Together Under God

MEMORY SELECTION: “There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” —Romans 10:12

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Romans 10:5-13; 11:33-36

THE call to the Gospel church during the present age has been extended, since Pentecost, to both Jewish and Gentile believers. This invitation has indeed been a rich blessing to all who have taken the name of Christ, given their lives in dedication to his service, and attempted to follow him in spirit and in truth.

During our Lord’s first advent the call went only to the Jews. His followers were selected from among the Israelites, and throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus and his twelve apostles the message of the kingdom was to the Jew. Scriptural proof for this is found in Matthew’s Gospel, which says (10:5,6), “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

The special period of favor to the Israelite nation, however, involved a particular time feature in the plan of God called the seventy weeks of Jewish favor. Daniel writes (9:24), “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people [Israel] and upon thy holy city [Jerusalem], to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”

Students of time features determine that a day for a year is represented in this prophecy which points to the time when the Messiah would give his own life for three and a half years during the last, or seventieth, week indicated in the prophecy. Jesus finished the work which had been given him by the Father, having made full reconciliation to God for the sins of the whole human race.

At Pentecost Jesus’ followers received the Holy Spirit, which enabled them to understand the deep things of God’s plan of the ages; and for the remaining three and a half years of that symbolic seventieth week there was stepped-up activity among the apostles to preach the glad tidings of the kingdom to the Jew. This was, essentially, the harvest period of the Jewish Age.

The period of favor ended, however, even as the Prophet Daniel foretold, and this great change in dispensation is clearly marked by the acceptance of Cornelius as the first Gentile convert. Although this does not mean that Jewish people could no longer partake of the promises of joint-heirship with Christ, it does point to the fact that the Gospel was no longer exclusively confined to the Jew alone, but was thereafter extended to Gentile believers.

The tenth chapter of Acts provides the setting for the conversion of Cornelius. It is an interesting account because it shows the remarkable manner in which God chose to reveal his purpose. Cornelius was a man of God, and during a vision he was instructed to send servants from his home in Caesarea to Simon the tanner’s home in Joppa, where Simon Peter lived. He was told that Peter, in turn, would have further instructions for him.

In the meantime, Peter also had a vision, in which he “saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to earth: wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.”—Acts 10:11,12

While Peter was very hungry, he heard a voice come unto him saying (vs. 13), “Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.” This was a very strange experience in Peter’s life, as it had been the custom of the Jews to eat nothing that was common or unclean. However, the voice spoke to him again saying, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”—vs. 15

At this time Cornelius’ servants arrived to make inquiry, and Peter made arrangements to accompany them back to Caesarea, where he was graciously received by Cornelius. After a discussion of the truth, the Holy Spirit fell on all them who were gathered together, and since that time Gentile believers have had the same privileges of participation in Christ.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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