THe Advantage

THe Advantage

The Advantage 

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profitis thereof circumcision? 2Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

Romans 3:1-2

Advantage Assumed

1What advantage then hath the Jew?

Paul makes a particular claim that the Jews are expected to have an advantage. “What advantage then hath the Jew…” Within the question we can’t help but the notice the expectation of it;

Why else would Paul ask such a rhetorical question but in anticipationfor what many would also be asking? “What advantage then hath the jew…?”

PERSONAL ANECDOTE

In my early life BC, there was nothing I desired more than to have an advantage. Not just a small advantage I wanted a huge advantage. The advantage I sought for was nothing less that the answers to the questions that would lead me to the most fulfilled and prosperous life I could ever hope to attain.

Naturally, as a BC man, there was nothing I thought that could fill that desire better than the attainment of wealth, material wealth. It was therefore to that that I sought the Advantage.

Imagine if you would, finding a book that might do that! A book that would give the greatest advantage to the life all people seek after. 

“Surely it must be hidden” I thought, “The book must be hidden, and it must be old”.

I scoured many bookshops looking for that sacred book of advantage, and there it was. I found it located in an airport lounge business section. 

“The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino. 

I devoured that book, finished it in a day. It had such an impact on me that I even felt richer by just reading it. Maybe there is another book that can make me feel rich!

Lo and behold there it was, in the hidden alcoves of a city newsagent;

  1. ‘Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

So, I thought about being rich every day, and I felt rich and started working in my own effort to get the possession of it“More, there must be more books to find that I might get an advantage”and I wondered where I might go.

A man can into my Pizza business and started drawing circles, before I knew it I was selling Amway TO GET AN ADVANTAGE!

I joined the book of the Month Club and just kept reading.

  1. “How to win friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
    1. “The Road Less Travelled” By Scott M Peck
    1. “The Richest Man in Babylon” Another book By my favorite author Og Mandino 
    1. “The power of Positive thinking” By Norman Vincent Peele
    1. ‘Seven Habits of Highly effective People” By Stephen Covey

“Surely, surely now I had the advantage, surely now I will gain the affluence that I desired….”

AND I KEPT WORKING AND DREAMING

You know, I’m not alone in my desire to get an advantage. In fact, the entire world does so.

Every business on earth that has begun by an entrepreneur has its success dependent upon any advantage it can have over its competitors.

Sports teams bid for the best players to get an advantage;

Career people do all they can to get an advantage

From Fashion magazines to toilet paper manufacturers, all look for an advantage. (Apologies for linking those two…completely unintentional)

War machines were built to get an advantage. Arm to arm, then sword to sword, bow from a distance until Gun Powder created the greatest advantage. Cannon, air force, guided missiles and now even drones.

We go to such extents to get an advantage that we would even defame our own names to do so. This is the desperate way we strive for it.

  • We cheat in exams to get a result advantage
  • We steal to attain a possessional advantage
  • We cheat on our taxes to get financial advantage
  • Think of what you are doing every time you lie…..

Positive and negative are the means we seek to gain an advantage and we all desire it.

So Paul asks, “What advantage then hath the Jew, or what profit is their of circumcision?

Indeed, if it’s true that he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

What advantage then hath the jew?

If they teach others but not themselves;

If they preach to others not to steal yet they steal;

If they say a man should not commit adultery yet they commit adultery;

If they even make their boast of the law yet dishonor God themselves by breaking the law;

What advantage then hath the jew?

The text we are looking at, not only credits the Jew with some form of Advantage that is superior to others, but it’s very form of question EXPECTS THAT THERE MUST BE….an advantage.  

And the world knows the Jew has one! So do you!

an Advantage is Assumed.

Distinction Determined

1What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profitis thereof circumcision?

There is no advantage without Profit. 

What profit is there of circumcision?

The original purpose of Circumcision was one of distinction. God wanted to separate a people for himself.

There is no mention of Circumcision prior to Genesis 17, so lets turn there and consider its origin and its purpose.

Genesis 17:1-13

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, Iamthe Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, 

As for me, behold, my covenantiswith thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 Thisismy covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of yourforeskin; and it shall be a tokenof the covenant betwixt me and you.

Circumcision was “A token” a sign to the people of God that he had separated them from other people, he wanted them to be distinct.

Leviticus goes on to the finer elements of the Law for the Jews, but from chapter 18 the Lord makes clear he does not want them to indulge even a single activity of the people that surrounds them, the people of the nations.

Chapter 20:23

23 And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. 24 But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.

26And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.

Who in the world would not think that to be the very people of the God of the entire universe as a chosen and personal possession to him, would not be an advantage?

This s the Jew, and are we not to expect jealously by the world against the Jew? 

Do they know of the advantage? 

They have the sign, a token given to every male child from the 8thday. Does anyone know why God had chosen the eighth day?

The bodies blood clotting ability reaches its highest level on the eighth day (110-120 %). Why the eight day though? In the Bible numbers have particular interest in their respective use. The number eight seems to represent New Beginnings.

Seven is the number of perfection or completeness, eight representing new beginnings.

NB: Even every first day of the week, is the eighth day. The seventh day completesthe week, the eighth is a new beginning.

The Jews were Chosen to be distinct and separateand God had specifically determined they and they alone would receive of the Tokenof his peculiar promises to them, most specifically concerning the land.

You and I have inherited another distinct and peculiar promise, that of heaven. If you are born again, God has drawn you to himself that he may work the work of God in and through you.

Turn to 1 Peter 2:9-10

But yearea chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time pastwerenot a people, butarenow the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy 

The Jew and the Christian today have a distinction determined, and also an advantage the world without Goddoes not have.

But our text relates specifically to the Jew in this passage, lets continue on in our consideration. 

Advantage Abounds

1What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profitis thereof circumcision? Much every way:chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

The greatest abundance of advantage to the Jew are the Oracles, or the Word of God.

The very words of God given particularly to them, in a single volume.

The world did not have this. Recall last week the aimless efforts of the world, the Gentiles doing that with the conscience written upon their hearts. Finding some faithful, but many simply doing that which is right in their own eyes.

NOT SO THE JEW!

because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

The word Oracles had raised some doubts in the minds of many Christian scholars because they did not like its connotations. You see, PAGANS CONSULT ORACLES.  The gentile world seeks advantage and foresight from places where we Christians would find absurd. 

In todays cultural Encyclopedia, Wikipedia; The gentile or pagan Oracleis described this way

“In Classical Antiquity, an oraclewas a person or agency considered to interface wise counsel or propheticpredictionsor precognitionof the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination.”

Oracles were not only related to persons,but to anything that could impart favor, tell of future benefit or warning, luck or wisdom. ANYTHING that might give them an advantage, even if it was through a confirmation.

Some of Israel’s kings sought it through direct communication with The Lord, but the gentiles would seek it through…well listen to Donald Grey Barnhouserefer to what the gentile nations did to gain their advantage;

“Men have always wanted to know about their future, and how to make choices. Ancient authors have recorded that some people consulted the movements of fish in a tank, and the movements of snakes in a pit. Pausanias tells how people left a coin by a certain altar of Hermes, stopped up their ears and walked through a crowd, until suddenly, they unstopped their ears and took guidance from the first words uttered by a chance passer-by. In one temple there was a priest who interpreted the whispers of the branches of an oak tree, moving in the wind.

The commonest form of divinationhad to do with birds. In Rome it was an organized system of state ceremony. Public officials called “augurs” listened to the talk of birds. The word “augur” comes from the Latin words for “bird” and “talk.”When the augur said that all was well, the official ceremonies proceeded. We talk of inaugurating a president, without realizing that the Latin for “bird talk” is in the middle of the word.

Others watched the flight of the birds. If they went in one direction, a certain result was deduced; while if they flew in another direction, another meaning was given to their movements. People watched the birds very carefully and the bird watchers have given another word in our language. For our words “auspices,” and “auspicious” are made up of two Latin words, “bird” and “watch.” When we say that a meeting will be held under the auspicesof some society, we go back to the time in the life of our race when men looked at birds to see if they could find out from the whim of their flight, some pattern that would prophesy a good day.

Modern Counterparts

And the priests of Rome opened the bodies of birds to see how the entrails were marked, and gave clearance for projects, or halted their progress, depending on what they had seen in the marking there. And if we are prone to laugh at them for such doings, let us not forget that in our country today there are those who decide their movements by the cut of cards, the toss of a coin, the fall of dice, the reading of tea leaves, the lines in the palm of a hand, the horoscope read by some astrologer, the interpretation of dreams, or some other fantasies of the same kind.

The world does all this to gain an advantage, to the Jews were committed the true advantage, The Oracles of God! 

And the Christian in western nations have a copy of the complete Oracles, some have two or more copies of Gods very words, but most think so little of them that they don’t even open its pages. 

The Bible is treated with contempt rather than advantage by many.

We look at the world seeking after all forms of advantage and you who have the very words of God wont even dedicate an hour a day to read it.

In my BC Life I read book after book after book, hundreds of them, NONE of which made any lasting difference in my life but guess what many of those books did do? 

Many of them quoted from passages out of The Book of books, yes, the quoted from the Oracles of God. 

I finally found myself wondering why it was I spent so much time reading all this contradictory wisdom of a world without God, who quote from the words of God, rather than going to the source myself and read “The whole counsel of GOD”?  

John Chrysostom was the Pastor of Constantinople in the 4thCentury, and speaking to the Greek Speaking Christiansthere, who complained that they cannot understand the Bible…

(NB This is Greek speaking and reading people, referring to the Original Greek Bible and complaining they cannot understand it. Those English-speaking people who complain about the English bible in the KJV use exactly the same arguments)

John Chrysostrum gets to the point of their argument and says;

“You say you cannot understand it, what marvel, for you will neither read it nor look upon it”

You have the advantage of eternity in your laps, the Book that many nations around the world have banned, a book that will one day BE BANNED in this country, and you “will neither read it nor look apon it!” 

How much will you crave it for the comfort it brings when you no longer have access to it!

Turn to Amos 8:11

11Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not findit.

This advantage you have today will one day be taken away from you, if it occurs before the tribulations of THAT DAY, to what will you look?  Will you dig through the entrails of birds, toss coins, consider the swim of a fish?

Or will you degenerate to the madness of Pentecostals and Charismatics who have long ago abandoned the Bible and turned themselves to their senses and feelings?

Perhaps, being more rational, you turn to the reformation churches, who leaders and scholars and learned scribes have taken part in the corruption of the word of Godthrough the last century, who now hold to little else but to the faithless and trust-lesswords of these same men they esteem? 

Where is your advantage? What are you doing with it? 

The words of God were the CHIEF Advantage to the Jew, in this they had their abundance, what of YOU?

Distinction Desired

1What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profitis thereof circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

We have established that the world and all its people desire advantage. This last point is to demonstrate to you that the early world discovered that the Jews had the advantageand they tried themselves to gain a distinction through a form of counterfeit!

Let me explain.

Take your Bibles in your hands if you have a physical copy.

Turn to the center of your Bibles where you will find the five wisdom books Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. The next book is the Book of Isaiah, I want you to place your thumb there.

Then I’d like you to go to the end of the Old Testament and place your forefinger there. You should now have a large number of pages between your thumb and finger, take a good look at its number. 

Mentally you will need to add the last section of 2 Chronicles, the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther to that quantity.

Consider the volume of writing between your fingers in light of the entire Bible, and understand that all of what you have between your fingers, plus those additional books mentioned, is dealing primarily with one single period of time in Jewish history, The 70 years of Babylonian captivity Prophesied by the Prophet Jerimiah.

Either just before, during or just after that unique periodof time in the History of the Jews. It was something that amazed me many years ago as I noticed so much of the Bible refer to that event. Something about it was incredibly significant in the Mind of the Lord to have dedicated agreater total volume than the entire New Testament to it.

SOME HISTORY. 

Using the modern dating methods, 587/586 BC is attributed as the time of the Captivity of Judah, it’s now the 3rdand final time Nebuchadnezzar conquers and deports the Jews over 500km to Babylon, now in Central Iraq.

70 years was the captivity, afterward many Jews returned to Israel/Jerusalem, but some remained in Babylon, others scattered themselves about the known world.

Two figures that dominate the historyof those years in Babylon, other than the Kings themselves, were Daniel & Mordicai, they were both second in charge of the empire, also featured was Esther who was a queen in the Empire in the latter days, and Shadrack, Meshak and Abednego who were the Prime ministers to Daniel

This empire stretched from Modern day Istanbul, down through all of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan to the Border of India and across to Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. 

And this is what the Kings at both ends of the Captivity of Israel said of the God of Israel: This is the influence of the God of the Bible, working through faithful men, had upon the leaders of the known world at that time.

NEBUCHADNESSOR SPEAKS OF GOD

Recall, Daniel chapter 2 reveals to the King his dreams, not only the interpretation but the dreams themselves, and in verses 47-48 the King acknowledges God.

Chapter 3 then speaks of the miracle of the FIRERY FURNACE where Daniels three friends were thrown. Who not only survived, but who without even the smell of fire on them, the King spoke;

28ThenNebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed bethe God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 29        Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill:because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. 30Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, in the province of Babylon.(Dan 3:28-30)

To whom did the King make the decree? To every people, nation and language in his empire

It gets better;

Chapter 4 of Daniel was written by this king.

Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.          I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.    How great arehis signs! and how mighty arehis wonders! his kingdom isan everlasting kingdom, and his dominion isfrom generation to generation.Dan 4:1-3

This is how he concludes his explanation of this traumatic experience of his life;

         Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works aretruth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. V 36-37

CYRUS SPEAKS OF GOD

         Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lordspokenby the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the Lordstirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put italso in writing, saying, 

Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LordGod of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which isin Judah. Who is thereamong you of all his people? The Lordhis God bewith him, and let him go up.2 Chron 36:22-23

How did Cyrus know GOD? How did he come to this point? It would seem he was given a copy of the Scroll of Isaiah which was written up to 200 years earlier and stood amazed, lets all turn there; Isaiah 44:28- 45:5

That saith of Cyrus, He ismy shepherd, 

And shall perform all my pleasure: 

Even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; 

And to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. 

45:1     Thus saith the Lordto his anointed, to Cyrus, 

Whose right hand I have holden, 

To subdue nations before him; 

And I will loose the loins of kings, 

To open before him the two leaved gates; 

And the gates shall not be shut; 

         I will go before thee, 

And make the crooked places straight: 

I will break in pieces the gates of brass, 

And cut in sunder the bars of iron:

Do you think having both your name and your career written in a book 200 years earlier would have an impact on you? Would you give credit to the Lord that does such a thing?

Remember, King Cyrus stole into Babylon without a battle on the night Beltashazzar, the son of King Nebachanessar, saw the writing on the wall. 

The Persian empire expanded the borders of the Babylonian empire to that which I gave earlier. This event occurred 70 years after the captivity.

DARIUS THE MEDE SPEAKS OF GOD (Dan 6:25-27)

25Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for heisthe living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdomthatwhich shall not be destroyed, and his dominionshall be evenunto the end.27He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

DARIUS The Great (Persian) SPEAKS OF GOD (Ezra 6:6-12)

At this time the people of Judah where having trouble in building the house of God, enquiry was made to King Darius who came after Cyrus the Great, search was made of the scrolls and you can read for yourself from verse 1 of Chapter 6 of Ezra the result, we will take it from the Decree of Darius in verse 8;

Writing to the Governors

10      That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons. 11      Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. 12      And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alterandto destroy this house of God which isat Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.

Do you think that what Darius read in the accounts of Cyrus the Great, have an effect apon him, perhaps he also read of the accounts of Nebuchadnessor also.

AHASURAUS SPEAKS OF GOD

If you know the story of Esther, you will know that it ends up with the Jews defending themselves against annihilation. (Haman was the precursor of Adolf Hitler)

And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and uponthe isles of the sea. 2        And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, arethey not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?         For Mordecai the Jew wasnext unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.  Esther 10:1

Earlier it tells us that the letters of dedication was sent to the Jews in 127 provinces of the empire. 

A time understood to this day by the Iranian people as an UNPREVOKED ATTACK UPON them by the Jews.

DID THE PRECEDING KINGS BELIEVE SOME ADVANTAGE OF THE JEWS AND THEIR GOD?

 

Did they promote it throughout the known world, do you think the King of an entire empire of people groups has influence?

Counterfeiting the advantage

THE FIVE WRITTEN ETHICAL RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD AROSE WITHIN LESS THAN 50 YEARS OF THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY.

  1. Babylonian Captivity Circa 587 bc – 517 bc
    1. Confucianism479 BC (38 yrs)
    1. Zoroastrianism(Aprox 6thCentury BC, commonly Mid 5thcentury ie 550- 450bc). According Encyclopedias, the men credited with its establishment are, Cyrus the Great, Darius the Mede!
    1. Philosophy(Pythagoras credited as founder, lived 570-495 BC)
    1. Bhudism(Siddhartha Gautama [Budha) 6thto 4thCentury BC (500-300)
    1. Hinduismpossibly the oldest Pagan Religion that can be traced in similar form to Egypt and ancient Babylon. Interestingly, it had as massive Ascetic (Ethical) reformation noted in 500BC.

Is this just coincidence? The five written Ethical Religions of the world had their origins within fifty years of the most profound portion of the History of the Jews.

It seems the world gleaned truth from the book of the Jews, 

just as Ruth gleaned from the fields of Boaz.

3. ADVANTAGE GIVEN 

I wish I could express to you the importance of Gods words. The words I have are inadequate to plead with you that you would take them seriously so you may have peace, hope and joy. And that you would be able to hold together as the trials of life here overtake you.

I was speaking to man by the name of Mr Waters, many years ago, who held in his hand a Thompson Chain reference Bible that was falling apart, after listening to him pray, I commented on the condition of his Bible and he said, “they say, a bible that is falling apart, belongs to the man who is not”

The world has long ago rejected the word of God, and the world is falling apart. 

What about you?

Jesus is known as The Word of God.

This is his word. There is an advantage for which he came to impart to all people, it’s that of everlasting life.

Christians all over the world today are ignoring the Bible, lost in a sea of confusionabout what God said as the Bible is Hidden In Obscurity, but the truth of why Jesus came is still clear

The Devil has not yet been able to take away that advantage, the real question is will you believe it?

I FINALLY FOUND THE ADVANTAGE. What I sought for in my BC life, looking for the answers to all the questions that would give to me the most fulfilled and prosperous life on earth, I discovered with interest.

I did not have to work to get it, unlike the riches of earth, this was a gift.

The prosperity I sought for materially, cannot even come close to comparing to the prosperity I now have spiritually. 

The material gain I was willing to settle for in time, is nothing compared to what I have gained for eternity. 

Like Paul, I now count all things but lost that I may win Christ.

He died for your sins, he was punished for your transgressions, he is the messiah of Israel, the one they are still waiting for. He came two thousand years ago as a lamb, he will come again… but not as a lamb.

He came as a lamb to offer salvation to the world, the opportunity through his love and patience has endured almost two thousand years, but that time is coming to an end. 

He is coming againas a Lion,with wrath upon a godless and sinful world that seeks for advantage in anything BUT HIM, and his fury will be satisfied, and it will be complete.

You can either be caught up in the day of vengeance of our God, or you can take advantage of the grace he gives you now, and cought up before it comes. 

But it must be now, you must believe now, there is no guarantee of tomorrow, it must be now. 

The Word of God is the advantage, its only benefit is for those who read it and believe it.

…..

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