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Thread: Was salvation originally intended to be exclusively for Jews?

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    tWebber Leonhard's Avatar
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    There are no accidents in God's will. If some Jews fulfilled their Judaism by becoming Christians, while other Jews stayed obstinately to their traditions, that's completely within divine providence.

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    tWebber Rushing Jaws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuantaFille View Post
    A Bible study teacher at my church who leads a lot of women's study groups has been teaching some things that just don't sound right to me. My mother, who attends this woman's classes, has told me that she taught that Jesus died only for the Jews, and that after the Jews rejected him God decided to allow gentiles to be saved after all. She said she's glad the Jews rejected him because if they hadn't, we would have had no hope. I've never heard this teaching before.

    Has anyone heard this before? Where does it come from? What do I tell her, or ask her?
    To the title question: yes, and no.

    To explain.

    In his commentary on Genesis, the German expositor Claus Westermann makes the point, several times and in different contexts & ways, that (to paraphrase) the election of Israel as “God’s own people” cannot be separated from the relation of Israel to the rest of the nations - and the Table of the Nations in Gen. 10, like the Blessings of Noah on Shem & Japheth in chapter 9, expresses the kinship of Israel with her neighbours. She is chosen from among them, in the persons first of Shem, then of his descendant Terah, then of Abra[ha]m who is one of the three sons of Terah, then of Isaac who is one of the sons of Abraham, then of Jacob/Israel who is the progenitor of the 13 Tribes that constitute the Chosen People.

    Several points arise from this.

    1. The process of showing how exactly the Tribes of Israel are descended from Shem son of Noah, involves a separation of the line that culminates in the People of Israel from the other lines of descent that do not lead to Israel. Haran the brother of Abram was the father of Lot, the ancestor of Moab and Ammon. Nahor, the other brother of Abram, also had descendants; but only Bethuel father of Rebekah gets any attention, because Rebekah was the wife of Isaac, & thus, an ancestress of the tribes. Ishmael, the eldest son of Abram, is mentioned, as are his mother Hagar and his 12 sons; but the line of Ishmael does not lead to the Tribes of Israel. Keturah, the third wife of Abraham, is mentioned, as are her 12 sons, but that line of descent does not lead to Israel either.

    2. The same process of separation begins with the three sons of Adam. Cain has descendants, and they become warriors & culture-founders. Abel has no descendants. It is through Seth, not through his two named brothers, that the line leading to Shem ancestor of Abra[ha]m is traced. And we are told, of nearly all the patriarchs from Adam to Nahor the father of Terah, that they had sons and daughters: only Noah had no offspring other than those named, presumably because he was functioning as a second Adam.

    3. The fruitfulness of these successive generations of the human family is traced back to the original blessing upon mankind in Gen. 1.26-31. The blessing on Abra[ha]m is an application of this, & cannot be separated from it. That this blessing is upon mankind, and so early on, is one of the strongest reminders that the election of Israel from among the nations, is all along bound up with God’s gracious purpose to the other nations as well.

    4. Abra[ha]m is both a member of the nations from out of which he - and therefore Israel - was called, and the ancestor of Israel whom God distinguishes by entering into a covenant with him. This gracious initiative of God, and not anything done by Abra[ha]m’s or Israel’s initiative, is what constitutes Israel as God’s own People.

    5. The specialness of Israel is a “subjective idea” - as it were - of God, having no source in man or any created being, but solely in the unmerited, unmeritable, gracious favour and regard of God. Israel has no existence before God created Israel by calling it into being. The loving regard of God for Israel is what causes the existence of Israel. This shows that creation is as fully an act of God’s grace as the covenant.

    6. The electing specialness of Israel looks forward to Christ, Who is God’s Elect. It hints at what the Election of Christ makes exceedingly clear: that election by God cannot be treated as a reason for chauvinism of any kind, or as a reason fpr exaltation of self and treading-down of others. The Election of Christ leads to “special treatment”; but not in the form of earthly properity, earthly power, and earthly ease and comfort. It leads to the Cross, and only after that to the Resurrection, the Ascension and the Session of the Messiah “at the right hand of Majesty”.

    7. The Universality of Christ is a summing-up in Christ of the two OT emphases of (1) the election of Israel, and then of Judah, from among the nations; (2) the real and lasting connection between Israel & the nations. The nationalism of Isaiah, and the universality of Jonah, are two aspects of the same gracious favour of God. And they are perfectly reconciled only in Christ. This reconciliation is an aspect of the “Good News of the Kingdom of God” preached by Jesus, and it is the mission of His Church, empowered by His Spirit, to make known the same Good News to all the nations on Earth. The Universality of Christ is a solution to an OT problem, and a beginning for the People of the New Covenant. He is the Source of all blessing in creatures; the Goal & Purpose of the Covenant with Abra[ha]m; and the Fulfilment of all God’s Purpose in election, predestination, creation and covenant alike.

    8. This also shows that the genealogies in the Bible have a valuable theological function & message. The genealogies of Jesus in the Gospels connect His *genesis* - St Matthew’s word - with the genealogies of the patriarchs in Genesis, and carry the same significance as they do, as well as having distinctive theological messages of their own.

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