Relevant Biblical Passages: Genesis 12:2, Galatians 3:28-29
Children of the Promise: Israel, the Nations, the Messiah. Christians see themselves as the true inheritors of the promise to the Abraham. From the New Testament evidence, one can make a strong case for the position that the early Christians simply considered themselves to be the true Jews, never intending to start a new movement separate from Judaism. They would be the completed Judaism. In that connection three tension points loom large:
- Israel: Chosen for privilege or for. responsibility?
- God’s children: Israel or all the nations?
- Messiah: Clarity in advance? Or mystery in advance with clarity coming in the light of events?
To set the stage for the discussion, an intriguing quotation from C. S. Lewis, a lay interpreter of Scripture, is a tantalizing one. Speaking as a committed Christian, he says the following with reference to the human understanding of the Messiah:
” Images, I must suppose, have their use or they would not have been so popular. (It makes little difference whether they are pictures and statues outside the mind or imaginative constructions within it.) To me, however, their danger is more obvious. Images of the Holy easily become holy images – sacrosanct. My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence? The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins. And most are `offended’ by the iconoclasm; and blessed are those who are not. But the same thing happens in our private prayers.” (C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, 51f).
These key tension points can guide in the study of the following passages:
Genesis 12:2: God’s promise to make Abraham a great nation, but one through which all nations would be blessed. Was God’s intention to have a superior/inferior relationship between Abraham and the nations he was to bless?
Genesis 28:14: God’s promise to Jacob that all nations would be blessed through his people.
Exodus 19:5-6: God’s promise to Israel to make her a “priestly kingdom and a holy nation?
Deuteronomy 4:6-8: The nations Israel’s God and His relationship to His people.
Isaiah 60:1-3: God’s promise to Israel that “nations shall come to your light.”
Galatians 3:28-29: In Christ, all are Abraham’s seed and all relationships are equalized: “Neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male and female”
1 Peter 2:9 Again “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” Is this the true church?