Outward Jews vs Inward Jews

Daily Scripture readings for August, set #3:

Numbers, chapters 5-6
Psalm 50
Matthew 22:1-14
Romans 2

What a crazy scenario in Numbers 5. It’s basically a fancy test to see if a husband’s suspicion of his wife’s unfaithfulness is true or not. Just mix some poison together and pray that the Lord will not allow the poison to harm the woman if she’s not guilty. Wow. Also, I’ve been seeing a lot of this “wave offering” thing (Num 5:25, others). What does this mean? It’s a funny mental image  to imagine the priest just waving a hunk of meat over his head as a “wave offering” to the Lord.

After reading the seemingly endless regulations for sacrifices and offerings in Leviticus, it’s quite a shock to hear the Lord say in Psalm 50 that he doesn’t really care about that stuff. Verses 12-13: “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?” Rather than worrying about the animals, we are told to present offerings of thanksgiving. That makes a lot of sense to me. God doesn’t need to eat, and even if he did, he doesn’t need us to feed him. Instead, he’s interested in the thankfulness of our hearts as we make offerings before him.

The wedding feast parable in Matthew 22 is really surprising to me. I mean, I’m tracking with it for about 10 verses… it appears to be just another example of the whole the-Kingdom-is-for-the-Gentiles-too thing. But then the wedding clothes aspect somes into the picture, and all of a sudden the parable is about hell and what it will be like there. Verse 14, evidently acting as a summary of the whole section, stands out to me: “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The concept of the Kingdom being open to the whole world (not Jews only) takes an interesting turn in Romans 2, as Paul begins to describe the fact that ALL people, whether Jew or not, are sinful and guilty according to the OT law. The crux verses are at the end of the chapter: “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter” (vs 28-29). I think I’m understanding Paul’s logic correctly… he’s saying that the Kingdom is still only for Jews, but the definition of what a Jew really is has changed a little. But is it that the definition changed, or was simply wrongly understood for centuries and centuries? Do these verses represent a shift in reality or merely a clarification of reality? I’m curious to know the answer to that, if anyone wants to chime in.

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