(Updated on 11 Oct 2013; 31 May 2016)
Beginning with an unrelated e-mail from John D, and the link that he wanted me to read, we began a serious and edifying exchange of ideas, and of our own present understanding regarding the names and concepts of Israel, the Israel of God, the Commonwealth of Israel, and the Church of God. (Rom 9:6; 11:25-28; Gal 6:16; Eph 2:12; 1Cor 10:32). We agree on some issues, not on others. The discussion hinges on whether these names refer to only one entity by various names, or whether to two or three, or even to four distinct yet related entities. It connects with historic ‘theologies’ like replacement/fulfillment /divestment theology, expansion/enlargement theology, the two-house theory, and dominion theology as we seek together to understand that which is of the truth as we have more light.
If any of you readers have anything of substantive value to contribute to helping us all better understand who we are and what God is doing to fulfill His will and purpose, please add your comments for the building up of the Body of Messiah in love. The conclusion of the matter may just have to wait for a brighter day.
—- Original Message —-
To: Howard Bass
Sent: Tue, Apr 2, 2013, 19:45 PM
Subject: RE: Prayer/Newsletter – 2 Apr 2013
I go by John, but I’ll answer to either one! Let me see what I can do to help out this situation. I do reiterate my request to you from yesterday. If I can help with the work there in Beersheva, please let me know.
It’s my belief that any group that comes in to help the work of God in an area, needs to first go through the established congregations in that area. I consider it a shame when people push for “reaching an area for Messiah” and bypass the people in that area that are already doing so. I pray that Abba will never allow me to become that presumptuous. It’s my desire to help support your existing work for the Kingdom in the Land, and to reach your unbelieving countrymen living around you. You know how best to do that. I just want to help.
But Adonai has also put something very specific on my heart for the Jewish people. And I hope that it bears witness with you. Would you be willing to read this link, and tell me your thoughts on the matter? I’d appreciate your feedback.
From: Howard Bass
Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 11:25 AM
Subject: Re: RE: Prayer/Newsletter – 2 Apr 2013
Praise God that you have an understanding of the ‘order of things’ to work with and through the local believers in an area. In Israel there are very many Christians who come that do not understand, and either do not have any personal relationships among the believers here, or else they do some event which is strictly ‘foreign’ without local knowledge.
I did read your letter regarding Israeli believers being a light to the nations. I think your heart is definitely in the right place, and you will see some good response. There are already many believers, including myself, who do get out to other countries, where believers or churches or Christian ministries have invited us to come to teach on some topic relevant to the significance of Israel to them as believers, and to their nations. I don’t know how many are sitting under a tree, but we have certainly been in areas that are not posh or very developed.
If I can say so, I would not say that Gentile believers are part of the Israel of God, for that would imply a merging of Israel with the Church. At least for the next 1000 years (a pretty long time), there is a distinction between the two. During the Millennial, Israel will be the Israel which God has created, redeemed, and called her to be in the fullest sense. Gentile believers are brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, but this does not make them Jews or Israelis, just as the British Commonwealth incorporated many other nations under its care, but they did not become English, even while they did enjoy many privileges of being in the Commonwealth. The Body of Messiah, the Bride of the Lamb, will be ruling and reigning with Messiah OVER Israel and the nations. These are two different groupings of people. The born-again believer is a new creation now, which Israel is not. Anyway, it is still somewhat of a mystery that is discussed and debated, even here in Israel.
God bless you,
On April 5, 2013 22:08, Jonathan D wrote:
Please pardon the lengthy response to your email. I’ve responded to the gentile/Israel discussion. I’d love to gain more of your insights on this, as your time allows.
Thank you for your time Howard!
I’ve spent some time considering your comments about Gentiles not being a part of the Israel of God. Your thought on the Commonwealth of Israel was a new idea to me. I had never considered it in an Empirical sense before. My immediate reaction was to think that we simply had semantic differences, and with some defining boundaries, we’d recognize that fact. However, after having considered your words and re-reading them over and over, I began to see what you were saying more clearly. So permit me to lay out what I think you are saying.
1) Israel and the Church are 2 separate entities.
2) Gentile believers are brought into the Commonwealth of Israel, but do not become Israelis or Jews.
3) The Body of Messiah (the Bride of the Lamb) is a separate entity from Israel and from the nations.
4) Israel is defined as the natural descendents of Abraham (most of which have not come to faith in Yeshua as Messiah).
I believe most of what I’ve distilled should be accurate, especially since most of them were quoted directly from your paragraph.
Allow me to respond. I’d like to say first that I, in no wise, am a believer of replacement theology. The idea that the ‘gentile church’ (which I don’t believe exists anyway) somehow takes the promises of Israel is ridiculous to me.
I also don’t believe, as many in the messianic movements do, that gentiles become ‘Jewish’ when they enter the fold. I believe that Gentiles remain gentiles, and they are welcomed into the Kingdom of God with open arms. I don’t believe that God views the term ‘gentile’ with vulgarity, as some in our messianic ranks apparently do.
However, I have to disagree with the idea that Israel and the Church are 2 separate entities. I believe they are one and the same. I’ll explain why I believe that shortly. I would like to point out, however, that I recognize in Paul a tendency to acknowledge ‘2’ Israels—“Israel, according to the flesh” (1 Cor. 10:18) and the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). I believe that Paul considered the believing remnant among Israel in his day to be the ‘true Israel’ of God. Peter, James, John, Simeon, himself of course, and “myriads and myriads” of other Jewish believers were considered to be not only a part of the Body of Messiah, but also the Israel to whom the promises would come upon.
Paul begins a discussion that informs our conversation in Romans 9-11. In chapter 9, He says:
“For I could wish that myself were accursed from Messiah for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelis; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Torah, and the service of God, and the promises; to whom belong the Fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Messiah came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. Not as though the word of God has taken no 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 your seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of promise are counted for the seed.” (Rom. 9:3-8)
In this passage, Paul is making a clean division between two Israels. He acknowledges “Israel, according to the flesh”, and even wishes that he could be accursed for their salvation; but he also recognizes another Israel, an Israel that the natural Israeli isn’t a part of. We both know Paul’s arguments well enough. Paul is using Abraham’s life as a metaphor. Abraham was given a promise for children. Abraham fathered Ishmael, but Ishmael was not the promised seed that Adonai had prophesied. Isaac, also a physical son of Abraham as Ishmael was, happened to also be the promised seed. Paul’s argument is the believing remnant of Israelis in his day were the promised seed of Abraham. And this promised seed was considered Israel, hence “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel”.
Paul goes on to argue in Romans 9 that God’s election is based upon His sovereignty. In other words, God will have mercy upon whom He wants to have mercy. He uses the classic example of Jacob/Esau. God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they had done anything good or evil, or had even been born. In His sovereignty, God simply declared that the “elder shall serve the younger”. The point is implicit here and more explicit in Galatians, but the point is: Israel according to the flesh is the older, the believing remnant of Israel is the younger. The believing remnant is the Israel of the promise, whereas the non-believing Israel is not.
But Paul doesn’t end this discussion there. He uses another classic example, Pharaoh, to show that God’s choice is His alone (not ours). God chose to show mercy upon a remnant in Israel, for His own purposes. For those that had an issue with this, Paul’s goes ahead and asks their rhetorical questions: How can God find fault with those that resist His will? In other words, how can God judge unbelieving Israel, since Paul just argued that they had been ‘hardened’ by God. But Paul answered the question by saying that it’s God’s sovereign right to chose to do with His lump of clay what He wants. God will endure the hardened hearts of the unbelieving Israel in order to extend His kindness upon the believing remnant among Israel! But then Paul includes the gentiles in this believing remnant!
“What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory; even us, who He has called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Rom. 9:22-24)
Consider the flow of Paul’s argument. He’s been arguing the whole chapter that “not all Israel is Israel”. There are some that are the seed of promise, and others that are not. God’s mercy determines this, not man’s will or ability to run (vs. 16). Paul was saying that the believing remnant among Israel are the vessels of mercy. They have experienced God’s abundant grace in Messiah. They are the Israel of promise. But this Israel doesn’t only include the believing remnant of the descendants of Abraham, but also any gentiles that have taken hold and put their faith in Messiah! So this ‘believing Israel’ consists not only of Jews (Israelis), but also of Gentiles.
But as I said before, Paul does not consider the believing remnant to “replace” the non-believing Israelis, but rather acknowledges both groups as Israel—one of the flesh, and the other of the Spirit. After making his argument in chapter 9, Paul immediately jumps back to his heart for Israel, according to the flesh, in chapter 10.
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” (Rom 10:1)
Paul goes on in chapter 10 to speak about the necessity of faith to produce the righteousness of God, and the fact that Israel, according to the flesh, is lacking this faith. Paul argues that Israel needs to hear the message of the gospel, so that they can understand the Torah’s message of faith that’s been in there all along. Paul ends the chapter by quoting from the TNK to answer key questions.
Have they not heard? Of course they have, the gospel is going throughout the whole earth.
But didn’t Israel know? Moses said that the Gentiles (who are coming to faith) will provoke Israel.
Isaiah was very clear by saying, “I was found by them that didn’t seek me (gentiles), but I have stretched out my hands all day long to a disobedient people” (Israel according to the flesh).
Hence, the chapter that speaks of the crux of the matter—chapter 11.
“I ask then, Has God cast off His people?—God forbid! I am also an Israeli, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people which He foreknew.” (Rom 11:1-2)
Paul then uses Elijah to argue that there was a believing remnant in his day. Paul likens Elijah’s situation to his own day.
“Even so then at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (vs. 5)
Paul then argues that [natural] Israel has not obtained what it sought [righteousness], but the believing remnant among Israel did!
“What then? Israel has not obtained that which he seeks for; but the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” (vs. 7)
It’s here that we surely agree. The election is the Body the Messiah, the Bride of the Lamb, and Israel is seen as a separate entity. I agree with this emphatically. However, I also maintain that Paul see this “election” as Israel also. In fact, Paul’s next metaphor is quite telling.
In the Olive Tree metaphor, it is not the believing branches that are removed from Israel and made into a new creation—aka, the Body of Messiah. Rather, it is the unbelieving branches that are removed from the Olive Tree, which is faithful Israel.
Replacement theology says that the old olive tree is simply thrown out and replaced with a wild one! Ridiculous!
Dispensationalism says that God took some branches from Israel’s olive tree and some branches from the wild gentile olive tree, and grafted them both into a new, 3rd olive tree. But that’s not what Paul says.
Paul says that the believing Israelis stayed nice and cozy in their own tree. They were never moved! They have shown that they truly are the sons of Abraham! The Fathers were holy, through their faith in Adonai, and their ‘true descendants’ [believing Israelis] are also holy! This is why I believe that the faithful believing remnant among the Israelis are considered the “Israel of God”. They’re still in the cultivated Olive Tree.
But they’re not alone. God, in His sovereign mercy, has also grafted believing gentiles into this Olive Tree. So the gentiles who were “aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers of the Covenants of Promise” (Eph 2:12), are now “fellow citizens with the saints [holy ones, believing Israelis], and of the household of God” (vs. 19). Gentiles have now become a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, but not as a 2nd class citizen in that Commonwealth, like the Indians were to Britain, or the Israelis were to Rome. No, gentiles have been grafted in, and have become “fellow citizens with the saints”. Gentiles have citizenship that is equal to the saints’ citizenship in the Commonwealth of Israel. This Greek term for fellow citizen is sympolitai—“co-citizenship”. This is exactly the picture Paul is describing in Romans 11. The gentile branches are grafted in with the believing Israeli branches, and they have become partakers together of the Covenants of the Promise.
Paul goes on in Romans 11 to address the status of the removed branches. Paul tells the gentiles that Israel (natural unbelieving Israelis, according to context) has been partially blinded, until the fullness of the gentiles come in. But this blindness will not last forever! God has promised that the Deliverer would come out of Zion and turn ungodliness away from Jacob. So all of Israel’s ungodliness has to be removed at some point, Paul is arguing.
Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for the sake of the believing remnant/believing gentiles. Why? Because they were persecuting the people of God (Gal 4:29). But concerning God’s election, they are beloved for the sake of the Fathers [Abraham, Isaac, Jacob]. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom 11:29). Israel’s calling is to be a special people to Adonai, and a light to the nations! These are gifts given to Israel by God, and He will not remove them from Israel because of this partial blindness. These promises still stand!
Paul argues that unbelieving Israel will be grafted in again to their own Olive Tree, and all Israel will be saved!
So Howard, to me this seems to support the idea that there are two Israels acknowledged in the Apostolic Writings. One is the true Israel, which is the Body of Messiah and the Bride of the Lamb. The other is Israel according to the flesh, that has been removed from the Israeli Olive Tree, but is set aside carefully ready to be grafted in again as soon as faith comes!
The reason I think this is important, is because the promises given throughout the prophets will not come upon unbelieving Israel. God’s restoration that’s prophesied throughout Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, etc. will come to Israel when they acknowledge that Yeshua is Messiah that has made atonement for them. When this occurs, they’ll be grafted back into the Israeli Olive Tree, and the blessing promised to “Israel” will at that time come upon them.
This is the amazing grace that has been granted to gentiles. Gentiles, who have never had these promises from the God of Israel, are granted access to the very fulfillment of these promises, not as a replacement of Israel, but as a fellow heir with the believing remnant of Israel!
This is what makes Paul’s argument in Galatians 3 so pivotal. Paul argues that “to Abraham and his seed were the promises made” (Gal 3:16). What promises? The promise of the possession of the Land, the promise of a Redeemer, the promise of a New Covenant and true righteousness by the Spirit’s work! These promises were all made to Abraham’s seed. The New Covenant [the fulfillment of the promises] is made with Abraham’s seed. But Paul argues that the seed of Abraham was speaking of Messiah. So anyone among Israel that believed in Messiah, they were the true sons of Abraham.
“And if you are Messiah’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the Promise” (Gal 3:29).
So are gentiles “heirs according to the Promise”? I think emphatically, yes. Then we have to acknowledge that Paul considered Gentiles to be included in Abraham’s seed because of their faith in Messiah. Once again, Gentiles don’t replace Israelis as Abraham’s seed, they simply are grafted in among them, and will partake of the fulfillment of the promises just as the natural descendants do.
I feel this is so important for us to contend for. If Gentiles are considered only in Israel like the Indians or the South Africans were a part of Britain, then the gentiles will be seen, and see themselves as 2nd class citizens behind Israel. But this would bring dishonor to Adonai, who always envisioned bringing the nations in through Abraham’s seed.
I’m so saddened when Gentiles use replacement theology to teach that the “Church” [gentile people of God, as they see it] has replaced the promises to Israel. But I’m equally saddened when I see my Israeli brothers and sisters keep gentiles at arm’s length. It seems sometimes that maintaining identity as Israel is more important than fully embracing their brothers from among the nations that love them with deep passion.
I’m a congregational leader here at Beit Hallel in Tucson. Another congregational leader is Avi. Avi is Jewish; I’m gentile. We both love Adonai deeply. We both love each other deeply. We are the best of friends. Avi has promises from Adonai by birthright, as a part of Israel. I have inherited the same promises by grace, because of faith. Though we both fully acknowledge our respective pasts, we both see each other as part of the Israel of God.
Am I missing something here? Maybe a nuance of the dialogue that I don’t quite grasp?
Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 12:42 AM
Subject: Israel of God and Commonwealth of Israel
Hi John. I appreciate very much your lengthy response, and it is the clearest explanation that I have heard. You have done an excellent work to explain how you understand it, and also how your conclusion would have you feel second class, and I am really sorry if my response before gave you reason to think that . Your full answer will help me better understand how I need to discuss this subject with others.
So, before I try to explain my view more fully, I want to say at the outset that born-again Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah are totally and completely equal, without any difference whatsoever before God and within the Body of Christ. That there are still differences that God may make use of now, or that we may have different nuances of understanding which should complement one another to see more fully the glorious truth of who our God and Savior are, does not in any way take away from the gospel truth that believers are one in Him without priority of one over the other: we are all first-born with Yeshua in God. Amazing, and true!
In our own congregation of Yeshua’s Inheritance, we have both Jewish and non-Jewish elders, deacons, teachers. While we may at times speak of those who are Jewish, and of those who have joined themselves to identify with the people of Israel and with the God of Israel, not all Christians feel a particular affinity for the Jewish people or for the nation of Israel; but as believers, we are all one in Christ. My Palestinian Arab brothers in Jesus who think that the ‘occupation’ began in 1948 are just as equal with me through our common salvation. The Holy Spirit will deal with us all on important matters which God knows are hindering us from moving on with the Lord into the reality of the one new man from the two — Jewish people and Gentiles.
With that though, there is a special calling upon Israel as a nation in relation to God and with the other nations, in that Israel is the first-born through covenant. (Ex 4:22; Amos 3:1-2) Being the first-born implies others born after; for example, Egypt will also become YHVH’s people. (Is 19:25) And for Jewish people being the natural branches and those to whom were revealed the oracles of God, they will be judged more severely, and also enjoy a special acknowledgement. (Rom 2:5-11) Israel as a nation is the most accountable nation on Earth; Christians as individuals are the most accountable persons on Earth, because of the greater revelation of the gospel which they have accepted; Jewish believers in Yeshua are the most accountable of all, I believe, because we are the first-born and natural branch, and have a more natural affinity for the Biblical history and family; and having been shown such mercy to be forgiven and restored to even greater blessings, are more expected to be merciful and long-suffering toward our Gentile Christian brothers and sisters whom our Father has brought into His family. (Rom 9:3-5; 11:21; Acts 15:7-9; Col 1:26-27)
There is discussion and debate within the Body of Messiah in Israel as to whether there is some special calling upon Jewish believers as compared with the Gentile believers. I am not comfortable with this differentiation. If anything, as I have said, then Jewish believers are called to be more humble and forgiving towards others and more thankful to God! Gentile believers could say the same thing, though, from the grace shown them by the God of Israel.
As I wrote in my first letter, this subject is on-going even here in Israel, and I am too often accused of being too ‘equal minded’, whereas I see too much of others making the Jewish believers superior in our particular calling and ministry over what the Lord has given to Gentile believers. Ironically, it is because they do tend to see the Israel of God as being the same as the Church, and the Commonwealth of Israel in the same vein. Some even see that in eternity, after the Millennial Kingdom, there will still be a distinction between Israel and the nations, which I do not, at least as of now, even with the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel and the 12 Israeli Jewish Apostles forever memorialized in the New Jerusalem. (Rev 21:12-14) (On [this] website, I have written at various times on the subject from a number of aspects; sometimes this might be under Reflecting Pool, other times under Latest News even, or under School of Fish.)
Just to be open about some of my own views connected with eschatology, which I believe influences anyone’s interpretation of these important issues:
1. Yeshua Himself is coming again to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth, over the saved full remnant of the tribes of Israel and the [sheep] nations, for 1000 years;
2. The Church/Body of Messiah/the Bride of the Lamb will go through the Tribulation and Great Tribulation, being either resurrected (if any one in Christ has already died) or else raptured (if still alive in Messiah at that time). We are saved from God’s wrath, which I believe is limited to a relatively brief period of time, compared to the full seven-year period, prior to the coming again of the Lord;
3. The Church is made up of both Jewish people and Gentiles, but is neither Jewish nor Gentile/Greek;
4. The Bride of Christ will rule and reign with Him over Israel and the nations for the 1000 years, already in glorified bodies, which Israel and the nations will not have during that time.
There are other points too, of course, but these should suffice to show what shapes my interpretation on these issues of the Israel of God and of the Commonwealth of Israel as I presently do.
You mention that the promises made to Abraham are to all his seed, including the promise of the Land. The promise of the Land of Canaan to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to the children of Israel is specifically to that family line. There has always been room given by God for non-Israelis to partake of that promise, such as Ruth the Moabitess, and for all those mentioned in Ezekiel 47:21-23 during the Millennial Kingdom. It has never been a pure blood issue, but covenantal to and through a particular genealogy and people. Among David’s mighty men were Gentiles, such as Uriah the Hittite. Ruth gives us a good example of one who came into the Commonwealth of Israel — under the welfare of the God of Israel — entitled to all the benefits and privileges with the people, but did not become Jewish: she is always referred to as Ruth the Moabitess when referred to in the Tanach.
If all those today who are Abraham’s seed by faith, that is, believing Jews and believing Gentiles, thought themselves entitled to live in the modern State of Israel, it is clear that not only is there not room for that, but it would also take away the whole nature of the “homeland for the Jewish people”, since the vast multitude of Gentile Christians would be even more than all the Arabs who think that the Land belongs to them! So the land promise is specifically given to the children of Israel, but the promise which does involve ‘land’ (ארץ) which is applicable to all the seed of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob by flesh and by faith is the whole ‘Earth’ (ארץ), which includes the Land of Canaan. The Millennial Kingdom will see the fulfillment of that as the whole Earth comes under the rule of Yeshua, with the full remnant of the whole House of Israel restored in the land as an everlasting possession as one nation with one King, and all the sheep nations in their borders who are shown mercy because they showed mercy to the least of Yeshua’s brethren (Mt 25:31-40)
But for those born-again believers out from every tribe and tongue and and people and nation who have the blessed and holy part in the first resurrection (Rev 5; 20), by being made a kingdom of priests to God with Messiah, we inherit the whole Earth in fulfillment of the greater promise given to Abraham. To redeemed and saved Israel, the Land of Canaan; to the resurrected and raptured Church, the whole Earth. In Hebrew, the same word is used for land and for Earth — eretz. In God’s wisdom, the land of Israel is a type of the whole in the battle between Satan and Jesus; and the people of Israel as a whole, and God’s dealings with them, is a type for all humanity, since Israel is given as an example to the Church, which includes people from all ethnicities and nations.
God began His ‘program of redemption’ on Earth through choosing Abram and cutting His covenant with him. As Paul writes, God chose Abraham while he was uncircumcised, so that the promise of the gospel and salvation would go to Gentiles as well as to Jews (who didn’t even exist then!) The covenant and promises and hope for believers in Yeshua are better than those given to Israel. (Heb 7:18-28; 8:6) There are presently in the world three types of people: Jews, Gentiles, and the Church of God. All of the tribes of Israel (even if presently unable to trace) are incorporated into the term ‘Jews’ for now; all the other people groups are incorporated into the generic term ‘gentiles’; the Church of God is made up of both Jews and Gentiles.
I agree with you that the present election of grace among the Jewish people is representative of the Israel of God. (Gal 6:14-16) But Paul is making it clear here, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that this blessing of peace and mercy for all believers is particularly for those who walk by this rule: in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. It is a grievous thing not only to you, John, but also to God, when believers make too much of their natural heritage over and against the high calling in Messiah Yeshua of the new creation, one new man in Christ from the two (Jewish and Gentile).
The Millennial Kingdom will see the full-fillment of the Israel of God, when the “all Israel” that will see Yeshua whom they have pierced will enter the Kingdom to serve the YHVH their God in righteousness and truth, full of thanksgiving and praise. (Zech 12:10-14; Is 25:9) But I, part of a small remnant at present as a pledge for my people until that day, hope and believe in the grace of God to have part in that first resurrection as part of the Bride of the Lamb, a more wonderful and better adoption and redemption (Rom 8:18-25) than to simply have part as the Israel of God in the flesh for 1000 years. Standing on God’s promises for my people and their inheritance, we gave our second son the middle name of Shimon (Simeon) as a testimony to the faithfulness of God’s Word to give this son and tribe of Jacob/Israel his inheritance — which includes Beer Sheva — in the world to come at the coming of the Lord in great power and glory. Yet our son has a better inheritance through his faith in Yeshua than the tribe of Shimon does, at least for the next 1000 years.
Just as the Levitical priests had no possession or inheritance of the Land of Israel, but a better inheritance — Yehovah Himself, to whom was all the land — so, too, born-again priests of God in Messiah have no specific earthly inheritance, but rather the whole Kingdom of God, as Abraham believed (Mt 8:11):
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. . . . These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the Earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And, truly, if they had called to mind that country from which they were called out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly land. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a place for them.” (Heb 11:8-10,13-16)
May we see it in our day! This has also been lengthy, John, and I also hope helpful as we continue together to trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.
In Messiah with you,
On April 11, 2013 01:00, Jonathan wrote:
I’ve got to say from the forefront of this conversation that this is fun! I love to dialogue with men about the Word of God, and getting the privilege to discuss the Scripture with someone who obviously knows the Book well is such a delight. Thank you.
I’d also like to say that your letter did nothing to stir up feelings of inferiority. I love the spirit of your letters. I can sense your humility and genuine care, and that truly puts me at ease. Thank you again for offering an apology, though unnecessary.
If you’ll allow me, I’ll work through some things that struck me while I was reading your response. You mentioned in your letter:
With that though, there is a special calling upon Israel as a nation in relation to God and with the other nations, in that Israel is the first-born through covenant. (Ex 4:22; Amos 3:1-2) Being the first-born implies others born after…
I absolutely agree with this! However, I see these other ‘nations’ entering into their sonship more directly at the outset of the Millennium. When Yeshua returns and judges the sheep and goat nations (Mt. 25), these nations, including Assyria and Egypt mentioned in Isaiah 19, will become the ‘other’ sons of Adonai. Though for now, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and all those who dwell in it” (Ps 24), the Jewish people are certainly singled out as having a special relationship with Adonai. They are His segulah (Ex. 19) and the only nation with which He has known (in a covenant sense), according to Amos 3.
You mentioned also that:
Israel as a nation is the most accountable nation on Earth; Christians as individuals are the most accountable persons on Earth, because of the greater revelation of the gospel which they have accepted; Jewish believers in Yeshua are the most accountable of all…
I also agree that the Jewish believers are the most accountable of all. According to Romans 3:1-2, Jews have the advantage because of their Torah training; but that Torah training also holds them to a greater level of accountability (vs. 9).
“Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God…What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all.”(Rom 3:1-2, 9)
The background training in Torah would be advantageous to the Jewish man in his New Covenant walk because He wouldn’t have to learn the Torah from scratch, as the Gentile man would have to do; however, his Torah knowledge also held him to a higher level of accountability, so his advantage was lessened to that extent.
When Gentiles enter the faith, Acts 15 spells out some requirements to be maintained. These would help preserve table fellowship between the much-closer-quartered Jewish/Gentile believers of the 1st century. James gave his rationale for this judgment —
“Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” (Acts 15:19-21)
The implication is that Gentiles, having accepted the initial requirements, would continue to learn the Torah in their local synagogues. As they did, their discipleship would mature and they’ll naturally take on more of the Torah. [The idea that Gentiles are simply to keep these 4 requirements is preposterous! There are much better requirements than these 4 to be kept if that was the intent of the chapter.] The Jewish believers, however, were already trained in Torah observance. There was no reason why they shouldn’t continue in their Torah walk in Messiah. This is their advantage.
[I’m getting ready to enter a bunny trail here.]
This also happens to be why my heart is to support my Jewish brothers. It’s your responsibility to teach the Torah to the nations. Yeshua didn’t just say to preach the gospel [the message of the remission of sins] to the nations; He also said to “make disciples, teaching ‘them’ [the nations] to observe all things I have taught ‘you’ [Jewish apostles].” He taught the Twelve how to walk out the Torah life in the original intent of the Torah. This is the message that was to be taken to the nations.
Our Gentile brothers have been indoctrinated in 1900 years of anti-nomian theology. They’ve been taught that he Torah is passed away instead of being taught that the Old Covenant is what’s passed away. Without proper teaching, they fail to distinguish the line between the Torah and a covenant (agreement/oath). They’re not taught that the New Covenant is a new agreement/new oath concerning the same immutable Torah! So since they’ve falsely learned doctrine in this area, they don’t understand passages about the New Covenant that teaches the Torah will be written upon our hearts. So they assign new definitions to the ‘Torah’, or they say well our heart is supposed to guide us now [according to Deuteronomy we are “NOT to follow after our heart, after which we stray”].
Gentiles need to understand that the Torah is holy, righteous and good (Rom 7:12), and that Torah observance is not a means of salvation, for either Jew or Gentile; but is rather a proper response to our free gift of salvation.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Yeshua the Messiah, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness [Torahlessness] and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works [commandments]. (Titus 2:11-14)
The New Covenant has put the love of Torah within the Gentile heart just as it was in the 1st century Gentile hearts [which love made the erroneous doctrine of the Circumcision Group all the more easy to spread], but the accessibility to understand the Torah is not available to the Gentiles today as it was then. Sure, it’s in all our Bibles, but is that available when our churches teach that everything left of Matthew is invalid for us? Your Gentile brothers need to hear that our Father’s Torah isn’t tyrannical and austere, but rather, it’s the loving instruction of a Father to His children. Who’s responsible to teach this to the Gentile believer? Well I certainly make every effort to make disciples that understand this, but it’s my belief that the lion’s share [pardon the pun] of the responsibility belongs to the native-born sons of Abraham!
I personally believe that in these last days before our Master’s return, the knowledge of Torah will increase exponentially among the whole Body of Messiah. And this knowledge should be exported from the Land to the nations.
[End of Bunny Trail]
I do appreciate your ‘equal-mindedness’ and it puts me at ease to know so. I still (at this point) see the Israel of God equivalent to the Church and the Commonwealth of Israel, but I don’t see how that makes Jewish believers superior in calling, as you mentioned some of your peers there do. I see Gentiles as having been made co-heirs with our Jewish brothers. [Incidentally, this idea caused Paul a lot of trouble with His Jewish peers too.] This is the mystery of the gospel—that the Gentiles are equal heirs with Israel through the gospel.
“When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Messiah, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Messiah Yeshua through the gospel.” (Eph. 3:4-6)
Where we both see that as being equal within the Church, I see the Church as being equivalent with the Commonwealth of Israel. Ephesians 2, verses 12 and 19, just a few verses before and in the same passage as Ephesians 3 here, says:
“…remember that you were at that time separated from Messiah, alienated from the Commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…”
Equality within the Church and equality within the Commonwealth of Israel are both spoken about in this passage. I believe we both actually agree on this. We differ on the whether ‘Israel’ is the same thing as the ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ and ‘the Church’.
As far as your eschatology goes, I’m in complete agreement with you. I’d like to add (just for fun) that at Yeshua’s return, the Kingdom of God is restored and the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God and His Messiah (Rev. 11:15). This is when a highway from Egypt and Assyria is made and they enter into relationship ‘nationally’ with the God of Israel (Isa. 19).
For clarity, we both see 3 groups of people. And practically speaking, there seems to be very little difference in how things play out between these groups. I think this comparison shows where we both stand:
1) The Church (consisting of Jews and Gentiles) Believing Israel (both Jews and Gentiles)
2) National Israel (mostly unbelieving at this point) National Israel (mostly unbelieving at this point)
3) Nations Nations
I actually think we mostly agree here. We have no disagreement on group #3—the Nations.
We probably agree on group #2. I think we both see them as ‘national Israel’, the flesh and blood descendants of Abraham. This group on a national level has yet to come to faith, but they have a promise that they will come to faith on a national scale (Romans 11:25-26).
Group #1—again, practically speaking, we both agree here! Believing Israelis and the believing Gentiles make up this group. It seems that where we differ is in my placing the title “Israel of God” on this group.
I believe that you see this group as a separate entity that will remain as a separate entity throughout the 1000 years. I see this group as the ‘true Israel of God’—the faithful remnant among Israel.
Israel has always had a remnant within the national people. Take Paul’s mention of Elijah in Romans 11 for example. Elijah was lamenting that all of Israel had turned their backs on God, leaving him the only faithful one. But God revealed to Elijah that He had 7000 men of Israel who were faithful. Paul used that example to show that within national Israel there was a faithful remnant, chosen by grace (Rom 11:4-5). He said that national Israel failed to obtain righteousness (vs. 7); but the elect (the faithful remnant within ‘national Israel’) did obtain it.
Paul seems to be saying here that there is a national Israel, and within that people, there is a believing remnant called the elect. Paul speaks more directly about this in chapter 9 of Romans:
“But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named’. This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the Promise are counted as offspring.” (Rom. 9:6-8)
Not all physical descendants from Jacob (Israel) are Israel. This means that Paul recognized an Israel that the physical descendants were not a part of. This Israel is the ‘Israel of God’ because it’s made up of the believing remnant that are considered the children of God. I believe this validates my referral of Group #1 as “Israel”. There is an “Israel” within national Israel that is considered the children of the Promise. Paul uses this analogy of Ishmael/Isaac in Galatians to further demonstrate this relationship between the two.
Ishmael and Isaac were both descendants of Abraham; but Isaac was the seed of promise. Within the natural children of Abraham, a smaller group was considered the chosen ones, the elect. Hence Romans 9:8—“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of Promise are counted as offspring.” In other words, the promises made to Israel in the TNK are not going to fall upon national Israel (the children of the flesh) until national Israel believes in Yeshua, and becomes the children of the promise!
This is what I believe is prophesied in Romans 11. When the fullness of the Gentiles come in, God will remove the partial blindness upon national Israel and they will come to faith in Messiah en masse! When that happens, there will no longer be a group #1 and #2—they will be one and the same! I believe the time of Jacob’s Trouble will prune those among national Israel that do not believe (Zech 13:8-9). I believe that entering into the Millennium, all the survivors among national Israel will be believers. This will be a far greater number than the messianic community in Israel today, because the partial blindness will have been removed! Israel, nationally, will see Yeshua, the One “Whom they pierced and will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child” (Zech 12:10). All of remaining national Israel will be saved!
Since “all of Israel” will be saved, there’s no way to have the Body of Messiah (group #1) as separate from national Israel (group #2) entering the Millennium. There will only be Israel (including those gentiles from among the nations that are of faith) ruling over the nations (who do not have glorified bodies).
I agree also that the New Covenant is better than the old. The Sinaic Covenant was a 2-sided (bi-lateral) agreement, as seen in Exodus 24. Both parties were responsible for the upkeep of the covenant, not like Abraham and David’s covenants, where both of them would be helpless to see the fruition of their covenants. Abraham and David both experienced unilateral (1 sided) covenants that the God of Israel granted them. That’s why they’re referred to as Covenants of Promise. They were God-initiated, and God-guaranteed. The Sinaic Covenant has been broken and the curse of the Torah remains for all those still under it. National Israel (those not ‘in Messiah’) is under the Sinaic Covenant, and this covenant is a two-sided covenant. I personally believe the reasons that Israel (nationally) continues to experience the violence of their enemies is because the curse of the Torah is still intact for those not in Messiah. They simply cannot find rest from their enemies until they come to faith in Messiah. When they do come to faith in Messiah, at His return, they will immediately experience rest in the Land as God envisioned.
The New Covenant is a better covenant because it’s a unilateral (1 sided) covenant! We can’t mess this one up! God initiated it, cut the covenant Himself (through the hands of men), and promised to put His Spirit in us which would “cause us to keep His statutes and His judgments” (Ez. 36:27).
The writer of Hebrews is comparing the 2 covenants. Both are valid, but Sinai’s Covenant bears children to slavery (Gal 4:24), whereas the New Covenant bears free children. Not freedom from Torah—God forbid! [Haha!-had to get a little Pauline there] Rather, the New Covenant bears children free from sin! In the New Covenant, our fallen natures have been dealt with, and our former disposition to break God’s Torah has been replaced with a desire to keep His statutes and judgments. His Torah is upon our hearts! This inner regeneration wasn’t promised at Mt. Sinai, but it is in the New Covenant. This is why the New Covenant is better. But the New Covenant, this ‘better covenant’, is promised to the House of Israel (Jer. 31:31-34). And according to my understanding (at this point), this covenant will fall corporately upon national Israel at the beginning of the Millennium. All Israel will experience the New Covenant, and “they will all know Me (God) from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jer 31:34).
This New Covenant is what’s prophesied in Hosea 2:14-23. Israel will sing in the wilderness again like she did when she came out of Egypt. She’ll call God—“My Husband”, and God will end war throughout the earth. God will marry Israel then.
So which Israel is He talking about? The Church (The Bride of Messiah) or national Israel? Both!! They’ll be one and the same at that time. All Israel will have come to faith at the return of Messiah and the New Covenant will find its ultimate expression then. God has only one Bride—Israel, His Bride, that He betrothed in the Wilderness of Sinai and will consummate at His return to the Earth.
Having said all this, I will see Israel, according to the flesh, as chosen and set apart. That’s because they’re destined to believe when the partial blindness is removed. And I don’t call myself a Jew (as some believing gentiles are known to do). I’m a gentile, and I’m actually proud of that. My Father chose me from among Gentiles to be grafted in with His People. Like Ruth and Uriah, I’m still a gentile, but I’ve been joined to the believing remnant of Israel, the Elect. I’m a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, the true Israel of God, because they (you) are the Israelis of Promise. And when the harvest of Gentiles is complete, I look forward to the rest of Israel coming to faith. In that Millennial Kingdom, I’ll partake of the same promises that you will—both spiritual and physical blessings.
Well Howard, my hands are tired. Haha! I’m gonna end this response here. Look forward to hearing from you!
Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2013 17:33 PM
Subject: Israel of God and Commonwealth of Israel
John, we are both in agreement that the nations enter into their ‘sonship’ at the onset of the Millennial Kingdom, with Israel as the first-born and the sheep nations as other ‘brother’ (‘sister’ (?)) nations of God, the Father, with Yeshua as Lord of all and the Brother of all who do His Father’s will. The revelation of the sons of God will also not be until the First Resurrection, when all who have ever died, and those who are still alive, in Messiah will be changed in a twinkling of an eye. I also believe that this is inclusive of all who have believed the promises of YHVH God regarding the Promised Seed, going all the way back to the Garden of Eden; for surely those who are included in the “Hall of Fame of Faith” will not fall short of the blessed hope of those who were born later, so that together we may be made perfect. (Heb 11:40)
I think we also agree that each of our basic assumptions are determining the outcomes of our interpretation. While we both agree that the believers within Israel presently constitute the Israel of God, you say that all believers anywhere and everywhere constitute the Israel of God, and say that this is the Commonwealth of Israel and is the Church, the Body of Christ. The Church is found within every nation, but is not of any nation.
I would also say that the believers presently within the other nations constitute those who have been brought into the Commonwealth of Israel. The believers within Israel and within the other nations are a pledge of God’s full intention at the coming of the Lord Jesus to establish His kingdom on Earth. All the nations during the 1000 years will be fully brought into the beneficent welfare of the Commonwealth of Israel under the Kingship of Yeshua, with “all Israel” that was saved, and brought into His kingdom and New Covenant, becoming the head nation as the firstborn in willful and glad submission to his Father God, and a blessing to the rest of his ‘brethren’. This Israel of God will be born in a day, which the modern State of Israel pre-figured in its re-establishment. The Israel of God, with Gentiles included within her borders and full partakers of the inheritance, remains distinct from each of the other Gentile sheep nations brought into the Kingdom at the outset of the Millennial. The Body of Messiah — the Bride of Christ — the Queen — will rule with her Husband, the Lord and King Yeshua over Israel and the nations: it is a distinct group from out of Israel and every other nation.
Our basic assumptions will also affect how we interpret and apply other Scriptures. This is seen in how we each understand the place of Torah (the Law of Moses in our discussion) and the Old Covenant. You have written that the Torah is a guide for the believers in Jesus, and that the Old Covenant has passed away. In the letter to the Hebrews (referring specifically to Jewish believers, but also for all who would be pilgrims and sojourners passing through this world), the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to say, “In that He says, ‘a new covenant’, He has made the first obsolescent (passing away). Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb 8:13) Most English translations say ‘obsolete’ instead of ‘obsolescent’, giving the impression that it is already passed away, rather than passing way, as the next sentence clearly states is the case. As for the Torah — the Law — Paul is inspired to write: “But when I saw that [Peter and Barnabas] were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews (for he had been eating whatever food was put before him with the Gentile believers), why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” We, Jews by nature and not sinners like the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we [Jews] have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
“But if, while we seek to be justified by Messiah, we ourselves also are found sinners (because we do not and can not keep the Torah of Moses as written or interpreted), is Messiah therefore a minister of sin? God forbid! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the Law died to the Law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Messiah died in vain.” (Gal 2:14-21)
“For the law of the Spirit of Life in Messiah Yeshua has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)
While there is most certainly an increasing lawlessness in the world and in the Church, the sons of God, who are led by the Spirit in the love and fear of God, will have the righteousness of the Law fulfilled in us. (Rom 8:4)
Grace reigns through righteousness, and those who truly appreciate what the Lord Yeshua did for us on the cross will not take such a great salvation for granted and make faith or grace cheap. The four things which the Apostles agreed upon that was good to the Holy Spirit regarding the new influx of Gentile believers was a good starting point for their new life in Christ. We all begin as immature babes needing instruction, being brought to spiritual maturity as we are transformed/converted into the image of the Son of God over the course of the rest of our life and sojourn.
When we look at the last nine chapters of Ezekiel, which I believe describe the Millennial Kingdom to come, we can already notice modifications in some of the ordinances when compared with the Law given through Moses. When Yeshua began to speak out His teachings on the Mount of Olives, He did so in fulfillment of Dt 18:15-19, speaking with authority: “you have heard, but I say. . . ” He was not taking us back to the Law of Moses, but was taking us onward to maturity by teaching the Law of the Kingdom of God. The Law was until John (the Baptiser), but now is the Kingdom of God preached. All of the Ten Commandments are still in effect for believers, except for the Sabbath: for Yeshua is God’s rest, and has become ours — not just one day in a week, but each and every day. There is still the necessity of meeting together with other believers, but, depending on circumstances, it may not necessarily be on a Saturday, or even a Sunday. But knowing the Lord, and ceasing from our own works, is to live the crucified life in the power of the resurrection. Under the Law, even during the coming Kingdom, the people will be ruled with a rod of iron! This is not so for those whose hearts are being purified through faith! Knowing the Law, which is given for sinners and also for tutoring, should make us more sober in how we live in the liberty to which we have been called and freed. Those brought up under the teachings of the New Testament have much to teach and show by example to those who know only ‘self-righteousness’. But unless those taught under the N.T. are themselves born-again, and realize that not only has Christ died for them, but that they have died with Him, then they, too, will be no different than the Jewish people seeking their own righteousness, not knowing the righteousness of God. The Law is not God’s righteousness; Jesus is God’s righteousness: only He is perfect, and did not need to come under the Law, but did so in order to save us from it, with its curse and condemnation. Praise the Name of the Lord!
The priesthood has changed, therefore necessarily the Law has changed. Food regulations have been changed: Yeshua makes all foods clean. Clean meats were already clean, so it is unclean meat that he has cleansed and purified to break down a huge wall of enmity between Jews and Gentiles who have together been brought into the priesthood of the New Covenant, sitting together as brothers and sisters at whatever table, and for the gospel’s sake and truth, giving thanks and glory to God. If He can make me clean, he can make the meat of an unclean animal — that goes in and out of my body when eaten — clean. I am free to eat; I am free not to eat; but if necessary, for love’s sake, I die to myself that I might live unto God for His name’s sake. There are new and different regulations regarding how husbands are to relate to their wives; there is a new commandment to love one another as Yeshua loves us. (This is a higher standard than loving our neighbor as ourselves, which we don’t live up to very well.) We are told to forgive our enemies, which is not ‘normal’, ‘natural’, ‘just’.
Believing on the name of the Son of God has brought us into a high calling, which the Law can never attain to. We are not to combine Yeshua with the Law, but are to live by the power of the Holy Spirit a higher, deeper, wider, longer life than Law can inspire. The love of God in sending His Son to die for us on a cross is our stimulus and motivation. I think, that by equating the Church with the Israel of God (and Israel’s Commonwealth), the tendency, then, would be to come under Israel’s Law, whether as given by Moses, or as we see described by YHVH through Ezekiel. But just as the Levites were under a different regime than the rest of their brethren in the other tribes, so are born-again believers in Yeshua a priesthood under a different regime than either Israel or some “Christianized/gospelized” nation. After Pentecost/Shavuot, we read that all the new believers (all Jewish) “were baptized . . ., and continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done . . . .” (Acts 2:41-43) As usual, discussing things of the Kingdom of God and which concern the Lord Jesus Christ leads on and on and on and on . . . . There will always forever be more of Him to find out!
11 October 2013
A few more ‘bullets’ that come to mind:
–Israel is normally referred to as YHVH God’s people, and never called the Body of Messiah/Christ; the Church is not normally referred to as the People of God/YHVH, but is called the Body of Christ/Messiah.
–Yeshua/Jesus is never called the King of the Church, but Head of the Body of Messiah/Christ; He is the King of Israel and of the Jews.
–Every jot and tittle of the Law and the Prophets will be fulfilled, much of which concerns Israel as a specific nation with identity and covenant obligations based on God’s promises to their fathers and natural descendants. These ‘jots and tittles’ include the restoration of ‘all Israel’ – all of the tribes, Ephraim and Judah – into “one stick”, a restored family and nation under one God and King. (This is a type for the corporate one new man in Messiah, but not the fullness of the new creation reality.) It will not be what we know today as ‘Jewish’ in a parochial sense, but ‘Israeli’, a whole redeemed nation holy unto the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob/Israel, as well as some “strangers” (Gentiles) who also live among the restored tribes with a full and equal inheritance. (Ezek 47:21-23)
The [English] verses in Hos 1:8-10 refer to the whole House of Israel; the application in Rom 9:23-26 is being applied to Gentiles. In Is 19:23-25, the LORD is calling the Gentile nation, Egypt, His people. There is not just ‘one people of God’! While it is true that some believers today may be ‘Israelis and not know it’, this only represents God’s intention to restore a united family and Kingdom, but does not mean that all saved people not identifiable as Jews are “Ephraimites”: God is also saving Gentiles, who remain such, even though they are to have a circumcised heart, just as Jewish believers are to have. (Rom 2:28-29)
–The Law of God in born-again believers’ hearts and minds, and in saved Israel, (Jer 31:33-34; Heb 8:10-12) will be the Law of the Kingdom on the basis of knowing who the Lord is, and not a return to the Law of Moses. The last nine chapters of Ezekiel speak of the future Millennial Kingdom when Messiah has returned and is received and accepted as the God and the King of Israel, and there are modifications to what had been the Mosaic Law, and also some things which remain for Israel, not for the Church of the Firstborn, who will be ruling and reigning with Christ over Israel and the nations in glorified bodies. (Rev 20:4-6; Rom 8:23)
–Believers, both Jewish and Gentile, are called sons of Abraham, the father of those who believe. While Jewish believers are also sons of Jacob in the flesh, Gentile believers are not. The Church is never spoken of as children of Jacob/Israel, nor of belonging to a tribe of Israel, but as called out ones from the different nations. Only Israel, God’s chosen first-born son as a nation, is spoken of with reference to its tribes and their fathers. Therefore, the Church is not Israel, and Israel is not the Church. But both are in covenantal relationship with the God of Israel, who is YEHOVAH, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in Isaac, the son of promise, that Abraham’s seed would called: Jacob must come into the resurrection faith of Abraham and of Isaac to receive the promises as sons (not grandsons). The true Church is in Messiah/Christ, Yeshua/Jesus being the ultimate Son of the Promise; and every believer must believe in his/her heart that He is risen from among the dead to inherit all things.
31 May 2016
There is something to be said about the New Jerusalem having gates with the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel, and with the foundations of those gates being the names of the 12 Israeli Jewish Apostles. (Rev 21:12-14) It could be understood that the eternal home of New Jerusalem is “Israel”, in the sense that all her citizens will be those who in this life have struggled with God and prevailed — by YHVH’s grace — and rule and reign with Him; and who have also finally submitted to the reality that God rules. (Gen 32:28; Ezek 20:33; Rev 3:11-13) But I am not certain now that just because at that “time” all Israel will be all Israel, that that means that there will still be a distinction between Jews and Gentiles. (2Cor 5:16-17; Gal 3:26-29; Mt 22:30) Just as now a real Jew is not one who is one only outwardly in the flesh, but inwardly in the heart and the spirit, so, too, will that inward reality describe all whose praise will come from God, whether they were Jewish or Gentile. (Rom 2:28-29)
This is similar, to me, of Israel being called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, even though the priesthood was given only to the Levites, and especially to the family of Aaron through Eleazar. (Ex 19:6; Lev 3; 8) So all believers in Jesus are called a holy and royal priesthood, although most are not only not of Aaron’s family, but are Gentiles. (1Pt 2:9-10) (In any case, believers are not Levitical priests, but priests of a different, higher, and everlasting order: in Messiah/Christ — according to the order of Melchizedek.)