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?

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you rightly quoted: "and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. " Note that these 144,000 had the name of Jesus written on their foreheads.

Also remember that when Peter said in Acts 4:12, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name [namely Jesus'] under heaven given to men by which we must be saved," he was speaking to Jewish people and not Gentiles.

Jesus is the way the truth and the life (also words spoken to Jewish peopel) for both Jew and Gentile alike.

3/02/2007 7:57 PM  
Anonymous Playtah said...

Christian Democrat,
Great post! Really gets ya thinking. Something I've thought about that goes along with that, too, is when people say that they belive Jesus is the only way to heaven, yet those same people would say they think that babies go to heaven when they die. If babies go to heaven, then belief in Jesus is not the only way to heaven. If belief in Jesus is the only way to heaven, then babies don't go to heaven. Kind of a catch-22. I'm not saying that I believe or don't believe that, but I think you bring up a very interesting point. I think this proves that the neat little categories and absolutes we try to place life and God into are convenient, yet maybe not always accurate. Great post, again!

3/03/2007 1:40 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Thanks Playtah, you are always kind. And yeah, I'm not sure how fixed I am on this interpretation, but it does make sense even in light of Anonymous' comment - Jesus' seal was put on the heads of the 144000 in Heaven, therefore it wasn't there on Earth?

And yes, Jesus certainly is the one, the way and the Word, for every person on the planet. But that begs to defer between Jesus and God The triune nature of God as we Christians try to define Him blurs that distinction depending upon your denomination to varying degree.

3/04/2007 6:12 PM  
Blogger ima bloggers sister said...

Playtah's comment about babies being saved if they die troubled me for a long time too. It ties to that question we all asked as kids-how do the tribes in the rain forests or in Africa get to heaven? I remember asking that in Sunday School, and I don't remember getting a satisfactory answer. But recently, in my Bible reading, I came across the answer-and I'll paraphrase because I don't remember the reference. Those who have heard the word and didn't believe will not be saved. Which then covers both babies and the tribes we all worried about as children. They haven't had the opportunity to believe, and God is not going to condemn those who have never had the opportunity to be saved.

3/09/2007 6:26 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

I truly agree with what you said...not only because of Revelation, but because I feel, in my heart, this must be true for my family...the majority of which is Jewish. Thanks for posting!

3/12/2007 12:09 AM  
Blogger Little Miss Know it All said...

Remember that the first Christians weren't a separate religion, but were Jews. They were seen as a sect of Judaism.

Christ was the Messiah, and since his coming, there is only one way for Jews. We serve only one God, yes, and before Christ there were Jews who are in heaven through their faithfulness and atonement. Yet since Christ and the gospel being spread, there is only one way. God does not change, there is no special revelation that changes His word. I believe strongly in the prophetic, don't misunderstand me. Yet if Paul and Peter, and other early Jewish believers say in God's word that Christ is the only way, then Christ is the only way. God won't change.

3/16/2007 10:58 AM  
Blogger Jizzy said...

"the tribes of Judah are saved apart from Christ"

No, their redepemtion is paid for by Christ's substitory death. All people who live BC can still be saved, but their transgressions are atoned through the Cross. However people who hear the gospel and consciously reject it are assured of damnation. There is no salvation in any other religion.

3/23/2007 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I like this blog.

The 144,000 seems to me to be referencing the believing remnant of Jews. Since Revelation is a vision, trying to figure out whether something happens in heaven or on earth is an exercise in futility, IMO.

Libre

8/04/2007 7:32 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Thanks Libre -

Yes, I think it would be the remaining Jews by blood that also remain faithful to the original covenant. That's my take on it anyway.

And yes, to determine with certainty much of what is written in the Bible is darned near impossible. In addition to the vison of Revelation I wonder about the epistles in some cases - how much of them were written as men, and how much of them were written as Holy Spirit filled apostles of the Lord?

Yeah, I know, blaspheme in some circles.

We each have our own understanding that we call our personal faith. I love seeing the Democratic Presidential candidates speak of their faith in their own ways but almost always with a humility that seems to be lacking in the Republicans.

And I consider myself evangelical!

8/05/2007 9:07 AM  
Blogger cujo88 said...

"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."

Revelation is saying that Jesus will save the tribes because the name of Jesus is written on their foreheads, not just the Father. It is written that Jesus will come when all of Israel asks Him, the Christ, to save them (but I forgot where I read that part).
By the way, I'm glad that we can all agree that nobody goes to the Father except through Christ Jesus, even if not all of us agree on politics. :)

10/30/2007 3:03 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Cujo88!

No sooner had I written that I hoped you would respond to this and there goes the ding of incoming mail, a notice that it has happened.

We spoke about this very thing last night in Bible study. While there was difference of opinion, which I treasure, one of the more conservative participants surprised me by saying that the concept of only through Jesus can be interpreted in different ways. He thought it could also mean that at judgment day Jesus would read of each persons book of life and judge accordingly.

So much for simple agreement!

A bit of additional info: Strike Mark 16:9-20 from your Bible. It was added about a century after the original writing. See the L.A. Times article here.

And none of that changes my faith in Jesus one bit.

10/30/2007 3:34 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

A couple of responses have touched on what I think is the answer. Paul has said that the Gentiles don't have the law, but have a conscience and are judged by it, for it becomes a law to them. (I'm paraphrasing) Anyway, there were those who were righteous before Christ. They walked with God. Enoch, Elijah, Noah, to name three. Surely Moses, who appeared with Elijah on the mount with Jesus.

Before Christ came, from Adam on, the faithful are righteous. After the cross, it is the same, except that those who reject Christ will have a lot of 'splaining to do, Lucy.

I see actual salvation as in the name of Jesus only, and as the knowing that you are saved. All the rest of the world can only hope. It is also the knowing that the kingdom has come to you, as Jesus said. It is in you by the Holy Spirit's regeneration. Which is very good news!

Pat

9/13/2008 9:48 AM  

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