You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.
Jesus picked up the Pharisees for their determination to examine the scriptures and draw conclusions. They read into God’s condemnation of the Israelite people because of their failure to keep his laws, and so they became extreme law-keepers so as not to draw the same fate.
What they failed to appreciate was that all that had been written in the scriptures had already come to pass. It was all retrospective. Men looked out of the window and saw how things were, and because things were this way they imagined that a God who knows all things must have known things were going to be this way. Not only did he know it, but he said it – or made someone else say it.
The writer of a certain portion of Genesis looked out and saw the peace and prosperity of the nation of Israel under Solomon. It made sense to have God promising Abraham,
“I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”
(Genesis 22:17,18)Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea; they ate and drank and were happy.
(1 Kings 4:20)
Jeremiah tried to do it in advance and came unstuck. God cannot be second-guessed, The Bible is not a book that foretells the future. Eventually, like others, Jeremiah could only look out of the window and arrive at conclusions based on what he saw. When some of the population ended up in Egypt, history was revised to have God warning that if Israel did not keep the Law Covenant they would end up back in Egypt. We are here, so God must have warned that we would be here.
Christianity = Israel 2.0
New Israel carried on the tradition of old Israel. They saw the condition of the nation at the hands of the Roman empire. God must have known, and into the mouth of Jesus they installed the prophecy of Jerusalem’s downfall. Once a full-stop was put at the end of the written word it became popular to examine it to see what was going to happen. They scoured the scriptures and applied them to their Messiah. Both ends of his life were shrouded in mystery – plenty of opportunity to attach verses of scripture and build a mythology with words which had already once had an application.
When Paul likened Christians to Israel, finding an application of circumcision being that of the heart, so that by this means, “All Israel must be saved…” he was falling into the same trap.
Jesus knew that salvation did not come from examining the scriptures. It came from self-examination. Every meaningful thing Jesus said involved self-examination. It was said with the aim of turning people inward, because only if they turned inward would people have any hope of being of any real use to themselves or anyone else.
- “If you do not forgive men their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins.”
- “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
- “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
- “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
Jesus knew that the way back to God lay not in rehashing the old – new wine in old wine-skins – but in ripping up the old and throwing it away.