Overland Monthly / OV113 - God's Chosen People (XI. Must Jews Become Christians in Order to Return to Divine Favor?)
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OV113 XI. Must Jews Become Christians in Order to Return to Divine Favor?
BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor Brooklyn Tabernacle
USING THE WORD Christian after the ordinary manner as applied to the various sects, Catholic and Protestant, we answer No! Such is not their future course as outlined in the Bible. We are not forgetting that those first called Christians at Antioch were all Jews. Neither are we forgetting that the "high calling" to be Spiritual Israelites, "saints," is open to people of every kindred, nation and tongue, and hence to Jews as well as to others. We are, however, making a wide distinction between the Christians of the Apostles’ days and the nominalism which goes under the title of Christian to-day and for centuries past. We know of no reason why a saintly Jew might not with full credit to himself and with full respect to the Jewish religion, accept the Gospel invitation to become a Spiritual Israelite. Spiritual Israelites are really saintly Jews who recognize all the promises of God made to Abraham and his seed and who recognize the Law Covenant made with God’s chosen people at Mt. Sinai, and who recognize not only the types of the Heavenly things (the higher things), but their antitypes, the spiritual realities. It is the accretions of error which have become associated with the name Christian which.make the name and the system of doctrines which it represents repulsive to the Jew, repulsive also to more than the Jew, to many thinking people both inside and outside the various sects of Christendom, so called.
Some of the Jews’ Differences.
The long training of the Jew in monotheism is his first hindrance. He reads in the Law, "Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God is one—Jehovah. Thou shalt have no other Gods before him." With this definite command continually sounding in his ears as the first and chiefest statement of the Decalogue, is it any wonder that the Jew rejects the doctrine of the Trinity? It is an absurdity to him, indeed, that there are three Gods in one God, or, as some others state it, three persons or representations of one God, or as others state it, three Gods equal in power and in glory with a oneness of purpose. To join Christendom, the Jew would be required to accept this proposition against which not only his moral sense but also all his common sense rebel. He promptly resents as contrary to all of his holy Scriptures the thought that there is more than one God. When others approach the Jew from a different standpoint and say, We agree with you, there is only one God, but he has made three different manifestations of himself, and Jesus was one of these, the Jew replies, Would you have me believe that Jesus was Jehovah God, and that when he died, the great king of the universe expired on Calvary? I can never believe such an absurdity! The Trinitarian replies, You must believe this or be damned to eternal torment—nothing less can save you. You must believe that Jehovah God appeared in the form of a man, and that the death upon Calvary was essential to human salvation. You may take either of two views of the matter as we Trinitarians are divided: You may say that when Jesus died on the cross Jehovah died, and that we were without a God until the third day thereafter, when he rose from the dead; or, you may say as other Trinitarians say,
OV114 that when Jesus died upon the cross Jehovah did not die, but merely disassociated himself from the body with which he had been associated for thirty-three and one-half years. With these Trinitarians you may say that Jesus merely pretended to pray to Jehovah, calling upon him as his Father—pretended (as a part of the general scheme all of which was a deception) that God for a time appeared to be a man, appeared to have human weaknesses and necessities—sorrowed, wept, ate, drank, slept—to carry out the delusion. Is it any wonder that the Jew refuses to believe such irrational, such unscriptural presentations respecting Jehovah God? We believe that it is to the credit of the Jew that he has rejected such unreason, and that for centuries he has clung to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. We hold that to bring the Jew under such misconceptions of the truth, and to thus fetter his reason and his conscience, would be to do him an injury.
The Jews Should Not Be "Christianized.
These very teachings already have done incalculable injury to Christians, causing needless confusion of thought and driving many to agnosticism. So far from assisting Jews into such misbeliefs, contrary both to the Old Testament and to the New Testament, we should help Christians out of the entanglements of these hoary errors, back to the simple teachings of Jesus, the Apostles and Prophets. How plainly the Apostle states the matter, saying, that to the heathen there be Lords many and Gods many, but "to us there is one living and true God of whom are all things; and one Lord (Master, Rabbi) Jesus Christ by whom are all things." (#1Co 8:5,6.)
Hearken again to a correct translation of #Joh 1:1-3,5: "In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with the God and the Logos was a God. The same was in the beginning with the God. All things were made by him, and without him was not one thing made that was made....And the Logos was made flesh and dwelt amongst us, and we beheld his glory as the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth." How beautifully simple and clear the matter is when we take this inspired explanation of the relationship between Jehovah the Father and Creator of all things who was without beginning, "from everlasting to everlasting, God"—and the glorious Son of God who was his first creation and through whom he exercised the power which created both angels and men. Nor are these passages which we have quoted isolated ones, contrary to the general sentiment of the Old and New Testaments. On the contrary, they express the very essence of all their teachings. Jesus himself declared that he came not to do his own will, but the will of the Father who sent him. He again declared: "The Father is greater than I—greater than all." He declared that he came from God to obediently do the Divine will, and that he came under the promise that he would be again exalted to the spirit plane after finishing the work which the Father gave him to do, in the which he was stimulated by the "joy which was set before him."—#Heb 12:2.
He did, indeed, declare that he and the Father were one; but he showed that he meant not one in person but one in harmony, because he did not his own will, but the will of the Father. He showed this by praying in the same connection for his disciples "that they may be one even as thou Father and I are one," not one in person, but one in unison of heart in fellowship with the Father, sharers of his spirit.—#Joh 17:11.
Earthly and Heavenly Promises.
Not a single Scripture from Genesis to Revelation mentions the Trinity or even hints that we have three Gods equal in power and in glory. Because there was no Scripture one was manufactured in the seventh century by adding certain words to #1Jo 5:7,8. All Bible scholars know of this addition, and that it was not found in any manuscript of earlier date than the seventh century. Why do they not inform the people of the truth? Is it because the doctrine is so ingrained in all of the creeds that they fear that to tell the truth on this subject might cause a general investigation on the part of some? We answer that thousands are falling into infidelity because of this doctrine and the doctrines of Purgatory and Eternal Torment. We urge that the more intelligent of Christian people are losing all faith in the Divine Word because of these absurdities which they are taught to believe
OV115 are the most important teachings of the Bible; whereas, rightly understood, the Holy Scriptures teach none of these things, but on the contrary present a most reasonable, sound, consistent presentation of the divine plan for human salvation that could possibly be asked for. Assuredly we must not try to bring the Jew into the darkness and inconsistencies that we are endeavoring ourselves to get out of, and endeavoring to help others out of. But if we did endeavor to proselyte the Jew to these inconsistencies, would the endeavor succeed, has the endeavor succeeded during the past seventeen centuries since these errors were received by Christendom? Were not practically all the Jews ever reached by the Gospel reached by that pure message which Jesus and the Apostles preached, and which to-day is obsolete in Christendom so far as our "orthodox" creeds are concerned?
Jesus Honored as a Great Jew.
Not merely one but many Jewish Rabbis have attempted to give the Jewish conception of Jesus. They have spoken of him in highest terms as a great teacher who discussed great truths beyond the ability of his day to comprehend. Thus they account for the opposition which he aroused, and which led to his death. Why ask them to admit more than this? Why endeavor to make them believe an absurdity contrary to the Master’s own words? The absurdity, the untruth, is what acts as an emetic upon the Jew and causes him to reject Jesus of Nazareth entirely. On the contrary, the true presentation of the claims of Jesus as he made them and as his Apostles made them would evidently be as unoffensive to the Jew as to the German, the Italian or the Briton. Suppose, for instance, we were to tell him the truth as follows: Your Scriptures teach that your nation is to be used of God as his instrumentality in dispensing Divine favor to all nations. You agree that Moses was not the great leader intended to accomplish this, for he died without accomplishing it. He himself pointed out the coming of a greater Prophet and greater Teacher and greater Law-giver, the Mediator of a greater Covenant. That greater Covenant is mentioned by your prophets as a "New Covenant" which God will make with you "after those days, saith the Lord." (#Jer 31:31-34.)
The law of that New Covenant will be written upon your hearts instead of upon tables of stone. Does not this imply that the antitype of Moses, the greater Prophet than he, will be exceeding great? Look also to your Prophet—King David and your wise King Solomon. Call to mind the prophesies that Messiah shall come from this line, but that he shall be immensely greater than either David or Solomon. Point the Jew to the fact that Melchisedec was a priest as well as a king, and that of him God declared: "I have sworn and I will not repent. Thou (Messiah) shalt be a priest forever after the Melchisedec order—a reigning priest." The Jew would have no difficulty whatever in identifying a Messiah the antitype, the greater, more glorious Prophet, Priest and King, and that all of those great Jewish characters of the past merely foreshadowed or typified the Messiah of glory. If then we call their attention to the prophecy of Daniel (#Da 12:1) they are ready to identify that prophesy also with the same Messiah. They will freely admit that he must be very great to be called, "who as God"—one like God. Call their attention then to Daniel’s prophesy (#Da 7:13,14) in which Messiah is represented as receiving his kingdom at the end of the Times of the Gentiles. All these things the Jewish mind can grasp, does grasp—rejoices in. This testimony brings to them fresh hope, fresh courage. If, therefore, the errors of so-called Christendom were out of the way it would be a very simple matter indeed to show the Jew that Jesus, the Great Teacher of the past, who died, did not die by accident but of Divine intention, and that his death was of Divine foreordination as necessary for the forgiveness of Adamic sin and the recovery of the race from the death sentence. It surely would not be difficult for the Jew to see that sacrifice as the antitype foreshadowed by the sin offering of their Day of Atonement, and that without the atonement for sin on this grand scale, Messiah could not bless the race of sinners. The Jew has a keen sense of justice, and could readily see
(1) that God, having pronounced the sentence of death against the sinner could not rescind his own decision.
(2) They could also see that the teaching of the Law, "an eye for
OV116 an eye, a tooth for a tooth," implied that to redeem the sinner would require a man’s life for a man’s life—the death of a holy one as the redemption price of our father Adam and his race, which lost life-rights through him.
What Say the Scriptures?
God’s Chosen People have been under Divine supervision and care for thirty-five hundred years so that they have been kept separate from all the nations of earth and are thus a standing miracle testifying to the truthfulness of the holy promises of the Scriptures. This teaches us to look to the Scriptures respecting their future. The same Scriptures which testify to their solidarity as a people inform us that they will become a nation at the close of this Gospel Age when "the set time" for God to remember Zion shall come. St. Paul explicitly points out that Divine favor will return to natural Israel just as soon as the "call" of this Gospel Age to the Heavenly Kingdom class shall have reached fulfillment. Then "they shall obtain mercy through your mercy"—through the saintly few who, during this age, become identified with the glorified Messiah as his Bride and joint heir. Hence it was evidently not the Divine intention that the Jew should be amalgamated in the Christian systems of to-day. Indeed, this separateness from the masses of Christendom is to work to the advantage of the Jew in that he will be the better prepared for the earthly blessings that are then to come to him.—#Ro 11:25-32.
The blessings of the new dispensation about to be ushered in will be earthly blessings, and the Jew knows that all of the promises of God contained in the Mosaic law and writings of the holy prophets of old tell of earthly blessings—not of heavenly or spiritual favors. The Jew will be more ready to respond to the new order of things than his Christian or Gentile neighbors will be. Moreover, according to the Scriptures, the princes or rulers seen amongst men will be of Jewish stock, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets raised from the dead in full human perfection to be the "princes in all the earth" and representatives of Messiah’s invisible spirit Kingdom. That the Jew will be in much better condition of mind to receive the teachings and requirements of those new princes needs no discussion. —#Ps 45:16.
Before leaving this subject, we note the prophesy of old which tells that at the time Messiah will manifest the glories of his power and begin his intervention in human affairs in favor of the right and against the wrong, will be a time of "Jacob’s trouble," a time when the Jews will be in special tribulation from their foes. Then the Lord shall manifest his power on their behalf as in olden times, giving them a miraculous deliverance which they will recognize.
In consequence the Prophet declares they shall look upon, discern, "recognize Him whom they pierced"—not by seeing the glorious Messiah (#Da 12:1), with their natural sight, but they will recognize Him with the eyes of their understanding.—#Zec 12:10.
At that time of favor toward them on the part of Messiah, "the great Prince which standeth for the children of Daniel’s people," they shall discern that the glorious time of opportunity and blessing for which they so long waited has come. Then their sorrow will be great, as they will recognize to the full their national mistake in the rejection of Jesus, but "the Lord will pour upon them the spirit of prayer and of supplication," and their mourning will be but the beginning of their blessing and time of rejoicing. All the same, this prophesy proves decidedly that it is not the Divine intention that the Jews as a race shall become Christians, or become associated with the Christian systems of this age, which, alas, so seriously misrepresent the Great Teacher and the glorious truths which He and his Apostles taught. Let us leave the Jew in the future to his God, that he may in due time receive the blessing which God has promised him. Let Christendom in general go on in its blindness as the Scriptures also foretell, to its destruction, but let those of God’s people, sanctified in Christ Jesus, walk circumspectly, not after the flesh, but after the spirit. Let them seek as spiritual Israelites the heavenly things and joint-heirship with Messiah on the spiritual plane; not begrudging to the Jew the first place in the earthly phase of Messiah’s Kingdom through which all the families of the earth will be blessed.