by H.C.Heffren

Chapter Four

THE JEW'S RELIGION...

The title for this chapter is taken from Gal. 1:14, where Paul is referring to his past life in these words: "And profited in the Jew's religion above many mine equals in mine own nation..." In Acts 26:5, Paul called it, our religion. Both of these references to his own past are set in sharp contrast with his subsequent religious experience as is shown by his testimony- "But when it pleased God... to reveal His Son in me..." Gal. 3:15a, 16a. This contrast is set forth in bold relief in Phil. 3:4-8, "...if any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more; CIRCUMCISED the eighth day, of the stock of ISRAEL, of the tribe of Benjamin, an HEBREW OF THE Hebrews; as touching the law, Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were counted gain FOR ME, I counted LOSS FOR CHRIST ... and do count them but dung, that I might win Christ."

It seems passing strange that many present day evangelists cite the very things that Paul discarded as useless baggage in the seven things listed above, as the prime condition for having favor with God, namely Jewish descent. We hasten to add that Paul in every way was exceedingly proud of being a Jew and rightly so, but he rejected the Jew's religion. We have to admit, also, that Paul held Abraham in highest esteem and upheld his religion. In order to define what Paul called "dung" and what he prized more than life itself we must return once more to God's covenant with Abraham.

In Gen. 17:1-7 God's covenant with Abraham is outlined in detail. He had two previous encounters with God in Genesis chapters 12 and 15 but these were preliminary to establishing the covenant. In Gen. 17 he was then ninety-nine years of age and God changed his name from Abram to Abraham, meaning the father of MANY nations. God gave Sarai a new name and promised her a son. At this time the rite of circumcision was introduced as a sign of covenant relationship with God. It should be noted, however, that circumcision applied not only to Abraham and his blood descendants, but also Ishmael and Abraham's slaves, that is, "He that is bought with money of ANY stranger, which is NOT thy seed." Gen. 17:12. Thus we see that the covenant God made with Abraham had universal breath from the start. The all-important revelation of God to Abraham is found in Gen. 15:6, "And he BELIEVED in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness." These fourteen words attributed to Abraham have meant more than any other revelation of God to man for it is the foundation of righteousness by faith. In this respect Paul is in closest harmony with the covenant God made with Abraham.

Those who advocate the Jewish Race as being God's Chosen People perpetually and irrevocably ignore some very pertinent facts of history. In the lineage of Christ, for instance, we are told that the mother of Boaz was Rahab, the Canaanite; Boaz married Ruth, the Moabitess; Solomon's mother was a Hittite; Moses married a Midianite; Joseph married an Egyptian. The list is endless. In the days of Nehemiah the intermarriage of Jews with people of surrounding countries had reached national proportions. If the blessing of God, is confined to only those of pure Jewish blood or nationality, there would be a lot of "in-laws" left outside this circle. But since acceptance with God is on the basis of faith, we hear Ruth the Moabitess saying, "Thy people shall be MY people, and THY GOD MY God. "God SO LOVED THE WORLD..." Thus the Old Testament portrays the God of Abraham not as a parochial tribal deity, but as the God of mankind.

Paul......sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which HE HAD BEING UNCIRCUMCISED, that he might be the father of ALL them that believe though they be not circumcised, that righteousness might be IMPUTED to them also." Rom. 4:1 1. We call attention to Abraham's fatherhood OF THE FAITHFUL for it is clear that this fatherhood is neither pat ernal nor parental but rather that of being the originator. George Washington is regarded as the "father of his country." The men who framed the constitution of the Dominion of Canada are known as the "fathers of Confederation." Galileo is sometimes referred to as the "father of astronomy." Abraham was the first known man to attribute righteousness by faith in the Coming One, and in that sense he is the "father of the faithful," or all those who live by that faith.

May we now point out that both Christ and Paul were champions of the faith of Abraham and that both found themselves at variance with the Jews' religion of their day. This is very easy to prove. As mentioned previously, there are almost two hundred references to the Jews in the New Testament. Any person may use an ordinary concordance to find these. It would be both burdensome and unnecessary to quote all of these references so we shall focus attention on a fair sampling. After all, you do not have to eat a whole apple to know if it is bad! The samples, however, when compared with the whole, will indicate a substantial sameness. We wish to re- iterate that we are talking about the Jews' religion of Christ's time and not the Jews as a race.

Most of the encounters with the Jews in the New Testament are recorded in John's gospel and in the book of Acts. In John's gospel these events show a progression of the conflict between Christ and the Jews. It begins with, "He came to His own, and HIS OWN received Him not. John 1:12. Further we read, "Therefore did the JEWS persecute Him and sought to slay Him ... Therefore the JEWS sought the more to kill Him because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father..." John 5-46, 48. Next we read that; "He would not walk open in Paul goes to great lengths to prove that Abraham's justification by faith had no basis in circumcision or the flesh and declares this doctrine as follows: "And he received the Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him." John 7-1. The 8th chapter of John is most conclusive for it is a direct confrontation between the Jews' religion in contrast with the faith of Abraham. Notice then the following: "I know ye are Abraham's seed (fleshly descendants) but ye seek to kill Me because My Word has NO PLACE IN YOU...if ye WERE Abraham's children ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the TRUTH... ye are of your father, the Devil," "THEN said the Jews, Now we know well, that Thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil ... then took they up stones to cast Him out..." John 8:37,39,40,44,48,52 and 59. Quite obviously this entire chapter should be read to get the full import of this confrontation, but the above verses demonstrate how far the Jews' religion erred from the faith of their father, Abraham. It is most evident that Christ does not classify these people as God's Chosen People the way many present day preachers do!

The rising tide of antagonism against Christ is seen in John 9:22 as we read: “These words spake his parents because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if ANY man did confess that He was the Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.” Farther on we quote Jesus as saying, “I and My Father are one.” Then the Jews took up stones AGAIN to stone Him. John 10:30,31. The sad comment of John 12:37 is, “But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him.” This same sadness is shared in Matthew’s gospel as follows: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, YOUR house is left unto YOU desolate.” delivered Thee to me: what hast Thou done?” John 18:35. Christ’s sworn court testimony at this point is vital. He admitted that He was a King, but since His kingdom was not of this world, it did not conflict with Caesar’s authority. On the basis of this testimony Pilate found no fault in Him.

There are two tremendous issues at stake in the above question and answer. First, if Christ had ever offered an earthly kingdom to His followers, then His court testimony would have been perjury. Millennialists assert that Christ did offer an earthly kingdom. The second issue is obvious. If an earthly kingdom is required in order to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies, then Christ either had to bring it to pass or relinquish His claim as Messiah, in which case the Jews would have been perfectly justified in rejecting Him as an imposter. The only credential Christ possessed as Messiah: was that He was the One of whom the prophets wrote, for “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Rev. 19:10. No matter how you explain it away or postpone it, if Christ is not the Messiah who fulfills Old Testament prophecy, then He is not the Messiah at all. Impossible! The court case before Pilate ended in a bedlam of voices chanting, “We have NO king but Caesar.” John 19:15b. While it is obvious in the trial of Jesus that the Jews are most prominently featured, the Bible is insistent that the guilt for the crucifixion rests upon all mankind. Acts 4:24-28.

After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus we discover that the first violent outbreak against a follower of Christ was the stoning of Stephen. Stephen gave a masterful address before the crowd and was courteously heeded until he spoke of the national guilt in putting Christ to death. Thereupon we read, “They gnashed on him with their teeth…stopped their ears…cast him out of the city and stoned him.” Acts 7:54, 57, 59. After Saul of Tarsus was converted on the Damascus road, we read, “But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt in Damascus, PROVING this is very Christ. And after many days were fulfilled, the JEWS took counsel to kill him.” Matt. 23:37,38.delivered Thee to me: what hast Thou done?” John 18:35. Christ’s sworn court testimony at this point is vital. He admitted that He was a King, but since His kingdom was not of this world, it did not conflict with Caesar’s authority. On the basis of this testimony Pilate found no fault in Him. There are two tremendous issues at stake in the above question and answer. First, if Christ had ever offered an earthly kingdom to His followers, then His court testimony would have been perjury. Millennialists assert that Christ did offer an earthly kingdom. The second issue is obvious. If an earthly kingdom is required in order to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies, then Christ either had to bring it to pass or relinquish His claim as Messiah, in which case the Jews would have been perfectly justified in rejecting Him as an imposter. The only credential Christ possessed as Messiah: was that He was the One of whom the prophets wrote, for “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Rev. 19:10. No matter how you explain it away or postpone it, if Christ is not the Messiah who fulfills Old Testament prophecy, then He is not the Messiah at all. Impossible! The court case before Pilate ended in a bedlam of voices chanting, “We have NO king but Caesar.” John 19:15b. While it is obvious in the trial of Jesus that the Jews are most prominently featured, the Bible is insistent that the guilt for the crucifixion rests upon all mankind. Acts 4:24-28. After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus we discover that the first violent outb Opposition reached political levels in a short time. In Acts 12:2, 3, this note is recorded: “And he (Herod) killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw IT PLEASED THE JEWS he proceeded further to take Peter also…”

The next episode is a historical turning point that should be read with the greatest care. “And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the Word of the Lord. But when the JEWS saw the multitudes they were filled with envy, and spake against those things, which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. (Now notice!) Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the Word of God FIRST be spoken to you: but seeing ye PUT IT FROM YOU, and judge yourselves UNWORTHY OF EVERLASTING LIFE, lo we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation UNTO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH…But the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them out of their coasts.” Acts 13:44-47, 50. Certainly this does not sound as if Paul was in harmony with the present day teaching that such Jews are still God’s Chosen People! Two things should be observed, however. Notice that Paul preached a universal gospel, to the Jew first and it also included the Gentiles in worldwide scope. The other factor is that Paul made no mention of any future earthly reign, although his message proclaimed everlasting life.

Although the tactics were different at each place, the belligerent attitude of the Jew“Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From henceforth, I will go unto the Gentiles.” Acts 18:5b, 6. This episode is very final both in its wording and decision. Would Paul cease preaching to the Chosen People? If they were going to be saved ultimately then all his preaching and persecution was a waste of time!

The final episode of confrontation of the Jews in Acts takes place when Paul was a prisoner of Caesar. We are told that some Jews believed his message but the majority rejected it so Paul exclaimed quoting the prophecy of Isaiah, “Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, God unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see and not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross (dull) and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed…be it known, therefore unto you, the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.” It should be observed that Paul at no time gave any suggestion that God would deal with the Jews as a nation or as a people according to the flesh at any future time.

To sum up the Bible evidence of God’s attitude towards the Jews we make but one final appeal from the words of Paul as follows: “For ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the JEWS, who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please NOT God, and are contrary to all men; forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway; for THE WRATH IS COME UPON THEM TO THE UTTERMOST.” 1 Thess. 2:2 14b- the more striking to discover that both references consign those who SAY they are Jews and are NOT, to be of the synagogue of Satan. There is an eloquent silence about any future restoration of the Jews as a nation or as a people of God in this book of Revelation. The two verses containing almost identical quotations are found in Rev. 2:9 and ch. 3:9. Both refer to those “who SAY they are Jews and are not.” The implication is that “being” a Jew and “saying” you are a Jew is not the same thing any more than “saying” you are a Christian. Since this discriminating difference is mentioned over and over by the Apostle Paul, we shall turn to this phase of our study in search of the true Chosen People who are the heirs to God’s New Testament promises. God most certainly does have a Chosen People. God’s Word very plainly tells us who they are, as we shall soon see.

Chapter Five

THE REMNANT...

Thus far we have been trying to prove from God's Word just who the heirs to God's Will are. It is obvious that the party who breaks the conditions set forth in a Will does thereby nullify it completely. Nothing is taught more clearly in the Bible than the fact that as a nation and in the flesh, the Jews failed first by breaking the law covenant, and second by rejecting their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. There are sixty-nine references to the Jews in John's gospel alone, and another seventy-nine in the Book of Acts. In every case where they appear in a national, or in an official or representative capacity, they appear as rejecters and persecutors of Christ and His followers. After the Day of Pentecost there is no mention of Israel as a nation in the New Testament. There is no promise anywhere thereafter, of a future restoration to Divine favor or preference.

According to Webster it means, "What is left over; a residue: fragment or remainder; or the last been like unto Gomorrah." It is interesting that it does not say, "Sodom AND Gomorrah, but there is a reason. Lot and his daughters escaped from Sodom, but Gomorrah was totally exterminated. The Remnant, though small does remain and is vital. We quote now at length from lsa. 10:20- 22, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob ... the Remnant shall return, even the Remnant of Jacob UNTO the Mighty God. For though the people of Israel be as the sand of the sea., yet a Remnant shall retum: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness." This prophecy is quoted by Paul in Romans 9:27 where he interprets this SAVED Remnant as the equivalent to overflowing with righteousness. Then follows lsa. II: 1 6 which says, "And there shall be a highway for the Remnant of his people, which shall be left from Assyria- like as it was to Israel in the day he came up out of the land of Egypt.11

May we point out that the road back from Assyria; was a return from captivity. The road out of Egypt was escape from bondage and from savage oppression to liberty and self-determination. It forever stands as the prime Bible comparison of salvation from sin, and for deliverance from Satan's kingdom to the kingdom of God. This gospel highway appears again in lsa. 35:8, 10; "And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the WAY OF HOLINESS... and the ransomed (remnant) of the Lord shall return, and come to ZION with songs of everlasting joy upon their heads..." The early Christians were first known as "the people of the WAY." Jesus said in His most memorable message, the Sermon on the mount, "Enter ye in at the strait gate ... because strait is the gate and narrow is THE WAY, which leadeth to LIFE (eternal life) and FEW there be that find it." Matt. 7:13, 14. This way, which Jesus is talking about, is the highway of holiness. Please note that the strait gate is spelled strait not straight. Strait means rigid, restricted or exacting. It is selective and conditional in contrast with the wide gate and the broad WAY. The narrow WAY is the highway of holiness and it is just wide enough for a man to walk with God. For our spiritual security, that is as wide as it needs to be to lead us ever heavenward.

The Millennial doctrine teaches that: when Christ returns He will stand on the Mount of Olives, and the Jews will be converted by the sight of Him there. While sufficient Scriptural proof has been quoted to dismiss any such interpretation of this passage, we will turn to it now and seek the true Bible meaning. The main source of this teaching is found in the prophet Zechariah. In order to get the clearest picture it will be essential to include the context. It begins thus: "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleaness. Zec. 13:1. Everyone agrees that this cleansing fountain is fulfilled in the gospel of Christ who cleanses the soul from the defilement of sin. This establishes what day ("in that day") we are considering. "And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." Zech. 13:6. For an answer to this verse we refer to the resurrected Christ and His encounter with Thomas. "But Thomas said ... Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe ... Then said He (Jesus) to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into My side; and be not faithless but believing." John 20:25,27.

remaining evidence of what has been." This is enlightening and helpful. A remnant is only a very small part of the original but it is of the same basic substance and identity as the original. We can only quote a few pertinent references from the many contained in the Bible but they will suffice to show how important the Remnant is in fulfilling God's Plan. We note first of all in lsa. 1:9, "Except the Lord of Hosts had left unto us a VERY SMALL Remnant, we should have been like unto Gomorrah." It is interesting that it does not say, "Sodom AND Gomorrah, but there is a reason. Lot and his daughters escaped from Sodom, but Gomorrah was totally exterminated. The Remnant, though small does remain and is vital. We quote now at length from lsa. 10:20- 22, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob ... the Remnant shall return, even the Remnant of Jacob UNTO the Mighty God. For though the people of Israel be as the sand of the sea., yet a Remnant shall retum: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness." This prophecy is quoted by Paul in Romans 9:27 where he interprets this SAVED Remnant as the equivalent to overflowing with righteousness. Then follows lsa. II: 1 6 which says, "And there shall be a highway for the Remnant of his people, which shall be left from Assyria- like as it was to Israel in the day he came up out of the land of Egypt.11 May we point out that the road back from Assyria; was a return from captivity. The road out of Egypt was escape from bondage and from savage oppression to liberty and self-determination. It forever stands as the prime Bible comparison of salvation from sin, and for deliverance from Satan's kingdom to the kingdom of God. This gospel highway appears again in lsa. 35:8, 10; "And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the WAY OF HOLINESS... and the ris talking about, is the highway of holiness. Please note that the strait gate is spelled strait not straight. Strait means rigid, restricted or exacting. It is selective and conditional in contrast with the wide gate and the broad WAY. The narrow WAY is the highway of holiness and it is just wide enough for a man to walk with God. For our spiritual security, that is as wide as it needs to be to lead us ever heavenward. The Millennial doctrine teaches that: when Christ returns He will stand on the Mount of Olives, and the Jews will be converted by the sight of Him there. While sufficient Scriptural proof has been quoted to dismiss any such interpretation of this passage, we will turn to it now and seek the true Bible meaning. The main source of this teaching is found in the prophet Zechariah. In order to get the clearest picture it will be essential to include the context. It begins thus: "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleaness. Zec. 13:1. Everyone agrees that this cleansing fountain is fulfilled in the gospel of Christ who cleanses the soul from the defilement of sin. This establishes what day ("in that day") we are considering. "And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then The next verse states: "Awake, 0 sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered ... if v.7. For the interpretation of this verse we rely on the highest authority, namely Christ Himself, Who said, "All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." Mark 14:27. The gospel context of these verses, and the application by Christ to His gospel era are significant, and this prepares us for the next important announcement.

"And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third part shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on My name, and I will hear them: I will say, IT IS MY PEOPLE: and they shall say, The Lord is my God." Zech. 3:8,9. We are dealing with division now. Two "parts" (not necessarily Two-thirds) are separated and die while a third part (the Remnant), remains. God calls this "part" MY people. They respond by calling the Lord, MY God. The importance of this division will soon be apparent, but first let us finish the quotation.