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Pointers along the way #276

OT men in NT times
- Jacob Ninan

Remember the children of Israel with whom God made the old covenant? From among all the hundreds of thousands of those who left Egypt to go to the promised land only two finally got there, Joshua and Caleb. What was wrong with the others? Sure they wanted 'out' from the slavery in Egypt. But were they pining for the promised land? No. What they pined for was the onions and leeks in Egypt, meat and drinks. So Moses had the task of trying to lead a crowd of disinterested people towards Canaan. Every now and then they would shout at Moses and God for taking them away from Egypt. What God finally thought about them is given in De.29:2-4. God was not able, at the end of forty years of blessing them, taking care of them, protecting them, and leading them, to do what He really wanted to do for them--give them hearts that knew Him, eyes that could see and ears that could hear!

So God had to start again, with a new covenant. Here He would give people a new heart, write His laws upon their hears, cause them to walk in His ways, be merciful to their sins and cause them to know Him (Je.31:33,34). This is the new birth--being born again. This is nothing but a supernatural work of God in those who come to Him humbly acknowledging their sins, turning away from their old sinful ways, and trusting in Jesus for forgiveness of sins and acceptance before God. What we people could not do because of the weakness of our flesh, He does for us by giving us a new nature by a new birth (Ro.8:3). When this happens our spirit that was lying dormant because it was dead in sin gets life, and new desires and interests take shape inside us. "Things we used to do, we do them no more," and our our whole life takes a new turn towards God, His word and His people.

But what do we see when we look around now in the new testament times? Thousands of Christians who would rather watch a game or movie being cajoled to 'come to church'! Money, pleasure, thrill, fame, recognition etc., are the things they are pining for, and getting to know God better, becoming more like Jesus, doing His will, sacrifice, service, showing their love for others etc., are far from their minds. Even when they come to church their minds are far away. What is wrong? They are just like the people in the old testament even though they are in the new testament times. What is missing is the new birth.

Gospel messages do not reach such people who imagine they have no need of them because they are already Christians! They have accepted Jesus as their Saviour, haven't they? But when they came to Jesus did they see themselves as sinners who deserved hell and needed a Saviour? Did a supernatural change take place when they accepted Jesus? Many second and third generation 'Christians' have missed the real encounter with Jesus, and so they are not really Christians after all. What they need to hear is what Jesus told Nicodemus, "You must be born again" (Jn.3:3). This was a loving invitation, and not criticism.