of the Jew—Paul
Mr. Leslie S. Rainey, the editor’s uncle, serves the Lord in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa.
The life of the Apostle Paul is an inspiration for all who follow Christ. He was a man who esteemed himself a nobody, “less than the least of all saints,” and called himself “chief of sinners.” The purpose of his life was crystal-clear to all, the glory of God. He had but one thought that ever burned in his brain and dominated his personality, the gospel of Christ. “A fool and content to be a fool for Christ.” He must speak or he must die, and though he should die, he will speak. He has no rest but hastens over land and sea, over rocks and trackless deserts. He cries aloud and spares not, and will not be hindered. Not only is he a pattern to all who preach, but also a pattern of the nation of Israel. The example of his ministry was fully known and witnessed to by God and the people. In relation to the Jew Paul’s life is a portrait of the nation and this is clearly revealed in his writings. Paul is a pattern of the Jew in three distinct ways.
In Relation to Christ
To anyone who has had any experience in working among the children of Israel, their downright bias against the Lord Jesus Christ often comes as a shock. Though they are people steeped in the traditions of the Fathers, and the writings of the Old Testament, they are utterly ignorant of the great body of truth contained in the New Testament. Many Jews esteem the sacred writings as inspired of God, and profitable for teaching the law, and for the testimony of God to the nation. However, the attitude of the people in relation to the Person and work of Christ is definitely one of blindness and bigotry. Paul reveals in his testimony that what he did was without understanding and in the fanatical zeal of unbelief (1 Tim. 1:13). Surely this is self-evident today as we witness the nation of Israel trying to bring back into the national life of the people the Bible without the theme of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ. The attitude of the people towards Christ and the Christian has changed but little, and even until this day an orthodox Jew may spit at the mention of Christ. They spare no effort in their attempts to hinder and stamp out the witness to His Name.
In Relation to Conversion
It is interesting to observe the context of the conversion of Paul. In the book dealing with the mind and might of the Holy Spirit we have a trilogy of conversions. In Acts chapter 8, the gospel goes to an African, in chapter 9, to an Asiatic; whereas in chapter 10, it is to a European. Surely this indicates the sovereign work of the Spirit of God in His design to take out from among the peoples of the world (the posterity of the sons of Noah) a people for His Name. The conversion of Saul is a thrilling record of God at work in a human soul. On that long bleak trail in the blazing heat of the noonday sun enroute to Damascus Saul of Tarsus was struck down by the risen Saviour, Jesus of Nazareth. From that day until he finished his course the conversion of the apostle Paul was marked by unswerving devotion and loyalty to his Lord and Master. The great change that took place in his life was miraculous and spiritual.
In our day we are witnessing the miraculous restoration of the Fatherland of the Jew, and the finest thing that has happened to the Jew in over 2000 years is the rise and rebuilding of the modern State of Israel. Whilst all Jews are not returning to that part of the world, every passing year witnesses to returning Jews. We believe this to be a sign to us of the day when Israel will see the risen Messiah and look upon His pierced hands and feet, and in confession of lips and contrition of heart pour out the words of the prophet:
But He was wounded for our transgression, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.
Then shall the nation own Him as their Messiah and trust Him as their Saviour, Lord and rightful King (Zech. 12:10; Rev. 1:7). Only when the nation is in the place of God’s will and brought back into favour with her Redeemer and King can true blessing and universal prosperity come to this groaning, sin-sick, war torn world. It is no wonder the Apostle Paul was a chosen vessel (Acts 9:15) to witness to the truth of the Messiahship of Jesus Christ, and to declare that He is the Saviour of all the world. Though the Jew today is the tail of the nations, and out of the will of God, perhaps the day is not too distant when that nation will be born in a day and the blessing of the triune God will reach out to the ends of the earth in spiritual and material prosperity.
In Relation to Consecration
For religious zeal Israel is unsurpassed. It is something that is known throughout the world. Their zeal is seen in relation to the Law, to tradition, and the maintenance of good works. The tragedy is that their zeal is not according to knowledge, but error leading to fanaticism and open hostility. The spurning of Christ and the repudiation of the New Testament as being on a par with the Old Testament has resulted in ignorant enthusiasm, and a wilful blindness and pride that brooks no rival or tolerates no other religion. Even today in the modern State of Israel any other religion is not welcome, though due to the goodwill of other countries Christianity and Christians are tolerated. The design, however, is for elimination rather than encouragement.
In our generation we have been amazed at the indefatigable efforts of the Jews in science, social and industrial progress, and what will it be when the King comes? When the nation enters into their blood-bought covenant relationship with their Messiah their fruit shall fill and flood the earth. They will take root downward and bear fruit upward and spiritual blessing will mark all inhabitants, and the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Oh! that the practical lesson for us might be to determine now that Christ our Saviour and Lord will be magnified in our bodies, and the confession of our lips will be as Paul, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”