The Advantage of Genealogy--Part 4
May 22, 2008
God never divorced Judah like He divorced Israel in Jer. 3:8. This is because Jesus had to be born from Judah. Jesus had a heavenly Father and an earthly mother. His mother was Mary, but His "mother" in a greater sense was the tribe of Judah, whose promise it was to bring forth the Messiah-King. He could not be born of a mother that God had divorced, so God did not divorce Judah--even though God considered that nation worse than Israel (Jer. 3:11).
God handled Judah differently from Israel. The law specified certain offenses which were serious enough that it would warrant expulsion from the tribe. Tribal membership was never purely a matter of genealogy. In the end it was a matter of law; otherwise God could never have cast off a Judahite that could present a perfect genealogy.
On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit came down as fire and accepted the Pentecostal offerings being made in the upper room. They offered their hearts--the true offerings. God did not accept the offering in the temple, for no fire appeared there to consume the offering. From that point on, the tribe of Judah became a very small group of 120, followed by another 3,000 who were converted shortly afterward. Only those who actually fulfilled the law of sacrifice (Lev. 17:1-9) actually remained citizens of the tribe of Judah.
To these were added more daily, of course, so the tribe began to grow once again. It was not long before Philip went to Samaria, where many Samaritans were given legal citizenship in the tribe of Judah. By what means? By the fact that they fulfilled the law of sacrifice by acknowledging that Jesus had been the one true Sacrifice for their sin.
To these were added Greeks and Romans such as Cornelius in Acts 10. Then, because of persecution at the hands of the ex-Judahites in the temple, the tribe of Judah was scattered to foreign lands, where many of other ethnic groups were added to the tribe. Later, the non-believers in Antioch began to call them Christians. They were, of course, "The Church," or congregation, and God considered them the congregation of Judah.
That is why Judah as a tribe was never divorced according to the law of divorce in Deut. 24. Neither was it replaced. It was pruned, as a man prunes dead branches from a tree. And many other branches were grafted on to the tree of Judah, whose root was Jesus, "the root and offspring of David" (Rev. 22:16). After being pruned, it grew to become a mighty tree once again. And insofar as God is concerned, no man is part of that tree unless he recognizes that Jesus is the Sacrifice for his sin. It matters not if a man can or cannot show his genealogical ancestry from Judah or from Abraham.
Paul had this in mind when he wrote in Romans 2:28, 29,
" (28) For he is NOT a Jew [Judean] who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. (29) But he IS a Jew [Judean] who is one inwardly; and the circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise[Judean citizenship] is not from men, but from God."
Paul was not speaking genealogically. He was speaking legally and spiritually. Physical circumcision is the sign of the Old Covenant. Circumcision of the heart is the sign of the New Covenant. Those who call themselves Jews on the grounds of physical circumcision are NOT JEWS in God's eyes. Those with heart circumcision ARE JEWS in God's eyes.
Judah's name means "praise." Thus, the last part of verse 29 is a play on this word. "His PRAISE is not from men, but from God." In other words, his Jewishness, or citizenship in Judah is not from men but from God. Men cannot create a true Jew by physical circumcision. Only God can circumcise the heart, and hence, his citizenship is something that only God can confer.
In fact, under the Old Covenant physical circumcision had made people members of "the Church in the wilderness." In later history, men attempted to duplicate this in a new way, saying that if a person will simply submit to their religious denomination, then MEN (the leaders) will determine whether other men are actually members of the Judah Church. Whether this is done by physical circumcision or by Church membership, both attempt to make "Jews" out of people by the authority of men, rather than of God.
It is important to understand also that the Church did not REPLACE the tribe of Judah, nor of Israel either. The Church IS Judah and always has been since the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The fact that those of other genealogies have been grafted on to that Judah tree does not change the tree into something other than a Judah tree insofar as its Root and Trunk are concerned.
Neither did it make any difference that the priests of the temple in Jerusalem continued to call themselves Jews. Their claim held no weight with God. Men may CALL them Jews--and certainly the Romans and Greeks continued to know them by that name--but we must look at it from God's perspective. As Paul said, men do not have the authority to determine who is and who is not a Jew. Those who call themselves Jews today are not really Jews at all. At best, they are ex-Judahites, unless they fulfill the law of Sacrifice in the same manner as everyone else must do to have a functional relationship with God.
Most of the world's Jews today are claiming a relationship with God by virtue of the Old Covenant. That Covenant was broken. The people themselves broke it, and that nullified it. The Old Covenant was conditional upon obedience. "IF YOU OBEY MY VOICE INDEED . . ." Hebrews 8:13 says (NASB),
"When He said, 'A New Covenant,' He has made the first OBSOLETE. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear."
Christian Zionists, led by John Hagee today, do not know the Scriptures. Yes, so many people CAN all be wrong. They think that Jews are "almost Christians" by virtue of their genealogy. They have conceded the point that Jews are, in effect, "chosen" by genealogy apart from Christ. But frankly, I don't believe their public stand. I think they have taken this public stand dishonestly to flatter the Jews, hoping that by these means they will be converted to Christ.
I will flatter no one into the Kingdom of God. No one is saved or "chosen" apart from Jesus Christ and a recognition of His death on the cross as the ONLY Sacrifice for sin. This is the standard for all men, whether of Judah or Israel, or any other heritage.
If that were not the case, then I myself might claim to be "chosen" on the basis of my own genealogy, for like Paul, I too am an Israelite with genealogy from Wales (Khumree), Britain ("Covenant Land"), and Sweden ("People of Dan"). But in fact, my genealogy only makes me an ex-Israelite of the dispersion, part of the group that broke the marriage covenant with God, and whom God divorced. My physical genealogy does not save me, but condemns me.
The question is not only how to attain membership in the tribe of Judah, but also how to regain my status as an Israelite. The same problem faces those who have differing ethnic backgrounds, for we all must come to God in the same manner. Recognizing and accepting Jesus Christ's sacrifice, which He accomplished in His first work on earth, makes one a Judahite.
Recognizing and accepting Christ in His Joseph role in His second work makes one an Israelite. Joseph held the Birthright (1 Chron. 5:1, 2). It was the fruitfulness mandate, now called Sonship. The Sons of God will be manifested at the appointed time to rule with Him in the Age to come.
This is the fourth part of a series titled "The Advantage of Genealogy." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones