It is always a pleasant surprise to me when I run into a product that I hadn't seen since I was a child. To think that there are some companies that have been making the same cookie, shaving lotion, soft drink etc. continually for the last 60 plus years is impressive in this day and age. People tend to cling to things that they like and don't' want to be without it or have it changed to "new and improved." Recently, Twinkies cake-snacks came off the market and caused considerable consternation to many junk food junkies. And several years ago, Coca Cola tried to improve upon their ancient secret recipe for Coke and were met with large-scale consumer rebellion.
In any case, in thinking about the subject of my present discussion, the name "3-in-1 Oil" bubbled up into my consciousness. I don't remember having the option of using any other general purpose lubricating oil when I was a kid, but it always seemed to work for what I needed, usually my bicycle chain. I can almost remember what the small can looked like. My computer informed me that 3-in-1 Oil is still sold. It has the same three ingredients in the one oil and it serves three functions, "cleans, lubricates and protects" - hence, 3-in1 Oil.
One word or one name often depicts an entwinement of three elements which are somehow separate yet inseparable. In the realm of science, we are all familiar with the symbol H2O, which is the chemical shorthand for 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom combined to form water. The same H2O tag, however, is also the same one used to describe both ice and steam. Although they look different to the naked eye and also have different functions, they are all basically the same, bonded together by law. It's like the classic 3-in-1 Oil.
The makeup of man is another example of three being enmeshed as one. Man is created with three parts that are woven together, inseparably, in the womb. As body, soul and spirit, it is impossible to actually see how they are all connected but we understand that they each have different functions and that we are one person. Again, three in one, joined in a mystical way by the hand of God.
In the Scriptures, also, one word or name sometimes overarches three meanings which can be understood individually or as a mystical whole. The so-called 'Trinity' is an obvious example. Many verses make it clear that references to 'God' spark the unfolding reality of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Each is God but they are inseparable from the one true God. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for God is 'Elohim' which has a plural ending, suggesting that there is plurality in the unity of God. As Christians, like Jews, we believe in only one God who is One. The verse quoted by Jesus, when asked what is the first and foremost Scripture, was Deut 6:4 which states the "the Lord is one." Like water, ice and steam are all H2O, so are the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all one God. Similarly, Jesus is the Messiah, which is to say that he is the long-awaited Anointed Prophet, the Anointed Priest and the Anointed King, all at the same time. In substance, there is no separation of the three. In essence, there is no separation of the three, so there is only one Messiah.
My final illustration brings me to the main focus and highlight of this article. Let us now consider the name 'Israel.' Again we have the notion of plurality within unity. Here we can see God's use of the word 'Israel' coming into alignment with the Shema (Deut 6:4) which states that God is one. Israel is also one. But what is Israel? Or should we say 'Who is Israel?'
Let us consider, first of all, that the patriarch Jacob (the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham) had his name changed by God in Gen 32:28 and 35:10. Jacob (Heb.=Ya'akov; Eng.=James) was renamed 'Israel' after wrestling with God who said "your name shall not be called Jacob but Israel: for as a prince you have power with God and with men, and have prevailed." Therefore, when we hear the word 'Israel,' we think of the patriarch Jacob with whom God had confirmed his promises to Abraham and his seed. The promises were for fruitfulness and inheritance of the special Land. The Land is the Land of Israel, the second meaning of the word 'Israel.'
The seed (descendents) of Abraham, and subsequently Jacob, would also be referred to as 'Israel.' The third part of this trinity then is the Hebrew people, the sons of Israel (Jacob). Also contained within this third 'Israel' are all of the Gentiles who demonstrate Abraham's type of faith. That is, the Scripture states that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. That is, it was his faith that made him righteous, not his own good works. Similarly, if one believes by faith alone that Jesus is Savior and the Jewish Messiah, he is considered to be one of Abraham's descendents. And, if Abraham's seed, he is also then Jacob's seed. The word 'Israel,' therefore refers to those believing physical descents of Abraham and to those Gentiles who believe in the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus).
If then, we are Jews who believe in Messiah, we are called 'Israel' and are therefore bound to the Land of Israel. Our father is Abraham and we are bound to the people of God (Israel). If we are Gentiles who believe in Messiah, we too are called 'Israel' and we, too, become bound to the Land of Israel. Our father, spiritually, is also Abraham and we are bound to the people of God (Israel; Jews and Gentiles.) We are descended from Jacob (Israel) and are therefore Israel. God's people are now our people and God's land is now our land.
As a follower of Messiah (a Christian), would it ever be that I would not also be a lover of the Jewish people? Could it ever be that I would not be a lover of the Land of Israel? If I am entwined with Israel (Jacob, the Jews and the Land) would it make sense for me to be an anti-Zionist? Would any form of anti-Semitism such as Replacement Theology ever be a part of my thinking? Would I ever want to shun the Jewish people or require them to give up their Jewish identity in order to become a Christian? God forbid! I am entwined with Israel. I am enmeshed with Israel. Israel is my identity and I am a part of her makeup, attached to her by the Word of God, like the body, soul and spirit. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God. The Lord is one!"
Finally, let's get back to the 3-in1 Oil. It is like the oil of the Holy Sprit, cleaning, lubricating and protecting. No more dirty, rusty or unprotected parts of my being. The Anointed One (anointed with oil), the Messiah Jesus, has made me one with Him, as He is one with His Father, a perfect 3-in-1! He has made me one with Jacob (Israel), one with the Jews (Israel) and one with his Land (Israel). I am bound together eternally by the Word of God in an oil used to produce Light in a dark world. I wouldn't have it any other way! Would you? I know that my ancestor, the Gentile Ruth, wouldn't have it any other way. Her heart's bond to Israel speaks for mine in the vow she made to her Jewish mother-in-law, "Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me." (Ruth 1:16-17)
January 23, 2013
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