The Sins Of Our Forefathers, Part 2.
Acts 15 tells the story. We will look at verses 6-11.
Some believers who were of the party of the Pharisees felt that Gentiles should be circumcised and this is the matter that they discussed.
“The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Since this is the case, why are you putting God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our forefathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Yeshua, in the same way as they also are.”
James, who was the head of the council and the believers in Jerusalem, rendered his decision in Acts 15: 13-31. We will look at verses 19-22, “Therefore, it is my judgment that we do not cause trouble for those from the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols, from acts of sexual immorality, from what has been strangled, and from blood. For from ancient generations Moses has those who preach him in every city, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers.”
We see that James begins by saying, “That from ancient generations” which refers to those Gentiles who sojourned with Moses. Then he brings it forward to their present time, referring to the Gentiles who now sit in synagogues on the Sabbath and hear the Torah being read and taught. So James knew that the Gentiles were already being taught the Commandments and Statutes and wisdom of God. James exclusively points out certain things pertaining to food. This is because he wanted Jews and Gentiles to be able to fellowship in “Koinonia” which is in today’s terms called “Christian fellowship,” which is your common pot luck dinner. James’ concern was communion with God, such as with worship and prayer, along with meals. This also was true about sexual immorality, and was common to their previous pagan life.
So you have to ask yourself, “ Why?
Why are we not worshiping at the synagogue today?”
The Separation of the Jew and Gentile
All the way back to Paul’s day we see that the Gentile believers were being taught that God rejected Israel because they did not accept the Messiah Yeshua. But Paul in Romans 11 disputes that claim. We will look at verses 11-24,
“ I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? Far from it! But by their wrongdoing salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their wrongdoing proves to be riches for the world, and their failure, riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Therefore insofar as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry if somehow I may move my own people to jealousy and save some of them. For if their rejection proves to be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are as well. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. See then the kindness and severity of God: to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; for otherwise you too will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?”
Paul makes it quite clear that Israel is not being replaced by the Gentiles, but that the Gentiles are being absorbed into the tree of Israel and it is what supports.This does not make the Gentiles the new Israel as verses 25-35 tells us, “For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written: “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” In relation to the gospel they are enemies on your account, but in relation to God’s choice they are beloved on account of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience, so that He may show mercy to all. Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him, that it would be paid back to him? For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
This was God’s plan from the beginning, as we see the promise to Abraham, that the Gentiles or as it is said, “ The Nations,” would all be gathered into Israel.
As we continue on this journey through time we will see just how things changed over the centuries and just how we arrived to today. We hope that you will continue on this journey through time, and that you will begin to see the sins of our forefathers.
Next we will look at Jewish Revolts and the Didache