What In The World Was Israel Created For?
The speculation that the Church is spiritual Israel is widely taught. Even the most pro-Israel Christians often refer to themselves as "spiritual Israel".
Yet upon examination of Scripture, this theory cannot be substantiated. Israel and the Church are distinct. Each is chosen for a special purpose. Many Christians understand the Church's destiny, but few comprehend Israel's. In fact, the doctrine known as Replacement theology declares that God is completely, totally, forever finished with the Jewish people and the physical nation of Israel.
We answer with a quote from John Hagee's book, Should Christians Support Israel?:
"Replacement theologians" ignore a fundamental fact in the Biblical test. When God replaces something you never hear from it again. It is twice dead, plucked up by the roots and cast over the wall to be burned and forever forgotten.
"On May 15, 1948, a theological earthquake leveled Replacement theology when national Israel was reborn after 2000 years of wandering. From the four corners of the earth the seed of Abraham began to return to the land of their fathers. They returned "from their Gentile graves", speaking sixty different languages and founded a nation that has become a super power in forty years. Israel is not passing away. It's building, growing, inventing, and developing; and the desert is blooming as the rose, just as the Prophets of Israel promised."
The New Testament Explains The Meaning Of Israel
We must first remind ourselves that the Scriptures, although written by many men, are inspired by the Holy Spirit, who brings the Word into one harmonious revelation. Doctrine must come from this whole revelation, and single Scriptures showing different facets of the truth must be brought into harmony with the rest of Scripture. Certainly no valid doctrine can be created out of an isolated text. Enough said.
The New Testament uses the term "Israel" or "Israelite" 74 times. In 71 cases, the New Testament uses it in a perfectly Orthodox manner - in the same way that the Old Testament uses it. "Israel" refers to the physical nation of Israel. In fact, nine times, the New Testament writers quote the Old Testament, using the word "Israel" exactly as the Old Testament did.
Two examples are; 'Yeshua answered, 'The foremost (commandment) is, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord'" (Mark 12:29). "For out of you shall come forth a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel" (Matt 2:6).
If one goes through a concordance looking up each time the word "Israel" is used in the New Testament, he will have overwhelming evidence that the Israel of the New Testament is the Israel of the Old Testament.
A Second Definition
But in one verse (which uses Israel twice) Paul gives the word "Israel" another very important definition. He speaks of the true Israel as those Jews who have been (or will be) redeemed. This in actuality is the remnant of Israel - the Jews who have had their spirits born anew, through the Messiah of Israel.
The true Israelite then, is one who is not only circumcised in the flesh but also circumcised in the heart. His physical circumcision is established in faith.
Paul brings this out when he reminds the Romans that Abraham is "the father of circumcision (Jews) to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham…" (Rom. 4: 12). In today's vernacular we call these believing circumcised Jews, Messianic Jews.
Paul states this same principle again. "For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel. In other words, it is 1not (just) the natural children who are God s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring" (Rom 9:6,8). NIV
Paul then illustrates what he means by showing as an example that Isaac and Jacob were the children of promise by faith. Not Ishmael, not Esau, and not the sons of Abraham's other wives. In simple English, not all the natural children of Abraham are automatically children of the promise. In this stricter sense one must be a Jew with a new heart and new spirit, in order to receive the full promise.
Again Paul restates this theme, "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit..." (Rom. 2:28).
Today the Jewish community tries very hard to agree that Messianic Jews are not truly Jews. But Paul's rebuttal to his unsaved Jewish brethren is that really they are not Jewish in the sense that they are not fulfilling the task that God has chosen them for. (We know from the Scripture that the Jews were chosen to be a nation of priests, and a light to the Gentiles. Ex. 19:6, Isa. 60:3).
Gentiles Are Not Israel
In summary, Paul nearly always speaks of Israel as the physical seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, he adds that in the most correct usage of the term, we should really restrict this name to that remnant of believing Jews who walk in faith.
Paul, in this case, reduces the number of true Jews or Israelites to those who have had the faith to apprehend the Messiah, but never does he add the Gentiles to that number. Never does Paul tell the Gentile believers they are Israel.
In fact as we have stated, 71 out of the 74 times "Israel" appears, the term refers to physical Israel, or as "Israel after the flesh" (I Cor. 10: 18).
Abraham then is the father of the physical Jewish nation as Paul said, "Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh..." (Rom 4: 1). However Abraham is the father of two elect peoples - the physical seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the spiritual Gentiles who have believed as he believed. "...That he might be the father of all them that believe" (Rom. 4: 11).
And again, "And if you (Jew or Gentile) belong to the Messiah, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" (Gal. 3:29).
Therefore Abraham is the father of the uncircumcised who are of faith. He is the father of Israel and also the believing Gentiles.
Gentiles Are Of The Commonwealth
Paul aptly explains that the Gentiles who believe are of the Commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2: 12). As Canadians and Australians are not British, but are of the Commonwealth of Great Britain under one Queen; so is the Church not Israel, but they are of the Commonwealth of Israel, under one King.
Just as Arab Israelis are "grafted" into Israel, but not as Jews, so are the Gentile believers grafted into Israel, the Olive Tree, but not as Jews.
The very best way to receive understanding on this subject is to take a concordance and follow the some 273 entries of "Israel", and "Jew(s)". It will give great revelation to what meaning the New Testament gives to these words.
Of the nearly 200 times that the word "Jew" appears in the New Testament, not once is it a synonym for Christian.
A Remnant Of Physical Israel Will Become Spiritual Israel
Nowhere in the New Testament do any of the writers say Israel is eternally t rejected and replaced. The Scriptures repeatedly say the contrary; they prophesy that physical Israel will also become spiritual Israel! Spiritual Israel and the true Church will then together be the spiritual seed of Abraham!
"For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all" (Rom. 4:16).
The church knows that the Gentiles receive the promise of grace, but she must not forget that those same promises of grace are also extended to those of the Law since indeed "God who will justify the circumcised by faith, and the uncircumcised through faith is one" (Rom 3:30).
The reason that God will never reject the Jews even though they have broken the Law of Moses, is that the promise to Abraham and to his descendants that he would be heir of the world, was not through the Law but through the righteousness of faith.
In other words, the Jews did not become inheritors of the blessing through the Torah, but because God honored the faith of our father Abraham and bound Himself to a covenant He made with him some 430 years earlier: ]
"What I am saying is this: The Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise" (Gal 3:17,18).
So the Jews were chosen not because of the Law, but because of Abraham. Therefore, the Law cannot invalidate God's promises to the physical seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
God has also made one further clarification concerning Israel. He has specifically stated a number of times that the Jews will return to Israel in unbelief. It is in the land that the remnant will receive their Messiah. Note: A remnant can be a lot of people! "For I will take you from the nations...and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you...I will cleanse you...I will give you a new heart...and I will put My Spirit within you" (Ezk 36:24-27).
God Desires That Every Jew Remain A Jew
God has watched over Israel for a purpose. For that reason, it is His will that every Jew become a spiritual Jew, but also that he remain a physical Jew.
Paul lays out the principle clearly in his Epistles.
"Was any man called already circumcised (Jewish)? Let him not become uncircumcised (Gentile)" (I Cor. 7:18).
Paul reminds all of us that in the Messiah, as far as salvation is concerned, it does not matter whether one is Jewish or not. Yet Paul still commands the Jews to remain Jewish.
Nevertheless, "Let each man remain in that calling (condition) in which he was called" (I Cor. 7:20).
The Jews are called of God for an important mission. Therefore, if they were to disappear from the earth by assimilation into Christianity or into heathenism, God could not fulfill His purpose.
Do not mistake what we are saying. Every single Jew or Gentile in the world cannot see the kingdom of God lest he repent and receive atonement from his sins through faith in Yeshua the Messiah of Israel.
However, in this world, in the flesh; the Lord has purposes for male and female, Jew and Gentile. If, for example, only males remained in the world and all females were obliterated, no more children would be born to populate the world.
Likewise, God has appointed the Jews to a service of priesthood and ministry, that together with spiritual Gentiles, they will birth many children into the kingdom of God. Once God has given a call, He never, never withdraws it.
"And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation'.
These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel" (Ex. 19:6).
"But you will be called the priests of the Lord; You will be spoken of as ministers of our God" (Isa. 61:6).
The last chapter of Isaiah says "And I will...send survivors (a remnant) from them to the Gentiles...that have neither heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations" (Isa 66: 19).
Paul confirms Israel's calling once and for all, when he, speaking specifically of Israel, proclaims, "The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29).
The Jewish people then, must accomplish God's purposes. Exactly when we do not know. But accomplish this task they will.
We can understand why Satan has worked so hard to destroy the Jewish people since the days of Pharoah. If they disappeared, their task could not be accomplished, and the covenant promises of God would be made a lie.
In one of the Scriptures in the Bible, King David, forefather of the Messiah said,
"He has remembered His covenant forever. The word, which He commanded to a thousand generations. The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac. Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance" (Psa. 105:8-11).
To this we say, "Is God a man that He should lie?" Paul adamantly agrees:
"I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be." "I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be." "Now if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles (the Messiah dying for the sins of Israel, and thus for the whole world), how much more will their fulfillment be!" (Rom. 11:1,11,12).
Will God Do Away With The Church?
We must say categorically that after all the clear concise unequivocal promises of God to Israel, that if God has rejected the Jews, and replaced her, the Gentile Christians have no guaranty whatsoever that God won't change His plans with the Church, take away the everlasting covenant, and replace the Church and give His covenant to some other people with some other plan.
In looking at the sins of Israel, the Church may wonder why Israel "merits" such favor from God. Yet the Church forgets that all her own gifts and callings were equally unmerited, and it is only by grace that she herself has received anything from God!
The Church at large has sinned greatly throughout the Church Age; if God were in the business of rejecting, He would have found plenty of cause to reject the church! For a start, consider the darkness of the Church in the Middle Ages.
Addressing the Gentile believers, Paul said,
"...Do not be conceited but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you...otherwise you also will be cut off.
"For if you (Gentiles) ...were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more shall these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree" (Rom. 11:20-24).
Pretty exciting isn't it? Understanding the Word of God revealed in its simplicity feeds the soul and the spirit!
Let's Go Back To The Basics
I will never forget what God spoke to Mel Tory, the Indonesian man of God, who was sent for a time from his land to the North American people. His message from God was, 'Tell my people to return to the simple truths of the Word of God".
Instead, men tend to complicate and twist many straightforward teachings of the Bible. I heard a preacher preaching fervently that the Church had totally replaced Israel, thereby nullifying her position in God! "But", he said, 'The great tragedy is that so many Christians don't know that they have replaced Israel". Then he proceeded to blame all the woes and weaknesses that beset the Church on the fact that Christians don't know they are Israel. '
I answer that question with a response we received from one of our precious Gentile Christian readers: "If I'm now Israel, what have I got that I didn't already have?"
The Two Become One
The fact is that the New Man, the New Creation, revealed after Yeshua's resurrection and made up of all the Gentiles, is God's special treasure which He has created and established for His own purposes. The Church, His own body, was a mystery hidden from everyone, before it was created. Israel on the other hand, was already 2000 years old and was made up of one nation only. The Church however is to be made up of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
God has a job and a purpose which eye has not seen, nor ear heard for every single member of the Church. However, we must now limit the definition of the true Church exactly as Paul limited it with the true Israel. "For they are not all the Church who are from the Church", to paraphrase Rom. 9:6. The term "Church" has been used to cover millions upon millions of nominal, unsaved self-oriented Christians. There is the Church, and then there is the Church! It is those who are of faith and walking in obedience who are the true Church.
Thus, true Israel and the true Church will work together to perform God's purposes. Like Ezekiel's wheel within a wheel (Ezk. 10:10). But neither will lose their identity so that they may fulfill the purpose for which they were created.
Actually Paul speaks of the true Israel and the true Church together as in itself being a new creation.
"For in Yeshua the Messiah neither circumcision (being Jewish) avails anything, nor uncircumcision (being a Gentile), but a new creature (which encompasses Jew and Gentile). And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be on them (believing Gentiles),2 and upon the Israel of God (believing Jews)" (Gal. 6:15, 16).
Spiritually, thank God, we are one Jew and Gentile can love one another and especially true Israel and the true Church must embrace each other.
"For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall... That in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace" (Eph. 2:14-15).
Christians: Support Israel! Especially the Messianic Jews!
I believe that the greatest sign of our Messiah's return is that Jews throughout the world are coming to Messiah and joining congregations of born-again, Spirit- filled Jews!
Yet, Replacement theologians do not blink. In fact, because of their theology, they pit themselves against the very Jewish revival that God has promised, and which is now starting to happen.
Colin Chapman, who wrote, Whose Promised Land?, a standard for Replacement theology states, "Therefore if I as a Christian in the Twentieth Century find that certain details in books like Ezekiel appear to fit certain situations in the Middle East today, we must resist the temptation to draw direct connections with these contemporary events."
A man who has blind spots in his theology either cannot see, or will not see. In conclusion, I wish to quote again from John Hagee's book: Should Christians Support Israel?:
"The question must be asked, 'If God was finished with the Jews and Israel; if they were in truth a cast off relic of the past, without divine purpose or destiny, why did He allow that nation to be miraculously reborn? If replaced, why reborn?'
"Their rebirth was living prophetic proof that Israel is not replaced. They were "reborn in a day" (Isa. 66:8) to form the Third Commonwealth of Israel that shall endure until the coming of the Messiah".
A Time To Search The Soul
Those who do encompass Replacement theology must search their own hearts for anti-Semitic attitudes and for signs of insecurity with their own place in God. Why else would they want to deny Israel her inheritance?
There is one extremely important point that all Christians will want to keep in mind: According to the simple, easy to understand declarations of the prophets, the nations of the world are going to be judged according to the way they have dealt with Israel.
"When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations...Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations" (Joel 3:1-2).
"Now this will be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth” (Zech. 14:12).
There are many other similar passages in God's Word. We must therefore conclude that it appears that whether or not a nation will be destroyed by atomic or other warfare may depend on how she has related to Israel and the Jewish people.
Art and our close friend and co-worker in the kingdom, Sid Roth, will be going to Israel for revival meetings the first two weeks of December during Hanuka. Yes the day has come when we can say such a thing! We will be working together with four Israeli spiritual leaders in three major cities.
This is a new step up in intensity against the kingdom of Satan in the land of Israel. We know in our spirits that many people will be delivered from their prison of darkness.
Will you pray for the protection of Art and Sid and for a heavy anointing to break the bonds of wickedness and sickness?
Will you share the Gospel with Israelis by contributing to the cost of such an endeavor?
We will report to you the results in our February, 1989 newsletter. We want to share the joy with you who help make such dreams-as a revival meeting in Israel-come true.
In the Service of our King,
Ari and Shira Sorko- Ram
1 The New Testament writers sometimes use the word "not" when they mean "not only" or "not just". For other examples see John 6:27, 31-32, 12:44; Mark 9:37 for similar negations for emphasis sake.
2 Note: Bible translations sometimes confuse the meaning by replacing the word "and" with "even". They attempt to make the Israel of God mean the Church. We have seen that the Scriptures do not support this assumption. Neither does the Greek word "and" mean "even".