As mentioned earlier in The Flawed Priesthood it would most definitely be wrong to say that Jesus was not Jewish. However, I still stand by my statement that it is much more accurate to say that Jesus was a Jewish heretic. But neither confirming that Jesus was a Jew or a Jewish heretic successfully addresses the issue of Judaism today. Where do the Jewish people stand in “Christendom” today? Are they “in” or “out”? Most modern Christians would say that the Jews before Jesus’ time were actually saved because of Christ’s vicarious atonement. The presence of Moses in the Transfiguration on a mountainside very strongly suggests that Moses was saved by Christ’s vicarious atonement, and if that is the case then when Jesus paid for the sins of humanity that payment extended backwards through time as well.
I think Catholicism best describes these people as anonymous Christians. An anonymous Christian being a person who lacks knowledge of Christ and his teachings and doesn’t consciously, deliberately, and willingly reject Christ, so they’re not responsible for knowing the whole truth. It also includes non-Christians who live good, moral lives as if already Christians and through no fault of their own don’t know about Jesus Christ or they’ve never been shown by word or good example1. These kinds of people are considered to possess an implicit desire to be “in Christ”.
But the vicarious atonement extending back through time assumes that the event of the Transfiguration actually occurred in Jesus’ time frame. Another very real possibility is that Moses’ encounter with God in Exodus 24:15-18 and Elijah’s encounter with God in 1 Kings 19:8 were one and the same incident as Jesus’ Transfiguration. These three events could have occurred “outside” of time and simultaneously.
If we look at the woman from Rev. 12:1 who is clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars upon her head, I have to admit this whole image is extremely symbolic and cannot be taken literally. However, if the moon beneath her feet is representative of Jewish tradition and the Mosaic system of rites and ceremonies, then this woman supercedes them. Although the crown of 12 stars could represent the 12 apostles (and thus the Church of Christ) it could also represent the original 12 tribes of Judaism. Could this woman be the personification of the entire Jewish or Israelite people and nation who gives birth to the Messiah? Is this is all true then what does that mean for Jews today?
If we view the whole of Israel as a corporate entity then we have a very different perspective. I believe chapter 16 of the book of Ezekiel uses this exact personification. To paraphrase this chapter, the story goes like this:
God is walking and discovers a newborn baby girl, abandoned by her parents to die, struggling and kicking in her own blood of her afterbirth (Ezekiel 16:3-6). God picks up the baby girl, cleans her, wraps her in warm clothes and takes her as His daughter. He raises her, nurtures her, and adorns her with fine clothes, gifts, and jewels.
When the girl becomes a woman, God takes her as His wife (Ezekiel 16:8). It is at this point when the problems begin. The wife becomes unfaithful to God and whores herself out to others. God feels betrayed and abandoned by her prostitution (Ezekiel 16: 15, 20, 25-26, 28-29, 31-32). He then ends this personification with a promise to keep His covenant with her (Ezekiel 16:60-61) and, most interestingly and importantly, promises, “Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done.” (Ezekiel 16:63). Note, God doesn’t say, When you make atonement for all you have done. He says, when I make atonement for all you have done. This is a prelude to Ephesians 5:25-36. (“…and gave himself [Jesus] up for her [the church] to make her holy, cleansing her by washing with water through the word.”).
Thus ends Ezekiel’s personification, or corporate entity of Mother Israel. But this analogy may still continue.
Israel’s culture climaxes at Solomon’s construction of the Temple, which may be viewed as yet again their corporate entity of Mother Israel. In both the Tabernacle and the Temple it is said that God Himself “lived” or dwelled within. They were literally the house of God. Both structures had the Holy of Holies, which were reserved of the elite priesthood. It was within the Holy of Holies in which the Ark of the Covenant was kept, and it was the Ark of the Covenant that was where God was to actually dwell.
If the Temple has become the personification of Mother Israel and the Holy of Holies is her womb – in which God dwelt. This corporate entity, this Mother Israel, will give birth to God – to the Messiah, and like birth, the placenta and afterbirth becomes of no use and is discarded – the Temple and the old covenant.
This puts God in the position of Father to an adopted daughter (personified Israel), Husband to Israel, Son (Messiah) to Mother Israel, and He Himself, child of Mother Israel.
With Ephesians 5:23 & 25-30 we have the Son of God (Jesus) being the husband to the church, yet another female personification. The Child has become the husband yet again.
The concept of the “Body of Christ” is not an original idea of Jesus (or Paul). In fact it is borrowed from Ezekiel and at least 600 years older.
This makes for a very good analogy as to what exactly God is to us, humanity. He plays the rolls of adopted father, teacher, betrayed husband, child, son, and again, husband.
1 This is an important note because it puts the emphasis on Christians to show non-Christians the truth and good examples of it. It is not enough to simple “tell people the gospel”. You must show it.