Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall
When looking at factoids from the first century, the biggest surprise for most Christians is the one in Matthew fifteen when Christ said very plainly: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” My old copy of the Harmony of the Gospels from 1901 says the same thing, “I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” You can go through all the various translations, and they all are very clear about what Christ said. In fact, the NLT is perhaps the most to the point, when Christ says, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep —the people of Israel.” In this case, the lost people are the House of Israel. These are the ones of Israel who aren't Jewish. [See the Feature articles, And It's Still A Mystery and Why Was Jesus Jewish, And Not Moses?].
Now the exclamation point to Christ’s statement, for all you Christians who can't believe you are descendants of Abraham through Israel, is that Christ said this to a gentile woman, meaning a woman of non-Israelite descent. As Christ explained it to her, he said, “It is not good that I take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” [See our Sneakers article, What About Everyone Else?].
Christ was very clear that he wasn’t sent to the gentiles of the world. He was blunt when he used the analogy of dogs in referring to them. Modern day Christianity disagrees with Christ on this point of heritage because we are ignorant of our place in Biblical history. In addition to this, Christ sent out his apostles with very clear instructions in Mat. 10:5, 6, do NOT go to the Gentiles, but only go to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Yet, we don't see it. This reminds of the response to the question, "What do we use to sleep on, sit on and brush our teeth with?" Initially, a person will look pensive. Then, their look turns to puzzlement. And finally they will say, "I dunno, what?" The answer is a bed, a chair and a toothbrush. Simple. And the fact that Christ was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel is this simple too.
Of course, right about now, some of you may be thinking, “Before you make an idiot of yourself, consider John 3:16.” And so we will. John also essentially makes the same point in chapter four, verse 42. “… we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world." So let’s take a look at what he is saying because it’s wholly keyed into the covenants given only to the nations of Israel.
Christ wasn’t ambiguous about who he was sent to, and neither is the Biblical record. This consistency runs through the entire Biblical record from Genesis to Revelation. Christianity is confused however because we are pretty much clueless about our history and the relevancy of the covenants staring us right in the face. In chapter three of John, Christ was explaining a few things to Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, because he was unaware of them. Christ essentially said to Nicodemus, "How can you claim to be a teacher of Israel and not know these things?" The same point can be made to Christian teachers today. So Christ told Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, [sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel remember] that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16]. Who or what is the world here? Most assume Christ and John used it as a reference to people, or mankind because of our modern day English usage of the word. They didn’t and it’s not.
The English word world in John's chapter three is not the Greek word anthropos, meaning people or mankind. Nor is it oikoumene, which is the inhabited Earth. The word used in John's gospel is kosmos, meaning an ordered arrangement or agreement or covenant. In its greatest sense, it is the plan of God from before the beginning of the foundation of the Earth. [See the Feature article, Three Temple Ages Make A Plan].
Lest we think the apostles didn't know what they were writing about, take a look at 1 Corinthians 4:9. "For I think that God has set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle [theater] to the world, and to angels, and to men." The order of these three words are in order of rank or importance in descending order. The plan of God is of paramount importance, so it is first. The word angels here is aggelos in Greek and it does mean angels, or messengers. The word men in Greek here is anthropos and it does mean mankind. And the word world here, completely separate from angels and mankind is kosmos. Kosmos is not a reference to mankind nor to angels. Compare this to Hebrews 2:5-7 in reference to angels where the word world is oikoumene meaning the inhabited earth.
Now, when we look at John 3:19, we see that the word kosmos and the word anthropos, used by John just three verses after verse 16, are completely separate and do not have the same meaning as the context clearly shows. "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world [kosmos], and men [anthropos] loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
If both words, world and men, mean the same thing in context of John 3, then how is it the Light, a reference to Christ, came into mankind and mankind loved the darkness? If this is so, we must conclude that Christ is the author of spiritual darkness. It makes no theological sense. It’s contradictory. The words world and men have two different meanings, which is clearly shown here by the context of John 3.
It is consistently clear from this that John very well knew the difference between kosmos and anthropos in the first century as opposed to modern day Christians. The two are not one in the same, as the context here bears this out. John understood the covenants and how they relate to Christians. And what John meant is all very plain when we understand our place in Biblical history as it relates to the covenants as well. [See the Feature articles, The Tale Of Two Covenants].
Correctly understood, the KJV translators could have rendered this verse, “For God so loved the covenant promises made with Abraham and his Seed, that He gave His only begotten Son ….” [See Luke 1:68-73]. In context of the entire Biblical record, John 3:16 and 4:42 are referencing the full extent and scope of the covenant promises made with Abraham and his seed Christ, which are all part of God’s plan. And key to this plan are the children of Israel. Christ, during his first coming, broke the Mosaic Law covenant made with Israel, and instituted the Abrahamic covenant in its place. [See the Feature article, Moving Forward].
"And I [God] will establish my covenant between me and you [Abraham] and your seed after you ...." [Gen. 17:7]. This covenant was not made with the gentiles of the world. It was established by Christ with the House of Israel in the first century. The word covenant in Hebrew is beriyth and has essentially the same definition as kosmos meaning a formal agreement or alliance. God "has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds ..." [Heb. 1:2]. The word worlds here is the Greek aion, meaning ages. Thus, the kosmos, the scope of the covenant made with Abraham and his Seed, Christ, is rather large and all encompassing. And it all started before time began, before the foundation of the world. [For more detail about the kosmos, see the Sneakers article, Past The Future].
Paul is clear about Christ’s role with the new covenant. "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one. 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ." "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed [Greek, sperma, meaning semen, hence physical descendants], and heirs according to the promise [of the new covenant]." [Gal. 3:16, 29]. This is why Luke in his Christian gospel wrote, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he has visited and redeemed his people." [Luke 1:68; also read Isa. 63: 7. 8]. This, of course, echos what Christ said to that gentile woman.
And if Christians are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise, then we are not gentiles of the world, as in many seeds, especially as the covenant promises were passed to Isaac, "... in Isaac shall your seed be called" [Rom. 9:7], and then it was passed on to Isaac’s son Israel. It is all connected to the Genesis Birthright, which is discussed in detail in chapter six of The Blind Man’s Elephant. Also see the Feature article, We're Abraham's Seed And Heirs.
Who are the lost sheep of the House of Israel? Christians. At least that’s what Christ and the apostles very plainly said. Israel was Abraham’s grandson. Israel had twelve sons. They were the children of Israel. And they remained as one nation until just after the death of Solomon because “Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as did his father David.” [1 Kng 11:6].
So the nation of Israel was split into two nations. The descendants of the son Judah, the Jews, became known as the House of Judah. Ten other remaining sons became known as the House of Israel. The one son Levi, was the priesthood, and was found in both Houses. In 732 BCE, God divorced the ten nation House of Israel from the covenant promises because of their gross idolatry, but not the House of Judah. [See Jer. 3:8]. Being divorced, they lost their national identities and covenant promises. They were taken captive and scattered among the regions of the Assyrian empire. Thus, they became the same as any other gowy, or gentiles or people not in the covenant relationship with God. They were lost to God.
Because God made a promise to Abraham that was passed on to Isaac and then passed on to Israel, the ten nations of the House of Israel needed to be redeemed, brought back into their covenant relationship or alliance with God. Thus, Christ, the Seed of Abraham, as he said, was only sent to the ten nations of the House of Israel in this age. They were the only ones needing to be redeemed at Christ’s first coming because of the covenant promise made by God with Abraham. It's all about the covenant. This is what John is referring to in his chapter three because God sent His only begotten Son only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine ... For the LORD has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession." [Exd. 19:5; Psa. 135:4 NIV; see the Feature article, And It's Still A Mystery, and the Sneakers article, His Treasured Possession].
NLT: Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Italics and [ ] are the authors.
Be sure to check our Newslink section regularly for relevant secular articles.
© copyrighted material 2007-2019. www.redshoe.com All rights reserved.
Notice to readers. All redshoe generated articles may be hyperlinked or copied to PDF format for use as long as no editing or alteration of content is made.
"And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."