SPIRITUAL ISRAEL

April 7, 2010

“Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but in Isaac shall Thy seed be called” (Rom. 9:6, 7).

 When one begins a discussion of Israel he soon hears it said that Gentiles who believe on the Lord are spiritual Israel. In this regard we want to make a statement to be noted well and kept always in mind: Every time the word Israel is used in the word of God, it is used to designate the lineal descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Gentiles who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are called “of the seed of Abraham” but are never called Israelites. In the sixth verse quoted above we read, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.”

 Weymouth’s translation gives it in these words: “For not all who have sprung from Israel count as Israel.” (Here Israel means Jacob, whose name had been changed to Israel.) The truth is that not all of the lineal descendants of Israel are called the children of Israel; neither are all the descendants of Abraham called Israel. The children of promise came through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Neither the descendants of Ishmael, the sons of Abraham by Keturah, nor Esau are called Israel because they are not the children of promise. I am a Gentile believer, but that does not make me an Israelite, because I am not a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

 Much trouble exists today in the land of Palestine between the descendants of Isaac and the descendants of Ishmael. Not only do the Arabs, but also many Gentile Christians, refuse to accept the Word of God in Gen. 21:10, which tells us concerning Ishmael: “The son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.” Therefore, the son of the bondwoman is not to inherit any of the promises made to Abraham which were also confirmed to Isaac and Jacob. Paul quoted that passage of Scripture in Gal. 4:30, calling attention in this particular instance to the fact that the promises of God are to the son of Sarah and not to the son of Hagar.

 In order that we may know that the distinction between Isaac and Ishmael is because of God’s election and not because they had different mothers, we have the experience of Jacob and Esau given in Rom. 9:8-13. These two sons had the same father and the same mother, and were twins. God chose Jacob and rejected Esau. This reveals to us, as stated so clearly in the Word of God (Rom. 9:11), that election is of God and not of the person elected. Permit just a word or two pertaining to the doctrine of election. Do not ever be guilty of saying that you do not believe in election, predestination, and foreordination, but say rather that you do not understand these things, though you do believe them. These doctrines are clearly taught in the Word of God.

 Election is primarily for service. God chose Abraham, Isaac and Jacob out of multitudinous thousands, that through them, an elect group, He might bless all the rest of mankind. Today we have the Church who are the elect of God. God is calling out of the multitudes today a people for His name (Acts 15:14), that through this minority group of the elect, He might bless all the rest of mankind. The election of God does not mean that the others are predestined to be damned. All were born under the curse and none had any claim on God. If God chooses to elect certain ones, then the others have not a word to say except in the light of the fact that God has manifested His grace by saying, “Whosoever believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life.” Election, predestination, and foreordination are of God. Man’s part is to recognize the scope of God’s grace and know that he can qualify under the designation “whosoever,” and by believing, be saved. Election is a family expression, and after one comes into the family of God, he appreciates the fact that he was elected of God.

 Charles H. Spurgeon’s illustration of election is very clear. He said that it was as if he approached a door over which was inscribed the words, “Whosoever will may come.” Realizing that whosoever included him, he entered the door. Upon entering he looked back at the door and saw inscribed these words, “Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.” God does the electing — man does the believing. A man goes to hell not because he was predestined to but because he refused to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Now the election of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob manifests God’s Love in setting aside the posterity of these men and designating them as the children of Israel. Their election was not to damn the rest of the world but that through them all men might be blessed (Gen. 12:3). God’s election of Israel was for the following purposes:

 1) To establish a people through whom Christ should come in the flesh (Rom. 9:5; Acts 2:30).

2) That through them His revelation (the Holy Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments) might be given to mankind (Rom. 3:1, 2; Psa. 147:19, 20).

 3) That the testimony of the one true and living God might be preserved and propagated through them.

 4) That they might be Jehovah’s witnesses to all the nations of the world.

 Though Israel is set aside today as a nation and enjoys no national privileges, neither assumes any national responsibilities, we will learn in Romans XI that during this period of national rejection, opportunity has been extended to the Gentiles to be Jehovah’s witnesses. But because of the Gentile’s unbelief they shall surrender that privilege and it will be again given to the nation of Israel.

WHO IS ISRAEL?

April 2, 2010

A heresy as old as the Church is the teaching that Israel is the Church. With the setting aside of the nation of Israel, this teaching says that all the promises to Israel have passed to the Church and that we cannot expect the fulfillment of any of the promises or the keeping of any of the covenants which God has made to and with the nation of Israel. All of this, in spite of the direct teaching of the Word of God to the contrary. For instance we read in Romans 11:29 that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”; that is, every gift, every promise, and every covenant which God has made with Israel shall yet be fulfilled. 

Our purpose, D. V., in the next few articles of this chapter is to give an exposition of Romans IX, X, and XI, which gives God’s teaching, plans, and purposes concerning Israel and her relationship to the Gentiles and the Church. We will do well at the very outset to keep in mind the three divisions of mankind as given by God in the New Testament. In I Cor. 10:32 we read of Jews, Gentiles, and the Church of God. We will have a fuller exposition of this a little later in our studies. We also want to get this truth over, that at no place and at no time does Israel ever mean anything but the lineal descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  In Romans 9:1-5, we read:

 “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost. That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites: to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”

As the Apostle Paul calls upon his conscience to bear him witness in the Holy Spirit that he is telling the truth in Christ, we call to mind that there are three realms in which man stands: (1) He could have said the truth “in Adam.” All mankind is in Adam, and the pride of the flesh and of life, if reared in an environment where truth is honored, could cause an unregenerate man to have regard for the truth. (2) Paul could have spoken the truth “in Moses.” Under the law Moses had commanded, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Paul’s regard for the law and the covenants of Sinai would have impelled him to tell the truth. (3) Paul speaks the truth “in Christ.” Regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and having genuine love for the Lord who is Truth, Paul as a man in Christ and as a member of His Body, the Church, was speaking the truth in the element in which he lived: that is, in Christ. It is not just pride of the flesh, it is not just obedience to the law of Moses, but it is in Christ that Paul speaks concerning his love for his kinsmen Israel.

When Paul speaks of his kinsmen he refers to the relationship of the flesh (Phil. 3:4-6). Paul remembers that according to the flesh Christ was of the seed of David and of Abrahamconsequently, a Jew Himself. This is a most refreshing statement to read in this day in which we find so few people who have a love for the Jews. Here is a reference to a very common experience: A lady was visiting in an evangelical church pastored by a nationally famous individual, and when she asked the pastor about work in that city among the Jews, he replied, “Thank God, we have practically run them all out of here.”

The tragedy of such misconception pertaining to Israel is to be seen when a Jew makes a confession of faith in Christ. He becomes literally “a man without a country.” His own people, the Jews, care nothing for him; and Gentile Christians will not welcome him into their fellowship except in a few isolated instances where the Word of God has been taught and the people have been instructed pertaining to Israel’s place in God’s plans and purposes.

Personally, I cannot help but love the Jews for several reasons: Our Bible came through them; the Saviour came from Israel; Jesus loved them; Paul loved them; and we are commanded to love them.

Who are Israelites? In Rom. 9:4, 5, we have the Holy Spirit’s definition and the characteristics of the people called Israel. If you approach these two verses with an open mind and with the desire to know the will and Word of God, you will never again confuse the words Israel, Gentile, and Church.

1. The first thing we notice about the children of Israel is that they are an adopted nation. God adopted them as a nation, and He has never at anytime nor will He ever at anytime adopt a Gentile nation. We read in Exodus 4:22 that Israel is His son, even His firstborn. You will notice here that He does not say first begotten. Jesus is the first begotten, but Israel is the firstborn; so you see, God has these two Sons, Jesus and Israel. Now there is a sense in which there is the adoption of individuals into the family of God (Rom. 8:23), but this adoption is not consummated until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection and redemption of our physical bodies. The church is not adopted but rather is begotten and is a new creation in Christ Jesus. Israel today, the adopted son of God, is temporarily set aside because of unbelief, but the promise of God is that this adopted son is to be put back in his rightful place as head over all the peoples of the world.

2. Who are Israelites? They are the only nation to whom God revealed His glory. The glory of the Lord was manifested to Israel in the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. God’s revelation of Himself to the nation of Israel in the glory of consuming fire has never been manifest to a Gentile nation, neither to the Church of the living God — only to Israel.

3. Who are Israelites? They are the only nation in the world with whom God ever made a covenant. God has covenanted with individuals of the human race, but never with a Gentile nation. The first covenant was made with Abraham, confirmed to Isaac and again to Jacob pertaining to the land. God covenanted with Israel to give them the land from the River of Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea on the west to the Euphrates River on the east. This land was to be an eternal portion for the nation of Israel. As of today, Israel has possessed only a fragmentary portion of that area, and the covenant of God with Israel is that she shall yet possess it in its entirety. No such covenant has been made with any Gentile nation.

 Another covenant God made with the nation of Israel, which has no counterpart with Gentiles or the Church, is that of the Seed of David. God said He would raise up the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh to sit upon the literal Throne of David and that He would rule over the house of Israel as a nation forever (Luke 1:32, 33; II Sam. 7:11- 17). No such dealings does God have with the Church or the Gentiles.

4. Who are Israelites? To them God gave the Law. Here is a truth unrealized and unappreciated by the majority of Christians. God did not give the Law to the Church, nor to the Gentiles, but only to the nation of Israel. If any one truth is set forth in the New Testament it is the blessed fact that we of the Church are not under the Law but under grace. The only Gentile upon whom the Law had any bearing was someone who became a proselyte of the Gate; that is, he took upon himself the vows and ordinances of the Jews, associated and affiliated himself with them and thus by choice was recognized as a Jew, though a Gentile.

5. Who are Israelites? They are the nation to whom was given the service of God. The service of God pertained to the tabernacle, the temple, the priesthood, the altars, the sacrifices, various garments of different materials and hues, different articles of furniture with all the ritual, as well as special seasons and days which were involved. God has never given such to a Gentile nation, nor to the Church. And all of these Protestant and Catholic churches with their rituals, robes, candles, altars, holy days and seasons, and weeks of prayer, are nothing but a conglomerated union of paganism and Judaism with an affected Christian atmosphere. Study the Acts of the Apostles to see the simplicity of Christian worship and possibly you will appreciate the fact that the service of God as such was given only to the nation of Israel.

6. Who are Israelites? To them God made certain promises, and there is not a promise in the Word of God to another nation. These promises are many and they relate to individuals of Israel as well as to the whole nation. Some of them were spiritual and some temporal. Many were pertaining to the land, the city, the temple, and they also spoke of the superiority of the nation of Israel to the other nations. There are also spiritual promises made to the nation of Israel which relate principally to the happy days to come during the millennium.

7. Who are Israelites? It is from this nation that the “fathers” came. We read of father Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; but there is no father from among the Gentiles. In fact, when we come to the days of our Lord we have His specific command to call no man father (Matt. 23:9).  And last of all, the Israelites are the people from whom as concerning the flesh, Christ came. If the Church is Israel, then we would read that Christ came from the Church; whereas, the Scripture tells us that Christ Himself established the Church.

A careful study of the above facts in the light of the Scripture should be sufficient to convince any open-minded individual that the children of Israel are separate and distinct from the Gentiles and the Church, and are not to be confused with either.