The Priorities of God
by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1981
Edited and expanded by David Sielaff, January 2010
Read the accompanying Newsletter for January 2010
It is normally believed that God is fastidious about detail in religious and social matters. Indeed, this appears to be true when one surveys the intricacies involved in the administration of things in the Old Testament, particularly things dealing with the priesthood or the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. Anyone reading the Old Testament can see just how intricate and how detailed matters are. The ritualistic complexities and precise functions associated with animal sacrifices, the purification rites, and things like that, all seem to show how interested God is in the perpetuation of very close details.
If I would rehearse some of these requirements it would be quite a tedious job, and many of you are familiar with all of them in the Old Testament. You cannot open up the Old Testament in the area of Exodus or especially Leviticus without being bogged down in very complex and intricate details. It gives one the idea that God is definitely interested in such things. This is true in ritual matters, and even in social matters, purification, or details involving kinship. All of the social life of ancient Israel at the time of Moses seemed to be involved in a great number of very precise details and intricacies (you could call them complexities) that almost confuse the whole issue.
Some of us living in the modern world would shake our heads sometimes and just wonder, how could we learn all about this in the Old Testament? It seems so difficult to be able to understand. Is God that way? Is God so precise and so detailed that He wants us to live our lives that way at the present time, in our Christian dispensation that you and I live in today, and people have lived since the time of the apostles? That is what we have to ask ourselves. In fact, there are many people, preachers, and theologians, who feel that these things ought to be perpetuated even in the Christian dispensation.
On the surface it does seem that God is very interested in such things. If God is particular with details, does He wish humans to abide by such strict religious and social actions today? That is the conclusion of many preachers and religions. But when one surveys the attitude of God Himself as He applies His social and religious laws to mankind or to the people that He has called like ancient Israel, or even people He chose before Israel, it is most interesting to study how God puts into action His own commands, His own laws, that He has devised for the Israelites to live by.
Surprisingly, in many cases it can be shown that God does not observe the same priorities that He places upon man when it comes to social action or religious action. In fact, in case after case it shows that He never abides by the strict requirements He has set down for some of mankind to live by. The more you go through history coming to the time of Christianity, it seems that God Himself set aside law after law after law. Then when the final revelation of God is revealed, called the Mystery, given through the apostle Paul and others about 63 AD, 1 it seems that He just tears down all of the religious barriers and rituals, and even some social customs, and adopts something entirely different.
In fact let me say there are some things God has never violated, nor does He want anyone ever to violate, and that is the principle of love, the principle of faith, the principle of hope, the principle of grace by which we are saved. Those things He has never abandoned. He never wants anyone to do anything of that nature. But when it comes to outward religious, social, governmental, or political rules that He has commanded in the Old Testament or even in the New, it is interesting how often God Himself (or in the person of Jesus Christ, who is God also), flouts His own teachings in order to show that He is the sovereign leader of the whole world and the whole universe. He is sovereign in all of these matters.
God can do as He pleases. He can do as He pleases on any thing, on any subject, and no one can call Him into question. If anyone wants to do so, just try it. I wonder how far that you or I could get if we want to question God on the manner on which He does things. He is the lawgiver. He sets the laws. He sets the requirements. He tells man what to do. You and I should do whatever He says. If He was to say He wants you to pray standing on one leg with your left arm held perpendicular, you should do it! Of course, He does not say that, but if He did, do you not think it is prudent for you to do as God says? I think it would be. 2
Regarding all the rituals and regulations of the Old Testament or of the New, I am not averse to doing them. If God wants me to do them, I will do them, if that is what He wishes. Thank God He does not need me to do them any more, and He does not need anyone to do them, when you really understand the truth. But, He did require them to be done at one time. If we were Israelites living in the Old Testament period under the leadership of Moses we would be required to obey those laws. That makes perfectly good sense to me. 3
I am not interested in finding ways of not keeping God’s laws. We all should try to find ways to keep them. I know what the Bible says are the means by which we can keep God’s law. Those means are centered on one word, if we are practical enough to understand the full meaning of one word. That one word is love:
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law.
For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law.”
Romans 13:8–10 (also Galatians 5:13–14)
You can have variations of it: consideration for others, kindness for others, goodness for others, all of those things, and a respect for God. Put those all together and you have got the proper type of law based upon love. That is the way we should be living our lives. By the way, love will govern us for all eternity. (Compare John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:53–54; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; and Jude verses 20–21.)
God has a right to put all kinds of rituals and regulations upon us at particular times and for all times, if He wishes. If He does so then I think we ought to be in obedience to what He says. He has the right to change those laws if He pleases and He has done so time and time again. And He has the right, even if those laws are in effect for mankind, to flout them Himself if He wants to do so.
Oh, how many times I have heard people say, well, God would not do anything contrary to the law if He has told man to do certain things. Well, God has done it time and time again. He will continue to do it. He is the boss. He is the governor. He is the sovereign ruler of the universe. He has the right to say and do what He wants, and no one will call Him into question.
There is one thing He has done for all of us. He has told us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and through the apostle Paul and the other apostles by divine revelation, that He wishes us to be His children, not infants, not immature children, but grown up children of His, having His own name on us. We are to love and have consideration and kindness for others and for Him, and for all of us together for all future eons, even all eternity, to govern this universe. That is what He wants.
Mature children, sons and daughters, do not need a lot of childish rituals and social customs constantly badgering us all the time. That is the reason why, from the beginning of Genesis through to the end, even though He has set down laws for mankind to keep from Adam and Eve onward, God has not felt it important to abide by those rituals and social customs Himself. 4
Let me say again, God will not flout in any way the overall principles of love. He will not. That is something that He is intransigent on, and so should we be. I am talking about social, religious, political, and governmental types of rules and regulations that have been imposed upon mankind in the past that you and I in this Christian dispensation and in this economy today are released from trying to perform. I will show how God has flouted His own laws when He deals with mankind that He has subjected mankind to obey.
I will start with a very important social law. It was also a religious one. It had to do with inheritance. This law governed ancient Israelites from the beginning of their birth and throughout their whole history. It involved inheritance. This was one law that ancient Israelites and even people living before Jacob were very keen on observing. This was because the entire social structure of society was dependent upon this main law (plus others) dealing with inheritance, and you cannot help but see it when you open up the pages of the Old Testament. What law? I am talking about the law of the firstborn. It is an important law to consider, and one that penetrates the entirety of Old and New Testament laws. The inheritance that you and I will have in the future in Christ is based upon the laws of the firstborn.
“In the absence of the father the firstborn son had authority over his brothers (e.g. Reuben among the sons of Jacob) and sister. He ranked highest after the father. The right of the firstborn was greatly appreciated. In cases of misconduct it could be shifted to another son. The firstborn inherited twice as much as every other son, and Deuteronomy 21:15–17 forbids the arbitrary removal of this right from the actual firstborn son to the son of the most highly-favored wife. This law does not apply to sons of concubines or handmaids. Among kings the right of the firstborn implied the succession to his father’s rule …”
“Firstborn,” The New Bible Dictionary 5
This law of the firstborn was very important and there are very many references to it, but you are aware of them. 6 It was a central part of the social structure of inheritance for the ancient Israelites. That is why such prominence is given to it.
You would think then that this law of the firstborn son (and sons only) would be very profound if God put it into action for all the people back then; you would think He Himself would abide by it. The firstborn son was to receive a double portion, get the first rank in the family, be the one to get first position here, there, and everywhere in relation to the family. Since God said for mankind to be in this particular scenario, should God abide by it Himself? We have often been told by preachers that God would never require of us to do something if He would not do it Himself.
This law of the first-born, does God have to abide by it? Does He always have to give the firstborn the double portion? Does He always have to give the firstborn the headship of the family? Does He always have to give the firstborn all the blessings that the firstborn law required?
The interesting thing is that in most of the important occasions in the Old Testament when a firstborn son came along God Almighty did not go for that law Himself when picking out people to serve Him. He did not do it. Examples stretch all the way back to the very beginning of the Bible.
I will not go through this comprehensively, but let me just rehearse a few instances to you. Going back to the beginning of the Bible, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve was Cain. The second-born son was Abel. We know the story how they quarreled and Cain slew Abel. Later on Adam and Eve had another child called Seth, the third-born son. But Cain was the firstborn son. Do you know what should have happened to Cain if the firstborn law had been put into action? He should have had a double portion. He should have had honor, rank, prosperity, prestige, and position. eHHe
Read the story in Genesis chapter 4. Because of what Cain did, he was sent out of Eden. He was sent away from his parents into the Land of Nod, into a land of wandering. Cain said, “My punishment is more than I can bear” (Genesis 4:13). From the very beginning God looked upon the heart and the actions of the person. According to the firstborn law Cain should have inherited all of these things, he did not gain the firstborn blessing and benefits. From the very beginning, if the firstborn law was in operation as it later was, Cain was being disinherited from what he should have had in the first place. Cain was not the only one.
The flood came along during the time of Noah. Noah had three sons who came with him through the flood. His firstborn son was Japheth. His second-born son was Shem. (His third-born son was Ham, Genesis 9:24). We read in Genesis chapter 9 that Ham sinned, which caused him and his posterity to lose certain blessings. He was the least-born son anyway, so I guess the firstborn law did not apply. But did it apply when it came to Japheth? Japheth was the firstborn (Genesis 10:21). Who received the firstborn blessings? It was not Japheth. It was the next-born, the second-born, Shem. 7
Why did not Japheth get the firstborn blessing? Sure, he received certain blessings, but when it came to the spiritual line that God was selecting, it was to come through Shem. Through Shem came Eber who gave birth to the Hebrews. From the Hebrews come Terah, and Nahor, and finally Abraham. It comes through the line of Shem; it does not come through the firstborn. Here again God seems to violate His own rules.
These are only the first two illustrations, but it does not stop there. It goes on and on. After the flood Shem has children, and the narrative carries on to Eber, and then through Terah. Terah has three sons. When you look at the three sons of Terah in Genesis: “And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran” (Genesis 11:26). It seems like Abram was the firstborn because he was mentioned first. However, he is mentioned first not because he is the firstborn but because the rest of the story of the Bible will center on the seed of Abram.
Do you know who Abram was? If you look at it carefully it says that Terah lived 205 years (Genesis 11:32). After Terah’s death, Acts 7:4 says that Abram went down to the land of Canaan. Abram was 75 years old at this time (Genesis 12:1). Terah was 130 years old at the time of Abram’s birth. It says in Genesis 11:26 that “Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.” When you put all of this together, Abram was not born until Terah’s 130th year. Do you know what this makes Abram? Not the firstborn. He was the least born. 8
Do you know what happened to Abram? He obeyed and did what God told him. He went down to Canaan. He was the least born. He should have been the last picked, but he was the one picked by Almighty God to do a particular job. When he had been 24 years in the land of Canaan, because he was working for God and walking in faith before he was circumcised, God changed his name from Abram to Abraham. There he was circumcised. Again, I emphasize — he was the least-born son. That should not have happened according to the law of the firstborn. It should have been Nahor who received the firstborn blessings, but Abram was the one who received it.
God seems to be going counter to this firstborn law. You might say, well, that law did not come into existence until later. In the record that is quite true. It does not come until the time of Moses. But we are talking about principle. Even after the time of Moses, when the firstborn law is absolutely in effect, you will see God continuing to do what He has done before. That is a fact. Abram was the baby. Then his name was changed to Abraham.
Abraham had two wives during his lifetime. One was Sarah and the other Keturah. He had a concubine called Hagar, a bondwoman (Galatians 4:22-30). Hagar had a child by Abraham called Ishmael. He was Abraham’s firstborn child from Hagar. Ishmael was disqualified because of that. He also had six children through his concubine, Keturah, who Abraham later married after Sarah’s death (after Keturah’s sons were born, Genesis 25:1–6). Those six children also were disqualified although they were given certain blessings. Do you know who the least-born was? The least-born of Abraham was from Sarah, who only had one child. That child was Isaac. He was the least-born of Abraham’s whole family. Do you know who it was that received Abraham’s blessing? It was Isaac. In other words, the baby received the blessing.
Isaac marries and has two children. They are twins. One is called Esau, the other is named Jacob. The oldest was Esau and he should have received the blessing and the birthright. Do you know who finally received it? It was Jacob, the baby. God chose the baby and goes contrary to the birthright law. Someone may say God should not have done this. That person should tell God that. It seems to me that God can do as He pleases if He wants to do so. He has been doing it all along it seems like, even though the law of the birthright by this time of Esau and Jacob was very much active and in force.
Then Jacob is the finally converted and made righteous. His name is changed from Jacob, meaning “supplanter” to Israel, meaning “prince of God.” Jacob has two wives and two concubines. He has 12 sons, and one daughter that we have record of; Dinah was her name.
Do you know who the firstborn son of Jacob was? It was Reuben. He should have inherited all birthright promises. Did it go to him? It did not. There was a big case made out of the fact that Reuben went into his father’s concubine and he was disinherited from that position (Genesis 35:22, 49:4; 1 Chronicles 5:1).
The next born was Simeon. He was disinherited too. The next born was Levi from Leah, one of Jacob’s wives. Levi later received the priesthood, but not much else. Then finally the fourth-born son of Leah was Judah. Judah finally received the kingship.
It is most interesting, Judah was not the firstborn, not the second-born, not the third-born, but he was the fourth-born of Leah. But Jacob had another wife called Rachel. Rachel had a son called Joseph and the least-born Benjamin. Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. Benjamin was the baby of Jacob’s entire clan. Benjamin was the child of Rachel who died giving birth to him. Joseph was the firstborn of Rachel. She did not have any children until long after Leah had most of hers. So Joseph was way down the line as far as receiving any firstborn benefit, but he was the firstborn child of Jacob and Rachel.
You know what happened to Joseph. He was sold as a slave to Egypt when he was about 17 years old (Genesis 37:2). When he was about 30 years old he was elevated very high in the Egyptian court (Genesis 41:46). Finally, all his brothers have to come to Egypt and kneel down to Joseph. While in Egypt Joseph marries and has two sons by his wife. One is called Ephraim and the other is called Manassah. Do you know who the oldest was? Manassah. But do you know who gets the greater blessing, twice as much as Manassah? Ephraim the baby (Genesis 48:14; Jeremiah 31:9).
It is amazing. The baby repeatedly receives the blessing of the firstborn. What is happening? God should not be doing this, should He?
Why is God showing all of these things to the Israelites? To them He gives the firstborn law and then in almost every important occasion dealing with a man who is significantly important in the history of salvation, He goes counter to His own law in dealing with mankind. God is showing to man that He can do as He pleases. He did not say that man could go counter to them, but if God wants to, He can counter them.
Has God gone and killed anyone, or hated anyone because of this? No. These were social customs we are talking about, and rituals, but they are very important to understand. So we find Ephraim received the greater blessing than Manassah.
Then as time goes on through Levi, we find that in the 4th generation from Levi comes Moses. A man called Aaron was the brother of Moses. Aaron received the priesthood, being a Levite, but Aaron was 3 years older than Moses. Who was Moses? He was the great lawgiver that God picked out. Moses was raised in the Egyptian court. He became an Egyptian military man with all the credentials for being a great military statesman and leader, but all of the wrong credentials as far as being a religious man leading the Israelites from paganism into righteousness. For that job he had all the wrong qualifications, being an Egyptian himself so to speak, but God picked him. He was younger than Aaron and he takes all the Israelites out to Mount Sinai and God gives them great demonstrations of power to show who he picked to be His representative on earth, standing in the place of God Himself, as Elohim to Pharaoh (and to Israel, Exodus 7:1). He picked Moses who was inferior in age to Aaron. God should not have done that, but He did. One could go on and on.
Come down to the time of Job. This was before the Exodus. Job was a middle-aged man. While he suffered, Job had three older men come to him: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Job was talking to these older men. There was also a younger man called Elihu who spoke near the end of the Book of Job for five chapters (Job chapters 32–36). Before that time Elihu sat and said nothing. He kept his mouth shut and listened to what the older men told Job. That was what he should have done because the elders were to be respected.
God came and condemned what all the older men told Job, but He did not condemn Elihu at all. This was because Elihu told Job the whole truth. The man who gave Job the only knowledge that was proper for him, other than what God gave to Job, came from Elihu, a younger man.
Let us come to the time of King David when the kingship was to be rewarded to ancient Israel. In 1 Samuel chapter 16:
“YHWH said unto Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill your horn with oil, and go, I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite.’”
1 Samuel 16:1
Go about 5 miles south of what later became known as Jerusalem and find the family of Jesse. I want you to take your horn of oil (because Samuel was a prophet), and anoint a boy who I will tell you about.
Samuel goes to Jesse and tells him what he was going to do. Jesse brings his firstborn son, Eliab. Jesse said “Surely YHWH’s anointed is before him” (1 Samuel 16:6). Samuel shook his head and said this is not the one I want.
“Then Jesse called Abinadab [Jesse’s second-born son], and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, ‘Neither has YHWH chosen this.’”
1 Samuel 16:8
Then Jesse brought his third-born son, Shammah. He was not good enough either. Then it says:
“Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, ‘YHWH has not chosen these.’”
1 Samuel 16:10
Then Samuel asked do you have any more sons? Jesse replied, I have this young lad tending the sheep in the sheepcote and his name is David. I did not think you would want him. Samuel said bring him in here. David was brought in, Samuel anointed him king in front of Jesse (1 Samuel 16:13). David was the eighth-born son. It should not have been so, but that was how God wanted it. David was the baby, the least-born.
Then go to David’s children. He had several wives. Though Solomon was the one who was finally selected, it apparently shows that Solomon was the first surviving son of Bathsheba. The adultery between Bathsheba and David resulted in the wrongful death of Uriah the Hittite, her first husband. David and Bathsheba’s first baby died and David mourned over the boy. Bathsheba and David married and while she was mourning, David went into her and Solomon was born as a result.
Solomon was one of the least-born of David’s children. He had most of his children already. But do you know who becomes king and successor of David? Solomon gains the throne, the son of Bathsheba who married David because he had her husband killed because of an adulterous union. The whole thing was evil from beginning to end, and God publicly shows it to be so. David had to repent very deeply about that affair. But who did God pick to succeed David? He chose Bathsheba’s son.
After Solomon, the united kingdom of Israel and Judah split into two separate nations. Do you know who it was that went with the tribes of Judah and Levi in the south? This is where the baby son of Jacob, the younger brother of Joseph, comes into play. It was Benjamin, the baby tribe of Jacob. God put the Temple in the land of inheritance of the least-born. The Temple was not put in Judah. It was not placed in Ephraim up north or in Joseph. It was set in the land of little Benjamin.
Why did God pick the youngest for this great honor? He should not have done that, or so it seems. He should have picked the eldest. God did not do that, He picked the youngest, Benjamin. When the kingdom split in two after Solomon’s death, Benjamin went with Judah. From that time forward Benjamin as a tribe was faithful and true to Judah and to God. As soon as the kingdom goes to Solomon, the tribe of Benjamin grows up. From then on God has nothing but good to speak about the least-born tribe of Israel.
Look at what happens to that least-born tribe of Israel after God makes the Israelites captive to the Assyrians, and then 135 years later takes the Jews captive to Babylon. Jeremiah says to the Benjamites, you can have protection because of the good you have been doing if you do these things. You can read these things in the Book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 6:1).
Not only that but after the Babylonian captivity was over and the Persians tried to eliminate every Jew in a great genocide, do you know who stepped up and saved the Jews? It was a woman, Esther the queen, and a man, Mordecai her uncle, and both were from Benjamin. The least-born tribe of Israel was chosen to save Judah. 9
When you come to the time of the New Testament, do you know who was the least of the apostles, according to the apostle Paul? He called himself “the least” (1 Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:8). Though he was a great intellect, he was of the baby tribe of Israel. He was of Benjamin, and that was important. God picked the least-born to give, not only the Gentile world, but even the Jews in the future in the millennium, knowledge that they all shall experience a salvation, all because of the great understanding from a man who came from the baby tribe of Benjamin. Here again God is picking out the babies.
All of you who are firstborn or second or third, do not worry, God is after you too — every one of us. But what He is trying to show is that the babies sometimes are the ones He will pick. I do not know why He does this, but in the Bible He flouts His firstborn law in most every case of importance. Not only does He do that from the point of view of ancestry, of family position, but even in age. You would think the older and wiser would be the ones who can understand truth. Joseph was 17 years old (although we cannot be absolutely accurate on this) when he was sold to Egypt. From then his personal history changed the history of the world, as well as that of the Israelite people.
In Egypt God began to deal with Joseph at 17. Do you know how old Jeremiah was when he started his prophetic ministry? He was 17. Do you know how old Daniel was? He was about the same age. Daniel was the great link between the old age of the Assyrian and Babylonian kingdoms, through the Neo-Babylonian period, down into our modern age that we are in today. The Book of Daniel was written by a man who was made a eunuch, but he was about 17 years of age when he started the great mission God gave to him.
There were others who were commissioned young, but let us come down to the New Testament. Do you know the man that the apostle Paul picked to be his administrative assistant, and we have two letters written directly to this man? It was Timothy, and he was picked out by the apostle Paul about the age of 17 years young. Why did not Paul choose the older men? He could have done so, but I am afraid that God even goes against age sometimes if He wants to do so. We have the examples of Joseph, Jeremiah, Daniel, Timothy, some of the top men in both the Old and New Testaments. God seems to do as He pleases, does he not?
It goes on farther with even the rituals sometimes meaning very little in God’s eyes. In Matthew chapter 12, Christ gave the illustration of David going into the Tabernacle, a place where he should not have been. Here were the priests in there and David asked them if there was anything to eat. The priest said that the only thing they had to eat was consecrated bread intended only for priests. Read that in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 21:1–6; Exodus 25:1, in the Holy Place), anyone else who would eat that bread was subject to death. Abiathar the priest said to David, well that is all I have. David said that he and his men were hungry and were fighting for the Lord. The priests took out the consecrated bread and gave it to David’s men, who ate it.
Christ gives that as an example of goodness on David’s part, yet He was going against one of the cardinal rituals that you would find in the Old Testament dealing with the Tabernacle. That illustration is given in the Old Testament and is also related by Christ in the New Testament to show that the rituals themselves are not important. They last only for a short time. The rituals were to be abided as much as possible, but they are not the key to the whole thing.
I know men today that are religionists. They would stand outside that Tabernacle gate and let themselves and their children die before they would let them eat that consecrated bread, because they do not have common sense to know what rituals are all about. Rituals are there to be obeyed by children, and they should be done. But violations of those things are allowed sometimes when it is necessary. Did I say violations of the overall principle of love? No, I did not say that. But it was a violation of ritual so that God could show love to David and his men. This is the central key. Rituals in themselves are not important. God went counter to the firstborn law and the law of age repeatedly in picking people to serve Him.
Note the example of Amos, the prophet who lived in the 8th century before Christ. God had the school of the prophets in operation at that time, but God did not pick any of them. He picked a sycamore tree dresser called Amos. Amos himself said “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son” (Amos 7:14), but God Almighty has called me to teach this nation the truth. I am paraphrasing. God can pick whomever He pleases. He does not have to have all this falderal about organizations consecrating someone to an office.
God can use the heathen to convict the Jews, God’s holy people, if he wants to do so. In fact, you ought to read the Book of Malachi, all four chapters, but the first chapter in particular. Malachi in the 4th century before Christ is really lambasting the priestly group of the Jews who lived at that time. Malachi says you priests will not do a thing unless you get money for it. You will not offer a sacrifice unless someone pays you, and then you will not give the proper animal sacrifice. He says I even will get the Gentiles from the farthest point of this earth to do your job for you.
Christ came to His own, which was proper. He came to the Israelites, preaching 2½ years to them. After His death and resurrection He sent His apostles and they preached to Jews and to Jews only. As time went on for a few years they went to the Samaritans, but they were half-Jews. They were halfway accepted.
But do you know the first Gentile that God gave the Gospel to? He was an Ethiopian. Not only that, he was a eunuch. He had two factors disqualifying him from any ritualistic association with God’s people. God took Philip and sent him down to that desert road to hear that Ethiopian eunuch reading Isaiah. When he read Isaiah, Philip gave him the interpretation and the truth of the passage, the eunuch immediately got right down from the carriage, and he was baptized. The first Gentile was from Ethiopia (Acts 8:26–39).
The first person of the Gentiles that Peter preached to and baptized was a member of the occupying forces in Israel. That was Cornelius and the Gentile members of his family. Peter should not have done that, but he did it because God told him to do so. God overruled His own commands (see Acts chapter 10).
It is not that the Jewish people are bad, of course not. This is all in the plan of God, but when Israel rejected Christ (although many thousands did accept him), do you know who God had to go through? He went to the Gentiles through the apostle Paul. The Jews and the Israelites to this very day do not have the Gospel going out from them as it was intended in the law of the firstborn. Do you know who is giving it out? The least-born, the worst of the heathen, but they have been converted — the Gentiles.
What it means is that God can do as He pleases. All you have to do is to read the Gospel of John to understand this. It is the most interesting thing. It shows that Christ when He came on earth, as revealed in the Gospel of John, every incident that you can see that Christ was doing, He did almost backwards from what was socially, politically, ritually, and religiously acceptable at the time.
According to the Law, Jesus should not have done that on the Sabbath day.
Read the rest of the chapters of the Gospel of John for other examples. There are many.
Someone may say, wait a minute, Jesus was sinless. That is correct. He was sinless because He was God. From time immemorial, God has been telling people He can do as He pleases in social matters, religious matters, rituals, political, and governmental affairs. He has gone contrary to His own rules time and time again. That does not mean that you should do so as well. What He is saying all the time is that these things of themselves are physical. That is the point.
Do you know one thing that God has never violated, and Christ has never violated, and it makes Christ sinless? He never violated the virtue of God’s Holy Spirit as shown in Galatians 5:22–23, starting out with love. He had all of those aspects completely: love, faith, joy, and all of the other blessings that have nothing to do with ritual. Do you know what He finally told the apostle Paul? The middle wall of partition between Israelite and Gentile is now torn down in the Temple, and the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies is now torn down (Ephesians 2:14).
The rituals have all gone including circumcision, animal sacrifices, Temple rituals, etc. The love that God wants us to have, which He wanted Adam and Eve to have, Cain and Abel to have, Seth and Noah, and all the others, He wants all to have the things of love. Those are the things that really pertain to the truth.
God Himself has gone contrary to social things, and people have criticized us at [ASK] that we do not have anything left. Oh yes, we have many things left. We have the most important things left, because the Bible has the most important things left: love, faith, hope, kindness, consideration, love for God, love for man, love for yourself. 10 These are the essential things that God wants. He will not violate those. But the others He Himself has violated from the beginning. The priorities of God are centered on love, not ritual or social customs. It is about time we all begin to realize that fact.
Ernest L. Martin, 1981
Edited by David Sielaff, January 2010
1 Dr. Martin’s original dating for God giving the Mystery to mankind was 61 AD. His later research showed that 63 AD fit better the biblical and historical of evidence when it was given to mankind. See Dr. Martin’s presentation “The History of the Revelation of the Mystery.” DWS
2 See Dr. Martin’s presentation “Judgment on Man and God” which deals with God’s ultimate responsibility for evil and His right to do as He pleases in all matters regarding man and all of His creation. DWS
3 Even the mixed multitude of Gentiles was required to obey God’s commands given to them through Moses. DWS
5 J.D. Douglas, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdman’s, 1962). DWS
6 The law of the firstborn is presented in Exodus 13:2, 22:29–31, 34:19. The firstborn was not to be disinherited (Deuteronomy 21:15–17) for frivolous reasons. The King of Judah was considered the firstborn of the nation (Psalm 89:27) and Israel was the firstborn of the nations (Exodus 4:22) and in a certain sense, within Israel Ephraim was the firstborn (Jeremiah 31:9). DWS
7 Most modern translations of Genesis 10:21 apply the adjective “elder” or “older” to Shem rather than to Japheth. However, while the Hebrew is ambiguous, this conclusion determined by vowel points which are subjective. The Jewish Publication Society translation understands Japheth to be the elder, and the Greek Old Testament is clear and unambiguous: “And to Sem himself also were children born, the father of all the sons of Heber, the brother of Japheth the elder” (Genesis 10:21 LXX). Japheth is presented first in the complete genealogical records of Genesis chapter 10. Ham’s descendants are given next, but we know from Genesis 9:21 that Ham was the third-born. Therefore, Noah’s children were born in order of Japheth, Shem, and last Ham. DWS
8 Comparing the passages: Terah began to have children at age 70 (Genesis 11:16). Terah died at age 205 (Genesis 11:32). When Terah died, God told Abram “when his father [Terah] was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein you now dwell” (Acts 7:4, Stephen’s speech). Therefore, Abram was 75 years old when Terah died (Genesis 12:1, 4) and he left Haram to go to Canaan. DWS
10 Read all of Mark 12:28–34. Then read Galatians 5:22–23; Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:11; and Colossians 1:10. DWS
© 1976-2021 Associates for Scriptural Knowledge - ASK is supported by freewill contributions