Chapter # 10 Paragraph # 3 Study # 5
Thesis: Israel's "knowledge" was insufficient to overcome her penchant for disbelief and contradiction.
Introduction: In our study last week we attempted to make the case that there is a significant problem for humanity in the reality of God's universal Self-revelation: responsibility. At the very heart of the creature/Creator reality is this "fact" which no one can alter: creatures "owe" their Creator complete, absolute, knee-jerk, heart loyalty and mind acceptance. But, also at the very heart of our current experience is another reality: the human creatures who are introduced into this present creation by human procreation only give complete, absolute, knee-jerk, heart loyalty and mind acceptance to themselves. This contradiction between what is indisputably "owed" and what is invariably "done" has set the stage for all manner of disasters of various degrees of severity. And the greatest disaster of all lurks just beyond the horizon: Eternal Death.
Into these contradicting realities, Paul introduced the possibility of "salvation". But, it is only a "theoretical possibility" as long as humanity persists in simultaneously doing two things: pursuing false objectives and refusing to accept responsibility for the ensuing disasters. So, Paul, not willing to let salvation simply exist as a theoretical possibility and having already addressed the insistent pursuit of a terribly false objective by Israel, set about to also address the persistent refusal to accept responsibility. He did this by first declaring that responsibility derives from knowledge and then claiming universal knowledge.
It is this issue of "universal knowledge" that thus becomes, for those seeking a way to continually put the blame elsewhere, the contested issue. And, since Israel is the contextually central issue, the question is directly applied to Israel. Did Israel not know? This is the question that leads us into our study this evening.
June 2, 2009
- I. The "Answer" Is Not Hard.
- A. Moses told Israel of three things very clearly: its responsibility, its failure, and God's deliberate reaction: Deuteronomy 32:21.
- 1. That Moses told Israel of these things early on indicates that there is no legitimate way for Israel to claim "ignorance".
- a. We have to temper this with Romans 10:2-3.
- b. But we also have to accept the fact that refusal to accept responsibility breeds a kind of ignorance that is real but inexcusable (Romans 1:28).
- 2. That Paul quoted Moses indicates that the very Scriptures that had been a part of the basis for Israel's pride (Romans 2:23) are now a part of the basis for Israel's inexcusability.
- B. Isaiah told Israel "boldly" that God was going to respond to the extreme provocation by turning to others (Isaiah 65:1-5).
- 1. There is a tacit "you will reap what you have sown" reality in this divine response.
- 2. There is also a clear declaration that "hearing" leads to the experience of the richness of God's presence when it is followed up on by "calling".
- II. The Issues Paul Raised Are Not As Simple.
- A. That he moved from "universal" hearing to the question of whether that was true of Israel is a kind of unexpected turn: if anyone had "heard", it was Israel.
- 1. This unexpectedness raises the question of why Paul would say something so clearly obvious.
- 2. It is highly likely that he did it because Israel had become such a master of exempting itself from "blame" (Note Isaiah 62:5).
- a. When self-justification becomes a highly honed skill, the only hopeful approach is the sharp escalation of "blame".
- 1) Jesus, in His dealings with this self-righteous nation, deliberately pushed the envelope by increasing the demand.
- a) He did this in His teaching by moving from overt action to motives.
- b) He did this with the self-righteous rich man who considered himself very good.
- 2) Paul was simply following the same course: press the responsibility issue.
- b. Even the Isaiah text follows up with 65:9 where God relents as soon as the people come to the end of their blame-shifting.
- B. That he appealed to texts that were "provocative" seems, in a sense, to be "more of the same" in terms of ineffective methodology.
- 1. If no one, including Israel, is inclined to pay attention, what would be the point of "provoking"?
- 2. The issue of provoking is, however, not so much "bringing new details to light" as it is "bringing the reality of old details into sharp relief by actions of disaster".
- a. In other words, the pressure of extreme difficulty is often more effective in terms of getting a hearing than the simple reality of "ought" (in "loss" people are far more receptive to the idea that they might ought to "listen").
- 1) New details in "revelation" are far more helpful when "need" exists than when it is just a matter of "hearing some new thing".
- 2) "Ought" stands uncontested, but it does not do much for real motivation.
- b. It must be acknowledged, however, that once sin gets to a certain point in its dominion over a person, no amount of disaster will bring repentance.
- III. The Reality of Israel as a "Type".
- A. Israel was simply a segment of humanity that God chose: it was not a superior segment.
- B. God chose Israel for the sake of reaching the rest of humanity.
- C. Then, when Israel's rebellion against His use of them for the sake of others was maxed out, He chose "the rest of humanity" to reach Israel.
- D. The problems are always two.
- 1. A lack of persuasion.
- 2. A determined opposition.