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The Thirty-Fourth (Grafting)

We're going to talk about a key aspect of who we are today. Throughout scripture you will find many references to olive trees. Its oil representing the Holy Spirit and being used to anoint and keep lamps lit. Its leaf being the indicator that flood waters had receded (Genesis 8:11). The tree itself being the representation of the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 11:16).

The last one is what we're focusing on. But what does that have to do with us? We're not in the nation of Israel (that we know of), so why does it matter what they're represented as?

Before we answer that question, we're going to remind ourselves about a key characteristic of Yehovah: He is unchanging. He remains the same and is forever (Psalm 102:27). He told us that (Malachi 3:6). He gives good things and perfect gifts without variation (James 1:17). He is the same now as He was when He created the universe and as when He created Adam.

Why do we remind ourselves of this? Because if He is the same, then His expectations of people are the same. No, there are no people living now that were alive during the time of Adam, but remember, He is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Just because we are different people, or our environment is different, doesn't mean we get different requirements. It doesn't matter who we are, or who all the people of history were, He accepts all who fear Him and work righteousness (Acts 10:35).

While the Old Testament contains a lot of historical information, its main focus is about the Son of God. Even at the inception of sin in the Garden, Yehovah set out the plan for our salvation (Genesis 3:15). He knew His Son was going to come to earth and be our ultimate sacrifice, so He put signs and prophecies and hints all over the place until Jesus came. He knew the nature of man, and He knew we needed a perfect example to follow.

The nature of man can be seen over and over in the Old Testament, with stumbling and failure seemingly constantly. By even His chosen people. We always thinks we can do it on our own, and we always fail when we try that. He let us try to teach each other how to be righteous and to trust in Him from Adam to Moses. Then He gave us a written version of His expectations for us on how to be righteous and to trust in Him from Moses to Jesus. Then He sent His Son to show us His expectations for us on how to be righteous and to trust in Him from Jesus until Jesus (when He returns!).

All the while, His requirements for us have not changed. In fact, Jesus re-set the bar even higher, and I believe back to His original expectations (Matthew 22:37-40). But those expectations were for the nation of Israel, right? We fall under the "Jesus clause," right? We just have to believe in Him, who He was and what His sacrifice did for us and we're good? Nevermind those Old Testament expectations He gave us?

Well, if that were true, why did Jesus use the "law and the prophets" to explain the two greatest commandments? Not only that, he said all the law and the prophets hung on those two commandments. He also told us that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments...twice (John 14:15, 21). And by the transitive property, His commandments are Yehovah's commandments.

Oh, but He was talking to Jews, a portion of the nation of Israel. So it goes back to that olive tree we were talking about earlier. Not so, because we are in that tree now! Romans 11:17-25 tells us we are branches grafted into the nation of Israel's good olive tree. As a result, we are now part of His chosen people and out of love we should follow His commandments. Even the least of the commandments (Matthew 5:18,19). Because if we don't, we don't love Him (John 14:24).

By understanding that we are now grafted into the nation of Israel, or more generally God's chosen people, we understand that we can't just wholly dismiss the writings or teachings to Jews or Israelites. Our obedience to His Word is the sign of our love for Him (1 John 2:5). And do we have the authority to pick and choose what to follow? Well, if we live in a certain country, state or city, do we have the authority to pick and choose which of their laws to follow? No, we will get charged if we violate a law, even if we didn't know about that law prior to breaking it. Luckily, we have a merciful God that takes our knowledge into account (Luke 12:47,48). But take notice of the verses I referenced there. The servant that didn't know his lord's will wasn't spared from a beating. He was only given less of a beating.

So remember, we are Yehovah's chosen people! We are grafted into His tree, taking all nutrients from the holy root and growing our fruit. We are all the same to Him, Jews, Gentiles, it doesn't matter! So His expectations are the same and our obedience to His expectations is our love for Him.

Shabbat Shalom and God bless you!

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