Friday, 22 February 2013
Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. Romans 3:2
In response to the question of 3:1 (What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?) Paul answers with an exclamatory sentence… “Much in every way!” In every way, in all respects, and from all sides, the benefits are evident. The first being “Chiefly…” that “…to them were committed the oracles of God.” Paul’s word translated “chiefly” can be thought of as “in principle advantage.”
Every other aspect of being a Jew or bearing the sign of circumcision is to be found within this concept – that they are the stewards of God’s word. If for no other reason than this, and outside of ushering in the Messiah Himself, it is the most important and greatest honor that could be bestowed upon a group of people. These oracles, meaning the entire canon of the Old Testament which were recorded prior to Paul’s time, contain God’s special revelation of Himself. They show His acts in creation; they show why the world is in the state it is in; they show His plan of righting every wrong and restoring rightness to a fallen world.
In the process of accomplishing these things, these oracles show that He chose a select group of people in which to display His very heart; His intolerance at sin; His grace, mercy, and forgiveness; His longsuffering; etc. They also show His wisdom in the selection because no other group of people has been so minutely diligent in the tender care and protection of these oracles. Even if some generations lost them (2 Kings 22:8), a previous generation had secured them in a place where they could be found. And this is not only the case within the Bible, but outside of it as well.
The Dead Sea scrolls, dating to approximately 250BC, were exactingly copied and stored in an environment where they would last an extremely long period. When they were discovered, they showed that the word had been maintained in an exceedingly careful manner throughout the ages. Any error or intentional manipulation since the time of Christ could now be compared and corrected if necessary, or if none, there would be a validation of the long-copied and carefully protected oracles.
As you can see, even the environment in which the Jew lived, the land granted to them by God, is a testimony to being a Jew. Why? Because the land has the right properties, such as humidity, temperature, isolation, etc, to protect the ancient scrolls. It also became mostly unsuitable for habitation during the exile of the people, thus preserving the archaeological record which can now substantiate the narratives found within the oracles. Being a Jew and a member of the group who has carefully kept circumcision as a right for many millennia is one of the most astonishing aspects of the wisdom of God and the validation of His word. The two are tied together and inseparable.
This leaves an important question to be answered, what about the New Testament? Although this couldn’t be answered completely in 10 doctoral dissertations, what should be noted is that what occurs in New Testament times was anticipated in the Old Testament. Further, there are many Old Testament promises (as well as New) which are yet to be fulfilled for the Jewish people as they dwell in the Land of Israel. This, if no other concept, tells us that Israel was set aside, not cast away. God’s plans and purposes for His covenant people will come to pass exactly as prophesied. Stand back and watch God’s amazing plans unfold, quite possibly in your own lifetime and before your very eyes.
Life application: The immense wisdom of God is displayed in His word, in His people, and in His land for the protection and care of His plan for the people of the world. It is true that the Jew rejected Christ, but this was known by God before it occurred and therefore He set aside these people during the dispensation of grace; the Church Age. But this era is ending and the times of the fulfillment of God’s plan in and through the people of Israel is coming. Pray for the people of Israel, support the people of Israel, and stand with the people of Israel. God’s hand is upon them and ours should be as well.
Lord, help me to be a light to the Jews who have yet to call on Jesus. Send me opportunities to speak to them, care for them, and show them the truth of what has occurred in their history and ours and how it was all a part of a greater plan to bring “many sons to glory.” Thank You for Your faithfulness to Your unfaithful people. Amen.