Matthew 8:8, 10-12 – “Lord,” the centurion replied, “I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. … Hearing this, Yeshua was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith. “I tell you that many will come from east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. “But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
In this foreboding statement by Yeshua, he is freely conveying that many outside the Jewish faith will be admitted to the kingdom by faith in him, while many within the Jewish faith will not participate in the kingdom because of their lack of faith in him. Faith in Messiah is clearly the primary intent of this teaching.
However, Yeshua also mentions that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (and presumably, those of like faith with them) will participate in the kingdom.
Genesis 17:5 – “Your name will no longer be Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I will make you the father of many nations.”
Genesis 17:19 – “But God said, “No. Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac. I will confirm my covenant with him as a permanent covenant for his future offspring.”
Genesis 28:10, 13-14 – “Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. … Yahweh was standing there beside him, saying, “I am Yahweh, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. … All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”
The message of the all-encompassing kingdom through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was initiated in the very first book of the Bible; it was not a new teaching of Yeshua. However, it appeared radical to the Jewish leaders of his day because the Jewish people had come to believe that God had chosen them only, and no outsiders had the right to worship God.
This misunderstanding was common also among the Samaritans, who believed that they alone were the remnant of the true faith. And yet, Yeshua also sets this understanding straight with the woman at the well.
John 4:20-21, 23-24 – “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Yeshua told her, “Believe me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. … “But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”
Once again, Yeshua makes the point that the true worship of God will not be based on a location, but in spirit and in truth. Spirit and truth are not limited to any one location, or any one people.
Paul also recognized this and clarified this truth further in relating it to the practice of circumcision.
Romans 2:27-29 – “A man who is physically uncircumcised, but who keeps the law, will judge you [Jews] who are a lawbreaker in spite of having the letter of the law and circumcision. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart – by the Spirit, not the letter. That person’s praise is not from people but from God.”
Having circumcised hearts was also not a new concept introduced by Paul, even though he suffered greatly for being persecuted as forsaking the law of Moses. In fact, Moses himself, the one whom the Jews were trusting in, related to ancient Israel the very same concept of spiritual circumcision of the heart.
Deuteronomy 10:16 – “Therefore, circumcise your hearts and don’t be stiff-necked any longer.
Deuteronomy 30:6 – “Yahweh your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants, and you will love him with all your heart and all your soul so that you will live.
According to Yeshua, Paul, and even Moses, the kingdom of God belongs to those with circumcised hearts, the repository of faith. The true descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are those who, by faith, trust in God. Yeshua claimed to be sent by God, so trusting in Messiah was by extension exhibiting faith in God.
Just like the centurion, when we exhibit faith in Messiah today, we are demonstrating that we have been admitted to the kingdom of our spiritual forefathers. Any non-believers, even descendants who could somehow trace their fleshly heritage to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, will be cast out. Every new believer becomes an ongoing fulfillment of the promises made to these spiritual forefathers, and as the promises of God are fulfilled, the kingdom continues to grow and spread across the earth.
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