'The Holy Bible, or Scripture, is the Story of Israel!'
These words, in one form or another, have been swirling around lately, not leastly in my own head! So, one might ask, 'why then are we reading it as applicable to our time & place?' 'Good question', another might reply. One response could be & should be, is that, in what we call the Greek Scriptures, or the New Testament, the teachings of Jesus, Paul & the apostles are more or less universal, that is, they transcend time & place, being applicable to our Heavenly Father's children at all times & in all places. One must be careful here, of course, to discern between something like, 'this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place' & 'just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise' ( Matthew 24:34 & Luke 6:31 ) Even 'God so loved the world.....' must fall under this heading!`
The Hebrew Scriptures, or what we usually call 'The Old Testament', although based largely upon what some call 'the Mosaic Law' ( including the Ten Commandments ), are given for our learning & instruction as well! Much of what we read in the Law & Prophets was fulfilled in the Christ, or Messiah of Israel & so no longer bears the sword for us, but even though these prophecies came to their fulfillment in 'Immanuel', or 'God with us', in the truest sense of the word, it is being fulfilled through us, who might be termed 'little Christs', or Christians!
The earliest Scriptures should resonate with us as well, because we can therein read the history of humankind! This blogger believes, as do certain others, that, beginning with Adam ( who was NOT the first human to walk to & fro upon the earth ) the Story of Israel flows, meanders, really, throughout the Hebrew Scriptures & into the Greek Scriptures, where it finally reaches its End, or the ultimate Goal, that which had been prophesied. We, humans in all times & places, can herein relate to Israel's Story, because, in reality, it is our Story as well! The ups & downs that Israel experienced throughout her sordid history speak to us as well; this is one reason that most Christians today are still enamored with saying, along with the prophet Jeremiah, 'The heart [ is ] deceitful above all [ things ] and desperately wicked; w ho can know it?' ( Jeremiah 17:9 ) We can all relate, at one time or another & some more than others maybe, to the apostle Paul's words to the Church at Rome; 'For the good that I will [ to do ], I do not do; but the evil I will not [ to do ], that I practice' ( Romans 7:19 ).
However one reads the words of Scripture, we must understand first of all, that they were written, as Paul wrote to Timothy, 'for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness' ( II Timothy 3:16 ): they were, in that sense, written 'for' us, though not 'to' us! Another thing we must take into account is the wickedness, or wilfulness of humankind, in that, down through the ages, who is to say that what most Christians call 'The Word of God' has not become somewhat garbled, with certain meanings having been 'lost in translation'?! This is not to say that the words we read therein are ALL suspect, for certain of its teaching flow smoother than others & of course, we also have the Spirit Within that discerns which are veritable & which are not. Here again, because we can relate so well with the history of Israel, humanly speaking, much of what we read in its pages strikes a chord with each of us & otherwise bares a nerve which has been covered over!
Jesus WAS the Messiah of Israel & even though that famous passage quoted, John 3:16, did indeed refer primarily to the Roman 'world' of Paul's day, I believe that we can read it today as inclusive of the Creator's entire Creation! As Christians, or 'little Christs', we are faced with the very same prospect that Jesus, as the Christ, or Messiah of Israel faced, that of redeeming the Creation! Just as the prophets of old held Jesus up before the eyes of Israel under that first covenant, or Israel according to the flesh, so many Christians today feel that old familiar 'twinge' when they are called to stand up for what they believe in the midst of an almost 'hellish' world.
At this present time, we live in a New Era, in a New Covenant, so to speak, one in which the Fulfillment of 'God with us' 'is met in us' ( which we celebrate in the upcoming Christmas Season )! No longer does Israel look for & long for its Messiah; He came in the flesh on that Blessed Day so very long ago & far away, but in some sense, you might say, the world still looks for & longs for its Messiah! Sadly, many Christians think they are still waiting for their Messiah, not realizing that the Messiah of Israel, through the ages, HAS redeemed them to be the Messiah to the World!
The Story of Israel then, is OUR Story! We have overcome, through the Power of the Spirit Within, 'God with us' the sins that plagued Israel! Though, in our humanity, it often seems we must still utter the words of Paul & Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 17:9 & Romans 7:19 ), realizing our Spiritual Nature, which was the End the Creator had in mind for us, helps us ( daily ) to overcome our 'worldly desires' & the inherent 'evils' which seem to beset us all around Understanding the Story of Israel resonates with us because we can all relate to their struggles, we can feel their pain!
In the letter to the Hebrews, we read 'we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all [ points ] tempted as [ we are, yet ] without sin' ( Hebrews 4:15): if THAT does not resonate with us, it should!
Charles Haddon Shank