When the Gentiles were converted to Israel’s Messiah, they had to leave their idolatrous ways behind. It was a matter of leaving a sink of pollution and gross superstition. When the Jews received Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah, they had to step up into a greater covenant. In some ways this must have been more difficult for the Jews than for the Gentiles.
- The covenant from Sinai was given by God; so why change?
- It had external tokens such as a tabernacle/temple, priestly service with surrounding regalia, feast days, daily sacrifices, monthly and yearly observances, all of which had been ordained by God. These things had the “feel” of religion, and without vigilance, could be substituted for faith.
- As a people, it would have been difficult to give up their native heritage from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in favor the spiritual society where “ . .there is neither Jew nor Greek.”
We can see the beauty of Israel’s transition in the person of Saul of Tarsus, a “Hebrew of the Hebrews”.
- But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
- Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
- And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. . (Phil.3:7-9)
Is this an inherent contradiction that Israel is called upon to disregard their identity to be fulfilled as Israel? Rather than a contradiction it is the heritage of ascension, the transition of faith:
- That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
- If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Phil.3:10-11)