The Jewish people stand in a covenantal relationship with God. Not only as individuals, but also and primarily as a national entity. The nation that consists of individual Jews from all geographical locations and from all generations stands together as one party of a covenant in which the other partner is the Creator of heaven and earth. Members of this covenant nation recognize that this relationship with God requires a certain commitment. Our commitment to the covenant requires that we obey those precepts that our nation accepted as our part of the deal between God and ourselves. Our commitment to the covenant also requires that we cultivate appreciation of the covenant in our own hearts and in the hearts of our fellow members of this covenant.
The concept of a covenant implies that there are or that there will be factors that threaten the relationship between the two parties. A covenant is the solemn promise that both parties in a relationship pledge towards each other that they will maintain their loyalty to the relationship despite the various factors that might otherwise work to weaken or to break the relationship. God promises the Jewish people that no matter how much they sin and stray from His truth, He will maintain His side of the covenantal relationship (Jeremiah 31:36). The people of Israel face many forces that attempt to break their standing as a covenant nation before God. The human proclivity to self-centered pleasure seeking and desire for power threatens to create a barrier between themselves and their Divine partner. Those who wish to maintain their covenantal relationship with God encourage themselves and their fellow Jews to keep sight of this holy relationship and overcome the temptation to get lost in the sea of self-centered materialism.
The most direct assault on Israel’s relationship with God is the sin of idolatry. The Jewish Bible compares idolatry to spiritual adultery. The prophets saw Israel’s relationship with God as a marriage. There is an ideal marriage in which both partners think of nothing but of their love to each other and of their responsibilities towards each other. A marriage in which one of the partners moves into the realm of self-centeredness and forgets their responsibility towards his or her partner is certainly less than ideal, but the marriage has not been violated. It is when one of the partners enters into a marriage-like relationship with someone other than their spouse that the marriage has been directly violated. When a Jew forgets his or her covenantal responsibilities, the relationship between themselves and God has moved away from the ideal, but it has not been directly violated. It is when the Jew enters into a relationship with an entity other than God that the covenant with God has been broken.
In light of their standing as a covenant nation before God, the Jewish people as a community have resisted the Church’s missionary campaign that would have them direct their hearts towards Jesus. The Jewish community views devotion to Jesus as idolatrous; the most direct violation of their covenant relationship with God, and Israel views its own resistance to the Church message as an expression of loyalty to the covenant it shares with God. In the eyes of the Jewish community, being a Jew means at the bare minimum, not entering into a devotional relationship with Jesus (or with any other idol).
If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.
Judaism Resources is a recognized 501(c) 3 public charity and your donation is tax exempt.
Yisroel C. Blumenthal