Last year I began writing some articles on concepts from the Book of Romans. I’ve already discussed a few ideas from the first two chapters, but never shared anything on chapter three and onward. The reason is because I have not been able to write about the Jewish people being blessed by having the revelations of God. This is mentioned in Romans 3:2. I’m glad to say that I am finally sharing some thoughts on this verse today.
One reason I have wanted to study this topic for so long is because I have a strong perspective on the words of God. Whether they are spoken aloud, or written on paper, I consider them very important and something worthy of honor and praise. I hope that in some small way this article will help you appreciate them just a little more. As we begin in chapter 3 of Romans, the apostle Paul writes,
Then what advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Because first of all, they were entrusted with the revelations of God.Romans 3:2
In verse 1, the apostle questions the advantage of physical Jews following his comments about those who are Jews spiritually. At the end of the second chapter, he says that a Jew is one who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter (Rom. 2:28-29). By saying so, some could come to the conclusion that there was no advantage for someone who was a Jew in the flesh.
It is at this point that he corrects that mistaken perspective. In verse 2 he tells us the first advantage. It is because they had the revelations of God.
In our day and age, this may be taken for granted. Today we can go to many libraries, bookstores, churches, and websites to read and hear the Word of God. In those ways, and others, we have ample access to the revelation of God. That was not so for people centuries ago.
For those outside of the Jewish Covenant, God’s declarations were almost entirely absent. It is true that they had a knowledge of God, but this was not direct. In an indirect sense, we do know that some declarations of God are heard by all people. For instance, one of the psalms begins by saying, “The heavens declare the glory of God. The expanse shows his handiwork. 2 Day after day they pour out speech, and night after night they display knowledge” (Psa. 19:1-2). It is through observing the heavens, and other acts of creation, that all people can develop a concept of there being a divine being.
However, the Jewish people had more direct access to His Revelations. The Old Testament is filled with examples of God, or those who serve Him, revealing things to His people. In the book of Nehemiah, one such event is brought to remembrance. The Levites describe how, “You [God] also came down on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments, 14 and made known to them your holy Sabbath, and commanded them commandments, statutes, and a law, by Moses your servant,” (Neh. 9:13-14).
These two verses are loaded with words that denote instructions and the like. It’s impressive how often they are mentioned,
- Right ordinances
- True laws
- Good statutes and commandments
- Made known your holy Sabbath
- Command them your commandments, statutes, and a law
That is at least four different types of commands in just two verses, and they are only a small part of a much larger event!
God’s Living Revelations and Angels
If we consider other accounts of God speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai we find further details. In Acts 7 the great martyr Stephen presents a masterful account of the history of the Children of Israel. At one point he describes how Moses led the people out of Egypt and was in the wilderness 40 years (Acts 7:35-36). He goes on to say, “This is he who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel that spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received living revelations to give to us” (Acts 7:38).
There are two things I want to stress about the above. The first is Stephen’s use of “living revelations.” It amazes me that he doesn’t just describe them as revelations. He adds an adjective to it. God’s revelations are “living.” For those who are seeking God, such a statement may impress on them that these words can impact their lives in a great way. As another passage teaches elsewhere, the Word is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12). It transforms those who have ears to hear.
The nations of the world had their own views on god, or gods, but their words were dead and vain. They were not truly living words. No wonder Paul said that the Jews had an advantage!
The second point I want to make is regarding Acts 7:38’s mention of the angel who spoke. If you recall, Nehemiah 9 discussed the revelation of His Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. In that text, God is described as the one speaking. Here in Acts, Stephen speaks of “the angel that spoke to him at Mount Sinai.” This apparent contradiction makes more sense when we read what came earlier in the chapter. Many of us know that God spoke to Moses in a flame of fire in the burning bush. Acts 7 mentions this event as well where it says, “When forty years were fulfilled, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush” (Acts 7:30).
In that verse, Stephen speaks of an angel, but as he continues, he says, “…As he [Moses] came close to see, a voice of the Lord came to him, 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Moses trembled, and dared not look” (Acts 7:31-32). When we take verses 30-32 all together, we can understand that angelic beings were present when God spoke to Moses at the burning bush.
This connection between the Law and angels is repeated at the end of the sermon. It concludes, “You received the law as it was ordained by angels, and didn’t keep it!” (Acts 7:53). The fact that the Law was ordained by angels is repeated elsewhere in the New Testament. The apostle Paul tells the Galatians, “Then why is there the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise has been made. It was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator” (Gal. 3:19). Again, angels are involved in the Law being given to the Jewish people.
To my knowledge, this is unique to the Children of Israel, and did not occur with the Gentiles. It was a special blessing for the Jews, and one of the great ways that they had an advantage over all other people. For the other nations, the closest thing to it is when an angel of God speaks to Hagar, the mother of Ishmael (Gen. 21:14-18).
The Importance of the Law
As I just shared in the last paragraph, I consider God revealing the Law as ordained through angels to be a great blessing to the Israelites. Some may question why this is the case, especially since Christians are not under those commands today. For simplicity sake, let me present some of the major statements for the Jewish people from their time at Mount Sinai.
- Jews would be His own possession among all people (Ex. 19:3-6).
- They knew there was one God who delivered them (Ex. 20:2-3).
- They knew the true history of creation (Ex. 20:8-11).
- They had a mediator between themselves and God (Ex. 20:18:22).
All of these truths were unique to the People of Israel. None were shared with other nations of the world. Even if we just think of the main themes found above we can easily recognize their importance. Being a special possession. Deliverance. Creation. Having a mediator. Such concepts were key to the Israelites. Their importance cannot be understated. They were pivotal to how Jews thought of themselves and their interactions with other nations. Without God’s revelation of His Law to the Jews, their identity would be drastically different.
Our Need to Speak the Revelations of God
Having written all this, why are such facts important for us? None of us were with Moses on Mount Sinai, and most people reading this are not physical Jews. The revelations of God to the People of Israel are also critical for us because they apply to us through Christ.
Let’s take a look at some of these similarities. As Christians, we are a special possession. We have been delivered from our sins. We are blessed with being a new creation in Him. We have access to God the Father through our mediator, Jesus Christ.
Because of these things, we should be willing and able to share the revelation of God to the world. This requires us to understand the first principles of His revelation, and be experienced in the word of righteousness. As we grow in His Word, we can digest more challenging facets of the Scriptures and are more apt to discern good and evil. All of these concepts are brought out in Hebrews 5. Part of it reads,
For although by this time you should be teachers, you again need to have someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the revelations of God. You have come to need milk, and not solid food. 13 For everyone who lives on milk is not experienced in the word of righteousness, for he is a baby. 14 But solid food is for those who are full grown, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.Hebrews 5:12-14
Likewise, the apostle Peter told his readers to speak as it were the very words of God (1 Pet. 4:11). Being able to speak in such a manner is a great blessing, and a gift from God. If we do not share the revelations of the Almighty with the world then they can miss out on them. They will be reduced to walking along in their own ways, not knowing truths that were spoken to God’s people so many centuries ago.
This is a shame, and something we should consider as we live in the company of others. We have the Word of God, but many people have not heard It. In the time of Moses the nations around them were ignorant of many things, but the Jewish people were blessed in the Revelations of God. Today we have access to the Word as well, and can share it with all the nations of the world.
May we be strengthened to do so, in recognition of the blessing of the revelations of God that were given to the Israelites so long ago.
Statue of an Angel With a Person by karigamb08 from Pixabay.