Monday, August 16, 2010

The Assumption and the Jews

One of the arguments for some special status for Mary is the parallel with Israel. Jesus was born a Jew. But that wasn't just a small part of the salvation plan. God walked with the Jews for many generations as His chosen people. He prepared that nation to be the God bearers. One can see a huge difference between the Israel in Judges and the Israel in Maccabees. They had learned to stand up for their faith and even die for it if need be. God had poured out His grace on them for many centuries and they had reached a point where they stood out among the nations as faithful servants of the Lord.

But just as God needed a sacred vessel to serve as Jesus' ethnic and cultural home it also makes sense that God would want Jesus' immediate family to be sacred in some way. That the God bearer nation would fit with a God bearer person. We see God did exactly that. He was born to a virgin. To a woman full of grace. That is to be understood as more than just sexual purity but being free from all sin both original and actual.

In that context the assumption makes sense to. If Mary is without sin she can enter heaven directly. Why have her endure the indignity of having her body and soul separated? Jesus proved that humans can enter heaven but Jesus is God. What about the rest of us? Mary's presence there tells us Jesus can not only go but He can bring His family with Him. Then the only question is whether or not we belong to that family.

But what about the Jews? If God remembered Mary's special role and treated her right at the end of her earthly life then how will He remember the Jews and the special role they played? Sure there is a sense in which the church is the new Israel. But the Jewish people are still there. It is interesting how the recent enemies of the Jews have been the Nazi's and the Muslims. In both cases that developed into an enmity towards Christianity and the western world.

I guess there are a ton of theories. I find trying to use the bible to predict the future to be a pretty fruitless endeavor. But seeing events in terms of spiritual realities is quite interesting. When God calls the Jews His chosen people He does not forget that.


  1. Thanks for this entry.
    I also found an interesting article about the Dormition/Assumption providing a broad perspective on the feast’s history and the various ways it is observed. Worth checking out:

  2. Thanks for this. Great stuff as always.

    I would like to ask a related question about Israel's sinfulness and typology, if I may. I was recently talking to a Messianic Christian sort of guy, and we were talking about divorce. He said that Yahweh divorced Israel for adultery, and therefore Christians can rightly divorce for the same and remarry. I kind of wittled away at that, talking about Gentiles being grafted in (implying that a marriage still existed) and Hosea and some other things and in the end he said that Yahweh divorced one Israel, but remained married to the faithful Israel. That sounds kind of odd to me, but I don't know. Do you have any thoughts about that.

  3. The argument sounds like a bit of a stretch to me. There covenant with Israel was compared to a marriage by analogy but it was not a marriage. The fact that it can be replaced by a better covenant that included gentiles is one of the ways it is unlike marriage. God never divorces Israel. The new covenant and the old are both available to Jews.

    I am not aware of any passage that says God divorced Israel even as an analogy. God hates divorce. Besides, Jesus directly addresses this question. Why look for some unclear reverse analogy when you have a direct statement from the mouth of Jesus? Mat 19:

    8Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

    10The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."

    It should be noted the Greek word translated "marital unfaithfulness" is not the normal word for adultery. It refers more to people living together as married when they have never been wed. So it is more akin to a null marriage then one spouse cheating. This is why the disciples found the teaching so shocking.

  4. What he said was that Mt. 19:8-10 permits divorce for adultery because Israel committed adultery (in the form of idolatry.) He didn't really offer proof that God in fact divorced Israel though, come to think of it. Thank you very much! That helps.

    Two of those points I did touch on; (1)that analogies have their limits and (2) God hates divorce, so I can't see Him divorcing Israel. I know Pope Benedict has called the relationship with Israel in the OT an engagement, whereas the NT relationship with the Church is a marriage (indissoluble.)

  5. Just to bring it back to your blogpost though, I love how Mary as an antitype enlightens so much of the old covenant.