1. The Scriptures teach that God created man and woman in his image. From the very beginning, there was community: community between man and woman, between man/woman and God, and for that matter, community within the very fabric” of God himself. (See “Jewishness and the Trinity,” ISSUES Vol.1:8.) Presumably there was also a warm personal experience of God’s presence and reality. There was a structure in things too, such as the regularity of the heavenly bodies (Genesis 1:14-19) and Adam’s naming of the animals (Genesis 2:19-20).
2. But sin entered the world. Humankind’s community and experience were shattered. The structures of life dissolved such as when Cain killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8).
3. Beginning with Abraham, God called into existence a new community, the Jewish people (Genesis 12:2). He gave them an authoritative, structured guide to living, the Torah (Exodus 19:7-8, Deuteronomy 27:1), with the promise of knowing him if they would follow Torah (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 28:1-14). In fact, the Jewish community itself was promised existence through God himself (Jeremiah 31:35-37).
4. But as God expressed it to Abraham, the Torah and Jewish community were not meant to exist in a mutual isolation. The Jewish people were to be a blessing to the world (Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 2:2-4).
5. This promise included the coming of a Messiah to liberate us from sin and to bring peace to the world (Isaiah 53; Isaiah 11:1-9) and the giving of a new covenant to the Jewish people (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
6. Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua in Hebrew) said he was this Messiah (Matthew 16:15-17; John 4:25,26). Through his life, teaching, miracles, fulfillment of prophecy and resurrection, he demonstrated it to be so. Millions of his followers, Jewish and gentile, attest to the fact that through his atoning death and bodily resurrection, a new relationship with God has been established.
It is only on the basis of this personal relationship with God that true community, authority, structure and tradition can be achieved.