Sometimes we sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing thru. . .” Sometimes we suffer from an identity crisis. We can identify with the pain of others in grief and mortal suffering, because we know it ourselves. But sometimes we are little bit empty because we fail to identify with the first ones to follow Jesus. Who were they and what did they face?
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (John 1:11) This speaks of Israel, the nation God raised up from the faith of Abraham. However, only a minority accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the Promised One. Who was this minority? In the beginning, it consisted of men and women, tax collectors, fishermen, and some members of the Sanhedrin among others. After Jesus’ resurrection and return to the Father, the minority expanded considerably. Many who had given voice to Jesus’ death became His disciples. Salvation was even received by some of the priests. (cf. Acts 6:7) Yet acceptance had not grown so far that the Jewish people were identified with Jesus of Nazareth. Even to this day, as a whole the Jews do not have this identity.
What would it have been like to behold your people and society turning their backs on their true and glorious heritage? Our Jewish brethren of old, had such to bear. Here in America, many of us lament that the nation is turning away from many precious values it once held dear. However, it never was nor ever will be a Holy Nation. Admittedly, it once espoused Judeo Christian values, as well as those of deistic and humanistic character. But we did not receive our Declaration of Independence and Constitution by the parting of the Red Sea and the guidance of the LORD with a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. Whereas the Jewish brethren came from the only legitimate Holy Nation given land and law directly from God. What kind of burden was it to be expelled from the synagogue, and rejected by neighbors solely on the basis of accepting Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah? The brethren knew very well the sorrow of seeing their countrymen kick against the goodness of what they could have claimed.
- Heb 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
- 33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
In America, we who claim Jesus as our Savior can get hung up on the state of the nation to the point where we forget who we really are.
- 1Pet 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
- 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Our Jewish brethren of the Bible had to learn this lesson. The letter to the Hebrews was written for this very purpose. Undoubtedly, this was a hard thing for them to learn. How would it have been to confront that all the things incorporated into your nation and worship of God were just a shadow? (Ah, but what a shadow God designed!) They had to lift their eyes to the high purpose beyond the shadow. We should be able to identify with this. Not that America was ever a divinely ordained shadow land, but that it holds the limited purpose that the other nations possess by gift of God.
- Acts 17:26 . . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
- 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us
What can we see in our own potential, when as followers of Jesus we strive to learn Biblical examples and teaching? Our ancient brethren were called upon to face catastrophic change in their society. They were admonished to hold on to the only legitimate basis for their lives and identity. What potential do we see for ourselves when we read the admonition given to them?
- Heb 13:10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
- 11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
- 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
- 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
- 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
We need to identify with these brethren.