In 1966 Randy Wolfe, a fifteen year old Jewish kid and brilliant guitar player, stepped into Manny’s Music on West 48th in Midtown Manhattan. There he bumped into a guitarist by the name of Jimmy James (‘and his Blue Flames’). Jimmy (who soon changed his own name to Jimi Hendrix) invited Randy down to the Café Wha? in Greenwich Village to jam. Jimi drafted Randy into the band for a three month stint, giving him the stage name ‘Randy California.’ Randy later formed the rock group ‘Spirit’ and wrote the powerful “It’s Nature’s Way,” a song speaking of upcoming dangers facing mankind. The opening words of the hit song were, “It’s Nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong; It’s Nature’s way of telling you in a song.”
Randy was darkly warning of industrial pollution back in 1970. But 2,700 years before Randy’s song, the Hebrew prophet Isaiah warned about a different kind of pollution: “The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty” (Isaiah 24:5-6). What do these words – breaking the eternal covenant – mean for us today?
Ye chosen seed of Adam’s race
Hosea the prophet declares that all mankind has followed in the spiritual footsteps of our forefather Adam: “But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant. There they have dealt treacherously against Me” (Hosea 6:7). Job concurs: “Have I covered my transgressions like Adam by hiding my iniquity in my bosom?” (Job 31:33). The Hebrew word for transgression here (pésha’ – פָשַׁע) means to rebel against the commands of a king (see 1 Kings 12:19; 2 Kings 3:5).
The King of the Universe had warned Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the one forbidden tree, lest a curse break out against them: “But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). After Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, the King of kings said to Adam, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground because of you” (Genesis 2:17).
God’s regal command in the Garden was righteous, and His pronouncement of the curse was a severe mercy. The devil “who has sinned from the beginning” (1 John 3:8) had been “crouching at Adam’s door,” waiting for the opportunity to enslave our parents (see Genesis 4:7). Adam and Eve stepped into the devil’s trap and received the deadly wages of their own sin (Romans 6:23). And we, their often-disobedient children, keep on transgressing God’s laws and scoffing at His statutes, continually moving His righteous goalposts further and further down the road, away from their divinely ordained locus.
The Bible is clear about sin, righteousness and judgment, but our modern society soft-peddles and warps God’s perspectives on these issues. PC consensus refuses to grapple with the sinfulness of the human heart. It’s much more user-friendly to focus on political solutions, counseling therapies or pain medication of all sorts (from anti-depressants to soft drugs).
In 1973, Dr. Karl Menninger, famous psychiatrist and founder of Topeka, Kansas’ Menninger Clinic, wrote a best-seller, ‘Whatever Became of Sin?’ He states that the concept of sin is vanishing from our culture. Sin has first been redefined as crime (a transgression against men’s laws rather than a transgression against God and His laws). Second, sin has been redefined as a symptom – a response to things which are external to the individual. Sinful behavior is now seen as a response for which the offender is not responsible. It is merely ‘the unfortunate effects of bad circumstances.’ As a result, there is no forwarding address, no need for people to take accountability for their own sins.
“I fought the law and the law won”
In 1966 the Bobby Fuller Four had a hit record. “I fought the law.” One memorable line said, “Robbin’ people with a six-gun, I fought the law and the law won.” The Hebrew concept of law echoes the moral underpinnings of this song, focusing on justice (mishpat), divine instruction/teaching (torah), and authoritative boundaries or marked-out limitations (khók; see Exodus 12:24; Deuteronomy 32:8; Proverbs 8:29; Psalm 2:7; 81:5; 148:4-6; etc.). Underneath these terms rests a solid faith in YHVH as the Lord Chief Justice, that He requires of Israel and the nations obedience to His teachings and ways, and that He has established boundaries that are not to be trifled with, finessed or perverted. God’s goalposts shall not be moved.
The serpent’s seductive counsel to Eve in Genesis 3:4 stood in brazen opposition to God’s warning in Genesis 2:17. The snake hissed “You will definitely not die!” – the first biblical example of fake news. But YHVH had promised the opposite, and He would not violate His own promises. That would have caused Him to profane His own holy utterances: “My covenant I will not profane, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness!” (Psalm 89:34-35). The irrevocable nature of God’s promises gives us who believe in Him both great confidence and hope: “In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17-18).
Western Judeo-Christian society has been based on the legal and ethical stability of these biblical foundations. Similarly, the Jewish people’s covenant vows in Deuteronomy 27:12-16 are rooted in the unchangingly righteous and truthful character of the God of Israel. God does not change; therefore His established boundaries, legal precedents and biblical morality do not change: “‘Cursed is he who moves his neighbor’s boundary mark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen’” (Deuteronomy 27:17).
Doing what’s right in your own eyes
In the days before King David, during the time of the Judges, the Jewish people were not so faithful in modeling their community on God’s guidelines, His boundaries and His ways: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:26; 21:25). In Isaiah’s day the same was true: “When they say to you, ‘Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the Teaching and to the Testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (Isaiah 8:19-20).
When a people abandons her love for and obedience to the God of Jacob, the first things thrown out of the window are biblical morality, ethics, social order and purity of worship. Whether the issue is abortion/infanticide, divorce, sexual identity, obedience to and respect of legally established authorities, etc. – a nation goes into freefall when it forsakes its Bible-based foundations.
A debate has been going on for some time in the United States of America regarding precisely this matter. Over the past 150 years Social Darwinists and pragmatists have focused attention on morphing American legal philosophy, rejecting any necessary connection between biblical morality and law. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated “that men make their own laws; that these laws do not flow from some mysterious omnipresence in the sky, and that judges are not independent mouthpieces of the infinite.” Holmes also rejected the argument that the text of the U.S. Constitution should be applied as if it were a statute. He saw the law as being in a constant state of evolution: “A word [in the Constitution] is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged but the skin of a living thought.” It is the decisions of judges which determine conduct, and no external system of religious morality (especially the Bible) should be consulted.
Basing his philosophy on Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ principle, Holmes said that “the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.” This pragmatist philosophy opens the ethical doorway for the triumph of Nazism, Communism or more modern forms of PC dictatorship. Abortion, sexual perversion and confusion, and the dictatorship of what is currently ‘politically correct’ – all of these find a staunch potential advocate in this new and dangerous form of legal amorality. What counts in the new system is what lawyers and legal oracles determine to be the socially advantageous and dominant opinion. Biblical perspectives regarding right and wrong, pure and impure, justice and morality – all are irrelevant from Holmes’ perspective.
Deuteronomy 19:14’s divine boundaries (“You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that YHVH your God gives you to possess”) would be dismissed out of hand by this novel legal perspective, often called ‘Living Constitutionalism’ by its adherents. The current argument over the appointment of Supreme Court Justices in the U.S.A. is directly related to this ‘clash of the titans’ between two very different ways of looking at law and morality.
A changing Constitution or a changing American people?
American government and society have changed radically since the U.S. Constitution was ratified on December 7, 1787:
- “Americans are no longer a predominantly religious people both grounded in and devoted to family, church and local association, Self-government under God is no longer the . . . intrinsic goal of American society as a whole, though it remains the goal of something close to half of all Americans . . . The culture that shaped and maintained our constitutional order is not just under attack; it has been driven from all centers of cultural power – schools, universities, institutions of arts and entertainment, and even many if not most churches.”
This fundamental and grass-roots change in American society may indicate a fatal disconnect between the original Constitution and a significant percent of the American people. Only a foundational spiritual renewal – a revival of original American morality and behavior – can stop that country’s descent into “a social democracy consistent with [America’s] corrupted national character.”
Wil Waluchow, Senator William McMaster Chair in Constitutional Studies at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) asks a telling question: “Can one group of people justifiably place entrenched constitutional impediments of a decidedly moral nature in the way of a second group? . . . Can one generation legitimately bind the moral choices of another?”
The Good Book replies to this question: “One generation shall praise Your works to another and shall declare Your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4). Isaiah envisions a national scenario where “a father tells his sons about Your covenant faithfulness” (Isaiah 38:19).
The Greek historian Polybius offered some words of wisdom, having watched the downfall of assorted countries in his day (230-146 B.C.):
- When a state after having passed with safety through many and great dangers arrives at the higher degree of power, and possesses an entire and undisputed sovereignty, it is manifest that the long continuance of prosperity must give birth to . . . the ruin of the republic. . . . In the end the change will be completed by the people . . . The avarice of some [will] injure and oppress them, . . . The ambition of others [will] swell their vanity, and poison them with flattering hopes. For then, being inflamed with rage, and following only the dictates of their passions, they no longer will submit to any control, or be contented with an equal share of the administration, in conjunction with their rules. But they will draw to themselves the entire sovereignty and supreme direction of all affairs. When this is done, the government will assume indeed the fairest of all names, that of a free and popular state, but will in truth be the greatest of all evils, the government of the multitude (The General History of Polybius as translated by James Hampton’ , Vol. II, pp. 177-178)
Humpty Dumpty’s Bible
The same dynamic – the twisting of the original intent of the law, whether God’s law or man’s law – is found in other areas and disciplines. One of the most prominent is in Replacement Theology, a counterfeit method of Bible interpretation which predominates in most Christian streams.
Replacement Theology takes the Bible – a book 95% written by Jews and over 90% written about Jews – and twists the original intent of these scriptures. Whereas in a straight reading of the text they refer to the Jewish people and to God’s irrevocable calling and gifts to them (see Romans 11:28-29), in Replacement Theology the meaning of the texts is twisted and turned away from the Jewish people. Instead Scripture is made to refer primarily if not exclusively to Gentile Christians. Prophetic promises about the nation of Israel are re-interpreted to refer to the destiny of the Gentiles, and the Jewish people’s spiritual history is re-formed into an allegorical spiritual history about Gentile Christians. Thus an overwhelmingly Jewish Bible is morphed into a manual for Gentiles wherein the original Jewish inhabitants have nearly no place – apart from serving as a bad example.
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known by his pseudonym Lewis Carroll) was an Oxford-educated mathematician and logician. In chapter six of his Through the Looking-Glass, a conversation between Alice and Humpty Dumpty is conveyed: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.” Alice was too much puzzled to say anything.
Every time the vast majority of Christians twist scripture passages about Israel into referring to Gentile Christians, the original intent of the Scriptures is being violated. When passages clearly dealing with Israel are preached week-in and week-out as describing Gentiles and the Christian church, this is as much a violation of the Bible as ‘Living Constitutionalism’ is a violation of the original intent of the American Constitution.
This behavior is unfortunately par for the course among most Catholics and Protestants; among most Baptists, Methodists and Episcopalians; among most charismatics and anti-charismatics; among most Third Wave, prophetic and apostolic streams.
This ‘Humpty Dumpty Theory of Language’ is not just a brief moment of comedic light reading in a children’s book; it is a potentially fatal disconnect between God’s original intent in Scripture and a significant percent of the Body of Messiah.
Jam tomorrow and jam yesterday
Another thoughtful quotation comes from Through The Looking Glass, this time in a dialogue between the White Queen and Alice: The Queen said, “The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.” “It must come sometimes to ‘jam to-day,’” Alice objected. “No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every other day: to-day isn’t any other day, you know.” “I don’t understand you,” said Alice. “It’s dreadfully confusing!”
The parallel here concerns the destiny of the Jewish people in the Scriptures. There are some who say that God gave jam (grace and blessing) to the Jewish people in ancient times, and will do so again in the future – but not today! God cannot bring the Jewish people back and restore them to their land in our day (they say) – no jam today – because (according to this theory) the sons and daughters of Jacob have not yet repented. God can love the Jewish people in the past and again in the future, but not today. From this twisted perspective, any present Jewish return to the Land of Israel is only a preparation for a Second Holocaust and an even greater persecution and exile of Isaac’s descendants. Again, I have dear friends who hold to this ‘no jam today’ teaching and it deeply grieves me. I am doing my best to let believers know that such teaching is dreadfully confusing (to quote Alice) and has a strong scent of anti-Semitism as well.
Begin at the beginning
How shall we then live and understand the Scriptures properly, using the care God wants us to exercise? Once again, Alice comes to the rescue. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the King instructs the White Rabbit: “Read them,” said the King. The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?” he asked. “Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
To grasp the original intent of the ‘Jewish Constitution’ known as the Holy Scriptures, one needs to begin at Genesis and read all the way through to Revelation, taking every reference to the Jewish people as actually referring to the Jewish people. Take every spiritual promise to Jacob’s children as applying primarily to the Hebrew people, and only after that, consider how those principles may also apply to the nations. This method of biblical interpretation may be highly radical to some, but it is the foundational key to discerning YHVH’s heart and strategy from the beginning to the end of history. Full stop.
God’s love for the nations does not come to fruition at the expense of Israel’s calling. When one applies the Bibles’ Jewish principles to the nations of the world, it in no way diminishes YHVH’s priority calling and plan for Isaac’s seed.
As believers in Messiah Yeshua let’s hold each other responsible to greater accountability and higher accuracy in our interpretation, teaching and preaching of God’s ‘Bible-Constitution’ – “accurately handling the word of truth as workmen who do not need to be ashamed” (2 Timothy 2:15).
How should we then pray?
- Pray for those who are contending for revival and restoration of original godly foundations in their own countries and leaderships
- Pray for believers to receive divine revelation about the importance of accurately following God’s original intent in understanding and teaching His word about Israel
- Pray for revelation and repentance to come to those who are teaching Replacement Theology without knowing it
- Pray for the raising up of the Ezekiel 37 prophetic army among the Jewish people
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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