Israel, O Israel
What was Israel’s role?
Is modern Israel the prophesied re-gathering?
Will they be under the New Covenant or the Old in the Millennium?
Did the Church replace Israel?
Is there such a thing as spiritual Israel?
Chapter 1 Israel My Servant
Chapter 2 The God El
Chapter 3 Spiritual Israel
Chapter 4 Jacob’s Blessings
Chapter 5 New Phase
Chapter 6 Attrition Not Replacement
Chapter 7 Blinded
Chapter 8 The Olive Tree
Chapter 9 Regathering
Chapter 10 Millennium
Many issues about Israel have been debated for centuries. Some of the more contentious issues have unfortunately caused divisions that have often resulted in various forms of persecution even within the Churches of God. Opinions vary on subjects like - What was Israel’s role? Is modern Israel the prophesied re-gathering? Will they be under the New Covenant or the Old in the Millennium? Did the Church replace Israel? Is there such a thing as spiritual Israel?
Most of us have listened to traditional preaching on these subjects and are persuaded one way or the other. But when our views are challenged it can be rather disconcerting. Such was the case that led us to this study. So we decided it was time to search the scriptures for ourselves on these issues to find the truth.
Israel my Servant
Various titles held by Jesus Christ indicate different aspects of His role. For example the name ‘Immanuel’ means God with us. As the ‘Lamb of God’ He was sacrificed for us and as a ‘Light of the world’ He guides us in truth. Even the name Christ is a title that means the ‘Messiah’ or ‘anointed one’. There is also a title of which most are not aware. It is significant because it affirms His right to rule.
The little-known title is revealed in what is known by scholars as one of the servant songs, “Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” (Isaiah 49:1-3).
There has been a great deal of debate among Jewish scholars as to whether the ‘servant’ in this particular passage refers to the Messiah, the nation of Israel as a whole, or Isaiah himself, as all have been referred to as servants elsewhere in the Book of Isaiah.
Many do not associate the name ‘Israel’ with Christ because there are no other instances where this title is applied directly to Him. However, Christian scholars insist that this particular servant song does refer specifically to Jesus Christ because He is the only one capable of fulfilling all that God expected His Servant ‘Israel’ to achieve, “…Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified… …And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:3,6).
Christ as the Servant
The servant called ‘Israel’ was expected to glorify God, “Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”. He will also ‘raise up’ and ‘restore’ the people of Israel, be a ‘light to the gentiles’ and ‘salvation’ to the world.
Christ did glorify His Father, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4). And He is the one who will raise-up Israel at the appointed time. Apart from the Father only Jesus Christ has the power to raise up anyone from the dead, “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus…” (II Corinthians 4:14). He demonstrated that power by raising Lazarus (John 11:1-44). And He is going raise the saints at the end of this age, “…this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40). People like David, the prophets and many others mentioned in Hebrews 11 who died in faith and are currently awaiting to be raised up ‘at the last day’ are the ones referred to as the ‘preserved of Israel’ in Isaiah 49:6.
Christ is the one who is the light to the Gentiles, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12 see also John 9:5). He is the light to the world and it is through Him that salvation has come to all of us, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16). In fact He is the only one through whom anyone is to be saved, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).
Isaiah himself could not, and did not, fulfil what was expected of God’s servant ‘Israel’. The nation of Israel did not and can not accomplish any of these things. They did not glorify God. They cannot raise themselves up from the dead. They were not a light to the Gentiles and have not brought salvation to the world. Christ is the only one who can fulfil all of the criteria that defines the servant of God mentioned in Isaiah 49:3.
There are a number of reliable commentaries that acknowledge Christ as the servant in Isaiah 49 and confirm that the name ‘Israel’ rightfully belongs to Him. The New Bible Commentary, “…Jesus stands forth as the sole worthy and rightful bearer of the name Israel.” (Third Edition page 616). John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, “O Israel, a name of Christ, and which properly belongs to him…”. The Companion Bible, “Christ is called “Israel” (page 993). Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible, “It is very wonderful that the Redeemer should here be called “Israel.” It is not more wonderful, however, than that in another place his people should he called by his name”.
If the title ‘Israel’ rightfully belongs to Jesus Christ then we need to know what it means and implies.
Meaning of Israel
The Hebrew word for Israel is ‘yisra’el’. It is derived from the words ‘El’ a generic word for God and ‘yisra’ the generally accepted meaning of which is to rule, contend, have power, or prevail over. Strong’s defines ‘yisra’ as - to prevail or have power (as a prince). This has led to many interpretations such as ‘God struggles’, ‘God Strives’, ‘El Persisteth’, ‘El Persevereth’, ‘Prince with God’,
The view of the Jewish Study Bible (JPS Tanakh Translation) is that ‘the scientific etymology of the name Israel is unclear, a good guess being [The God] El rules’. For reasons that will become obvious this definition appears to most accurately reflect the meaning of the title ‘Israel’ that belongs to Christ.
Ordained to Rule
Jesus Christ is the one who established the nation of Israel over which He ruled, “I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.” (Isaiah 43:15).
He not only ruled over the nation called by His name ‘Israel’ but will also rule over the spiritual Kingdom that it represented, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
In addition His authority over the whole world will be formally proclaimed when He returns at the end of this age, “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15).
He was born to rule!
The God El
It is also generally accepted that the word El is a shortened version of Elohim which is one of the names for God. Elohim is a plural Hebrew noun meaning deity. Its use in Genesis indicates that God is more than one being, “And God (Elohim) said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). The use of the pronouns such as ‘us’ and ‘our’ indicates more than one. Consequently either one of the deity is entitled to be called [the God] El, or just El.
We know that there was the God Father and also the Word who was God, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1). We also know that the Word later became Jesus Christ, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). It was through Him that all things were created, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:12-17).
Christ is a member of the Godhead, “For in him (Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9). He is the one who was with the Father in the beginning and as one of the Elohim, or deity is entitled to be called El.
We are instructed to pray for “Thy kingdom come.” (Matthew 6:9,10) which is often called the Kingdom of God, or Kingdom of Heaven and was also known as the Kingdom of Christ, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Ephesians 5:5).
It is called the kingdom of Christ because He is the one who creates all things on behalf of the Father and has been commissioned to create a Kingdom that is yet to come.
That Kingdom has been likened to a city to be built by God, “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10). It is being created as an inheritance for the saints, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (Colossians 1:12-13).
That inheritance was symbolised by the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. When our first parents listened to Satan and ate of the forbidden tree of good and evil they submitted themselves to Satan and the spirit that is in man was corrupted. As a result humanity was denied access to the tree of life, “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24). They were denied access to their inheritance because human nature had become corrupted with evil. Since that time access to eternal life has been carefully guarded to prevent the Kingdom Christ is creating from being corrupted with evil as well.
No one can come to Christ unless the Father draws them, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44).
He has called the foolish of this world to confound the wise, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 1:26-31).
Those He calls must undergo a conversion process to overcome evil before they can be resurrected into the Kingdom. The Bible indicates that there will be a relatively high rate of attrition among those who are called to Christ, “… for many be called, but few chosen.” (Matthew 20:16). From the many called only a few were to be chosen and fewer still are predicted to remain faithful, “…for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14).
The parable of the sower confirms this, “…Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13:3-8).
The faithful who bring forth fruits are those who believe, repent and are baptised to receive the Holy Spirit, “…"Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38 NJKV). Having received the Holy Spirit they must utilize it to become established in goodness, righteousness and truth so they are acceptable to Christ, “(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:9-10). They are expected to produce its spiritual fruit, “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23).
The goal is to develop a mind-set like Christ’s that is without evil, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:5). It is the Holy Spirit that enables the mind to be transformed, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2). It will eventually result in spiritual perfection, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13). It
Those who have received the Holy Spirit and remain faithful have the promise of eternal life is their inheritance, “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:12-14 see also I Corinthians 1:21-22).
The Holy Spirit is the earnest, or part of what is to eventually be received in its entirety. The Kingdom they are born into is the family of God (II Corinthians 6:18). The patriarch of that family is the Father and the Holy Spirit is His spiritual essence, or seed (spiritual DNA). Those who receive God’s Spirit are in effect born into the Kingdom and like the elders who Christ sent out to preach they are already regarded as part of the Kingdom, “…rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).
The ceremony of baptism is like a death and rebirth, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4). It is symbolises being born into the Kingdom, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (I Peter 1:23).
It is a process that everyone must eventually go through to enter the Kingdom. There are no exceptions!
Although the attrition rate is high among those called in this age God is not willing that any should fail, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9).
Those who do not receive the Holy Spirit are not condemned and they like the rest of the world who are not called in this age or during the coming Millennium will be called to salvation during the White Throne Judgment, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” (Revelation 20:11-13).
At that time they will be given the opportunity to repent and become part of the spiritual Kingdom that Christ is creating. In the meantime they like the rest of the world remain in darkness, “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.” (I Samuel 2:9). [For further information on this process see our article entitled ‘Will the Dead Live Again’].
Nation of Priests
It is God’s plan to bring all of humanity out of the power of Satan that is symbolised by darkness and into the light of His Son Jesus Christ to receive their inheritance of eternal life in His Kingdom, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Colossians 1:12-14).
God began by calling people like Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah to Christ who in those ancient times we know was the God El. They were sealed with the Holy Spirit just as those who are called in this age are sealed.
After the nation of Israel was established from Abraham’s descendents He called out more to be sealed. These people referred to by Isaiah as the ‘preserved of Israel’ (Isaiah 49:6) all lived righteous lives and died in faith, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Having been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise they, like Abraham, looked forward to a better country, or home that is spiritual (heavenly) pictured as a city built by God. That city is the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 21:2 to which we of this age also look forward.
Those who have died in faith will remain as if in a state of sleep until Christ returns, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” (I Thessalonians 4:13-14).
When He does return those who sleep along with the faithful who are alive at that time will be raised to spirit, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (I Corinthians 15:51-53).
Called out of darkness into His light they will be with Him for ever, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
They will serve as Priests during the Millennium and Great White Throne Judgment, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” (1Peter 2:9).
As priests they will glorify God, “…and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:6 RSV see also Revelation 5:10).
It is the Kingdom of Christ that is being created. He is called ‘Israel’ and it is His Kingdom. It is the Kingdom of Israel. Even though the term ‘spiritual Israel’ does not occur in the Bible it is certainly implied and without doubt can legitimately be used to define the spiritual Kingdom that belongs to ‘Israel’ (Christ). We use the term ‘spiritual Israel’ to differentiate between the earthly, or physical nation of Israel and the spiritual Kingdom of Israel.
Spiritual Israel obviously is not physical. It cannot be touched or tasted, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17 NKJV). It cannot be seen, “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21). Nor can it be inherited by physical beings, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (I Corinthians 15:50).
The only access to spiritual Israel is through the one who is creating it – Jesus Christ, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).
Ethnicity does not provide any entitlement to spiritual Israel. Paul made it clear that even the people of physical Israel did not have automatic citizenship in spiritual Israel when He said, “…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. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” (Romans 9:6-8).
When Christ has finished creating of His Kingdom He will offer it up to the Father and continue to rule over it under Him forever, “Then cometh the end, when he (Christ) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (I Corinthians 15: 24-28).
Israel Foreshadowed the Kingdom
Christ established the physical nation of Israel because people are generally more comfortable with things they can see, hear, touch, taste or smell through the physical senses, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Corinthians 2:14).
Spiritual discernment is acquired through the Holy Spirit, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” (I Corinthians 2:10-12).
Without the Spirit we cannot even begin to image what eternal life in a spiritual Kingdom will be like, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9).
One of the reasons why Christ established the nation of Israel was to portray in physical form the spiritual Kingdom of the future.
He led the descendents of Abraham out of slavery in Egypt to foreshadow His plan to bring all of humanity out of the sin to which Satan has made us slaves and to show the world what He is doing, “That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.” (Joshua 4:24 see also Deuteronomy 28:10).
Through physical Israel Christ has revealed many aspects of the spiritual Kingdom He is creating, “And He said: "Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.” (Exodus 34:10 NKJV)
He promised to protect and bless the Israelites, “… I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:’ (Genesis 12:3). And He gave them a land as an inheritance to symbolize the spiritual inheritance to come.
Israel’s laws, rituals and ceremonies foreshadowed future events and milestones in creating the Kingdom, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” (Hebrews 10:1).
The priesthood and tabernacle symbolised a future time when God will dwell among His people, “… seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.” (Hebrews 8:4-5). And, “…I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3).
The Sabbaths and Holy Days detailed various stages in the plan Christ would follow in preparing the Kingdom, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17).
In addition there were many other things written in the Law, prophets and Psalms that spoke about Christ and His role, “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,” (Luke 24:44-45).
Because the nation was to portray the Kingdom to come it was aptly named after the one who established and ruled over it, “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” (Isaiah 43:1).
The name ‘Israel’ initially given to the nation’s patriarch Jacob was a blessing. According the accounts in Genesis 32: 24-32 and Hosea 12:2-5 Jacob struggled with the divine being for some time but was shown by a touch to ‘the hollow of his thigh’ that it was in fact God who was in charge. Even though his hip had been supernaturally dislocated he held on tenaciously and asked for a blessing, “And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” (Genesis 32:26-28).
The last part of the passage indicates that he had found favour with God and was given a blessing. That blessing was the name ‘Israel’ a title of the one who planned to establish Jacob’s descendents as a nation to portray His Kingdom to the world, “And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee.” (Deuteronomy 28:10).
It also signalled at this early stage Christ’s intention of entering into a marriage relationship with Jacob’s descendents, “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” (Isaiah 54:5, see also Jeremiah 31:31-32).
Providing they remained faithful the benefits of that proposed relationship would be beyond anything they could imagine, “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” (Isaiah 64:4).
In ancient times marriage comprised two ceremonies, first the betrothal (erusin) and then the wedding itself (nissuin). At the time of betrothal the bride was married to the groom in a legal ceremony but had to remain in her parent’s house for a period of a year, after which she was brought to the house of the groom’s father where the wedding was consummated and celebrated. From the time of betrothal the woman was considered to already be married.
Christ was signalling His intention to enter into a special personal relationship with Israel that equated to a betrothal and promised blessings involving land, status, power and riches. They were to bear the name of their husband ‘Israel’ [the God] El rules who would dwell symbolically among them in the Tabernacle as their provider and protector. This was a great blessing indeed and had incredible potential for the ages to come.
Christ led them out of Egypt to Mt Sinai where the marriage ceremony took place, “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (I Corinthians 10:1-4).
They were called Israel, the name of the one they married, “Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.” (Jeremiah 14:9).
Having a name like Israel was not something to be taken lightly, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7). The words from Exodus 20:1 through to 23:33 has been described by some scholars as the wedding vows that the nation of Israel accepted during the symbolic wedding ceremony at Mt Sinai.
The name ‘Israel’ also served as a reminder, “Lord is his (Jacob’s) memorial.” (Hosea 12:5). It was to remind both Jacob and his descendents of their dependence on God El who ruled over them, “Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.” (Hosea 12:6).
The special relationship that Israel had with the God El foreshadowed a very special spiritual relationship that each individual human being will have with Christ in the future.
Blessings were Conditional
It is important to note that Israel’s blessings and protection were conditional to their obedience, “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee...” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).
As their husband Christ gave them everything He had promised, “Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.” (I Kings 8:56 see also Joshua 21:45 and 23:14).
They had been given the opportunity of playing a major role to provide a physical witness of the spiritual Kingdom that Christ was creating. But if they disobeyed and brought disrepute on His name then there was a price to pay, “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:” (Deuteronomy 28:15).
It was made very clear that if they broke their wedding vows the blessings would be taken from them, “The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.” (Deuteronomy 28:20).
For around fourteen hundred years from when the Israelites left Egypt until the God El came as Christ, Israel’s chequered history had for the most part not pleased the one to whom they were married, “For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have only done evil before me from their youth: for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 32:30).
They had committed adultery and provoked Him to anger, “Because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger, they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, and the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 32:32).
The priests in particular had not fulfilled their role and caused many to stumble, “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.” (Malachi 2:7-9).
Time and time again they were warned by the prophets whom God sent. But their response was to kill the prophets, “And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.” (Matthew 23:30-31).
The Pharisees in Christ’s time were no different from leaders of earlier generations, “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers” (Matthew 23:32). They sought to kill Christ as their fathers had killed the prophets before Him, “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.” (John 7:1).
Instead of representing the Kingdom to the world they had suppressed it! They had also tried to obstruct those whom God had called to it, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13).
Before beginning the next phase of creating His Kingdom Christ had to take the role of representing the Kingdom from those who were obstructing and suppressing it, “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.” (Matthew 21:42-45).
Christ did not take away their ethnicity, or nationality. They were still Israelites as the Apostle Peter confirmed later when he addressed them as, “Ye men of Israel,” (Acts 2:22). It was the role they had been given to represent the Kingdom to the world that was to be taken from those in authority and given to a ‘nation’ bringing forth the fruits (Matthew 21:43). The Kingdom was being taken from the Pharisees and given to those who listened and believed what Christ preached about His Kingdom, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17).
Those who listened, believed and were baptised received the Kingdom in the form of the Holy Spirit. They are the called-out ones, the saints whom Christ is training to be priests in His Kingdom, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” (1Peter 2:9).
During His ministry Christ trained His Apostles and sent them out with power (Matthew 10:1) to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6). They were instructed to preach that, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 10:7).
He was not sending them to the lost ten tribes who had already been scattered and absorbed into other pagan nations, but to the remnant of Israel in Judah who were spiritually lost and in want of a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). They were in want of a shepherd because the religious authorities had failed them.
He told the twelve Apostles that if the people were not prepared to believe what they preached then they would in effect be cut off from the Kingdom until the Day of Judgment, “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.” (Matthew 10:14-15).
Later He gave the similar instruction to the seventy elders whom He sent out in pairs (Luke 10:1-16). Those who didn’t believe the message, or in whom the word had no root would not have access to the Kingdom until Judgment Day because they were not willing to accept Christ and the work He was doing in preparing a Kingdom, “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.” (Luke 10:16).
He sent them out to harvest those who were prepared to listen and believe, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” (John 4:34-35). Obviously many at that time were ready to believe Him, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;” (Matthew 9:37).
He was calling them to receive the Holy Spirit and eternal life, “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.” (John 4:36-38).
To one hundred and twenty disciples who received the Spirit at the beginning of the Day of Pentecost after Christ had risen, many were added, “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)” (Acts 1:15). By the end of the day there were another three thousand, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41). That number continued to increase, “Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.” (Acts 4:4).
These were the ones counted worthy to be witnesses of the Kingdom to the world because they believed Christ. These willing to commit to Christ and became baptised into His name ‘Israel’. Not the physical Israel that they had been born into as infants but the spiritual ‘Israel’ into which they were now being born through the Holy Spirit, “Jesus answered and said unto him (Nicodemus), Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… …Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:3-6).
Church of God
They were born into the ‘ekklesia’ or called out ones who became known as the Church of God, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28).
They were given the Holy Spirit to enable them to fulfil the role of witnesses to the Kingdom, “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:12-14).
When Christ entered into this phase of His work He took the concept of the Kingdom from the care of the Pharisees and transformed it into reality when He gave to those who believed.
Attrition not Replacement
The majority of the people of Israel who were called out of Egypt to become the nation chosen to represent the Kingdom were not faithful. “The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.” (Jeremiah 3:6-9).
Faith was the major stumbling block for many who did not believe or accept Christ as their saviour and King, “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 9:31-33). This was especially so among but the religious authorities He was dealing with during His ministry
It was not a matter of the Jews being replaced by the Church. It was more the result of attrition. When the unbelievers were separated out from the believers a much smaller group emerged to become the true remnant who were faithful, “…for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14).
There is a remnant of true believers mentioned in Revelation who are described as those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Christ, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 12:17).
It was to this true remnant of Israel that the Gentile converts were then added by the works of Paul and have continue to be added to this day (Acts 10:44-48).
Old and New Covenants
The covenant that Israel later the Jews were under is what scholars have called the ‘Old Covenant’. It was a collective marriage agreement between the God El (Christ) and nation Israel that was ratified at Mt Sinai. No amount of law keeping under the ‘Old Covenant’ would earn eternal life, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11). Eternal life is gifted to individuals who have the faith to believe and commit to Christ. They were still required to keep the commandments but it was their faith that saved them.
Christ promised the people of Israel and Judah a new covenant under which their very minds would be transformed, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
Because it is the mind of the individual that is transformed this ‘new’ covenant is not a collective agreement like the ‘Old Covenant’. That was between a whole nation and the God El. It has to be an agreement between each individual and Christ. It will be ‘new’ to the majority of the Israelites and Jews because it is entirely different to their previous covenant.
More than one hundred years prior to the ‘new’ covenant being promised the prophet Hosea had told Israel that they were no longer God’s people and would not be His people until it can be said that they are ‘sons of the living God’ at which time both Israel and Judah will be gathered under one ruler, “Then said God… …for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” (Hosea 1:9-11).
To become sons of the Living God they would need God’s Holy Spirit, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14). His Spirit is in effect His spiritual DNA that transforms those who receive it into true sons and daughters of the ‘living God’.
The only way to receive the Holy Spirit is to accept Jesus Christ as their king and saviour. He is the one who has the power to help them become sons and daughters of God, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him (Christ), and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:10-13).
Through His own death Christ became the mediator of the promised ‘new’ covenant and He is the ruler under whom Israel and Judah will be ‘gathered together’ when they are resurrected, “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:15).
Although the covenant will be new to them it is not new to the work that Christ has been doing since the days of Adam. It was in operation long before the Mt Sinai covenant as evidenced by the likes of Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah who had received the Holy Spirit and were promised eternal life centuries before Israel even existed. Isaac also was included among them, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” (Galatians 4:28-29).
To be ‘born after the Spirit’ means he had been given God’s Spirit that assured the recipient of access to the Kingdom, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:5-7).
According to the Book of Hebrews all of the people mentioned in Chapter 11 since the time of Adam who died in faith will be resurrected along with the saints when Christ returns, “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” (Hebrews 11:39-40 NKJV).
A Better Covenant
What to Israel and Judah will be a ‘new’ covenant could more correctly be called the ‘better’ covenant because it will be based on better promises that are spiritual rather than physical, “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” (Hebrews 8:1-6).
But as Paul so clearly pointed out only a few from Israel and Judah had been given the opportunity for salvation under the ‘better’ covenant, “…For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). For only some of the Israelites and Jews were considered to be part of spiritual Israel.
The majority of those who lived under the ‘Old Covenant’ were not called to receive the Holy Spirit in those ancient times because of their unbelief. They will not receive God’s Spirit until they are resurrected in the White Throne Judgment. That is when they will be ‘gathered together’ under Jesus Christ and individually given the opportunity to enter a ‘new’ covenant with Him and receive the Holy Spirit.
The Sinai covenant was not perfect and did not offer salvation, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.” (Hebrews 8:7). It provided physical blessings to a physical nation to foreshadow the future spiritual blessings that will be given to those in the spiritual Kingdom.
It was only intended to be temporary until the time was right for Christ to begin harvesting those ready to reap (John 4:34-38). The Mt Sinai covenant was now ready to be phased out, “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” (Hebrews 8:8-13 see also Jeremiah 31:31-34).
From the time our first parents Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Good and Evil the spirit in man has been corrupted with evil and because of their unbelief all of humanity has been subjected to spiritual blindness, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world:” (Revelation12:9).
The majority of humanity throughout history has been blinded by Satan to the gospel of the Kingdom. They are the spiritually ‘lost’ whom Paul referred to, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (II Corinthians 4:3-4).
We only know of a few in ancient times who were called by God and given understanding of the Kingdom. Even while Adam was still alive Enoch preached about the future Christ returning with His saints, “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,” (Jude 1:14). Also Abraham who lived after the flood looked toward the future spiritual promise of a city built by God (Hebrews 11:10). He and those listed in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews had knowledge of the Kingdom to come.
Even though Israel was called out of Egypt and chosen to represent Christ’s future Kingdom many of them remained in spiritual darkness. They were ‘lost’ because of their unbelief, “While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Hebrew 3:15-19).
Centuries later the Jews who were the remnant of Israel still remained for the most part in darkness. They were the ‘lost sheep of the House of Israel’ to whom Christ sent His Apostles to preach the Kingdom (Matthew 10:6). They were lost because of the spiritual blindness caused by unbelief.
They could hear the very words of God that Christ spoke to them, “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me;” (John 17:8). And they could see miracles He performed among them yet the majority did not believe, “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:” (John 12:37).
The parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-9) indicates that many may have seen a glimmer of light but then had the truth snatched from them, or they were overcome by the cares of this world. If they did not believe and follow-up with repentance and submit to Christ through baptism to receive the Holy Spirit they receded back into their state of spiritual blindness once again. There they will remain until the veil is taken away, “And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” (II Corinthians 3:13-16).
Although the veil was symbolically rent when Christ died (Matthew 27:51) it was still intact in the minds that were at enmity with God through unbelief, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Romans 8:7).
Many came to hear Paul preach the gospel but they still turned away, “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Acts 28:23-27).
Blind Leading the Blind
It was because of their unbelief that the Jewish religious leaders did not know what Christ said when He spoke in parables, “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” (Matthew 13:10-11). They only understood what Christ wanted them to, “And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.” (Matthew 21:45).
Most had a certain level of understanding based on what they could literally see and hear but they could not come to a true understanding, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:… …Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (II Timothy 3:5,7).
They could not discern the spiritual meaning of what he said, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Corinthians 2:14).
Christ spoke plainly to them about the things they needed to understand and in parables about the spiritual aspects of the Kingdom He wanted His followers to understand, “And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” (Mark 4:10-12).
Nicodemus for example intimated that the Pharisees knew Christ was from God, “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” (John 3:1-2).
But when Christ spoke to him of things spiritual Nicodemus said, “How can these things be?” It made Christ marvel, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” (John 3:9-10). And He went on to say, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:11-12).
The majority of Israelites since the time of Moses have not really known, or understood their own God, “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” (Jeremiah 4:22).
When the prophets spoke plainly to Israel about the things that were to affect them in the near future they understood but often chose not to believe. They lacked the spiritual perception to understand figurative language that included analogies and allegories, metaphors, symbolism and typology that were used to portray the spiritual outcomes of the distant future concerning the Kingdom, “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:” (Jeremiah 5:21 see also Isaiah 6:9).
As a result their interpretation of prophecy was literal and Jewish scholars have continued to interpret the prophecies literally often missing the important spiritual applications of what was meant. They believe that God will in the future restore Israel to a physical inheritance of land wealth and power regathered under a physical leader, descended from King David who will defeat their enemies and set up a kingdom from which He will administer the Mosaic law over the rest of the world. But is this what the prophets were predicting?
They could not see that the physical land they had inherited represented a much better spiritual inheritance in the future that will last for ever, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (I Corinthians 2:9-11).
Nor could they see that Israel and Judah will be regathered in the Kingdom under Christ. Their literal interpretation of prophecy was based on what they could see and hear but lacked spiritual perspective!
We must be careful that we do not make the same mistake. Nor should we let the blind lead us into error as well, “…Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” (Luke 6:39).
The Olive Tree
While the role of supporting Christ in preparing the Kingdom was taken from Israel they have not been cut off and discarded as some have taught. With the analogy of the Olive Tree Paul demonstrated that it is possible for those from whom the Kingdom was taken to be grafted back into the role of supporting the work Christ is doing if they turned from their unbelief, “And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?” (Romans 11:23-24).
The olive tree is a recognized symbol of peace and reconciliation and is used to represent Jesus Christ whose commission is to bring about peace by reconciling humanity to God. For many in Judah the opportunity of supporting Christ in the new phase of His work was taken from them because of their unbelief and lack of commitment. But they can still be grafted back into the role of supporting Him as individuals if they believe and accept Christ as their King and Saviour.
As we have already mentioned Peter confirmed that they still had access to the Kingdom on the Day of Pentecost after Christ had been resurrected. He was preached to the ‘men of Israel’ (Acts 2:22) about Christ whom they had crucified and many pricked with guilt wanted to know what they should to do, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:36-37).
Peter told them to, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38 NKJV). Through this process they were as individuals grafted back into the work that Christ was doing in regard to His Kingdom.
The Holy Spirit was their assurance of citizenship, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
The majority of Israel has become blinded to their purpose but in time all of them will be given the opportunity to be grafted back into the olive tree and receiving salvation, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27).
Their access to the Kingdom will come only through the one who is creating it, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” (John 6:44-45).
The opportunity of salvation for those who have been not been chosen through the ages will be available during the Great White Throne Judgment. They will be resurrected back to physical life and will be taught when the books of the Bible are opened for them to understand and then judged on how they live by what they are shown during that time, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20:11-12).
This includes all who have ever lived both Jew and Gentile alike. God is not willing that any should fail, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9).
Regathering of Israel
There are a number of Old Testament prophecies used to confirm the regathering of Israel in their own lands either prior to or during the Millennium.
If interpreted literally these prophesies do seem to support a physical regathering of Israel to its homeland. But if we apply the principle that Christ established from the beginning when He used the physical to represent the spiritual we can see the intended meaning of these prophesises in their spiritual context.
For example if the physical scattering of the Israelites represented their spiritual scattering from their God, then their physical regathering could also be used to represent a spiritual return to their God. With this principle we will examine some of these prophesies.
Prophesies from Isaiah
From the Book of Isaiah, “For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour… … Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears.” (Isaiah 43:3, 5-8).
This was addressed to a nation that was spiritually lost and physically scattered. It says that they will be reconciled to God and come to glorify Him as His sons and daughters. For this to happen they must repent, accept and submit to Christ as their saviour and king through baptism to receive the Holy Spirit. There is no other way to become sons and daughter of God than through Christ (II Corinthians 6:18).
When they are converted through this process they will become part of spiritual Israel which is the Inheritance of all who accept Christ. The concept of a physical regathering mentioned in this prophecy portrays the future spiritual regathering just as the physical nation of Israel portrayed spiritual Israel.
Another passage thought by some to predict the rapid spread of the gospel in the days of the early church and by others to predict the modern state of Israel established in 1948, “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.” (Isaiah 66:8-9).
Obviously it is predicting something profound and sudden that has never taken place before. The spread of the gospel was an important event that did not take place in one day. It was a gradual process that took centuries. Although the modern state of Israel was formally declared a nation on a specific day, it was not an unusual event. Many nations have been established on a specific day even in modern times for example South Sudan on 9 July 2011, Kosovo 17 February 2008, not to mention Montenegro, East Timor, Palau, Eritrea, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all of which were declared as nations on a single day.
The events described in Isaiah 66:8-9 refer to something far more profound and spectacular than the spread of the gospel, or the establishment of modern Israel.
They are talking about one of the most profound events in human history which is the return of Jesus Christ with His tens of thousands of saints to establish spiritual Israel on earth at Jerusalem from which He will rule all nations, “For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.” (Isaiah 66:15).
It will be on a day that no man yet knows, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36).
It will be a spectacular event that will profoundly change the world forever, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16).
Isaiah 66:8-9 is not about re-establishing a physical nation to continue representing a future spiritual Kingdom, this about the Kingdom itself being established on this earth! Christ’s spiritual Kingdom, the spiritual Israel, His Kingdom of priests will be set up in one day to rule over this earth for the next thousand years, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4).
It is to this spiritual Kingdom that the remnant of the Jews will be gathered along with all others who survive over into the Millennium.
Prophesies from Jeremiah
The prophet Jeremiah dealt with the same subject, “And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.” (Jeremiah 23:3-8).
We know the righteous Branch that will reign is Jesus Christ when He sets up His Kingdom on earth and that the shepherds are the saints who will accompany Him. David himself is one of those saints. Again the comparison is made to the original exodus out of Egypt which symbolised them coming out of sin into the spiritual light of Christ and His Kingdom.
They will be brought out of the spiritual captivity in which Satan has held them, “‘For behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the LORD. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.’” (Jeremiah 30:3 NKJV). This also talks about David who will be one of the saints accompanying Christ, “But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.” (Jeremiah 30:9)
They will be given the opportunity to receive the Holy Spirit and participate in the better covenant of which Christ is the mediator, “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” (Jeremiah 32:37-40).
Prophesies from Ezekiel
There are also a number of passages in Ezekiel which if read literally seem to support a second Exodus to bring the Israelites back to the promised land, “Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 11:16-17).
The land represents their spiritual inheritance that they are to receive when given a new Spirit that makes them God’s people once more, “And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:18-20).
We are reminded again of what Hosea said, “…in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” (Hosea 1:10). They are not God’s people until they can be called ‘sons of the living God’ which as we have already discussed means they will be given God’s Holy Spirit and to receive it they must repent and accept Christ as their saviour.
The first Exodus was symbolic of the future Exodus that Ezekiel mentions that will bring Israel out of spiritual captivity into spiritual Israel under Jesus Christ.
Similarly, “I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.” (Ezekiel 20:41-42).
When the verses immediately prior to this passage are considered we see the comparison made with the first Exodus where coming out of Egypt symbolised coming out of sin and entering into a covenant so they could go into the promised land. Only this time they will be entering into a better covenant to receive a better inheritance in a spiritual Kingdom, “And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD. As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto me: but pollute ye my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols. For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.” (Ezekiel 20:34-40).
None of these passages are talking about modern Israel becoming a nation in this age. Nor are they talking about re-establishing them in the Millennium to represent spiritual Israel that will already be present on this earth.
It is prophesied that God’s servant Jesus Christ [the God] El who is called ‘Israel’ will be the light to the Gentiles,“…Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified… …And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:3, 6).
He is the one who will return with the resurrected saints, all who are first fruits from the Old Testament to today’s saints. They will accompany Him when He returns, “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,” (Jude 1:14).
He will rule from the seat of His government in Jerusalem to bring salvation to the world. It will be His government that will teach the nations God’s way and the law, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:2-4).
According to the Book of Hebrews it will not be left to men to teach the way of God to others, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8:10-11).
That will be a task for the saints who will serve as priests under Christ, “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:20-21).
The saints who are part of spiritual Israel will be the example through whom Christ will glorify His Father for the world to see, “…they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (I Peter 2:12).
They will be His priests in the Millennium, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6).
They are the ones called out of this world through for that purpose, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” (I Peter 2:9).
The saints under the direction of Christ are the ones who will teach God’s way to the nations including Israel and Judah during the Millennium and also in the Great White Throne Judgment.
Literal interpretations have led many to believe that the physical nation of Israel will be restored to their lands and that they will teach the law to the other nations of the world. Because of their literal interpretation they still claim to have entitlement to their physical inheritance which included the promise of land.
But this is simply not the case. When the prophecies are interpreted in accordance with the teachings of Christ and His Apostles the spiritual intent becomes apparent and we can see that the focus is on spiritual Israel which is the true inheritance of eternal life in the spiritual Kingdom of ‘Israel’ [the God] El (Jesus Christ) who rules under His Father.
The passages we read from the prophets not only refer to those who survive over into the Millennium being gathered to spiritual Israel. They also extend to the Great White Throne Judgment when all the dead of Israel and Judah from the time of Moses will be given the opportunity to repent and accept Christ as their king and saviour [see our article entitled “Will the Dead Live Again”].
These particular passages were directed to Israel because they are the ones whom the prophets were primarily addressing at the time. But the same opportunity will be given to all peoples of the world when they are resurrected in the Great White Throne Judgment to receive the same spiritual inheritance. For example the same promise was also given to the Moabites, "Yet I will bring back the captives of Moab In the latter days," says the LORD. Thus far is the judgment of Moab.” (Jeremiah 48:47 NKJV). The Ammonites, “But afterward I will bring back The captives of the people of Ammon," says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 49:6 NKJV). The Elamites, “‘But it shall come to pass in the latter days: I will bring back the captives of Elam,’ says the LORD." (Jeremiah 49:39NKJV).
They will all need to be baptised into His name to receive the Holy Spirit and prove themselves to be faithful so they can inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of God and His son Jesus Christ.
Modern Day Israel
Many in the evangelical and dispensational movements have used literal interpretations of prophecy to conclude that the Jews returning to the modern State of Israel is a fulfilment of prophecy. Some even support Israel financially to this end.
While Israel and especially Jerusalem will feature prominently in the end time events of this age that are predicted in the Book of Revelation we must be very aware of the many warnings of deception as well, “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” (Mark 13:22).
Satan, our adversary is a master of deception (Genesis 3:1) and is out to destroy the elect by any means possible, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (I Peter 5:8).
Israel today is not a nation that has been established by God. The current nation was established in 1948 as a result of pressure put on the United Nations to provide a homeland for the Jews by the secular Zionist movement. Although they claim a biblical entitlement to the land not all of the Jews in Israel believe in God. In fact some of its founding members did not want God mentioned in their declaration of independence.
Ironically they call themselves by the name ‘Israel’ yet continue to reject the very one whose name it is that they use and upon whom they stumbled, “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,.. …Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (I Peter 2:4, 6-8).
Many today are looking for a physical regathering of Jews to their homelands and for a temple to be rebuilt. These things may seem to be coming together in modern times but it must be remembered that Satan is the master of deceit and will make things look like they are fulfilments of prophecy when they are not, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (II Corinthians 11:13-15).
Christ’s focus at this time is on preparing His Kingdom for the reconciliation of humanity to His Father so we can inherit eternal life as His sons and daughters.
Satan will do anything to distract God’s people from where their focus needs to be. We need to be focussed on what Christ is doing not on what men are doing to bring about fulfillment of their own interpretations of prophecy, or to regain what they think is their entitlements to lands.
Many in the evangelical community and the adherents of the British Israelite theory have similar views on these issues that arise from a literal translation of those ancient prophesies. But if we look at what those physical things represent then we arrive at a different outcome.
Israel was a physical nation that represented a future spiritual Kingdom. The physical tabernacle, the law, sacrifices, rituals and ceremonies all represented something spiritual to come. Even the Priesthood and High Priest represented future spiritual roles to be fulfilled. The inheritance of a land promised to the patriarchs of Israel represented an inheritance of eternal life in the spiritual Kingdom.
The Israelites and Jews did not know their God and had not been given the spiritual perception to accept anything other than a literal translation. That is why many Jews look toward a physical fulfillment in this age and many who consider themselves to be part of the lost ten tribes of Israel look to a physical fulfillment in the Millennium. But Paul made it very clear that ethnicity does not provide any entitlements in Christ’s Kingdom, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29).
Jesus Christ is the servant of God called ‘Israel’ who is bringing salvation to the world. He is preparing a spiritual Kingdom to be inherited by those who receive God’s Holy Spirit and become His sons and daughters.
Under Moses He established a nation called by His own name ‘Israel’ that was subject to a covenant that promised physical blessing. It was designed to represent and promote the spiritual Kingdom that He had already begun to prepare. Individuals like Able, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to which He added more from the nation of Israel and its remnant Judah over the course of time, had been called and prepared for that spiritual Kingdom.
The Kingdom is a spiritual form of Israel, hence the name spiritual Israel, was established under a better covenant that offers spiritual blessings.
The physical blessings offered to th e nation of Israel were conditional to obedience and throughout their history the Israelites followed by Judah failed to keep the conditions of the covenant until the role of representing the Kingdom was taken from them. When the God El came to this earth as Christ He took the role of representing the Kingdom from the religious authorities and gave it to those from Judah who were willing to obey and commit to Him and become part of His spiritual Israel. It was to this spiritual Israel that the gentiles were added.
The spiritual Israel that we know today as the Church did not replace the Israelite or Jews. It is the true remnant that has emerged through attrition to which the gentiles have been added. They are the ones who were willing to obey and commit to Christ. Because they were given the Holy Spirit they were better able to represent the Kingdom than the Jewish religious authorities who had misrepresented prophecy and suppressed knowledge of the Kingdom.
It is to this body of people who are in Christ (I Corinthians 12:27) that the Israelites and Jews will be restored when they repent and receive God’s Spirit under a better covenant so they can inherit that better spiritual inheritance.
There is no doubt that Israel and especially Jerusalem will be the centre of attention as this age draws to a close but some of that attention may be for the wrong reasons. Any attempt by men to restore physical Israel in this age under a false sense of entitlement could be a huge deception. They may well succeed to some extent and even build a temple but it is still an attempt by men who do not know their God to fulfill their own literal interpretation of prophecy.
Be aware of warnings that Christ gave about deception in these later days.
During the Millennium Christ with His tens of thousands of saints will be working with those who have survived. They will be ruled by Christ from Jerusalem and given spiritual understanding and instruction by the saints who priests under Christ.
They will need to have land to farm and to provide food but like those of us in the Church today they will have a different set of values having come out of the old defunct Babylonian system and its false values. Ethnicity, nationalism, lands and profit will not be priorities. They will be sojourners on the land looking toward the better existence in God’s Kingdom. Their focus will be directed by the saints to producing spiritual fruits rather than making physical gains. Proof of the Kingdom and the promise of a better existence will be evidenced in the presence of Christ and His priests.
Christ will provide for them according to their needs as He did for the Israelites when they came out of Egypt and as He has done for the faithful down through the ages.
His focus is on spiritual Israel and that is where our focus needs to be as well.