Affirming the Judaeo-Christian Heritage


            God’s absolute promise concerning the triumph of the seed of the woman over the serpent in Genesis 3:15, though spoken to the serpent, served as a word of grace to Adam in the immediate aftermath of Adam’s transgression of the covenant in Eden. As a token of His grace, God clothed Adam and Eve in garments tailored from animal skins to replace the garments of fig leaves which they had sewn together to cover their nakedness now magnified in their shame-ridden consciousness as the result of sin. Adam’s transgression had implicated his entire progeny in sin and the death which followed as God evicted them from Eden. God’s promised enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent was immediately evident in Cain’s murder of his brother Abel.

            God’s preservation of the seed of the woman came in the form of judgment on a totally corrupted and violent world by a universal Flood from which Noah and his family were saved by Noah’s faithful construction of the ark. God’s covenant with Noah embraced the whole of mankind, expanded man’s diet to include meat, instituted human government authorizing capital punishment for murder, and promised never again to destroy the earth by a flood. The rainbow visibly signified the covenant promise.

            As a judgment on mankind’s defiant scheme to construct the city and tower of Babel, the triune God scattered the human race into many language groups.

            Against this historic backdrop, God called Abraham to leave his native land with the promise that God would build a great nation from Abraham’s seed, make his name great, and bless all nations through Abraham.


Genesis 12:1-3 (ESV)

    Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. [2] And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. [3] I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."



            Before circumcision was instituted as a sign of the covenant, it is recorded that when God promised Abraham that his own son would be his heir and the one from whom his multitudinous offspring would issue, Abram believed and was justified by his faith.


Genesis 15:4-6 (ESV)

    And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir." [5] And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." [6] And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.


Romans 4:9-12 (ESV)

    Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. [10] How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. [11] He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, [12] and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.



            Also before the institution of circumcision, God condescended to a form of covenant transaction common to the culture of Abram’s world. After Abram had carefully laid out the halves of animals sacrificed for the occasion, God manifested His presence symbolically passing through the parts of the animals thereby ratifying the covenant unilaterally.


Genesis 15:17-21 (ESV)

    When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. [18] On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, [19] the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, [20] the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, [21] the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites."



            The mark of circumcision upon Abraham and his male descendants was the outward token of Israel’s covenant identity.


Genesis 17:9-14 (ESV)

    And God said to Abraham, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. [10] This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. [11] You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. [12] He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, [13] both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. [14] Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."



The outward token of the covenant, both in terms of command and promise, explicitly involved internal compliance with the spiritual reality signified by it.


Deut. 10:15-16 (ESV)

    Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. [16] Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.


Deut. 30:6 (ESV)

    And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.


Jeremiah 9:25-26 (ESV)

    "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh— [26] Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart."



The land of Canaan was to be Israel’s covenant land in perpetuity conditional upon the nation’s covenant faithfulness and obedience. God’s absolute promise to Abraham guarantees that the conditions will finally be met.


Genesis 17:7-8 (ESV)

    And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. [8] And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God."


Deut. 32:45-47 (ESV)

    And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, [46] he said to them, "Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. [47] For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess."


Romans 11:28-29 (ESV)

    As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. [29] For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.



Israel was unique and distinctive among the nations of the world with respect to the accessibility of her God, and the righteous quality of her divinely-instituted laws.


Deut. 4:7-8 (ESV)

            For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as

   the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? [8] And what

   great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as

   all this law that I set before you today?


Psalm 147:19-20 (ESV)

    He declares his word to Jacob,

        his statutes and rules to Israel.

    [20] He has not dealt thus with any other nation;

        they do not know his rules.

     Praise the Lord!



Israel’s miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt was an event without parallel in any other nation, demonstrated God’s love for Abraham and his seed, and placed the entire nation of Israel under special covenant obligation and accountability to God.


Deut. 4:32-40 (ESV)

    "For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. [33] Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? [34] Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? [35] To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. [36] Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. [37] And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, [38] driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day, [39] know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. [40] Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time."



In keeping with the establishment of Israel’s temple in Jerusalem under Kings David and Solomon, the Hebrew prophets predicted the issuing of the divine law from Jerusalem.


Micah 4:1-2 (ESV)

    It shall come to pass in the latter days

        that the mountain of the house of the Lord

    shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

        and it shall be lifted up above the hills;

    and peoples shall flow to it,

        [2] and many nations shall come, and say:

    "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

        to the house of the God of Jacob,

    that he may teach us his ways

        and that we may walk in his paths."

    For out of Zion shall go forth the law,

        and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.



The focus and locus of Jesus Christ’s ministry was the nation of Israel whose capital was Jerusalem.


Matthew 15:24 (ESV)

    He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."


Luke 13:34 (ESV)

    O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!


Luke 13:33 (ESV)

    Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.'



Jesus identified the bestowal of salvation with the Jewish people.


John 4:22-23 (ESV)

    You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. [23] But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.



The Jewish people rejected the one who was their Messianic King.


Mark 15:32 (ESV)

  Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.


John 1:11 (ESV)

    He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.


John 19:14-16 (ESV)

    Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" [15] They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." [16] So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.



The Jews’ delivering Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified was the summation and high water mark of human transgression. Though it was the fulfillment of God’s decree, it was

an entirely culpable act.


John 19:10-11 (ESV)

    So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?" [11] Jesus answered him, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin."


Matthew 23:34-36 (ESV)

    Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, [35] so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. [36] Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.


Daniel 9:24 (ESV)

    "Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.


Acts 2:22-24 (ESV)

    "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— [23] this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. [24] God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.


Matthew 26:24 (ESV)

    The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born."


Matthew 27:24-26 (ESV)

    So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." [25] And all the people answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!" [26] Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.


Luke 23:48 (ESV)

   And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.



After his resurrection Jesus expounded the Hebrew Scriptures as the divinely authoritative writings that announced beforehand His own person, coming, and work.


Luke 24:25-27 (ESV)

    And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26] Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" [27] And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.


Luke 24:44-47 (ESV)

    Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." [45] Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [46] and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, [47] and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.



The apostles’ preaching was anchored in what Jesus accomplished in the land of the Jewish people and Jerusalem in particular in keeping with the Hebrew Old Testament writings .


Acts 10:36-43 (ESV)

    As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ ( he is Lord of all), [37] you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: [38] how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. [39] And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, [40] but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, [41] not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. [42] And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. [43] To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."


Acts 24:14 (ESV)

    But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets,


Acts 26:22-23 (ESV)

    To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: [23] that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles."


Romans 3:21-26 (ESV)

    But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— [22] the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: [23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [24] and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, [25] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. [26] It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.



The apostles’ preaching gave priority to the Jewish people as the proper subjects of Jesus’ mission.


Romans 1:16 (ESV)

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.



When the proper subjects, the Jews, rejected the good news of Christ, the apostles turned from them and offered the good news of salvation to the Gentiles.


Acts 13:46 (ESV)

    And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.



The New Testament apostles set forth their doctrine of salvation in unmistakable Jewish Old Testament imagery.


1 Cor. 5:7-8 (ESV)

    Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. [8] Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


1 Cor. 10:1-4 (ESV)

    I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, [2] and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, [3] and all ate the same spiritual food, [4] and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.


2 Cor. 3:5-18 (ESV)

    Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, [6] who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    [7] Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, [8] will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? [9] For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. [10] Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. [11] For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

    [12] Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, [13] not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. [14] But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. [15] Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. [16] But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. [17] Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. [18] And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.


Galatians 3:13-14 (ESV)

    Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— [14] so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.


Galatians 3:16 (ESV)

    Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ.


Galatians 3:27-29 (ESV)

    For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. [28] There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [29] And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.


Ephes. 2:11-3:10 (ESV)

    Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— [12] remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. [13] But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. [14] For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility

    [15] by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, [16] and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. [17] And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. [18] For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. [19] So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, [20] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, [21] in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. [22] In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

    [3:1] For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— [2] assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, [3] how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. [4] When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, [5] which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. [6] This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

    [7] Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. [8] To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, [9] and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, [10] so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.


Philip. 3:2-9 (ESV)

    Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. [3] For we are the real circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— [4] though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: [5] circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; [6] as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless. [7] But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. [8] Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

    [9] and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—


Col. 2:11-15 (ESV)

    In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, [12] having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. [13] And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, [14] by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. [15] He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.



God’s purpose for Israel did not end with their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.


Romans 11:7-12 (ESV)

    What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, [8] as it is written,

    "God gave them a spirit of stupor,

        eyes that would not see

        and ears that would not hear,

    down to this very day."

 

    [9] And David says,

    "Let their table become a snare and a trap,

        a stumbling block and a retribution for them;

    [10] let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,

        and bend their backs forever."

 [11] So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. [12] Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!