C. THE JEWISH RELIGION
Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them. (Isa. 42:9)
Neurological evolution obviously proceeded in the primate line to the point where a primate, whom we would unquestionably recognize as a member of the genus Homo, was able to symbolize. This ability made possible the accumulation and transmission of information from one generation to the next. Culture and symbolizing, closely connected in their origins, the former dependent upon the latter, may be seen as the consequence of certain characteristics that Homo sapiens developed, characteristics not present in other primates. 260
In brief, though manâ€™s physical experiences, like those of the animals, are discrete and discontinuous, he achieves continuity of experience and learning by symbolizing his experiences in words, by means of written records, and by numerous other devices of the same order. â€¦
Accumulation of learned ways of behavior is made possible by the creation and use of symbols; without this facility, learning is static or nonâ€‘progressive as among the animals. As far as we know, man is the only animal capable of symbolic behavior; other animals learn to see signs, but they do not create symbols. Culture, in essence an accumulation or learned patterns of behavior originated and developed by means of symbols, came into being when man learned to symbolize....
Because man symbolizes and may therefore transmit culture, this pooled learning includes not only what is presently known, but also much of what has been discovered by the men of the past.261
Symbolizing, we have seen, is a prerequisite to culture, and language is one of man's most important means of symbolizing. It is therefore probable that no true culture was possible until language had itself come into being, or, at least, that language accomplished in development man's first steps in building a cultural tradition. 262
Man's capacity for culture depended upon the evolutionary development of a brain of sufficient size and complexity to enable him to symbol. 263
As I have previously mentioned, the foretelling of the first advent of Christ was necessary. To do so adequately, culture is necessary. It is interesting to note that the capacity of man for culture is dependent upon an intellect of sufficient development to symbolize, which is equally the hallmark of a free will. Thus, the same factor in man's development that necessitated the need for culture was reached simultaneously with his capacity for culture. Is this evolutionary coincidence? No, it is a further indication of divine design. With culture possible, what steps did God then pursue to ensure that an adequate foreknowledge of His incarnation would be accumulated and passed on accurately?
And Jehovah said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy fathers house, unto the land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Gen. 12:1â€‘3)
And Jehovah appeared unto him [Isaac] the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not; for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake. (Gen. 26:24)
And, behold, Jehovah stood beside him [Jacob], and said, I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Gen. 28:13â€‘14)
and I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God, and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God, who bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exod. 6:7)
For wherein now shall it be known that I have found favor in thy sight, I and thy people? is it not that thou goest with us, so that we are separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth? (Exod. 33:16)
For from the top of the rocks I see him (Israel), and from the hills I behold him: Lo, it is a people that dwelleth alone, And shall not be reckoned among the nations. (Num. 23:9)
For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever a people hear the voice of God, speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou (Israel) hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that Jehovah your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? (Deut. 4:32-34)
And Aaron spake all the words which Jehovah had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed: and when they heard Jehovah had visited the children of Israel, and that he had seen their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped. (Exod. 4:30-31)
And Israel saw the great work which Jehovah did upon the Egyptians, and the people feared Jehovah: and they believed in Jehovah, and in his servant Moses. (Exod. 14:31)
We are all human: miracles impress us and get our attention. It was mainly by the use of miracles that God got the attention of the children of Israel and separated them unto Himself.
And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, the two tables of the testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exod. 31:18)
We usually think of the Ten Commandments as being a set of rules that God gave us to live by. Yet, in the New Testament, we find out that man is not capable of fulfilling the requirements of the law. What then was the real purpose of the Ten Commandments? We see in the above verse that they are referred to as the tables of testimony. A testimony of what? The Ten Commandments were mainly given as a testimony as to what kind of God God is, to the Israelites. The non-Jewish nations had all fallen into the trap of worshiping the god of this world according to their natural concepts. For the Jews to avoid the same mistake, God needed to give them some outward conditions that were a direct reflection of His very nature. This was the real purpose of the Ten Commandments and all the other attendant laws of the Jewish religion. Thus it is that God Himself ordained the Jewish religion alone, of all the religions of the world.
Thou shalt have no other gods besides me.... for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God... (Deut. 5:7 9)
Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain ... Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as Jehovah thy God commanded thee. (Deut. 5:11â€‘12)
And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve Jehovah; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God ... (John. 24:19)
Honor thy father and thy mother, as Jehovah thy God commanded thee ... (Deut. 6:16)
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:8)
Thou shalt not kill. Neither shalt thou commit adultery. Neither shalt thou steal. Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbor. Neither shalt thou covet thy neighbor's wife ... (Deut. 6:17â€‘21)
... and there is no God else besides me, a just God ... (Isa. 45:21)
For since the law was but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities ... (Heb. 10:1 RSV)
who [Jewish priests) serve that which is a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, even as Mopes is warned of God when he is about to make the tabernacles: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern that was showed thee in the mount. (Heb. 8:5)
With a distinct culture centered on such a divinelyâ€‘ordained religion, God was able to impart and entrust to the Jews all the prophecies concerning His incarnation.
And he [Jesus] said unto them, These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the Psalms, concerning me. (Luke 24:44)
And I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou halt bruise his heel. (Gen. 3:15)
Therefore she had a double punishment: but lest the blame should rest too heavily upon her, lest she should be swallowed up by overmuch sorrow, she was by Godâ€™s mercy appointed to be the sole human agent in bringing the Deliver into the world.
Nor is it difficult to discover that Deliverer: for there is none but Christ who could in a strictly literal sense be called the seed of the woman. Here, then we have a wonderful example of the consistency of Scripture; since in this primeval prophecy, uttered four thousand years before its accomplishment, we find it declared that the Lord Jesus should be born of a virgin. 264
And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit: and the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah: (Isa. 11:1â€‘2)
When thy (David) days are fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, that shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Sam. 7:12â€‘13)
But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall come forth unto me he that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting. (Mic. 5:12)
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (God is with us). (Isa. 7:14)
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isa. 9:6)
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning? ... All they that see me laugh me to scorn: They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on Jehovah, that he would deliver him: . . . I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint: My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; And my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; And thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs (Jewish slang for Gentiles) have compassed me: A company of evilâ€‘doers has enclosed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. I may count all my bones; They look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, And upon my vesture do they cast lots. (Ps. 22:1, 7â€‘â€‘8, 14â€‘18)
He was despised, and forsaken of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefâ€‘ and he hid as it were his face from us; and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we were healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned ever one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut out of the living? for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (Isa. 53:3â€‘9)
yea, he saith, It is too light a thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. (Isa. 49:61)
Now, as a species, we have been at the practice of science a little over two and a half millennia. 265
Due to the ramifications of free will, the incarnation of God had to occur before the scientific method became too widespread, which was starting to occur at the time.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, Wiseâ€‘men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him. And all Jerusalem with him. And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written through the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, land of Judah, Art in no wise least among the princes of Judah: For out of thee shall come forth a governor, Who shall be shepherd of my people Israel. Then Herod privily called the Wise-men, and learned of them exactly what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search out exactly concerning the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word that I also may come and worship him. (Matt. 2:1-8)
He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. (John 1:11)
How was it that the Jews, having so much foreknowledge of Christ, would still reject Him when He appeared? Notice that when Herod asked the Jewish religious leaders, they immediately recited the correct verses prophesying exact details of his birthâ€‘yet none of them went (only a 3 hour walk) to see if it was true!
But their minds were hardened: for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remaineth, it not being revealed to them that it is done away in Christ. But unto this day, whensoever Moses is read, a veil lieth upon their heart. But whensoever it [the heart] shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2 Cor. 3:14â€‘16)
Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life. (John 6:39-40)
Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged, (1 Cor. 2:14)
I bear them (the religious Jews) witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. (Row. 10:2 RSV)
And he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places, and brake the pillars, and cut down the Asherah: and he brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made; for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it; and he called it a piece of brass. (2 Kings 18:3â€‘4)
By the time that Jesus came, the Jewish religion had lost sight of the living God of which it was but a picture and had degraded to the extent of carnalizing spiritual things: They had lost an actual, living contact with God and had degraded into an organized, systematized religion based on knowledge, practices, and works. They even had turned the brass serpent, a type of Christ through which God had wrought a miraculous work, into an idol and were worshiping it as if it had special powers of itself. This is a good illustration of what, spiritually, is an idol and what it does. Any previous genuine spiritual experience can become an idol to us if we let it. Thus, there are many genuine believers today who, in looking back on their initial regeneration experience, never learn to walk in the Spirit daily.
Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works.... (Rom. 9:32)
If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world and all that is in it is mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; (Ps 50:12â€‘14 RSV)
And Samuel said, Hath Jehovah as great delight in burntâ€‘offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (1 Sam. 15:22)
They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you shall think that he offereth service unto God. (John 16:2)
For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning him. (Acts 13:27 RSV)
Mere mental knowledge of God, no matter how scripturally correct, is less than valueless if it doe not stem from a comparable experience of God in spirit. Likewise, if the source is not the spirit, perfect sincerity and utmost devotion are equally valueless. Everything is entirely a matter of the source: either the source is the tree of life or the source is the tree of knowledge: the human spirit or the human soul.