The Divine Priority

by Keith Macnaughtan

God is still working all things to the ultimate fulfilment of His own will -- and this in spite of all that seems contradictory to this. He who sees the end from the beginning will eventually bring to completion His age-long purposes of grace.

We see evidence of this particularly in the relationship of Jewish people, and Gentiles who are also believers in the Jewish Messiah. Suffice it to say that, for long, long centuries, the attitude of many Gentiles was one of undisguised dislike, even hatred, of the Jewish race. Alas, there are some even today who have inherited this legacy of bitterness. Before the Jewish people regained their independence and their national identity in the land of Israel itself, they were often the butt of cruel jibes and of crude remarks. And since they have become independent and have successfully withstood numerous attempts to destroy them, they are now blamed for defending themselves!

Many Jewish people make no distinction between Gentiles in general and Gentiles who believe in Messiah. There are those who sincerely believe that the Pope, Billy Graham and Adolph Hitler were all Christians! And we cannot blame them for this misunderstanding for they have suffered the utmost persecution from people who have claimed, in some instances, to be followers of Israel's Messiah.

Changed Christians, Appreciative Jews

But a change seems to have been, and still to be, taking place. Nearly a century ago, John Wilkinson was able to write in ISRAEL MY GLORY, "Jews, even eminent rabbis, are speaking and writing in the most respectful terms of Him" -- that is, of Yeshua -- "designating Him the greatest moral reformer that ever visited our earth . . . New Testament . . . is gratefully received and read by hundred of thousands. The claims of Yeshua are more widely and deeply considered today than at any other period since apostolic times . . . this changed attitude . . . is the result mainly of the changed attitude . . . of Christians towards the Jewish people . . . "

In other words, many Gentile followers of Yeshua are, at long last, beginning to understand the Scriptures: that the Jew must be accorded his rightful place in the proclamation of the Good News. "Bitter persecution and idolatry have been for ages past the only two forms of Christianity presented to them. Has the Church any right to complain . . . when she considers that the attitude of the Jew toward Christ is the natural result of the conduct of professing Christians?" (ibid)

The Debt of Christians to the Jews

Anyone who reads the New Testament must see that Christianity began with a tremendous influx of Jewish people. Three thousand were added in one day alone, then probably ten thousand men and women. We read that "the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly" , also "a great number of the priests were obedient to the faith" . The apostle Paul is accused by some of being a renegade from the Jewish religion, but everywhere he went he preached first to the Jews and in Jewish synagogues (Acts 13:2-5, 14-43; 14:1; 16:13 etc etc). Did he not protest that he had "committed nothing against the people or customs of" the Fathers? And that he had nought "to accuse my nation of" ? (Acts 28:17,19)

Was it a renegade Jew who wrote to the Romans (1:16) that the gospel was the power of God unto salvation "to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (that is, Gentile)? And again " . . . of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile" and "to the Jew first and also to the Gentile" (Romans 2:9,10).

"To the Jew first" – surely this is the Scriptural rule taught both by Biblical precept and practice.

"God's First Born" So to Jewish People First

Let us remember that Israel is God's firstborn; he is the elder brother of the Gentile nations. "Israel is My son, My firstborn" God said to the Egyptian Pharaoh. As the firstborn, Israel has greater privileges and so also certain responsibilities. So "to the Jew first" speaks of the Divine order, and this can be ignored only at our own loss.

May the day soon come when both Jews, God's firstborn son, and Gentiles alike will rejoice in the blessings of the Jewish Messiah's reign! For so will be fulfilled God's good and great purposes of grace. Meanwhile we can say, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33)