I’ve been trying to spend more time in prayer and meditation. It seems difficult to do, doesn’t it? It isn’t as simple a thing as some might think. Life just gets in the way sometimes, doesn’t it?
I’ve been thanking God for for everything that he’s doing in my life. I’ve been thanking Jesus for covering my sins and coming down to earth.
And when I started really thinking about that, I started wondering:
The obvious answer is to cover our sins, but the Hebrews already had a system of covering sins before Jesus got here. So was it really because of covering our sins, or were there other things also?
I looked back to the time of Joseph in Egypt, going all the way back to Egypt several thousand years ago.
Joseph was a slave in Egypt and he was put into a pit that they called a jail at one point. Then he interpreted the dreams of a cup bearer and a baker in Genesis 40:5-19.
The cup bearer eventually got out of prison and became the official cup bearer of Pharaoh again.
Then Pharaoh had a dream that nobody could interpret, so they eventually contacted Joseph and asked him to interpret it. And Joseph did interpret it and he gave the glory to God when he did. This was in Genesis 41.
Pharaoh considered himself to be a god, even though he wasn’t, and we all know that now. But since he considered himself to be a god, he couldn’t acknowledge God as being the God of the universe. Pharaoh himself was a god, so that just couldn’t happen, so he didn’t get it.
But he did put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt in Genesis 41:40.
It says, “You shall be over my house and all my peoples shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards to the throne will I be greater than you.”
That meant that there would be no one in Egypt greater than Joseph other than Pharaoh himself. That’s huge, especially if you’re a person who’s not even Egyptian.
But then, of course, Joseph died. Then Pharaoh died, and a new Pharaoh came up. And the Pharaoh knew nothing of Joseph, nothing what he did for Pharaoh and he knew nothing good about the Israelites.
He decided to make the Israelites indentured servants, and then eventually to turn them into slaves. They were slaves for about 200 years. Think about that. America has been a country for 200 years. Before that we were English, at least mostly. I don’t know about you, fellow Americans, but I have no idea what it’s like to be English.
I have no idea what it’s like to be European. My descendants are from Europe, But I’ve been in America my entire life. My father, grandfather and great grandfather have all been in America for their entire lives: We know nothing of Europe.
They were told when to wake up, when to go to sleep, when to work, how much work they had to do while they were working.
They were told when they coud eat; basically their entire life was scheduled for them, whether they liked it or not.
They had to take care of their own people, make all their food and, at the same time, do everything the Egyptians wanted. That had to be a very rough way of life, but very structured. They lived by Egyptian law and Egyptian rule.
For 200 years, almost the entire time that America has been a country, they were told how to live every single second of their lives.
So, when they left Egypt, they had no idea how to govern themselves. The only laws they knew were Egyptian laws, but did Egyptian laws fit with Hebrews?
Obviously not, so when Moses led the people out into the desert, they got new laws. God gave them new laws to follow, like the 10 commandments. He helped them order their lives, even by giving them instructions on exactly how to build the temple.
God gave them many other laws as well. Part of the laws was how to become ritually clean so they could come into the temple.
A person would have to be clean to come into the temple, physically and spiritually.
I think part of the reason for that was that disease was a very serious thing during those times, not like today, right?
Whenever we come into contact with someone who later finds out that they have tested positive for COVID, we are supposed to self-isolate for 14 days to make sure we don’t catch the disease, right?
Back then there were a whole lot of diseases. I don’t even know if they knew that boiling water would kill germs back then, I don’t know.
But they had rituals to become clean enough to go into the temple. And if you were to do something like, let’s say, touch a dead body (which back then there were bodies lying everywhere unfortunately), you had to ritualistically clean yourself for seven days before you could come into the temple. And that was, to me, at least in part, to make sure that you didn’t bring any diseases in and infect everybody.
So God gave them laws to follow. We see this in the parable of the Good Samaritan that Luke talks about in chapter 10, verses 30 through 35. A priest walks down the road and he sees a man lying on the ground. The man had been stripped naked, and beaten. Everything he owned was stolen from him by thieves and he was left for dead.
And as far as priest knew, the man was dead; he wasn’t moving and he was covered in blood. So, the priest went to the other side of the road and kept walking because he didn’t want to spend seven days cleaning his body and spirit just to see if some person who already looked dead actually was.
Think about that, seven days isolating yourself, cleaning yourself constantly, simply because you check to see whether or not a person was dead (and in those times, more often than not the person was dead).
I would guess a lot of us would probably have done the same thing during those times.
A Levite also walked down the road, saw the man, thought he was dead, went to the other side of the road and walked on.
It’s understandable that they walked on, because they had these laws where they had to be ritualistically clean to come before God. If they didn’t do that then they broke God’s laws.
I think the one of the reasons that Jesus came down to earth was to replace the law with grace.
Jesus told us that sinning in our hearts, even thinking of sinning, is no different than actually committing the sin. But through Jesus, we have grace and that grace covers our sins, because God knew even if you made yourself ritualistically clean, it doesn’t mean that your mind is right: It just means you’re physically clean.
2 Timothy 1:9. And this to me says a lot about it. “God has saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we’ve done, but because of his own purpose and grace. This Grace was given us in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time.”
Now I like where he said before the beginning of time, because I think that God always wanted us to come to him: All of us, not just the Hebrews.
But we didn’t get it.
Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and gave the Word of God in Genesis 41:25. Pharaoh acknowledged God, but only as a god, not the God.
And look at the book of Jonah. That book is famous for Jonah being in the belly of the whale or a fish, whatever you want to call it, for three days.
But that’s not what the book is about. The book is about the city-state of Nineveh and Jonah going there and calling them to repentance with God.
And they do. They repent, and they start to follow God.
And what does Jonah do? He leaves; he doesn’t stay there and administer to them. He doesn’t help them understand what and who God is; he takes off.
I think the Hebrews failed at showing the Gentiles who God was because I don’t think God ever meant himself to be only the God of Hebrews.
In the New Testament, we see that. I think part of the reason Jesus came down was to give grace to cover our sins, like Romans 5:8. “God shows His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We see that in 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.”
Which means the Jewish people, the Hebrews, the Israelites, and all of the Gentiles and people who were not sons and daughters of Jacob, are all members of Christ: We’re all members of God. We’re all members of forgiveness.
That’s the second thing that I think we overlook about when Jesus came down to earth; is the saving of the Gentiles. One of the big things is Grace: Changing from the law to grace in how we come to God. From when we’re clean to come into God to God making us clean.
And the second one, which to me is a huge one that gets overlooked, is Gentiles being officially grafted in to the body of Christ.
God wanted us all to come to him. Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
I think that the Hebrews missed the mark, and we Gentiles missed the mark way back then about everyone being part of the body of God.
This is this is just my personal thought, because when I think of that, I wonder why didn’t Jesus come to the Gentiles? And why was he only looking to save the last of the Jewish nation? There’s even one part where a Gentile came to him and he said that he was here to help us. He said he was here to help the Jewish people. And I wondered about that. But I think that when Jesus was gone, he knew that Paul was going to be the apostle to the Gentiles: Paul and Barnabas together, of course.
Paul and Barnabas were the apostles to the Gentiles, and I think Jesus didn’t want to minimize their ministry. They did so much to come to us didn’t they? God and Jesus lined it up for Paul and Barnabas to come to the non-Jewish nations and to let them know that, yes, they are officially grafted in as part of the body of Christ and part of God’s creation.
And maybe back then ignorance was bliss. Who knows?
There were many reasons why Jesus came to earth and covering our sins with his death was huge. Of course, it was. It was a defining moment in our lives as humans.
But I also think two big things; changing the law for grace, and even bigger, officially inviting Gentiles and the rest of the world into the body of Christ so that we could all enjoy God’s love; we can all enjoy the promise of heaven.
I think those two reasons are very big reasons why Jesus came down to earth.
– Dr. Ty Belknap