Post Title: Comfort My People
Whether Scripture's witness to God's covenant of love with Israel is a subject foreign or familiar to you, I cannot stress enough its importance. It informs a biblical worldview, shapes the biblical imagination, and is the way of thinking that is ours in Messiah Jesus.
Let me summarize and finalize some concluding thoughts.
God's election and covenant with Israel was sovereign and free; it was compelled by love alone. Why did he choose Abraham? Because of Love and Love alone. He could have done otherwise but did not; he chose Abraham and his offspring as a vehicle for redeeming the earth. They are to be witnesses of his identity, his glory, his goodness, his might and majesty.
He chose Israel out of love, which issued from his grace. Not that they were saints but because they were Abraham's seed. Not that they were always faithful but because God is always faithful. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! (Rom 3:3-4) Paul understood that if God forsakes his covenant pledges to Israel then we are all riding a raft on a turbulent ocean. There is then no certainty whatsoever regardless of what Scripture promises us.
What is at stake with Israel is God's call to be his witnesses. God's covenant with them is an everlasting covenant, and his commitment to them is to be faithful and loving. If we undermine all those things, then our call, commission, and covenant are in jeopardy. God chose Israel not because they were faithful, but because they were a family—the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He dwells in and with Israel, and covenants with her because he loves her.
Yes, God is a father who loves Israel with agape love. But he is also a husband who loves her with eros love.
To know Yahweh's passion for his people you have to humanize him. His is more than some impersonal divine agape, it is gut-wrenching eros. He is passionate for Israel. He will not forsake her because his name will be revealed as glorious in all the earth through her. He will show himself to be great and holy through the most insignificant. He will become the King of all through the least of all nations.
My friends, Jesus says to us that salvation is of the Jews. Therefore our debt to them is enormous. We have no patriarchs and prophets, no Bible, old or new testaments, no Messiah and hope; we have no God apart from Israel. Do you grasp what I am saying? We would be utterly lost with no ability to know God's identity, character, and reality were it not for the nation of Israel!
So I leave you with this sobering thought.
If we isolate or remove God's covenant love from Israel, as so many Christian theologians, pastors, and teachers do, we risk thinking of and relating to him wrongly. Because the true God—the One Jesus taught us to call Holy Father—is the God of Israel.
He is not some abstraction, the unmoved mover of Greek philosophy. He is not some impersonal universal consciousness of Brahman or the New Age. No, he is a person who revealed himself to Israel by name. Yahweh. And he chose to identify himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
And when the end of all things comes, the God of Israel will prove to be the true and only God. Those who stand with Israel are joined to her in the new covenant of the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua. And with one voice we proclaim, Yahweh is king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name (Zechariah 14:9).
We must not remove God from his connection to Israel lest we worship the wrong God.
We also dare not remove Christ from his Jewishness, lest the Jesus we worship be a product of our vain, theological imaginings. Yeshua is the flesh and blood offspring of Mary. And as revealed to Peter even before his resurrection, he is the Messiah of Israel, Son of the Living God.
God is personal. He is a loving, electing, indwelling God. We know this because he chose to be the God of Israel.
Let all the earth fear Yahweh;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
- Psalm 33:8-12
I am not a prophet, but I believe in the Spirit that a time is coming when one of the great tests of the church's faithfulness will be our attitude toward the Jewish people.
Will we have an attitude of appreciation and respect, support and comfort? Or will we have a triumphalistic attitude of dismissal, rejection, and arrogance? If a Jew came to your home tonight being chased and persecuted, would you take him or her in? Would you show the Father's heart to comfort his people Israel (Is 40:1)?
Our debt to Israel is incalculable. The very least we can do is be sensitive to God's revelation concerning his eternal covenant of love with Israel. As Paul exhorts us in his letter to the Romans, will you humble yourself by recognizing that you do not support the root but the root supports you?
Will you pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the Jewish people, eagerly petitioning God that soon his inheritance Israel would show forth his glory and sanctify his name? And that from among all the nations he would call Israel to repent and to return; to gaze upon the Messiah who was pierced for them and to acknowledge that he is Lord, to the glory of God our Father?
"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God."
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.