God made a covenant with the nation of Israel when He took them out of Egypt. As part of this covenant God entrusted the Jewish people with the responsibility of preserving His word and passing them on to the future generations. This was not limited to the preservation of the original books that God had given them through Moses. The covenantal responsibility of Israel includes the task of identifying the true prophets and preserving their words. The 24 books of the Jewish scripture are here today because Israel discharged this duty under her covenant with God.
When God charged Israel with this responsibility, He also gave them the means through which they can accomplish this goal. God supplied Israel with a standard against which every claimant to prophecy can be measured. Israel was directed by God to dismiss the most spectacular miracles and the most persuasive and forceful arguments if the claimant to prophecy fails to measure up to the standard that God provided to His covenant community.
In order to empower Israel to resist the arguments of the false prophets, God provided Israel with the confidence and the conviction that His standard is true and immutable. This conviction would give them the strength to stand firm in a world intoxicated with the message of the false prophet. God empowered Israel with the fortitude to endure all the hell unleashed by the frustrated followers of the false prophets. All of this is part of the covenant that joins Israel and her God.
What was the standard that God gave Israel against which they could measure the claims of the prophets? How did God give Israel the certitude and the conviction that this standard is true and eternal? What was the strength that God poured into the hearts of His people that gave them peace in the face of the most violent aggression?
The standard that God gave Israel is their perception of God. God did not deliver this teaching to Israel through the medium of a book. God did not educate Israel on this matter through the agency of a prophet. God Himself imparted this teaching to the nation as a whole when He spoke at Sinai saying “I am the Lord your God who took you out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 20:2, Deuteronomy 5:6). The unparalleled miracles of the Exodus which culminated with the revelation at Sinai gave Israel her perception of God (Deuteronomy 4:35). Israel’s perception of God is the standard against which they measure any claim to prophecy (Deuteronomy 13:6).
The generation that left Egypt was taught by God Himself. God ensured that the message will be available to every subsequent generation of Jews. Not only did God take care that His truth be preserved for future generations, but He made sure that the message retained its strength and vitality. The method that God set in place through which His holy standard is preserved for all time is the heart of the living nation of Israel. Through the living observance of the testimonial commandments the Jew learns the rock solid truth of God’s oneness. The instruction and the living observance of one generation of Jews, preserves God’s message for the next generation and for every subsequent generation thereafter. When the Jew experiences the Exodus and Sinai as these events reverberate through the hearts of his people, he is empowered with God’s eternal truth. As God’s chosen witness, the Jew is granted the strength to resist all falsehood (Isaiah 43:10).
When God spoke face to face with His chosen people, this was a burning kiss that connects the Divine Father with His beloved firstborn son. The fire of this love can never be extinguished, not by torture nor by persuasion (Song of Songs 8:7). In light of this truth, Israel recognizes that all of the claims of the false prophet are but an opportunity to demonstrate her love for God by remaining loyal to His holy standard. (Deuteronomy 13:4).
Christianity bases her claims on the words of the Jewish prophets. Apparently, Christianity recognizes that Israel has properly discharged her covenantal duty of recognizing God’s true prophets and preserving their word. At the same time Christianity contends that Israel’s perception of God is erroneous and faulty. Christianity worships a trinity which is precluded by Israel’s perception of God. Christianity attributes deity to a human which is likewise precluded by Israel’s perception of God.
This is absurd. Israel’s perception of God is the standard that God provided to His people through which they could discharge their covenantal duty of canonizing the words of the prophets. This is the pillar upon which scripture stands. There is no way that we would have scripture if we do not first accept the standard through which Israel canonized scripture, namely her perception of God. The Christian theology that disregards Israel’s perception of God while accepting Israel’s scripture is an exercise in self-contradiction.
The heart of Israel’s covenant with her God is the truth that God granted them at Sinai. Throughout history Israel has been willing to be confined to ghettoes, to be denied the most basic civil rights, to be taxed of their worldly possessions and sometimes even to give their lives. But Israel as a nation will never give up the heart of their relationship with God.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal