Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Romans 9:4 The Service of God (5 of 6)

Note: This is part 5 of the six part series. Part one is located here:

"Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;"  Romans 9:4

  Towards the end of Romans 9:4, we see that the Hebrew people were given "the service of God".  Living as we do in the light of the New Testament, that might not seem that big a deal since the  doors have been thrown open and the veil rent in twain, but  if you consider the times and conditions under which this privilege was extended, the significance becomes apparent.
  As we've covered before, for whatever reasons, God dealt almost exclusively with one man and his descendants for most of the Bible.  As the Gentiles wandered about in the vanity of their own mind (Ephesians) and in darkness ( Ephesians) as  brute beasts (1 Peter), the Hebrew people  had literally access to everything about God that could be known.  Having this superior information, they were given both a command and a privilege to serve the One who had revealed Himself.
  God told Abraham to Genesis 15,  "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;". That is not a cavalier statement; especially in light of Jesus statement that "no man can serve two masters".   While in Egypt, they would not be serving the Lord God of Abraham; they would be serving Pharaoh. His dictates would frame their life, not the dictates of God. Their lot was to toil and await their deliverer, and after their deliverance, they would no longer serve the "iron furnace" of Egypt, but would serve the Lord of hosts, as their  father Abraham had done.
  In Exodus 9:1, God says “Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go , that they may serve me.” It’s interesting that not only did God choose not to speak to Pharaoh directly, but he didn’t tell Pharaoh to serve him. The leader of the most powerful nation on earth has God's people in bondage, and still God elects not to  address that man directly.  Instead He sends another man , like himself, to  relay the message. The message isn't for Egypt to repent  or for  the nation of Egypt to head out into the desert and offer sacrifices.  They weren't even invited. He simply ordered Pharaoh , through an intermediary, to allow the Hebrews to serve Him, with horrific consequences to follow if Pharaoh doesn't comply.
  In Exodus 23, in the midst of laying out the plans to take back the land God had promised them, God says, in verse 25 “And ye shall serve the LORD your God,….”  The Amorites and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites were all present in the land, but there is no scripture even insinuating that the option to serve God was even offered to them.  They were squatters on the land God had promised, and God would send in hornets and pestilence to drive them out, but if that didn’t convince them, then there would be an army of men coming in behind that to retake the land. Deuteronomy 6:13 says “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name”.
  What follows through the next few chapters is God's promise that, should they fail to serve him, he would put them back under bondage to masters of their own choosing, and false gods that they picked.  They would be removed from God's protection, and  would be forced to rely on idols of stone and wood to deliver them.  The story of the Hebrew people, past present and future is a cycle of apostasy, subjugation, repentance and deliverance.  For most of their time as a nation, they have failed to recognize what a precious gift God was giving them in Himself. As I write this, for the most part, the Hebrew people have rejected the light God gave them, and embraced  the ignorant darkness of the Gentile nations. At least one more time of repentance and deliverance lies in their future. Meanwhile, that light in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the service of God has been extended to another people, who have embraced it and serve the Lord with gladness.   But once again, I'm getting ahead of myself.
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