Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Why Did the Nations Think Israel Was Wise and Understanding?

Deuteronomy 4-5

Over my 26 years as a Christian, I have often heard the view expressed that God's laws, if practiced, bring success. Maybe you've heard it too. Of course there is something of truth in this.
  1. Eye for an eye etc is a wise kind of restitution, neither over nor under-punishing the assailant.
  2. Resting one day in seven helps to rejuvenate and refocus the psyche etc etc...
But in Deuteronomy 4, the reason God gave those laws was not so that his people could show themselves off to the world and say look aren't we great and wise (even if that is what they were as a result). The point of obeying those laws was so that 1. God would draw near and as he drew near, he would 2. command a blessing.

The nations would be provoked to jealousy, seeing how close (the Angel of) YHWH was to his people and how he blessed them. These other "gods" were neither close, nor wise, nor powerful. These nations would then want in on the same covenant blessing that Israel enjoyed and could share.

This is reversed in the New Testament, as it is now (Gentile) Christians, not cultural Jews who fulfill the law of God by believing in his son and doing all that he says. Through this, God draws near by the Spirit and brings great blessing.

Paul hopes this will now make the Jews jealous and want in.

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