Thursday, March 01, 2007

Saved Apart from Jesus?

Blaspheme, I know, but please, indulge me for a moment:

It was quite a moment, really, the first time I heard a person of Jewish faith shout out and proclaim, “There is but one! The Lord, our God!” I was stunned, really, but also smiling broadly, because I love a proclamation of faith that comes from the heart as well as a considered mind. This happened just about a week ago:

I had been called in to help out a new commercial production company, a referral had come in and they asked me to close it. Without hitting particulars, it was a perfect fit. The producer and agency had a client with particular needs that this new company could fulfill as few if any others could. The job landed, was completed beautifully, and the wrap party had been had. Gifts are a typical part of a wrap party and this was no different. The special gift for the top players was a jacket commemorating the production, full of patches and special trim that really did make it a unique and beautiful piece.

It’s about a week after the wrap party and the producer is back in town for some final details. The stylist who made the jackets had taken his for some alterations and was giving it back to him, showing the work she had proudly done, and pointed to a little metal tag she had affixed saying, “and look at this little St. Christopher medal I put on here, isn’t that special?” And she meant it, beautifully. She’s more spiritual than anything, but she knows a bit about icons. It was well intended.

But the producer saw it differently. He asked what it was, and I told him St. Christopher is the Catholic saint of safe travels. It replied that it would be difficult to explain to his wife who is going through classes on Judaism. Ummm, yeah, alarms were going off in my head, and the stylist’s, too. The stylist tried to minimize it, saying something to the effect of it being a nice symbol and not much more before scurrying away. I had just said something towards it being a Catholic thing to have saints and that not all Christians went for the concept of saints when out it came:

“There is but one, the Lord our God!”

Proudly, defiantly, full of faith and full of determination. Well spoken, indeed. As you might expect, things were quiet for a moment, and then we all got back to work.

But it made me think, woke me up a few nights in fact. I had read the book of Revelation recently in my Bible study group and had been struck by something that didn’t fit most of what is taught to the laity in church on Sunday: the tribes of Judah are saved apart from Christ.

The book of Revelation is what is called an apocalyptic writing. Had it been written in the 1960’s or ‘70’s it would have been called LSD inspired. It is that visual and full of a view of Heaven that boggles the mind. That all said, it is the single best Christian understanding of what Heaven is like, written by the apostle John after having a vision. This isn’t mere prophecy, it’s God giving John a view of the end of times to share with the world.

I’ll cut to the chase and go straight to Chapter 7:

Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

That, friends, is the twelve tribes of Judah being set apart from the horrors to come; gathered up and protected by God according to His covenant with them. There is more in Chapter 14:

“Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.”

Now for those of you into Biblical numerology 144,000 is a representative number. Twelve is the number of completeness. Twelve times twelve would represent a vast completeness. One thousand times that total would be an incredibly vast completeness. So, numerologically speaking, this could well be all from the twelve tribes of Judah.

Also of interest may be that the number 7 is the number of perfection and two times seven would be all the more perfect.

So here I sit at 5:15 in the morning, not wanting to set back Jews for Jesus one bit but realizing that God doesn’t go back on his word. He made a covenant with His chosen people and that covenant, from my perspective, is still in place for them. I don’t think this conflicts one bit with the coming of Christ for the Gentiles, or anyone else for that matter. I am not informed enough on contemporary Judaism to consider how the law, sin and atonement really are handled within that faith today, so I will leave it here.

Comments, please?