Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit: What is the Unforgivable Sin?

I have a friend in prison who has recently come to know the Lord. As he studies his Bible alone in his cell, many questions come up. Via the mail, I am able to write responses to his many questions. What follows is one such response. I welcome any additional feedback that I may include in my next letter.


You've stumbled upon quite the brain teaser for any Biblical scholar. Over the centuries, Christians have disagreed sharply about what this text actually means. There is no shortage of different teachings you might hear about it. One such teaching that you've obviously heard is that to "blaspheme the Holy Spirit" means to say the words "God damn it." Let me start by saying: whatever blaspheming the Holy Spirit does mean, that isn't it.

How can I say that? Well, for three reasons. The first is simply context. One of the things we have to be careful about when reading the Bible is that the original authors weren't 21st century Americans writing to our culture. They were Jews living 2000 years ago under Roman rule where Greek was the universal language (like English is today). Their culture had its own unique set of moral problems, some the same as today (sexual immorality, greed, etc.) and some entirely different (pagan worship, child sacrifice, etc.).

So, if you consider their culture, the simple fact is that the expression "God damn it" didn't exist. People didn't walk around saying that whenever they were angry or surprised. So, it doesn't make any sense that Jesus would be referring to that phrase in 30 AD speaking to a crowd of people who would have no idea what he meant.

Second, the idea of saying "God damn it" is a very simple request: we are asking God to condemn some person or object to destruction because we are angry with it. You could argue that it is a prayer. Read Psalm 7:6, where David makes the same request of God in slightly different words: "Arise, O Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice" (Ps. 7:6). So, simply asking God to damn something is not a sin at all. However, what is a sin would be to do so "in vain"-meaning, for personal and selfish reasons rather than for reasons of God's glory. That is the meaning of the 4th commandment, "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God" (Exodus 20:7), which is, by the way, forgivable.

And the third reason that I can tell you "God damn it" is not the unforgivable blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is because the text itself (Matthew 12) tells us what Jesus was referring to.
"Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, 'Could this be the Son of David?' But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, 'It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.'" (Matthew 12:22-24)
Notice that all the people did not even consider that Jesus was himself a demon. In fact, they immediately began to consider that He might be the Messiah, the "son of David," whom Jews had been awaiting for a long time. However, the Pharisees-religious elite who were intent on discrediting Jesus altogether-made an audacious claim. They said that He did these works by the power of Satan.

Actually, they called it Beelzebub. Here again we have to understand cultural context of 2000 years ago. Beelzebub was the name that Jews assigned to the most evil and deplorable pagan god. It was for them a name which figuratively represented everything opposed to God. It could be compared to our concept of "the devil" with horns and a pitchfork. It was derived from the name of one of the pagan gods nearby, and suffice it to say that anything related to a pagan god was deplorable, sinful, and evil.

So, whereas the people who saw Jesus' works were quick to believe that He was not only doing these miracles by God, but that he may also be the Messiah, the Pharisees identified His miracles as demonic and something to be feared. And, so, Jesus said of those Pharisees:
"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come" (Matthew 12:30-32).
It was the Holy Spirit, not Satan, who did the miracles that this crowd had seen. So, the ordinary sins of the people-"every sin and blasphemy"-could be forgiven. But for those who blasphemed against the Holy Spirit by saying that the Holy Spirit's works were actually evil and demonic, they could not be forgiven that sin.

The word "blasphemy" means to tell a slanderous lie, like spreading a vicious rumor. So, to blaspheme the Holy Spirit was to lie to the people about the source of Jesus' power in order to persuade them not to follow Him. That is the sort of sin that won't be forgiven. But, Jesus goes on to explain that it was not that they had accidently misspoken and now were condemned forever. This was no simple mistake on the Pharisee's part. The Pharisees were deeply evil. Jesus was describing their real hearts:
"You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:34-37).

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Monday, June 1, 2009

A Christian's Response Part II: The Jewish Requirements for Maschiach

In my post last Friday, I introduced a topic that some of you may be very familiar with, and others may barely know as an issue: the Jewish requirements for Messiah (Maschiach) and, in particular, Jesus' failure to meet them to the Jew's liking. Read the full list in part one of this two-part post. As I very quickly addressed this list on Friday, there were three topics that I promised to address in a more lengthy response later. Well, it's later... and this is the lengthy response.

As you might expect, the vast majority of the Messianic requirements held out by the Jews are not disagreeable for the Christian. After all, we do reference the same prophets. Now, before I begin, I do want to state that this article is very clearly pertaining to the specific set of Jewish requirements for the Messiah, and as such, does not represent the full scope of expanded Christian messianism. For more details on the three offices of "the annointed" according to Christology, read Who Else by Christ and also reference the Week 4 lecture of the Person and Work of Christ class.

Now, back to the topic at hand. The three most pivotal points at which Jews argue Christ fails to fulfill their Messianic requirements are these:
  1. To be a king in the line of David. You see, Christ was not actually a son of Joseph, and so His paternal lineage--the lineage through which tribal bloodline is established--cannot be linked to David.
  2. That Christ was not an observant Jewish man. There are many layers to this dispute: first, the Jewish position that there cannot be a God-Man. Second, the Jewish position that Jesus violated the Jewish Law.
  3. Finally, the position most vehemently defended by Jews, is that there is no place for a Messiah who comes, does part of His job, dies and comes back later to finish it.
The son of David...

First, let's address Jesus' lineage. I want to first point out that this objection was not developed as an argument until long after the establishment of the church. It was not an objection of Jesus' Jewish contemporaries. That is not to say, however, that later inspiration cannot be valid. The point which I believe is most notable is that in the time of Jesus, genetic recombination was hardly the measure by which parental lineage was tested. There was no paternity tests administed in DNA labs.

Jesus was given as a son to Joseph and Mary, raised in their household, and given every legal claim to the firstborn sonship without question of the seminal contributor (which is in fact a crucial part of the seminal view of original sin, but I digress). The point is that the definition of "son" was not dependent on genetic criteria. Jesus was in every way a son of Joseph. In Luke 2:23, Joseph accepted fatherhood of the boy by fulfilling the Law's requirement to consecrate his firstborn to the Lord.

And, if such irregularity in the passing of inheritance and bloodline is disagreeable, I would submit that God's purposes have been shown several times over not to follow man's tradition. Take Jacob, for example, who inhereted the blessing and promise despite the fact that he was not the first born--overturning the tradition of primogeniture.

Finally, perhaps in God's infinite wisdom, He did not provide a law of lineage. There was nothing in the Law that established an irreversible statute of paternity.

The Jewish God-Man

Where do I begin? I have already written much on the humanity and deity of Christ. I do not dare to think that I could convince a Jew of this point outside of the acceptance of such a mystery that comes--even for the most educated Christian--purely by faith. Let me simply point to previous works on the topic of the Kenosis. Christ the Mediator, An Attitude the Same as Christ, and We Beheld his Glory.

So, accepting that Jesus is God in the flesh, who emptied Himself by adding such limitations as the flesh, not out of weakness but out of love, we arrive at the conclusion that Jesus was a man.

But, was He an observant Jew? If not, then He is a lawbreaker and can be neither the Jewish Messiah nor our Spotless Lamb. But Jesus did not break the Law. He broke the legalistic stipulations of the contemporary Jewish hypocrites, but not the Law of God. Reference Matthew 12:1-13 for an understanding of His so-accused Sabbath breaking.

The key to understanding this point is in realizing the difference between the Jewish Law and the Jewish Traditions that prevailed in the 1st century. In Matt. 15:1-3, for example, the Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Law. But His defense, undeniably accurate, was that He had not broken any Laws, but rather, their traditions.

Jesus, in fact, taught that the Law had more to do with one's heart than with legalistic obedience. His teachings in the sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) actually expound on the Law making it even harder to obey, for many, by applying it to thought and attitude.

I would charge Jews to simply analyze their traditional view of Jesus. Read the accounts of Christ's life on earth (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Ask for yourself, where did He break the Law? Especially bear in mind that even the Jew's teach "Torah is not viewed as a literal document in Judaism. Rather, it is something that can be understood, read and interpreted on many different levels" (A Jew with a View).

The Second Coming

If you've been following along in any of the comment strings that have prompted me to write this post, you've seen over and over that there "is no place in Judaism for a Messiah who comes, fulfills part of the requirements, dies, and comes back to finish it."

This is, perhaps, the simplest to address and yet the hardest to explain. It is simple because I can simply say this: Christians do not teach that Christ fulfilled ANY of the traditional Jewish Maschiach requirements (except for His lineage). I believe the greatest misconception--no doubt spurred on by the many Christians who themselves do not fully understand Christology--is that Jesus was the Anointed (Maschiach) King of the Jews.

The Christian belief is that we await the return of Jesus to assume His reign--a reign that so closely resembles what Jews await in their Maschiach the parallel is undeniable. In fact, as I've stated before, I even ascribe to the position that ethnic and national Israel has a particular place of blessing in this new kingdom, and that Gentiles are in fact "grafted in."

So, as I said, this is simple to state but difficult to explain. It's difficult to explain because we must then delve into the purpose of Jesus first coming 2000 years ago. His first coming and claiming the title "Annointed" throws confusion into the topic because that term carries a specific connotation to the Jew... a connotation that Jesus did not fulfull. And yet, the term is nonetheless applicable.

If a Jew is to accept the term Messiah placed on Jesus, they have to accept the doctrine of a New Covenant, established in Jesus' blood. That He was "annointed" to the office of prophet and of priest FIRST, declaring and mediating a new covenant. That He will be anointed the earthly politcial ruler, the King on David's throne (not in Heaven but on Earth) at a later time, but that this fulfillment of prophecy is dependent on those prophecies that Jews have not associated with their Maschiach. The prophecies that foretold His first coming.

Too much needs to be said about the covenants and Christ's first coming than can be stated here. I must leave you waiting for yet another future article in which I will dive deeper into the covenant purposes of Jesus first coming.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

A Christian's Response: The Jewish Requirements for Maschiach

This post comes in response to a comment on a previous post, Will the Real Messiah Please Stand Up, by a Jew with the charge that Jesus did not meet the full list of requirements for the Maschiach (Messiah). I asked and was given this list by Tabatha aka "A Jew with a View" and so I've decided to post it here with some brief commentary. In a later post, I will provide a more detailed outline of Christian Messianism as it relates to the Jewish criticism of Jesus' claims to the Messiah title, "Anointed One."

My comments here will be color coded:
Already met in Jesus
Promised at Jesus' return
Incorrect exegesis resulting in a false criterion
  • He will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) via King Solomon (1 Chron. 22:8-10)
    Realizing that Jews reject Jesus' lineage because he is not a son of Joseph, I will address this point in a later post, but for here, state simply that Christian theology accepts this as being met in Jesus.

  • The Moshiach will be a man of this world, an observant Jew with “fear of God” (Isaiah 11:2)
    This is the mysterious Kenosis, also rejected by Jews. However, I want to challenge the meaning of "an observant Jew." Observant of Jewish traditional legalism, or of God's law?


  • Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership (Isaiah 11:4)
    That's what we're waiting for!

  • There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease (Isaiah 25:8)
    That's what we're waiting for!

  • All of the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19)
    Unless, of course, you're a Sadducce :-)

  • The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:11)
    According to Romans, it's the remnant that will experience this. Just as it was the righteous Remnant who God saved from exile in the Old Testament.

  • He will be a messenger of peace (Isaiah 52:7)
    In principle, I believe Christians agree with this. However, He will wage war to destroy the enemy before peace can be established.

  • The ruined cities of Israel will be restored (Ezekiel 16:55)
    Close, but not quite. This text does not promise a restoration for all of the cities of Israel, but rather We await the restoration of Jerusalem.

  • Weapons of war will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9)
    Umm... ok, I guess. Not one that Christians emphasize greatly, but probably goes hand-in-hand with the perfect peace that will be established.

  • The Temple will be rebuilt (Ezekiel 40) resuming many of the suspended mitzvot.
    That's what we're waiting for! The Temple represents God's glory on earth. Even though there's some difficulty around the presence of animal sacrifice in view of Christ's eternal sacrifice, but Dr. Constable gives a good description in his commentary.

  • He will then perfect the entire world to serve God together (Zephaniah 3:9)
    What's left after judgment, yes.

  • Jews will know the Torah without Study (Jeremiah 31:33)
    Many view this as having happened, at least partially, with the indwelling. However, this, along with the following verse 34, will happen in perfection when we receive our resurrected bodies at His return.

  • He will give you all the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)
    Umm... ok, I guess. But, I do like John Piper's definition that the true desires of our heart are for God Himself.

  • He will take the barren land and make it abundant and fruitful (Isaiah 51:3, Amos 9:13-15, Ezekiel 36:29-30, Isaiah 11:6-9).
    That's what we're waiting for!

  • Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance. (Isaiah 2:4)
    Close, but rather we hold that He will rule over all nations Himself.

  • The whole world will worship the One God of Israel (Isaiah 2:17)
    What's left after judgment, yes.

  • The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23)
    I agree. I am of the persuasion, based on Romans 10-11, that ethnic and national Israel will hold a position of higher importance in the Millenial Kingdom.

  • Nations will end up recognizing the wrongs they did to Israel (Isaiah 52:13-53:5)
    And to Christ. Just before they're judged, yes.

  • He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10).
    Hi, I'm a gentile, and I believe in the Messiah :-)

  • Knowledge of God will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9)
    Can't wait!

  • The Sanhedrin will be re-established (Isaiah 1:26)
    Close, but what Isaiah had in mind was not the Sanhedrin of Jesus' day. He clearly says, judges as in days of old.

  • All Israelites will be returned to their homeland (Isaiah 11:12)
    I agree. I am of the persuasion, based on Romans 10-11, that ethnic and national Israel will hold a position of higher importance in the Millenial Kingdom.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Christians, Messianics, and Jews

I have been enjoying an exchange of thought and positions with a blogger who calls himself "A Jew with a View." The more I read about his "bouts" with the Messianic Jews, the more I tend to realize that Christianity thinks that a Jew is something entirely different than an orthodox Jew does. Nomenclature is the root of so many arguments.

First, I have to confess that I can understand and relate to several points he has made stating that Jews themselves define what Judaism is, and it excludes those who worship a man--even the God-Man. So, in other words, the prevailing argument is that Messianics are not Jews.

However, I would like to propose that what is meant by Messianics and Christians by the term "Jew" is not the same definition as what an orthodox Jew might mean, and as such, if we can dissect the issue there may be less of an argument.

Messianics (and all Christians who actually understand orthodox theology... probably an equally minor proportion as in Judaism) understand that what it means to be Jewish is to be an Israelite in covenant with the One God wherein, among many other facets, sins are forgiven by expiation through a sacrifice.

If in fact Judaism and Christianity can agree up to this point, then the key difference is not in whether a person follows Jewish interpretation of the covenant--or rather, an acceptable New Covenant as described by the Prophet Jeremiah--but whether their interpretation is in fact one Jewish interpretation.

At this point, it's prudent to point out that there is a varying viewpoint on theology even among those who call themselves Jews today--ranging from orthodox to apostate.

So, the fact remains that a few Pharisees (Paul & Nicodemus), a zealot (Peter), a Rabbi (Jesus), and several fisherman and carpenters who were all themselves Jews were the originators of this new, albeit unorthodox, interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures which undergird Christian theology and Christology. So, is the Jew with a View right in claiming that Messianics are not Jewish? That they have no claim to the name "Jewish?" I don't think so.

If by this point in reading this post you're entirely lost... I would encourage you to read up on the arguments made at http://ajewwithaview.wordpress.com and, if you are so inclined, join the discussion!

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Friday, March 27, 2009

A Lengthy Response - RE: Will the Real Messiah Please Stand Up

If you've been following the comment string of my previous article: Will the Real Messiah Please Stand Up, you may have noticed an escalating string of comments from an anonymous reader. I admire the thought and clarity with which he/she has responded and I think there are valid questions raised worth addressing, so I have decided to create a lengthy response to the most recent comment in this new post.

In an item-by-item fashion, allow me to reply...
1. Christianity is not a divine religion. It is a political creation of the Roman Empire designed to control the Jews.
Yes, and Judaism is not a divine religion either, it's the syncretistic product of an Egyptian outcast fascinated with the Messopotamian mythologies and Semitic culture... fooey. To establish a pacifying religious figure-head amid the rebellious Jewish people may seem a plausible scheme of the Romans, until you consider: just how big of a threat were the Jews to Rome? Did they merit such an outlandish ruse? If they could pull off such a covert operation with such success that nobody diverted from the political line for centuries, maybe they should have dreamed up such a plan for dealing with the Visigoths?

What's more is the the Biblical writings don't support the notion at all. Yes, as mentioned before, it may seem appealing to invent a character such as Jesus who may pacify the Jews, but it's obvious from the beginnings of the Gospels that the Jews rejected Christ. If the intent in creating a false religion was to win over the rebellious Jews to follow their pacifist leader, would the gospels and Acts have portrayed Jewish rejection of Christ so clearly?

No, this is not a valid approach to history.

2. There is no place in Judaism for a messiah that does part of his job, then dies, then comes back and finishes the job.
Well, then it appears the Romans didn't do their research before defining this character that they invented, eh? Oh, sorry... I digress. We're on the 2nd point now. Right.

Could it also be said that there was no place in Judaism for God to make Abraham into a great nation... destroy it... and then do it all over again? Actually, my friend Anonymous, I agree with you. Inasmuch as Judaism had become by the 1st century more of a pattern of traditions than (as you called it) a "divine religion," there was no place in their tradition for a Messiah such as Jesus was and is. You are quite correct.

However, I believe what you may have been trying to say is that there is no place in the divine Hebrew texts (our "Old Testament") for such a Messiah. I confess that I'm not as well versed in Old Testament theology as I should be, so I won't dare venture into a passage-by-passage discourse of how each prophecy can be reconciled. However, I would like to submit that Hebrew writings were never very exact when it came to chronology and continuity (except in cases when they expressly aimed to be, such as Jonah's 3-day visit to fish gut).

By way of example, I'll offer two: first, Adam was told not to eat of the tree for, "when you eat of it you will surely die" (Gen. 2:17). Yet, he did not die... at least not "when" he ate of it. Secondly, consider David's anointing (Messiah) as King. In 1 Samuel 16, David is anointed as king by the prophet of God and Saul is proclaimed to no longer be king. But, David is not king for another 30 years. He was king already, but not yet.

I will, again, reiterate my agreement with Anonymous that this sort of "already but not yet" messianism has no place in traditional Judaism. But it is nonetheless a hermeneutically sound approach to the Messianic prophecies.

3. There are 5 or 6 things that the Jewish messiah must do in order to qualify. These include (off the top of my head) - gather the exiles, build the temple, usher in an era of peace (perhaps preceded by a large war according to some people's interpritation)... and there are others I can't remember right now.
Ahh, and there lies the real issue. All of the items cited herein are a part of traditional Jewish Messianism. On these grounds, the earlier point that Jesus did part of His job, died, and will later return to finish it is actually misrepresented. Jesus did not do any part of this "job" according to the Jewish Messianism. He promised it. He predicted it. But he left every ounce of it undone at His death. In fact, it should interest Jewish readers that the New Testament writings from Acts through Revelation (especially Revelation) express a burning desire to see all of the traditional Jewish Messianic prophecies fulfilled.

However, Jesus' first trip to this terrestrial ball had other goals in mind. He was fulfilling Jeremiah 31:31 before Isaiah 11:6. Christianity does not claim that Christ has already fulfilled all of the Messianic roles. The chief difference in a Christian's present anticipation of a future Messiah and the Jew's present anticipation of a future Messiah is that Christians already know Him by name.
4. ...The Christian interpritation of the messiah involves supernatural stuff, the Jewish messiah is an emancipated empowered mortal human being who brings about real dramatic change to the real world...
How sad a prospect to think that God cannot accomplish the "supernatural." What do Jews do with the "supernatural" elements of their own cherished scriptures? Which is easier, to part the red sea or to raise a man from the dead? And, if you cannot trust that God really parted a sea, then why would you believe his promise to send a peacemaker in the future--mortal or otherwise?
Jesus was a great man... to be denied messiahship is not an insult, it is a great credit to him that he was a contender.
Ah, yes, just as it was an honor for Yahweh to be a 'contender' for the Israelite's worship, right up there with all the other gods... oh, wait, that's not how God thinks at all. "I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another" (Isaiah 42:8).

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Who Else but Christ?

I have been reviewing miles of commentary and articles published on messianism and messianic prophesy and have found an amazing amount of varying theories. Most pertinent to the Christian faith is the messianic beliefs of God's covenant people, Israel, at the time of the appearance of our Christ, Jesus.

It is no secret to most Christians that the Jewish contemporaries of Jesus' day were anticipating somewhat of a prominent political and military leader to arrive, overthrow the imposing power (Rome as it were), and re-establish the Davidic throne, borders, etc. This is clearly the root of much of their skepticism that we see depicted in the Gospels. But, knowing this fact, are you keenly aware of why they believed so? Or, more importantly, why are we believers so convinced of another picture of the Messiah?

Jewish messianism is rooted most fundamentally on Daniel 9 as the lens through which other messianic prophesy is viewed. Daniel 9 describes the Lords anointed as just the political leader we described earlier. Likewise, texts such as Isaiah 9:6 seem to support this view. So, where do we get off thinking there's another interpretation?

First, it is of chief importance to realize that the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant (namely, to have a king on the throne) is only one aspect of the Messiah promised to Israel. But, I also want to stress that the Jewish anticipation of an Anointed to take the throne and rule assertively was not at all wrong, as some have thought, but merely incomplete and out of sequence.

Before the Davidic covenant, God promised Israel a future prophet. This future prophet would be like Moses. Deuteronomy 18 tells us that He will speak the very words of God (verse 18) and failure to heed those words will invoke judgment from God (verse 19). With that in the background, consider then how often Jesus says in Matthew, "You have heard it said... but I say." He quotes Moses and the Law, offering new revelation and illumination into the Word of God.

Then, in the Davidic covenant, there is evidence that the true fulfillment of the covenant could only come from God incarnate. Who else could sit on the throne forever. As Peter exegetes in Acts 2, "David said about him: '...because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.'... I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne." Consider also the Isaiah 9:6 passage mentioned earlier: "His name shall be... Mighty God." Who else could this Messiah be but the God incarnate Jesus Christ?

Finally, Christ was anointed not only as king and prophet, but as priest. Hebrews chapters 4-9 detail the splendor of God's plan to make the old covenant obsolete with a new high priest who no longer has to sacrifice for Himself. Only by the permanent sacrifice of Christ can our sins be truly forgiven forever as God had promised in Jeremiah 31. By what means could this promise have come true under the Old Testament Law?

But as I mentioned earlier, the Jew's anticipation of a ruling king is not wrong, merely incomplete. The Son will return to take His throne. In that day, Israel will see and believe. God has reserved for Himself a remnant. In a sense they are correct: their Messiah is yet to come, we simply (by faith) have had the privilege of a sneak peak.

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