APPROACHING SCRIPTURE WITH ISRAEL FIRST MENTALITY
A. The Scriptures are to be approached with a broad view of history in mind or a big picture mentality, as opposed to a narrow, near-sighted, self-aware, quite frankly: a narcissistic approach to Scripture.
- Let us as Gentiles remove our shortsighted lenses in repentance and approach the Scriptures with a new perspective starting with the Old Testament:
a) In Genesis-Esther we can follow much of the history of the nation of Israel.
b) The Psalms and Song of Songs are usually approached with personal devotions at the center, rather than an awareness of the centrality of Israel that they are saturated with. The Psalms are divided into 5 books with reference to the five books of Torah. The Song of Songs is an allegory of God’s devotion to corporate Israel, as is consistent with Hosea 2:19.
c) The Proverbs are generally approached in a pragmatic way rather than the original expositional teaching of the ideal way of Torah revealed to Israel. They don’t always seem to apply unless you live in a rose colored world, because the Law is not yet going forth from Zion!
d) The Prophets declare the final restoration and salvation of Israel out of the time of great tribulation and the Day of the Lord.
- Approaching the New Testament: The Gospels, Acts, The Letters, The book of Revelation.
a) Matthew and John are addressed specifically to the Jewish people. Matthew is the true interpretation and application of Torah by Jesus to the Jews. John is a call for Jews to hold to faith in Messiah in the midst of the threat of Gnosticism and it’s discounting of Jesus validity.
b) Mark and Luke are addressed to a Gentile audience. Mark is a fast paced gospel written to a skeptical people in order to convince them of the truth. Luke’s purpose was to lay out clear historical data to make it plain.
c) Acts is the birthing of the church through Messianic Jews. It is not until chapter 10 that the Gentiles are even in the picture, and that with no little controversy among the Jews. Acts 11:1-3, 13:44-47, 15:1-35, 22:21-22, 28:28-29
d) Specifically Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and Hebrews are four very important letters, transitional letters, as they describe the move from the Old covenant to the New covenant for the Jew, as well as the inclusion of Gentiles, as prophesied in the Old Testament. Their emphasis is on the weakness of the covenant on Sinai, due to human weakness; while emphasizing the ‘sure mercies’ of David and ‘the everlasting covenant with Abraham”.
e) Romans and Ephesians directly address Jew and Gentile relationships and their differing roles in the plan of God to witness to the world.
f) In Romans Jews are called to steward ‘the oracles of God’ Romans 3:2, 9:1-5. Gentiles are called to preach the gospel ‘first to the Jew’ Romans 1:16, and ‘provoke Israel to jealousy’ Romans 11:11-14 by serving them in love, though ‘from the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies’ Romans 11:28.
g) In Ephesians we see the unity of these two ethnic groups of Jew and Gentile called to unity in the gospel. Ephesians 2:11-3:13.
h) Galatians and Hebrews address a similar issue. Galatians is a call for Gentiles not to become Jews, whereas Hebrews is a call for the Jews to see Jesus as their true Messiah and therefore embrace the cross rather than hide in the safety of self-preservation through Judaism and thus ‘trampling underfoot the Son of God, and regarding as unclean the blood of the (new) covenant’ Hebrews 10:29.
i) The book of Revelation is the culmination of all the history and prophecy of Israel in the return of her Messiah. It should be noted that all throughout the book of Revelation verses from the Old Testament, especially the prophets are quoted. The language of Revelation is priesthood language, of which Israel is that royal priesthood and holy nation, as promised way back in Exodus 19:5-6.
- In Approaching the Scriptures let us read them in their historical context in accord with God’s covenant with Israel.
a) Israel is God’s Elect Nation and thus ‘stewards of the oracles of God’ Romans 3:1-2, Exodus 4:22, 19:5-6, Deuteronomy 7:5-6, Deuteronomy 32, Psalm 147:2, 19-20, 148:14, Zechariah 2:8
b) Jerusalem is the city of the great King where Jesus will reign forever: Psalm 48:2, Zechariah 2:10-13, 8:2-3
c) Jesus is the Jewish Messiah descendant of Abraham and David: Matthew 1:1, Romans 1:3, Romans 9:5
d) God’s covenant with Israel is irrevocable (will not be annulled), it will last for all ages: Jeremiah 31:35-37, Romans 11:25-29, 15:7-9a
e) We as Gentiles are joined to believing Israel, or Messianic Jews who put their faith in Jesus work on the cross. Romans 11:16-18, Ephesians 2:11-22, 3:6.
f) The Blessing of the entire earth depends upon God’s covenant with Israel. Psalm 48,122
g) In the end the nations that surround Israel will be judged according to how they treated Her. Joel 3:2, Micah 4:11-13, Matthew 25:31-46
h) Though Jews have the advantage of being ‘stewards of the oracles of God’ Romans 3:1-2, they are not in this freed from a need for salvation, Romans 3:9, 23. We are ‘saved in the same hope’ Romans 8:24.