to antagonize people or provoke them to the point where they lash out at us. But it does tell us that when we are identified as belonging to God, the enemies of God will take out their hatred of Him on us. That was certainly true for the Jews. As God's chosen people, they were constantly under persecution. But in the New Testament, the Jews also needed to be provoked because they rested on their lineage for salvation instead of on the work of Jesus Christ. Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart.

Today, Stephen Davey has a lesson for you called The Advantage of Being Jewish. Thus far in our study through the first two chapters of Romans, the Apostle Paul has played the role of that unpretentious messenger. He has revealed the nakedness of the unbeliever. He has also revealed that the hands of man cannot fashion clothing that will ever be able to cover the barrenness of the human heart.

In spite of its ritual, in spite of all of its parading and ceremony, the looms of religion throughout the world are empty. They cannot weave cloth to cover guilt and sin. In reality, those that cover themselves with that which religion produces leaves a person exposed and naked before the one true God with whom they will have to deal. In chapter 1, Paul has exposed the nakedness of the immoral man who has ignored creation. In chapter 2, he has exposed the nakedness of the moral man who has ignored his conscience.

Both categories are found without excuse. Romans chapter 1 verse 20, so they are without excuse. Romans chapter 2 verse 1, therefore you are without excuse. And now in the latter part of chapter 2, Paul is exposing the guilt of the religious man who has spoken the truth but has ignored the reality of it, has taught morality but has chosen to cover over and to hide the immorality of his own heart and mind. Paul has begun, as you remember perhaps from chapter 2, the latter part, he has begun addressing specifically the Jew. The Jew was the epitome of morality. The Jew was the epitome of one who followed the truth. The Jew was the one who above all others had a relationship with the one true living God. Surely they were all right before his holy gaze.

But we have discovered that that indeed was not true. In the last paragraph of chapter 2, Paul has exposed them as being as much in need of true spiritual clothing as the unbelieving Gentile. And that would have been as shocking to the Jew as it was to the emperor to discover from the lips of an honest child that he was in fact naked when he thought he was parading about in finery.

So the Jew would have been shocked to discover that he was in fact spiritually unclothed, uncovered, exposed before God. If anybody felt they had a right to heaven, it was the Jew. If anybody felt they had a right to the kingdom, it was the son of Abraham. They were God's covenanted people. They were the sons of Abraham and those who had followed the law of God. Paul said to them, in effect, it wasn't good enough to clothe their hearts.

They were in fact guilty and in need. The writer of Hebrews said there is no creature hidden from God's sight, but all things are open and naked before the eyes of God. Hebrews 4 13. So in effect, we're discovering that there is no race of men anywhere that has an advantage before God. Son of Abraham or not, there is nobody that has the edge. There isn't anybody that can pull strings before God and say, well, you remember me?

I knew who and I knew this and I did that and won't matter. No one has an advantage when it comes to gaining entrance into heaven. No Gentile. And he declares here, not even the Jew. Now for the past 43 verses, Paul has been delivering truth and then assuming anticipating the objection and answering the objection.

And it's been fascinating how God has used this brilliant lawyer to form this treatise of grand theology. He is now under the superintendents of the Holy Spirit, anticipating the very next objection that will come from the lips of the Jew. Chapter three, verse one, he speaks for them and he says, then what advantage has the Jew or what is the benefit of circumcision? In other words, Paul, if you're saying to me, Jew, the truth, then who cares about the temple?

Who cares about the sacrificial system and Judaism at large? I mean, why bother with the right of circumcision? Why bother keeping our bloodline distinct from the rest of the world? Why put up with isolation from the world? Why bother with all of the Sabbath observances? Why go through the pain of being different and being misunderstood? Give us one good reason. In other words, why we should remain Jews. Why not give it all away? It doesn't matter evidently and live like the rest of the pagan world.

Why not? That was the next objection that would come and he knew it would. They would say to him, well, what advantages has the Jew? What benefit is there to being a circumcised Jew? You need to understand a little bit of Jewish history to understand the implication of this one phrase. The Jew could look back over his shoulder and see nothing but years of suffering and difficulty and hardship. They felt that it would be worth it because they were going to go to heaven because of it.

Just as many people think that they abstained from this and they don't do that and it's worth it because that'll get me into heaven. So the Jew looked back over his shoulder and saw nothing but the difficulty that he had experienced and why his nation had centuries of persecution and humiliation and division and slavery. Even after they entered the promised land, they had to fight for every square inch of land and then they had to fight to protect it.

They still couldn't rest. Several hundred years after they were there, they were now divided by their own civil war. The country and the nation of people divided into the southern and northern kingdoms, both having become idolatrous. The northern kingdom was decimated by the Assyrians and the southern kingdom by the Babylonians and the Babylonians swept in and took away their choice ones, young men we remember with names like Daniel and Meshach and Shadrach and Abednego. Decimated thinking they would never see the land again, but eventually they were allowed to return and under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, they rebuilt their little city and they rebuilt eventually the temple. But even when they did that, they had to have one hand on the trowel with the bricks and the stone and the other hand on the sword because they were under constant threat of war and potential extinction. But they rebuilt. It wasn't long before Greece conquered them and Antiochus Epiphanes, the foreshadowing of the coming Antichrist, went into their temple and sacrificed a pig on their holy altar and killed their priests and decimated them once again.

Later, under Roman rule, they had barely scrapped things together again. They continued their journey of hardship and pain and suffering. Tens of thousands of Jews who over the course of the next few decades would rebel against Rome would be slaughtered, usually by crucifixion. In the year of our Lord's on crucifixion, Jewish historians tell us that 2,000 other Jewish men were crucified.

The difference with our Lord was that he was the God man who'd come to be crucified on purpose to save us from our sin. But this popular means of death was exercised against several thousand Jewish men. Under Herod the Great, you remember that he had slaughtered all of the babies two years of age and under because he had heard that one had been born who would be the king of the Jews and this paranoid man, desiring to protect his throne, created such disaster and heartache that the Bible reads that the weeping of the Jewish people is heard throughout the land.

Finally, in A.D. 70, the Roman general Titus Vespasian marched against Jerusalem, came under Caesar's orders. Rome had had enough of the Jew. By this time, the Jewish origins and religion was twisted with unnatural maliciousness. It was said that the Jews had originated from a company of lepers who had been sent by the king of Egypt to work in the sand quarries and that a man named Moses had gone to the sand quarries and rescued and banded together the lepers and they escaped to Palestine.

It was said that they worshipped the head of a donkey because it was while making their way to Palestine that a herd of wild donkeys led them to water when they were about to die of thirst. By this time, the Jewish customs were not only mocked, but they were also misunderstood and they were even hated. Now think for a moment before we continue this history lesson that eventually I'll tell you where we're going. Can you imagine doing anything in your life as a Christian knowing it's going to invite open derision and hatred and mockery? The moment you arrive on that campus, you'll be mocked. The moment you leave up until that moment you'll be mocked. You'll be found in derision. You'll be scorned. You'll be mistreated and misunderstood. Is there anything in our Christian experience that invites that?

Would we be willing to do it? I fear that the church today doesn't invite derision from the world simply because it's so much like it. According to Josephus, more than a million Jews of all ages were butchered by Titus. Some 100,000 of those who survived were sold into slavery or sent to Rome to die in the gladiatorial games. Around the same time, other Gentiles took courage by the actions of Rome and they rose up in Caesarea and killed 20,000 Jews and sold many more of them into slavery. Gentile residents in Damascus literally cut the throats of 10,000 Jews in one single day. Ladies and gentlemen, anti-Semitism can only be explained in light of Satan's hatred for this people. Satan hates Jesus Christ, the son of God, the God-man who chose to be born of Jewish blood. Satan knows the covenant that God has with Israel. And so Satan has launched his most diabolical schemes and murderous attacks against the Jew because if Satan can get rid of the Jew, then he can make null and void the covenant of God with the Jew for that coming day we read of in Revelation.

And so by making that null and void, Satan can then make God a liar, unable to keep his word. That's why he has so horrifically attacked the people from beginning of time. Satan also knows that 144,000 Jews will become evangelists during the great tribulation and will bring millions of people to faith in Christ in Revelation 7. He knows the covenant with the Jews will involve restoration of their land and the city of Jerusalem is the centerpiece of God's kingdom on earth with Christ ruling on the throne in Revelation 21. And so he hates that of course. So since the establishment of this nation, Satan has launched his hatred, his blood lust against the Jew and will continue until he makes one final attempt to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

We're told in Revelation chapter 20, but he will be defeated and thrown into the lake of fire. You cannot explain the hatred of the Jew without understanding Satan and his hatred for the Jew. Oftentimes, the Jews suffered because of their own desire for independence. In A.D. 115, the Jews rebelled against Rome.

When they failed, Emperor Hadrian destroyed nearly a thousand Palestinian towns and killed at least 600,000 Jewish men. So many Jews were sold into slavery at that time that the price of a Jewish slave was the same as the price of a horse. 200 years later, the Roman Emperor formulated a legal code that declared Jews to be an inferior race of human beings.

That of course is a demonic idea for any race to be lesser than or greater than another. That would permeate Europe for more than a thousand years, not 50 years, not 100 years, but a thousand years. In the 13th century, they were banished from France. In the 15th century, they were exiled from Spain. I've stood on a hillside in southern France and kept a little pebble from the location of Jewish believers who were exiled, who had followed the one true and living God, and France kicked them out.

So did Spain. In 1818, tens of thousands of Jews were massacred in the Ukraine. We're more familiar with the 1900s, the 1940s, specifically Adolf Hitler, than just one more chapter in antisemitism, one more chapter of Satan's attempt to wipe the Jew off the face of the earth. His regime would kill six million Jews.

One historian records for us that as Hitler's troops marched together, they would often sing this marching tune. Sharpen the knives on the pavement stone. Sink the knives into Jewish flesh and bone. Let the blood flow freely.

Let the blood flow freely. To this day, in our generation, for the Jews that have returned to the land of their forefathers, they are in the newspapers nearly every day, and they are on the newscasts nearly every day, and they're doing what? They're fighting to keep one little inch of land.

And it's not going to stop, by the way. According to the Bible, there will never be the peace that they want until the book of Revelation. From a purely historical perspective, ladies and gentlemen, the Jews have been treated more ruthlessly and more mercilessly than any other people of all time. The pages of history are stained with the blood of the Jews. Now, here's the purpose of that lesson.

Thanks for staying with me. Go back and read Romans 3.1 now. With the history as your backdrop, even though the Jews of Romans 3 don't know the sufferings of their future, they certainly know the sufferings of their past. No wonder they will say now to Paul, listen, with what we know that has gone on with being a Jew, what advantage has the Jew?

What benefit has circumcision? If you've told us that being a son of Abraham will not get us into heaven, why bother? If you've told us that following dietary laws and all of the regulations of the Mosaic law and keeping our blood unspotted from Gentile races, that doesn't matter for heaven, why do it? We don't have security socially. We don't have security politically.

We don't have security physically. And now, Paul, you are telling us we do not have security spiritually. By the way, if you give the gospel of Christ to a good person who lives a good life and you tell them it's not by works lest any man should boast Ephesians 2, 8, and 9, they'll say, well, then what's the benefit of good works? Why not sin? If you give the gospel to someone who has an upstanding reputation, that his reputation means nothing to God in terms of getting into heaven, and he will most likely say, well, then what benefit is there to keeping a good reputation? Tell someone who has avoided the sins of the flesh that they cannot get into heaven simply because they are chaste, and they will say, you mean I abstained for nothing?

Why not sin? You need to understand the gospel, my friends. You don't do good works in order to get into heaven.

There's nothing you can do. You don't do good works to get in. You do good works because you are what?

Because you are going. You don't try to live a holy life so that you will be accepted by God. You strive to live a holy life out of gratitude because you have been accepted by God already. Getting into heaven is not a matter of what you've done. It's a matter of what Christ has done.

In fact, it's not a matter of you. It's a matter of who Christ is in you, right? You didn't get saved by being good, which is good news. That means you can't be unsaved by being bad.

And someone might say, well, why bother then with being good? Are you just telling us let's go and sin? Well, Paul will deal with that later.

We don't have time here. But let me at least say that being godly isn't evidence of belonging to God. Well, he unfolds for the Jew the fact that spiritual security is not in being related to Abraham.

He's going to continue to work through this chapter and develop the truth that being related to Christ brings the only spiritual security. Then what advantage has the Jew or what is the benefit of circumcision? Now, Paul's answer here would surprise them and frankly surprises me because I would think he would say absolutely nothing. There's no benefit to being a Jew.

There's no benefit to circumcision. But what does he say? He says in verse two, great in every respect. You want to know what the benefit of being a Jew is?

Oh, it's great in every respect. First of all, he says, the Jew was entrusted with the oracles of God. That is, the Jew was given the logia, the words, the oracles, the very revelation of God. The Jew was given the holy scriptures. And what are the scriptures?

They're the greatest thing ever given. They reveal the nature and character of God. They tell us who he is. They tell us what he demands and expects. They tell us the things that he's done. They reveal the creative acts of his power.

They tell us of a coming redeemer. They also tell us who we are. They give us our purpose in life. They tell us our nature. They tell us what we must do to be pleasing to God, to be accepted before God.

They tell us the way of salvation is by Christ alone. They explain the path of those who would live godly lives having been accepted by God. The Jewish nation, Paul says, listen, you have an incredible benefit. You were given the inspired infallible record of the nature and purpose of God and all of mankind. What an incredible blessing from Moses on Mount Sinai on to the prophets through Jesus Christ and the apostles. You will have been given the word entrusted with it. The word entrusted by the way is a wonderful Greek word root word that gives us the same word steward. They were given the stewardship of the word of God. That means it wasn't theirs.

They just took care of it for the rest of the world. And my how the Jew took care of it with great care. Now Paul has already stated in chapter two that having a copy of the law isn't good enough.

He explained that even teaching the law was not good enough. However, he would say that in chapter three verse two that having a copy of it is an undeniable blessing and a great privilege. And for the Jew to have been the early recipient of this, what a great privilege it was.

So he says in effect, don't forget, God chose to give his revelation to and through you, the Jewish nation. You've been entrusted with it. Anybody ever entrust you with anything? Maybe to watch over it?

Care for it? I performed a wedding several years ago for a young lady who was a missionary kid. Her parents served in the Philippines and she had met a guy in Bible College and they were getting married and they chose to use a Philippine custom. And they had silk ribbons tied across the front row of the aisle and tied in a beautiful bow. And that time of the ceremony where the bride of course comes marching down to the tune we're all familiar with and my two girls already know how to play on the piano, they're coming down here and then eventually I say, who gives this woman to be married to this man? And he said, her mother and I, and then the father unwrapped that bow and then let the silk fall and then handed his daughter over to this unworthy young man.

He entrusted her to him. I remember reading the story of Thomas Edison who was working on improving his first light bulb. They had spent days, I don't know how many of you lived in the Michigan area were able to visit his shop. Very intriguing. After they had fashioned that light bulb, it was supposed to be taken up some stairs to a vacuum chamber and Edison to the surprise of his staff handed it to a young attendant, a young boy, said, here, you take it up. The young boy of course was very nervous and he took that light bulb and he walked up the stairs as carefully as he could but at the last step he stumbled and fell, dropped the light bulb and it shattered into a thousand pieces.

It took the staff nearly two days to fashion another one and when they finished Edison took that light bulb and handed it back to that same boy and said, you can take it up, which he did successfully. You ever been entrusted with something special? See, Paul is saying to the Jew, oh, I've said all of that that doesn't get you into heaven but let me tell you how special you are. You have been entrusted with holy scripture. Imagine that kind of grace and kindness and patience to give frail man his infallible word. Do you own a copy of the Bible?

Do you know what a privilege that is? It's easy to take for granted because we probably have three or four copies. There are millions of people in our world today that do not have one verse in their language. Whether you're a believer or not, I want you to know you are privileged to have a copy. The Apostle Paul would write later in another letter to his son in the faith in 2 Timothy 3 that all scripture is God-breathed, that is profitable for several things, for teaching, for reproving, correcting, training and righteousness. The Bible is good, he said, for teaching. That's the word doctrine or the body of faith that tells you what is true, that tells you what you are to believe. You find out what you are to believe in this book and if you know what to believe, you will know how to behave. You cannot behave right unless you believe rightly. The Bible also, he says, gives you reproof that tells you where you are wrong.

It sort of shouts at you if you are in it, what you're doing is wrong, stop, don't go there, come back. The word of God is also good for correction. That sounds like a negative word but in the Greek text it's a positive word.

It literally means to stand somebody up on their feet, to stand them upright so they can face life. But as you pack your things away, let me read you this quote from a man who wrote a few years ago of our great privilege in having the word of God. He wrote this, this book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts binding, its histories are true and its decisions are unchangeable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass and the soldier's sword. It should fill the memory, test the heart, guide the feet.

Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory. It is a river of pleasure. It involves the highest responsibility. It rewards the greatest labor and it condemns all who trifle with its sacred contents. Christ is its grand subject.

Our good is its design. And the glory of God is its end. That my friends is the Bible you own and hopefully that you read and cherish. This is lesson one in Stephen Davies' three-part series called How We Got Our Bible.

Come back and listen for the next two days as Stephen fleshes out this truth even more. Since we're on the theme of God's Word, I want to make sure you know about the Wisdom International daily Bible reading plan. People who love and cherish God's Word will demonstrate that by reading it.

In fact, you can't honestly claim to love the Bible without reading it. We've developed a plan that takes you through God's Word in one year with six readings per week. We don't have a reading for Sunday, so you can use Sunday to get caught up if you missed a day. It's posted to the Wisdom International app. When you install our app, you can easily follow along. And we also have a printed brochure that you can keep tucked in your Bible. Download the app in the iTunes or Google Play stores or call us for a printed copy. Our number is 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. We'll be happy to drop a copy in the mail to you. Have a great day and please join us again tomorrow for our next lesson here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-17 14:31:26 / 2024-01-17 14:41:47 / 10

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