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26th February, 2007

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Jesus and the Holy One of Israel

Think about the cutting force of these words of Jesus:

He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me (Luke 10:16).

Many of Jesus' listeners never questioned their commitment to the true God. They rested confidently in the assurance that they knew Him, were on His program, and were listed in His book. Yet Jesus told them that, since they rejected Him, Jesus, they had rejected God who had sent Him! Shocking words.

If we apply simple deduction to Jesus' words, we will discover a truth that should lead each one of us into deep introspection; the logic applies equally validly the other way round! He who rejects the One who sent Jesus rejects Jesus. Perhaps the implications seem too painful to probe, but can there be any virtue in pretending that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds when it just may not be so?

Think about it: rejecting the one who sent Jesus is tantamount to rejecting Jesus, regardless of how warm and cozy one may feel about Him. Agreed? O.K., let's proceed with our little exercise in simple reasoning by seeking to identify who it was who sent Jesus. Consider Isaiah 49:6-7:

Indeed He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth. Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One, to Him whom man despises, to Him whom the nation abhors, to the Servant of rulers: ‘Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel; and He has chosen You.'”

Acts 13:47 shows that the prophecy about the one who would bring light to the Gentiles was fulfilled by Israel. One could also interpret the “chosen one” of verse 37 as referring to Israel, too. But as is well known to Bible students, these chapters in Isaiah intercalate references to God's chosen people, Israel, with His chosen servant, Messiah, under the one prophetic figure, the “servant” of God. Luke 2:32 identifies the light bringer with Jesus. Isaiah said God's servant would be despised by men, as is evidenced by the humiliating

treatment Jesus received at the hands of even priests, scribes, and elders (Matt. 26:67). Despised by men but chosen by God.

Now note the last words: who chose Jesus? Answer: the Holy One of Israel! Jesus Christ was sent by the Holy One of Israel. (For further evidence of the connection between Jesus and the God of Israel, compare Isaiah 29:18-19 with Matthew 11:5.) It cannot be a coincidence that the book of Isaiah, which prophesies the birth of a “saving baby” (7:14, 9:6, 11:1), and contains more allusions to Jesus Christ than any other prophetic book, uses the phrase “Holy One of Israel” 25 times in reference to God.

To reject the identification of Jesus' Father/Sender with the Holy One of Israel is to reject Jesus.

Let's go a step further. To throw aside as worthless anything the Holy One of Israel did, to show disdain towards His sovereign will, to impute folly to any of His choices — to do any of these is to reject Him. The Old Testament is plain: the Holy One of Israel chose Abraham's physical descendants to be His people forever. He also chose, by His sovereign will, to give them the land of Canaan as an eternal possession:

O seed of Abraham His servant, You children of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth. He remembers His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance” (Ps. 105:6-11).

A thousand generations amounts to many thousands of years. That Abraham has spiritual descendants, too, in no way negates the promises to his fleshly seed. To decry God's choice of Abraham's fleshly seed as so much humbug or to reject its right to occupy the promised land is to show disrespect for the Holy One of Israel. To brand the house that Israel's God chose and sanctified and upon which His “eyes and heart would perpetually be” (2 Chron. 7:16) as useless is to question His sovereign will. And to question Him is to reject Jesus whom He sent. Remember, Jesus came to confirm the promises the Holy One of Israel made to Abraham (Rom. 5:8). Jesus' Father is none other than the Holy One of Israel.


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