Friday, August 15, 2014

Of Man and God

Judaism focuses on one revelation: Mt. Sinai. Christianity focuses on the other: Jesus Christ. Messianic Christianity is faced with the unique problem of reconciling these two focus points in a way that upholds both in the lives of believers today.

We can get a first glimpse at the tension between these two events by looking at their preludes. Both are preceded by acts of deliverance. In the one case, God delivered the nation of Israel from the oppression of Egypt by great acts of judgment. In the other, God delivered the sick and broken from their infirmities and demons through the humble work of His Son.

Look again at the promise associated with each revelation. At Sinai, God promises material blessings for obedience and physical curses for disobedience. Yeshua comes promising spiritual life to those who are spiritually dead.

Do you see the contrast? One focuses on the outer, while the other focuses on the inner. Deliverance from the outer bondage of Egypt vs the inner bondage of sickness and demons. Promises of outer physical blessings vs. inner spiritual life. Thus, it should come as no surprise when we see the same pattern in the revelation itself. At Mt. Sinai, God gives external commandments for how to live. Through participation in Yesuha's death and resurrection, we are promised an internal transformation of our lives.

This is where we must be careful about our philosophy. One might argue that the outer is of no consequence compared to the inner; it is the spirit that really counts. Another might argue that this inner business is nonsense and only an excuse to ignore the real problems right in front of us. It is not dissimilar to the ethical question of which is most important in morality: intention, action, or consequence?

The Messianic must embrace the inherent tension here. The spiritual and physical realms are so interconnected that both must be regarded as important. One might as well ask, which is more important: the brain or the heart? Without either one, we die! So too, life was only formed when the breath of God united with a body of dirt--when the spiritual and physical came together.

We can take this a step further when we look at another commonality between these events. Both were a meeting of God and man. Both involved God cloaking Himself to descend to this earth and man being elevated to the image he was originally created in. At Mt. Sinai, God's holy standards are given in a form that humanity can grasp. In Yeshua, the holy God took on human flesh to walk among us. What is spiritual and holy must take on a physical cloak for us to comprehend it.

Both Mt. Sinai and the work of Messiah are stories in and of themselves, declaring the union of God and man. But each emphasizes a different side of that conversation. Torah focuses on our physical work, while Yeshua focuses on God's spiritual work. Messianic doctrine emphasizes the necessity of both working together.

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