We must ask, why do American Christians put so much emphasis on the Jewish traditions, prophecy, seeking after signs and support for modern Israel? The answer lies in one insightful passage of scripture written by the Apostle Paul.
“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” 1 Corinthians 1:22
I love this verse. It reveals so much truth about the personality and predilections of both Jews and Gentiles as distinct people groups. They both have very different traditions and ways of discerning truth, yet God used them both to unveil His mysteries to us throughout the ages.
This verse was very true for Paul who had experience preaching to both groups over the course of his ministry. Only Paul had a real first-hand experience with the questions, dispositions and demands each group had when confronted with hard Gospel Preaching in his time.
The Jews, of course, were hostile to His preaching because of the perceived violations of their direct traditions, while the gentiles thought it nothing more than Jewish fable and barely paid it any mind outside of simple novelty of ideas.
Yet to truly understand this verse we have to look closer at the distinguishing nature of both Jews and Gentiles. By understanding each group’s proclivities we can then demonstrate the work God performed through each group. While the emphasis in today’s modern church is always on Jewish tradition, and the Jewish body of work in regards to God’s law, prophecy and deducing truth, I would challenge this thinking and say the Great Work of the Gentiles and the Gentile church holds far more value than anything the Jewish tradition seemingly holds.
Jews Require a Sign
The reason being, the Jews demand signs for everything. This is their nature. In the Jewish mind if you can’t produce a wondrous miracle alongside any claims of truth or Godly authority, then you are a fraud. This is because their traditions included Moses, who was a great lawgiver and tremendous miracle worker. This power was also seen in prophets like Elijah who consumed his enemies in fire as in 2 Kings 1:10. Truth, for the Jews must be accompanied by grandiose miracles of God. If it was not accomplished with miracles then it could not be trusted as truth.
They required this even of Jesus Himself who was a miracle worker greater than Moses. The Jews constantly demanded signs of him throughout His ministry. To which Jesus replied an “evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” in Matthew 12:39. Jesus condemned this behavior and called it evil. He rightfully discerned that the Jews were using a logical fallacy called “moving the goal post” as a means to perpetually rationalize their sin. If God didn’t meet their own set of criteria, then, in their minds they wouldn’t be subject to the new truth that was being offered by God’s son. Therefore no miracle would be sufficient because they did not want to conform to any new action. They found it hugely offensive that Jesus hinted at shared power with the gentiles and submission to Christ as Messiah. The ironic thing is the only miracle good enough for the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day would be if Jesus put on a Pharisee robe and taught as one of them in their tradition, which is no miracle at all. Anything less than Jesus teaching in the tradition of the Pharisees would be unacceptable to them and thus they rebelled against the preaching of Jesus despite his miracle working.
This is what Paul meant saying “Jews require a sign.” They will not accept plain truth unless it is accompanied by miraculous works of God, but that sign has to comport to their tradition and power.
So, this is where the Jews are today, they rejected their miracle-working Messiah who performed many signs greater than Moses, and to this day they have not repented from their sins as a people. In fact, because God seemingly has abandoned them and no longer performs miracles and signs on their behalf as a people they have rationalized an innumerable amount of sins. The thinking is, if God condemns such things he would give them a sign as such so until he shows them a sign they will do anything to continue in power.
The Jewish people or Zionists in modern Israel more properly, reject God preferring atheism, promote abortion, sodomite marriages, perpetually steal the property and genocide the Palestine people, and are constantly engaged in efforts to draw surrounding countries into war as a pretext to conquer them with U.S. backed military might. The sins of Israel are great because they have rejected their Messiah who was the ultimate sign and miracle 2000 years ago.
This thing is condemned of God. Israel was judged and scattered because they were truly as Jesus said a wicked generation. God left off with the giving of signs and prophets, and instead turned towards the Gentile believers. The Gentiles had a very different method of discerning truth, and it is they that started the church age which we are still in today. The Gentiles didn’t need signs, then wanted reason, and philosophy to prevail, the idea that the laws and nature of God can be rightly discovered simply by understanding the nature of creation and God’s word in scripture.
The Greeks Seek after Wisdom
For example, the words in 1 Corinthians 1:22 “Greeks seek after wisdom” embodies the spirit of all Gentiles. The Greeks especially, above all else in those times valued philosophy, civics, and reasoning. For them, this was the only way to deduce truth. They didn’t have the rich body of Mosaic Law and wondrous miracles like the Jews had in their traditions. Instead, they held massive forums dedicated to lively debate.
That is what Paul was invoking in this verse; the Gentile and Greek cultural obsession was philosophical debate and the sharing of new ideas. They loved great orators and philosophers that captured the imaginations of the people. Of course, they had their stories, fables, and gods, but what really stopped people in their tracks in the city of Athens, was the latest idea and philosophical craze.
In Acts 17 we find the Apostle Paul in Athens, preaching Christ as usual to the Greeks there. The Athens found what he was saying interesting only insomuch that it was the newest idea, and by finding novelty in what he was saying they wanted to hear more, taking him to the center of politics and civil debate at the Areopagus.
And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Acts 17: 19-21
It was this obsession with new ideas and reasoning that helped shape Western Culture. The Greeks who emphasized the principles of representation in Government were the starting point for a new work by God through the Gentile church. As more Gentiles began to embrace Christianity in ancient times, they began to see that God in scripture laced the same truths that were being debated for centuries among the Greek Philosophers all throughout. This body of work would come to be known as Natural Law.
Natural Law, in my opinion, is the Great Work of the Gentile Church. God purposely left off of signs and wonders, and speaking directly to a people seeing it only creates false converts and power seekers who understood nothing outside of raw unadulterated power. Jesus did not come in that Spirit the first time and so they rejected Him.
God wants us to understand Him, His laws, His justice, His creation and His redemptive work through a lens of reasoned knowledge, not raw displays of power. All of these things reveal Christ in a spirit of Truth and wisdom. This is why the Church Age that came through the Gentile Church will always be superior to the work of the Prophetic Age of the Jewish tradition.
Satan Himself saw God’s power and still rebelled; the Israelites saw the hand of God work in their lives yet still rebelled. The Gentiles, on the other hand, took it upon themselves to understand creation, the laws in nature, the principles that can be defined in scripture, all of which reveals a superior form of government among men, understanding and respect for our Creator God, and His redemptive path in Jesus Christ.
The Great Work of the Gentiles culminated in the Protestant Reformation, and ultimately the American Revolution that removed from humankind the worship of raw power, whether it came from the heavy-handed kings of ancient times, or from God Himself through His interactions with Moses and the prophets.
Jews are always looking for a demonstration of power by God, and by those claiming to be prophets. God has ceased to work that way. Instead, He demands us to understand Him through Natural Law and Revealed Law. Even in the Old Testament, He tried to get his wayward people to desire wisdom, knowledge and reasoning. Speaking through Isaiah the prophet he said,
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” Isaiah 1:18
It saddened him that the Jews could not discern these things themselves, always seeking for a sign. It was this desire that lead to their destruction because it was a false conversion and submission.
Sadly, many Christians are returning to the Jewish tradition, and rejecting the Great Work wrought by the Gentile Church. They would rather turn their ears to speculative prophecy teaching, and teachers that point to everything as a sign, and give false displays of power like speaking in gibberish tongues. Like the Jews, they are primed for the coming reign of the antichrist that scripture tells us will be a great “miracle worker.”
These Christians that have abandoned the use of reason, who have forsaken the Great Work their forebears accomplished discerning and defining Natural Law, and have gone back to the Old Jewish tradition of seeking after signs and wonders will fall for the antichrist when he comes as a result, in much the same way the Jews have for centuries. They need to wake up to the fact God destroyed the Jews for that same wickedness, we are in the Gentile Church age now and God has used the Gentile Church to reveal a Greater Work. People mistakenly gravitate to Jewish mystism and prophecy teaching, and charasmatic signs and wonder because if they can make people think they have insight into these things then the impresion is wow this is someone who has the Power of God working in their lives. They simply want power, and not the things of God, which is humility and a love for His Law.
We must reemphasis the Great Work of the Gentile Church as the superior body of knowledge seeing that God wants us to love His law and His laws written in creation. When we see God in this light, we truly love who He is, and are hearts are turned to Him in a real way, not a false way that forces us to only worship Him because of His raw power displays as did the ancient Jews.
Article posted with permission from Jason Charles