2000 years/ 2000 years
When you replace your relationship with God for ritualism, you establish your own
righteousness. It is like separation in a marriage relationship. On paper you are married but in actuality you are estranged. God takes a back seat in your relationship to where you don’t need him anymore and don’t notice that he is missing. Life becomes one of mechanical prayers, and formulaic service as if God is just some sort of external power to be applied to situations, or worse yet a despot that needs appeasing so that he won’t make life miserable for you. This is what religion is like. The Israelites lost touch with their God as a wayward wife leaves her husband. And as a fruitless branch the master gardener pruned it off. For 2000 years, from Abraham to Christ God chose the Jews as his branch to be his people and representatives on this earth. But from the time they rejected and killed the Christ till now (roughly 2000 years), God has engrafted the predominantly Gentile church into the olive root. Now we Gentiles have been given a chance to have a real relationship with him and to take the Gospel around the globe. We all know that it won’t be long before the Gentiles time will be finished, and after His church is taken away, then God’s attention will turn once again to Israel as his representatives on this earth during “Daniel’s 70th week”, known as the “time of Jacob’s trouble” or the “tribulation period” of the book of Revelation. (Picture credit – Sundial in Israel -Donell Trostrud)
Rom 11: 11-32 Use this link for the NIV or use your favorite Bible highlight vs 20, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27b, 28-32
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who makes people holy. I AM the root which provides life. Be you Jew or Gentile you can only receive eternal life and righteousness from me as you abide in me by faith. As you continue to depend on my grace with thanksgiving, you are made holy by my Son. My people forgot this important message and eventually made their own means to self righteousness. I knew that they could not keep my standards. They started out knowing my Word, but it ceased to be important enough to retain me in their knowledge, thus their children and their children’s children never knew me and eventually nailed me to a tree. You Gentiles received the Gospel of my righteousness with joy but subsequently many of you have replaced that relationship with me and my righteousness for your own religious rituals. Just as Adam did not want me, and the Israelites rejected me when they chose a human king to replace me, and the Jews handed me over to Caesar, so too, you Gentiles will tend not to need me anymore (Rev 3:17) and replace me with your various religions and I will spew you out of my mouth.
I AM the God of mercy. Salvation is my work on your behalf because of my mercy to you. This way I alone get the credit and glory and praise and thanks for allowing you to have forgiveness, salvation and life. “Not by works of righteousness which you have done, but by my mercy have I saved you.” Once again I tell you, heaven is not a reward to be earned but a place where I dwell with all those who are in my Son. I have bound all men to sin so that only those who do not resist my mercy can have the opportunity to enter my presence.
I AM also the Stern God. I removed the Jews from their position of blessing because of their unbelief, and gave it to the Gentiles for now. I AM the Beginning and the End, who sees all human time at once and I have set an expiry date to how long I will wait for Gentiles to receive my pardon before it turn back to my people Israel. My mercy may be new every morning for you but there will be an end to how many mornings I will wait for you to receive it. So I say to you now, “now is the day of salvation”, receive my salvation before it is too late, and before I take my children home and you are left behind.
God’s glory replaced by religious activity
In Ezekiel it states that as the Israelites continued to sin against God, the Shekinah Glory moved gradually away from the Ark of the Covenant till it was no longer even among his people. When we replace a relationship with God for ritualism and religion like the Israelites did, God removes himself from that relationship of closeness with us. This is what he means in verse 22 in our present chapter. As the Gentile church replaces their relationship to God with formalism, ritualism, legalism, religion, God will draw away from them, leaving them dead in their traditions. This is the process of hardening (see Rom 1:18-32). One day God will take away his true church before the time of the tribulation period and return to working through the Jewish people on this earth. When Christ physically returns, he will fulfill the promises given by the prophets to restore Israel as a people and nation and set up his Davidic kingdom and place his Spirit in “all Israel” “turning ungodliness away from Jacob” and “removing their sins.” After God takes his true church to heaven, there will be many Gentile churches still functioning as usual without realizing that God was never among them to begin with; their religiousness being worthless in God’s eyes. In Rev 3 John warned the Ephesian church that they left their first love, and warned the Laodicean church that they were lukewarm needing nothing from God. When our churches become ritualistic institutions in their attempts at pacifying God rather than vibrant groups of people who let God live through them as they reach out to the community, then God will find other people through which to use to declare his glory. History has shown this to be true throughout the church age from Israel through Asia minor, Europe and eventually to America as each in turn became Gospel hardened and liberal becoming places of scorn rather than places of salvation.
More to come,