Who is Israel?
God’s Word is complex, intricate, and perfect. There is nothing straightforward about it because it is living, layer upon layer, precept upon precept, full of symbolism, parables, and riddles. Truths lie beneath the surface to be revealed to whom God chooses through His spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14, Proverbs 1:5-6, Isaiah 28:13, Luke 8:10
One area that shows such complexity and perfection is how He talks about Israel (along with other symbolic names for His people) within the prophets; mainly Isaiah through Malachi. Who is He talking about exactly; the actual seed of Abraham, the country Israel, and/or those born of Christ?
Now, what’s the big deal? Most of what those prophets talked about has already been fulfilled. Has it? Anyway, it pertains to someone else, not me. Does it? It depends on who you believe Israel is. Understanding this one thing changes everything.
If we are the temple of God that means we are established on the words of the prophets and apostles with Christ as the cornerstone. Ephesians 2:20 We are established by words because words reflect our beliefs, which affect what or who our faith is in, which affects everything. For this reason, God desires us to know His truth. He gave us one job; believe in Him. John 6:29 And because Christ is the Word, we need to know what the Word is saying so we can believe it. That means we have to seek and know THE truth to believe and be established on it. Otherwise we are building someone else’s temple.
I have been exploring this topic, Israel, and here are some of my thoughts . . .
Initially, Israel, which was Jacob’s new name after he wrestled with God (how about the symbolism in that?!), were those who were physically born from Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. Jacob had 12 sons who grew into the 12 tribes. God’s law pertained to these people. They were His special people that He chose out of all the other nations to know Him. They were His because of their physical birth.
But then Christ came and things changed. Now those spiritually born through Christ are God’s family. The old covenant is obsolete. Hebrews 8:13 Once we come into God’s kingdom we have a new citizenship, there is no Greek or Jew. Galatians 3:28 We are now of God’s family and spiritually Israel.
The true Israel, the people of God, is no longer about the flesh but the spirit. Romans 2:29
Romans 4:13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Galatians 3:7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
Galatians 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise
Galatians 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
In Peter’s and Paul’s day, the idea that God’s people were no longer determined by physical birth took getting use to. That is why there was a separation between the Israelites and Gentiles (those who were of the blood line of Abraham and those who weren’t). For the first time they were going outside the physical family. Imagine how odd that was after all those years? In Christ, God did a new thing. His family is no longer formed through physical birth but by spiritual birth.
God wants none to perish including the original Israelite nation, but now like every one else all that matters is if we are spiritually born in Christ. 2 Peter 3:9 That is why there is no Greek (gentile) or Jew (Israel), there is only Christ. Who is Israel or God’s family now? Looking at the verses above, it is those who claim to be spiritually born in Christ.
This is where it gets fun. When you read the prophets, you see a strong parallel among what they say and the prophecy of the New Testament, because the prophets are speaking of a future time as well as the past. Revelation 10:7 The prophets are speaking of one prophecy on top of another. The events in the Old Testament served as examples of what will happen in the end. 1 Corinthians 10:11.
If the prophets are speaking of the future, wouldn’t they talk about Israel as it is in the future? What true Israel is today? I think so. Why would they talk about an obsolete covenant? God has told us that covenant is gone and now all is through Christ. The prophets wrote for a time, when the Word would be available to His people so they could read it, know it and take heed when they needed it the most.
I think the prophets are talking about those called by His name today. If you read the prophets with this mindset, it changes everything because they are talking about His church today and it doesn’t look good.