Soapbox Soliloquy

February 20, 2012

If ever I tell you that I need to go shopping, please tell me that I am a liar who has deceived myself and the truth is not in me. My friend Siobhan invited me to go shopping with her on Friday because she had birthday money. I did not have birthday money, but what harm could it do to go have a look around old Park Meadows Mall, am I right? Harm. A lot of harm.

For some reason, I was reminded of these commercials this weekend. You are welcome.

Each strand gets individual attention.

The holiday of Purim is coming up in a couple of weeks, friends! I’ll talk more about it closer to the time, but in case you want to celebrate, I thought I’d let you know. (You should want to celebrate. You mostly just eat food, so it sounds pretty awesome to me.) I’ve started a board related to stuff I find on the Biblical holidays over on Pinterest if you want to follow me and check it out.

OK, I am about to get on a soapbox. Ready, set, go.

So last week I was in a group and we were discussing theology type things. A line in the Apostles Creed says that, when Jesus was crucified, he descended to hell. It’s obviously kind of a weird line, so we were discussing where the idea comes from and if we think it’s true. People were bringing up different theories — maybe Jesus descended in order to proclaim good news to those who had never heard of the true God or maybe he went down to tell Satan who was boss. Someone thought that none of the Jews were saved before Jesus came, so he had to go to hell to offer salvation to them.

This last one I did not agree with. At all. In fact, it upset me a lot. I (hopefully) kept cool and appeared calm, but inside I literally felt like crying. (And I’m not even exaggerating as much as normal, you guys.) This idea — the thought that none of the Jews had been saved before Jesus came — broke my heart for a couple of reasons.

First of all, I just don’t believe it’s true at all. The Old Testament — before Jesus —  talks over and over and over again about the joy of God’s salvation. He is their hope, their deliverer, the one who saves them both spiritually and physically. In 2 Kings, Elijah goes up to heaven in a whirlwind. Moses died as a man who knew God face-to-face. Both Moses and Elijah show up in the New Testament, chatting with Jesus like they are old friends. The “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11 is made up of entirely Old Testament Jews who were commended for their faith. Most importantly, what was the point of God’s covenants with the Jewish people if there was no salvation? God chose these people as his own. In Genesis 12, he picked Abram and decided to make him into a great nation. God walked with these people, talked with them, rescued them and provided for them. He calls them his wife, his children. They call him their Father. These were God’s people, and if they believed in him and were faithful to him, and looked forward to his promises (ultimately fulfilled in Jesus), I fully believe they were saved.

What is beautiful about Jesus is that he was the final sacrifice — the sacrificial system was no longer needed. Secondly, what Jesus did opened up salvation, finally, to all of the world. This special relationship with God was no longer just for the Jews, but for everyone who believed on the name of Christ, Jew and Gentile alike. For God so loved the world — not just the Jews — that he sent his one and only son. Jesus was the creator of the new covenant — a covenant that continued the line of covenants God had already created with his people. It was cut in his blood, and through him a light has dawned for the Gentiles. Because of Jesus, all of humanity has now been invited into the intimate relationship God previously held only with his chosen people.

The thing that really broke my heart, however, was that I think this is the attitude many Christians have about the ancient Israelites and the Jewish people in general. There is a disturbing history of anti-Semitism in the church, and many of us have unknowingly picked it up. We do not understand that we do not support the root, but the root of God’s covenant people supports us. We do not grasp the importance of understanding God’s relationship with his people before Jesus, how it adds to the story he’s telling of his great salvation and love. It is not malicious on our part, but I think it’s a great mistake that needs to be fixed.

So, I felt sad that night because I think there’s so much that is misunderstood, and it seems like such a challenge to bring about a correct understanding of the Hebrew roots of Christianity.  And because of this I will stay on my soapbox and keep talking about Jewish things, and keep attempting to further my understanding of God’s relationship with the seed of Abraham. Because I think it is crucial for our understanding of God and our gratefulness for his plan and purpose through Christ.

OK. I’ve stepped down from the soapbox. Remember a few paragraphs ago when I was just showing you funny videos of Will Ferrell? Don’t you long for those days?

OK, I’ll leave you in peace. I rant out of love for you, pumpkins. Have a good day!

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7 Responses to “Soapbox Soliloquy”

  1. Holly Stavness said

    Preach it sister!
    Romans 11:17-18 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.

  2. Anonymous said

    Hey Denise. You should watch the new Oprah interviews of the Hasidic Jews. Gets deep into their somewhat hidden culture. Having grown up intensely Charismatic in the 70s, a lot of how they described their life and their views and words for God and faith seemed much more familiar to me than even much of what I am finding in Christianity currently. Same God. Lots of traditional wisdom and joy. Kindof confusing.

  3. Phil Resurreccion said

    Great sermon! This is slightly off topic but I found the comment about going down to tell Satan who’s boss kinda funny. There’s no evidence to suggest that Satan is in charge of hell, and from what I’ve read hell is going to be Satan’s place of torment as well, not a seat of his “power.”

    Back on topic, I agree that the idea about Jews not having salvation before Jesus is ludicrous.

  4. lyddiebee said

    I’m sorry to hear you were so sad and upset. I hate those moments when it comes to faith. One thing I have a really hard time with in my faith walk is Christianity behaving as though any other religion cannot be connected to God or is not good enough. This is perhaps a little farther out of the box (or maybe not). That is of course that all things are interconnected and related to God, including religions outside of “Christianity.” it seems like so many things involving Christianity are tied to politics and vice versa. I really dislike politics.
    Anyways, enough about me. I think the notion you mentioned is very antisemitic I think ideals like that are what repel people away from Christianity (at least they repel me away).

    I don’t really think God loves any one group or person more than another. I don’t think he holds His love back from anyone on account of what they believe. I think He lavishes us ALL with His love. Regardless of whether or not we even choose to believe in Him. That’s simply because He loved the WHOLE world before he sent his Son. There’s a lot of gray area in many different places in the Bible (for me at least) that leaves a lot open to interpretation. That interpretation is largely shaped by each individuals experiences and upbringing in the present. I hope you are feeling better about the situation.

  5. denisemorris said

    Thanks, Holly! I love that passage!

    Anonymous — I just watched those videos! They were fascinating. There is a lot that they get right because they follow the Scripture. I think the one thing that’s missing is the recognition of Jesus as Messiah and Savior.

    Phil, good point! 🙂

    Thanks, Lydia! I think I feel so strongly about this because throughout the Old Testament, we see that God chose these people to be his very own. I do believe that the true God of the Bible is the only way, and now that Jesus has come, he is the one way, truth and life as the Bible says. I agree that God loves his creation. He is so patient and compassionate with us. I do think the Bible makes it clear that we must make a decision when it comes to Christ, but I also know that God is the one judge.

    Thanks for your comments, everyone!

  6. […] guys, in my ranting yesterday I forgot to give you a Little House update! Why didn’t you tell me how disappointed you […]

  7. Leah said

    I can’t even believe someone would think all the Jews before Jesus weren’t saved. Abraham, anyone?! Are there really people with that attitude in the church? Is it maybe a difference between our countries, or our churches? I don’t think I know anyone who’d think that. Maybe I’m wrong. But I know it’s been especially emphasised in many sermons at our church and other christian groups how even though Abraham (and other Jews, or pre-Jews) came before Jesus, they were still saved by their faith. (I remember this from sermons and bible studies about whether the Jews were saved by faith or works as they came before Jesus).

    Gen 15:6 “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
    Romans 4:1 – 3 “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.””

    Not to be rude or anything, but I feel like someone would have to be totally blind (in several senses of the word) to seriously think there was no salvation before Jesus, Jew or otherwise.

    On the topic of that line in the apostle’s creed (about Jesus descending to hell), our minister took it out. Whenever we read the apostle’s creed in church, it was without that line*, because he believed* it was wrong. It had never occurred to me, but I think he’s right – it’s never mentioned anywhere in the bible that Jesus descended to hell between being crucified and rising from the dead.

    *I’m using past tense because that minister has left. We all loved him but he had an invitation from another church and he believed that’s where God wanted him. Whether we continue to exclude that line might depend on our new minister, I suppose.

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