The Bus Ride
I was trying to think of a way to describe Israel and the remnant of believers in Israel with the picture of how the gentiles are grafted in. It is a complicated topic that is further confused by the plethora of different beliefs prevalent on the topic.
So, I came up with the idea of a bus to explain it in what I hope is a simple, yet easy to understand the depiction of what scripture intends for us to understand on these topics.
I think this analogy will work, so please bear with me as we examine this in terms that I hope we can all understand.
A bus driver and his son decide to build a bus. Knowing that passengers can be fickle and have a tendency to disrupt other passengers, they produced a set of rules before they build the bus so that passengers could understand what is required of them if they want to board and remain on the bus.
The bus driver reaches the point in his scheme to build his bus and after much disappointment with previous possible contractors, he employs a chap with some integrity and along with his family are prepared to help the driver construct it. The driver promises this helper that when the bus is complete is will have many seats for his family and any that come alongside him.
It took a while, but once the bus was complete it was given the name of Israel. Many, many passengers were riding this bus, but some of them decided they did not want to follow the rules for staying on the bus. Some decided they did not like the direction the driver was taking them and got off the bus. Others decided that the driver of the bus wasn’t even real as they couldn’t see him from where they sat, so they too got off the bus. Others thought they could find a better bus driver who would give an easier ride and allow them more latitude than what was allowed on the bus.
Passengers would get off the bus and go their own way, but if they came back to the bus driver, apologise for their disobedience and agree to again follow the rules and have a relationship with him, they would be allowed back on, but only if they had not committed anything unforgivable according to the drivers’ standards.
Any troubles that began on the bus would occur when the passengers tried to reinterpret the guidelines the driver had set and make them more palatable and convenient for themselves.
Conversely, others would take the instructions and add more guidelines around each original instruction making it extremely difficult to differentiate what was from the driver and what was of the passengers’ good intentions. In this latter case, however, it eventually developed to a point that the new instructions designed to protect the original instructions became more important than the bus drivers’ conditions.
In their eagerness, to protect the original instructions from being broken, they began to place their ideas, which were originally designed, in their mind, to protect the drivers’ instructions as more important. This led to passengers being heavily burdened with the promise of riding a bus their teachers were no longer on. Though they are a part of the passengers the bus was designed for, they spent all their time examining all their new instructions, they did not even realise that they had gotten off the bus. As a result, they were actively, but unknowingly, stopping others who the bus was designed for from getting on.
Ultimately, it got to the point where there were very few passengers left on this bus, a remnant of passengers who enjoy the ride and are happy to follow the instructions of the driver and his son.
But this bus was designed to take many passengers, and the bus driver is never happier than when the bus is full. So, to remedy this situation, he put into action a plan for just such an occasion, one that he and his son had prepared in advance before they even built the bus.
The bus had a schedule to keep, so to allow passengers to fill the seats, the driver sent his son to go amongst the passengers who had got off the bus and offer them a way to get back on. Now, rather than them having to read all the instructions and try to interpret what was meant by them, as the would-be passengers were being confused by all the ways these instructions had become interpreted, the son went amongst the would-be passengers and showed them what it meant to observe the rules. In doing this, he let them see that they were complicating a simple thing. These rules weren’t a burden, but a practical way to behave when in the presence of the bus driver.
The son managed to persuade many to get back on the bus and trained other passengers to go into the world to demonstrate the way needed to get on the bus, the way the son had taught them to follow, understanding and following the rules the way the driver wanted.
The news of this bus driver and the bus called Israel spread around the world and many passengers who never considered getting on this bus were persuaded to do so. But, sadly, many of these passengers also fell into the same mindset as so many of the previous passengers and decided to go their own way.
They started to ignore the bus driver and claim the son showed them a different way from that of the bus driver. They rejected the bus drivers’ teachings and directions and said the son gave them a different way, even though the son came and showed them the way to live the drivers recommended lifestyle, which was required to stay on the bus.
The bus called Israel and its driver became relegated to a road seen as old and undesirable. One that was full of potholes and no longer maintained. This had become, in the mind of would-be passengers, an old road that was for the previous passengers who existed before the son showed the way. Sadly, the son did show them the way, but they reject that and turned what the son said into something more pleasing and softer for man to follow. A new road that is easy on the back and a smooth simple ride.
The bus driver, however, will not be stopping to pick up passengers who do things contrary to the driver and the son who is obedient to his father. The travellers outside the bus all go in directions that suit themselves and can never reach the destination only this special vehicle can manage. Only the driver and his son know the way to the final destination. Those that come alongside the bus called Israel, but who had not previously heard of it, but displaying by action that they listened to the son and want to obey the driver are allowed on.
As the bus gets towards the final destination and heads down a road that only this bus can go on, many will start to want to jump on board. They will not look to the driver but the son and say, “we heard everything about you, we went out into the world and sold many tickets for the bus so let us on the bus, please.
We made new roads for the bus to drive on, we built big shiny bus stops for you to stop at and pick up the passengers, we even told our family and friends about you.”. But the son will look sadly at these passengers and say, “I don’t know you; you should have got on the bus and obeyed the rules instead of following your own, I never asked you for new roads or big bus stops. I asked you to follow me and I got on the bus with my father whom I obey”.
It’s time to re-examine the requirements of the driver and son to see if we are getting on the bus, being adopted into the family of passengers on the bus called Israel, or are we doing things a different way and expecting the driver to forget his rulings and let us on anyway.
Whose rules will prevail?
Those that want on the bus under their own steam with ideas that suit them, or those of the driver who hold the keys and says how one is to get on the bus and what is expected if we are to remain there.
Dr M Debono-De-Laurnetis
'Though born in England, the author was brought up in Brooklyn NY within the Jewish community as his step-father was Jewish.