Digression 8: Israel And Romans 1

The commands concerning Israel's behaviour after they had settled in the land form a large chunk of the Mosaic Law, and thus these were only relevant to the younger generation and the Levites who were to enter the land of promise (note how only those who were numbered and over 20 at the time of leaving Egypt were barred from the land; the Levites were not numbered). This younger generation were in sharp contrast to those aged over 20 at the Exodus. The extent of spiritual despair and apostasy amongst the condemned generation cannot be overstated. They neglected the circumcision of the children born to them then (Josh.5:5,6), thus showing their rejection of the Abrahamic covenant. There is good reason to believe that Romans 1 is a description of Israel in the wilderness; notice the past tenses there.

Rom.1:23 charges them with changing "the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like...to fourfooted beasts, and creeping things", clearly alluding to Ps.106:20 concerning how Israel in the wilderness "Changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass" by making the golden calf. The effective atheism of Rom.1 is matched by Ps.106:21 "They forgat God their saviour". The long catalogue of Israel's wilderness sins in Ps.106 is similar to that in Rom.1. "Full of envy" (Rom.1:29) corresponds to them envying Moses (Ps.106:16), "whisperers" (Rom.1:29) to "murmurers" (Ps.106:25), and "inventors of evil things" (Rom.1:30) to God being angered with "their inventions" of false gods (Ps.106:29). Because of this "God gave them up" to continue in their sexual perversion and bitterness with each other even to the extent of murder (Rom.1:27,29). A rabble of about 2 million people living in moral anarchy with little law and order, driven on in their lust by the knowledge that God had rejected them is surely a frightening thing to imagine. The emphasis on sexual sin in Rom.1 is parallelled by 1 Cor.10 stressing the frequent failure of Israel in the wilderness in this regard.

Against such an evil and God forsaking background that young generation rebelled, to become one of the most faithful groups of Israelites in their history. As such they set a glorious example to the youth of today in rebelling against a world that mocks any form of true spirituality.

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