By Al Stoner
“For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers” (Gal. 1:13-14).
When reasoning with those who are devoutly Jewish it soon becomes evident that their professed religion is greatly lacking, and that there is a definite missing part, as one objectively considers it. What they have embraced religiously yet constitutes them as unregenerate citizens of this present evil world. It is evident from their speech and practice that, to this day, they remain strangers to “the powers of the world to come” (Heb. 6:5) and that they are not “joined” experientially “unto the Lord” (I Cor. 6:16). Though they profess to reverence Him, their religion leaves them in a state of alienation from God. This is because they, as a people, are yet outside of Christ.
The Jews, at least those who are devoutly religious among them, would probably acknowledge that Jesus was “a good man” and a “rabbi” and even that He was a son of God, but not the only begotten Son of the Father. They make a profession of faith, of sorts, in Jehovah, holding fast to the Ten Commandments, as well as other traditions, as the rule for living, and compliance therewith as the means of acceptance with God. But we here affirm that their own Torah would stop every self-justifying Jewish mouth (cf. Rom. 3:19) and convince them of their guiltiness before Jehovah and of their need for salvation from sin (if they would but take it seriously). We affirm here also that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of men, is that missing part which is absent from “the Jews’ religion” (Gal. 1:13- 14). Only His testimony is the spirit of prophecy (cf. Rev. 19:10), and only His blessed Person is the Substance of every shadow cast by the Law and the Prophets. “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col. 2:17, ESV).
“The law and the prophets” (Jn. 1:45; Rom. 3:21) both anticipated with great clarity a coming One, who would bruise the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15), bear the awful brunt of men’s iniquities and transgression (Isa. 53:1-12), provide the needed cleansing for sin and uncleanness (Zech. 13:1), even making an end of sins and bringing in everlasting righteousness (Dan. 9:24), and who also would make the Holy One to be marvelously approachable by all who will receive the Divinely provided atonement and reconciliation (Rom. 5:11).
This can be clearly seen by considering what is written about the tabernacle in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, especially.) The fact that only the priests were permitted to enter into the outer portions of the tabernacle to do the service of God, and particularly, that only the High Priest could enter into Most Holy Place “once a year” [Lev. 16:34], and not without the blood of animal sacrifice, made it abundantly, and as well, instructively clear that sin had made the Lord Jehovah to be entirely unapproachable by sinful men. But the tabernacle also teaches us that God was marvelously providing an appointed “Way” for men to come into very His Presence [Jn. 14:6; Heb. 9:7-8; 10:18-20] so that they may return and be reconciled to Him. And this Way, of course, is Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world. The Lord Jesus Christ is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).
Even the Law of God clearly teaches that sin is the great alienator of men from God and that coming back to God is the central issue of importance that confronts men in life, at least for those who will “hear the Law” (Gal. 4:21). It only remained for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to declare unto men the Divinely appointed remedy for the sin dilemma. For in the gospel is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith (see. Rom. 1:16). The gospel declares that it is right for God to forgive sins, and impute righteousness to men, because of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which has followed.
Most (if not all) of Jewry today does not sacrifice bulls and goats as their law clearly required of them, nor do they seriously consider the significance of the tabernacle service (cf. Exod. 39:40) which is an undeniable part of their revealed heritage. The multitudes of bloody sacrifices offered under the Law pointed ahead unmistakably to the offering of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. The tabernacle, on the other hand, graphically illustrates, to those who will honestly consider, that the God of Heaven, the Holy One, cannot be approached by men apart from the shedding of sacrificial atoning blood (cf. Heb. 9:22; Lev. 17:11), and by the way and means of appropriation which He Himself has ordained. (A thoughtful consideration of the tabernacle ought to constrain men to say: “What must I do to be saved?”)
The Jews’ professed religion, as it stands today, does not take into account, nor come to grips with, the matter of man’s sin and sinfulness “by nature” (cf. Eph. 2:3). Apparently somehow, the Holy One, according to the Jews’ present philosophy of religion, is now able to overlook sin??, or even able to fellowship with iniquity??, as long as a certain religious routine is followed by men. Of course, we, who “know Him” (I Jn. 2:4; 5:20), know of a certainty that He is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and” cannot “look on iniquity” (Hab. 1:13) and that He “will by no means clear the guilty” (Exod. 34:7). Neither “the throne of iniquity” nor those who “walk in darkness” can have “fellowship with Him” (Ps. 94:20; I Jn. 1:5-6). If men are going to enter into God’s Presence they must be cleansed from their iniquities by the means that God Himself has devised (cf. Gen. 22:8; Jn. 1:29, 36; Rom. 5:8-10; II Cor. 5:18-19).
Now for the time however, “blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). “God has given them (the Jews) the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear; unto this day” (v. 8). But “they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again” (v. 23), that is, into fellowship and favor with Himself through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.
Though it might seem like an impossible thing to the mind of the flesh that the Jews would ever renounce their long-held renunciation of the Savior and finally receive Him, yet the Scriptures assuredly declare and anticipate that they shall (cf. Lk. 13:35; Rom. 9-11; II Cor. 3:13-16; Deut. 32:21; Mal. 4:5-6). “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom. 11:26). As it was declared to Jews who lived in the first century, so it may be loudly proclaimed to all who are living in our generation: “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12). --Editor