Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Israel and the New Covenant


The New Covenant was in existence at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, it had been in existence ever since the Messiah’s death and resurrection. One may ask, ‘why, if the New Covenant was in existence, didn’t the Jews repent, stop rebelling and be saved?  Why did God ordain that they be destroyed and scattered among the nations?  Wasn’t the New Covenant supposed to take care of the Jews’ inherent stubbornness by changing their hearts? 

The answer is that the New Covenant was not being applied to Israel as a people.  Yes, there were lots of believing Jews, but they were only a ‘remnant’ of the people of Jacob. The nation as a whole was rejecting the Gospel; instead we find, in looking at the book of Acts, that the Gospel was being offered to the Gentiles, and a great number of them were accepting it.

The Christian Jews were surprised at what was happening, that Gentiles were being included in the New Covenant (Acts10;11;15).  Why were the Jews surprised? Didn’t they know, from the promises to the Patriarchs,  that the Gentiles were going to be blessed?  Perhaps they did, but it appears that they didn’t understand how the Gentiles were going to be blessed.  In the book of Ephesians, Paul explains that this was a mystery now revealed that “which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”(Eph 3:5-10 ESV)  The mystery was that the Gentiles would be partakers of the New Covenant, fellow-heirs with the Jews, they would be justified by faith just as Israel would be justified by faith: “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. “(Gal 3:8-9 ESV) 
How did God choose to bring about the offering of salvation to the Gentiles?  By the stubbornness of Israel, by( the majority of) the Jews’ rejection of the Gospel(Deut 32:20-21;Rom 11:11-31)

The ‘stubbornness’ of Israel was no accident, it was not something out of God’s control: “O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. Your holy people held possession for a little while; our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary. We have become like those over whom you have never ruled, like those who are not called by your name.”(Isa 63:17-19 ESV)By the God-ordained stubbornness of Israel, the Gospel would be offered to the Gentiles, the ‘no-people’(Deu 32:20-21). The ‘stubbornness’ of Israel was/is all a part of God’s plan.

Why are you speaking in Parables?

“But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.”(Deu 29:4 ESV) And I so it may be said of the Jews throughout their history, after their first exile("Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house.” Eze 12:2 ESV) This was the case up to the time of Christ, and afterwards, up to the present time. Even though Christ had/has established the New Covenant by His blood, the Jews were/are still under the ‘veil’: “…not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”(2Co 3:13-16 ESV) 

In the last chapter of Acts(28), Paul was a prisoner in Rome. Some of the Jews came to visit him, and desired to hear his ‘views’.  So they appointed a day and met with him. “From morning till evening” Paul “expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: "The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: "'Go to this people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.' Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen." (Act 28:23-28 ESV)Charles Feinberg has pointed out that Isaiah 6:9-10, the passage quoted by Paul, “is more often quoted in the New Testament than any other Old Testament text.[1]

 This Old Testament passage is key to understanding why the Jews, for the most part, rejected the Gospel. The Contemporary English Version puts the Isaiah passage this way: “Then the LORD told me to go and speak this message to the people: "You will listen and listen, but never understand. You will look and look, but never see." The LORD also said, "Make these people stubborn! Make them stop up their ears, cover their eyes, and fail to understand. Don't let them turn to me and be healed." (Isa 6:9-10 CEV)  John makes mention of it in his Gospel, explaining why a great many Jews did not believe in Christ, “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.”(Joh 12:37-41 ESV)

 This passage was fulfilled not only by God making the people blind and deaf on the inside, but also through Christ Himself fulfilling it by His own actions towards the majority of the Jews, He was making them spiritually blind and deaf from the outside, as it were, as well.  After Christ had finished speaking a Parable to a crowd of Jews, His twelve disciples ask Him two questions: what the Parable meant, and why He was speaking in Parables. “And he answered them, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.' “(Mat 13:11-15 ESV See also Mark 4:11-12; Luke 8:9-10)  He was deliberately speaking in parables so that the Jews wouldn’t understand what He was saying, lest the Jews should “…understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.”(Mth12:15).   But the 12, or perhaps, 11(I’m not sure if Judas understood) Disciples were allowed to understand, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given… But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Hear then the parable of the sower…”(Mat 13:16-18 ESV emphasis added)  

Christ later predicted the fall of Jerusalem in 70 a.d., when approaching the city, He wept over it saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!  But now they have been hidden from your eyes.  For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”(Luk 19:42-44 NASB emphasis added).  Who hid the ‘things which make for peace” from their eyes? God, working from within them and also from without, as/through Christ, as we saw above.  

 In his letter to the Romans, Paul noted that  Israel had rejected the Gospel, she “stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Romans 9:32) Two times in Romans Paul laments the state of his kinsmen, the Jews, desiring them to be saved(Romans 9:1-5; 10:1).  But, he points out in Romans 11, what we have seen above, that the blindness and deafness of the Jews was no accident, “That which Israel is seeking for, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; just as it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day.’…”(Romans 11:7-8)
Because of the majority of the Jews refusal to accept the Gospel, it has been offered to the Gentiles.  Many Gentiles are now fellow heirs with Jews of the New Covenant.  Now, what does this unity entail?

Is the Church Israel?

Does the inclusion of the Gentiles as heirs of the New Covenant mark the end of Israel’s racial sanctity? Does the inclusion of the Gentiles reveal the church, the body of Christian Jews and Gentiles, as being the true Israel? The answer is no. God never revoked the racial sanctify of Israel and being a part of the church does not make one a part of Israel.  The Church and Israel do have similarities:  Israel and the Church are Sanctified; Israel and the Church are both referred to as “God’s people”.  Israel and the Church are both to be a ‘light to the world’ and Israel and the Church are both recipients of the New Covenant.  But Similarities between two entities does not make them the same thing. “It is the poorest of logic to contend that because two groups have several points in common they are identically the same[2]An example of this would be the similarities between Biblical Christianity and other religions.  We Christians have things/beliefs in common with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims….etc.  but this does not mean that Biblical Christianity is the same thing as Catholicism, Hinduism…etc. The Differences between Biblical Christianity and all other religions are such that they are divisive.

There are many dissimilarities between the Church and Israel, perhaps even more than their similarities.  How so?  Although both entities are sanctified, their sanctifications are unique.  The Church is sanctified to salvation, they are sanctified spiritually from the world.  Israel is sanctified racially from all other races and sanctified to God’s purposes, which includes both the judgment and condemnation of the race of Israel as well as, at a later time, the saving and justifying of the race of Israel.  Israel has been declared “not My people” while the Church will never be so declared. 
If one is a part of the church, one’s salvation is definite, if one is a part of Israel, one’s salvation is not definite.  The Church is the assembly of those, both Jews and Gentiles, who are saved/elect, displaying God’s grace.  Israel is a race of people who are set apart and used uniquely from all other peoples, displaying to the world, as it were, God’s wrath and His grace. 

One may be a part of the Church, having been sanctified to salvation, and not a part of Israel(those sanctified racially) Being a part of either entity does not make one a part of both. 

Is Christ Israel?

Another way people may try to use to say that the church is Israel is to say that Christ is Israel.  Some people believe that Christ is the true Israel, and therefore that the church is Israel because the church is united with Christ.  One of the passages they turn to in order to assert this is Mathew 2:14-15, “And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son." (Mat 2:14-15 ESV)  The prophecy was Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”(Hos 11:1 ESV) These people may declare that Mathew seems to be saying that Christ fulfills a prophecy speaking of Israel, that the “son” spoken of is ‘Israel’, and since Christ is that Son, He is Israel.  But, in the text, it appears that the “Son” is not “Israel”.  Mathew does not quote the first part of the verse that speaks of ‘Israel’ as being fulfilled, rather He quotes the latter part as that which was fulfilled by Christ.  Although I disagree with John Gill’s view of what ‘Israel’ is(he thinks it is the church), his commentary on the last part of Hosea 11:1 to is exegetical:  “’when Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt’: the meaning of which passage is, either in connection with the last clause of the foregoing chapter thus; "in a morning shall the king of Israel be cut off", נער כי, "because Israel is a child", a rebellious and disobedient one, acting a very weak and wicked part; "yet I have loved him, or do love him", and "have called", or "will call", (the past tense for the future, frequent in the Hebrew language, especially in the prophetic writings,) "my son out of Egypt"; who will be obliged to retire there for some time; I will make him king, set him upon the throne, who shall execute justice, and reign for ever and ever; or thus, "because Israel is a child", helpless and imprudent, and "I love him", though he is so, "therefore l will call", or I have determined to call my son out of Egypt: who through a tyrant's rage and malice will be obliged to abide there a while; yet I will bring him from thence into the land of Judea, where he shall live and "help" my "servant", παιδος (l), "child Israel"; shall instruct him in his duty, teach him the doctrines of the Gospel, and at last, by his sufferings and death, procure for him the pardon of all his transgressions; of which there is a particular enumeration in Mat_2:3. This is the natural and unconstrained sense of these words…[3]
“these words are expressly said to be fulfilled in him, Mat_2:15; not by way of allusion; or by accommodation of phrases; or as the type is fulfilled in the antitype; or as a proverbial expression, adapted to any deliverance; but literally: the first and only sense of the words respects Christ, who in his infancy was had to Egypt for shelter from Herod's rage and fury, and, when he was dead, and those that sought the life of Jesus, he was by an angel of the Lord, warning Joseph of it, called out of Egypt, and brought into Judea, Mat_2:19; and this as a proof of the love of God to Israel; which as it was expressed to him in his infancy, it continued and appeared in various instances, more or less unto the coming of Christ; who, though obliged for a while to go into Egypt, must not continue there, but must be called from thence, to be brought up in the land of Judea; to do his miracles, preach his doctrines, and do good to the bodies and souls of men there, being sent particularly to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;[4]In other words, Israel and “My Son’ spoken of in Hosea are not the same.  ‘My Son’ is the Savior of Israel, the One God sent to save His beloved Israel.  Because of God’s love for Israel, He would call His Son(Christ) out of Egypt. 

Another passage that some people try to use to demonstrate that Christ is Israel is in Galatians 3: “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ”. (Gal 3:16 ESV) and, further on down the chapter,“ for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.”(Gal 3:26-29 ESV emphasis added)  Now, two questions come up in regards to these things, does the fact that promises to Abraham were also made to Christ, mean that Christ was the true ‘Israel’, and that therefore all who are joined to Him are Israel? And, do these verses mean that the promises were not made with the race of Israel?  No. What is Paul saying here? 

The point of Galatians is to stop the Gentiles from trying to live under the law, because they are not under it.  In chapter 3, Paul explains to the Gentiles that it was always God’s plan to justify them by faith, not by the works of the law.  Paul proves this by pointing them back to the promise to Abraham.  He points out that the good news was preached to Abraham, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. “(Gal 3:8-9 ESV) This promise, to bless the Gentiles was a part of the ‘Abrahamic Covenant’.  Paul points out(vs. 16) that Christ is the ‘ultimate’ offspring to whom the promises of the blessing of the Gentiles  were made.  Paul goes on to state that the Mosaic law, given 430 years after this promise was made,  does not nullify the Abrahamic Covenant, and thus it does not nullify the promise within that covenant to bless the Gentiles by faith.  The law was only temporary, it would be done away with when the One to whom the promise was made arrived(vs.19)  Paul ends by saying, not that Christ is Israel, or that the church is Israel, but that those who are Christ’s are heirs with Him according to the promise(they are ‘heirs’- not ‘Israel’), Abraham’s children, being justified the same way he was justified.  This passage doesn’t say anything about Christ being Israel, it simply says that the only way anyone can be saved is by Christ, by faith, just like Abraham, not by the law.

 Yes, Christ was an Israelite, He was of Jacob’s race. But Christ’s Jewishness does not negate the Jewishness of all the other descendants of Jacob.  His being an Israelite does not make the other Israelites not Israelites.  The definition of Israel was not changed by the coming of the most righteous Jew who ever lived, Christ.  ‘Israel’ is still composed of all of those who are descendants of Jacob, including Christ.  Christ is no where called “Israel”(as an encompassment of the term), as a matter of fact, He is called the Savior of Israel. “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.(Isaiah 44:6)”  (See also Isaiah 49:26;41:14; Acts 13:23) He is not the Savior of Himself.  And God promised to make a New Covenant to save the race of Israel(Jeremiah 31), not to save Christ. 
And so, we have observed that the church(made up of Jews and Gentiles) is not Israel.  And that Christ being an Israelite, and the Savior of the world, does not widen the racial identity of ‘Israel’ to include Gentiles. 

Is there any advantage in being a Jew?

A lot of people nowadays would say “No! There is no advantage in being a Jew, we are all one in Christ Jesus.” I accede to the last statement, we certainly are one in Christ Jesus. But what does this mean? It means that all of us are saved the exact same way, by Christ’s righteousness. One’s race and one’s gender do not guarantee one’s salvation, neither do they exclude one from salvation. These physical things are irrelevant when it comes to salvation.  We are all one in Christ Jesus, He is the unifying factor of believers, regardless of race or gender.  But, as we dealt with earlier, being one in Jesus Christ does not make us genderless or raceless. 

Another question may be posed as to whether Christ’s being the ultimate ‘seed’ (as discussed above in Gal 3:16) of Abraham and Jacob/Israel through which all of the families of the earth would be blessed mean that the promise had nothing to do with any other member of Jacob’s race?  Apparently not, because, even Christ said, “salvation is of the Jews”(John 4:22 ESV emphasis added). And those who say that there is no advantage in being a Jew are flatly denying Paul’s statement that there are many advantages in being a Jew.  There are all kinds of advantages! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the utterances of God. (Rom 3:2 ISV)and later on He says “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”(Rom 9:4-5 ESV emphasis added) 

 I've noticed that people speak of the 'black Christ',  have seen depictions of Jesus in a variety of ethnicities…the most prominent being European. There are also 'manger scenes' with Mary, Joseph and Jesus with facial features of various races, it almost seems like they are making it so that one can claim his own version of the Christ as the Messiah of his race.  But there is no 'black Christ', 'Chinese Christ', 'European Christ'…etc.  There is only the Jewish Christ, the Savior of the world(which encompasses people of all races). This is what Paul says in the verse quoted above, that Christ came from the Jewish race.

Paul points out that the Covenants and promises still belong to their race, not revoked from them.  Christ’s arriving on the scene did not mark the end of Israel’s racial sanctity and her possession of the Covenants and promises, actually, you might say that it confirmed it “For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name." And again it is said, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people." And again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him." And again Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope." (Rom 15:8-12 ESV) Christ came to confirm the promises given to Israel’s fathers, not to revoke them or transfer their ‘ownership’ to the Gentiles.  And notice that, despite the Gentiles being saved by Christ, they are kept distinct from those of the line of Jacob.  They are to rejoice “with his people”, namely, the Jews(God’s sanctified race). So, according to the Bible, there are advantages to being a Jew, and being in Christ does not change one’s ethnicity.

The Relevance of Race in Romans

Paul writes ‘racially’ throughout the book of Romans.  Paul’s letter speaks of all people, but he discriminates all people into two groups, “Jews”(the race of Jacob) and Gentiles(those not from the race of Jacob/all other peoples of the earth) .  Actually, one might accuse Paul of being in most, if not all of his letters, a ‘racist’, and a ‘sexist’ as well.  Not in a negative sense, but in a positive one.  Paul never regards women as being the same as men. He does not degrade women, does not believe that men are better than women, but he acknowledges that God has made distinctions between men and women and that He has given them different positions/roles in this life. Paul acknowledges that men and women are ‘one’ in Christ, but he does not acknowledge in this ‘oneness’ a change in men’s and women’s positions or duties(1 Tim 2:9-10; 5:1-2; 1 Cor 3:1-15).  The distinction between the sexes still exists in those who are in Christ. Believing men and women do not become ‘its’, they are still ‘males’ and ‘females,’ and Paul refers to them as such.  

 It’s the same with race.   Paul never regards Jews as being the same as Gentiles.  Paul does not say that the Jewish race is better than the Gentiles(Romans 2-3 condemns them both), but he acknowledges a distinction made by God between the race of Jacob and all other peoples. He acknowledges that God has given the race of Jacob and those not descended from Jacob, different positions/roles; that God deals with/has dealt with Israel different from how He has dealt with/deals with Gentiles.  

So then, if the Jews are really the ‘chosen people’, then why don’t they all believe in Jesus as the Messiah? Why aren’t they all inheriting the promises? Why are they being ‘hardened’? Has God’s Word failed? Paul answers this in Romans 9, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son." And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad--in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls-- she was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. “(Rom 9:6-16 ESV) 

 We have already dealt with the phrase ‘not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel’ in chapter 1.  Again, the phrase does not say, or even imply, that all Christians are Israel, it is not speaking of Gentiles, it is solely speaking of those descended from Jacob.  When Paul uses the term ‘Israel’ here, he is not stretching it to include Gentiles, he is actually narrowing it. Contextually, he is saying that “’There is an ‘Israel’ within ethnic Israel’…What he states is that not all the physical descendants of Jacob are necessarily inheritors of the Divine promises implied in the sacred name Israel. [5]”.   Only the children ‘of promise’ are those who inherit the promises.  In other words, not every single person within Israel inherits the promises, only people God has elected within Israel inherit the promises.  Paul explained that this was not something new that God was doing, He did the same with Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau.  He pointed out that election was God freely choosing whomever He wanted to choose, regardless of the works or physical aspects of a person.  Being a Jew or a Gentile does not save a person, doing good or bad works does not save a person, it is God’s choice that saves anyone.  And so, there are those of the race of Jacob who are elect and those who are not elect.  There is ‘Israel’ , all of the descendants of Jacob, and there is the Israel of promise/ ‘Israel of God’(Gal 6:16)[6], the elect descendants of Jacob. 


Elect(to salvation) Israel is also called the ‘remnant’. “I ask, then, has God rejected his people[7]? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life." But what is God's reply to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,”(Rom 11:1-7 ESV)  So, it is only a ‘remnant’ of the race of Jacob who are elect and thus are the ‘Israel of God’/Israel of promise.

In Romans 2:25-29 Paul points out that a true Jew is a Jew who is one inwardly, “For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.” “’He [Paul] distinguishes between Jews who do not believe and Jews who do believe.  This is not a distinction between Jews and Gentiles, nor between Israel and the church,  but between the remnant and the non-remnant – between the Jewish believer and the Jewish unbeliever.’…Brauch comes to a similar conclusion that there is both an inward and a physical dimension to being a true Jew:  ‘in Romans 2:28-29, he [Paul] argues that here are two kinds of Jews: those who meet only the external requirements (circumcision and physical descent) and those who, in addition, are authentic Jews inwardly, whose circumcision is not only external but also of the heart, worked by the Spirit.’ Thus, Paul’s point in 2:28-29 is probably similar to that of Rom 9:6, in which it is stated that true Israelites are ethnic Jews who believe in Christ[8]” 


The elect of Israel were saved, and the rest were hardened…by God: “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.’ And David says, ‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.’(Rom 11:7-10 ESV) As was mentioned earlier in Romans, the Jews “have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’" (Rom 9:32-33 ESV) 

 The question then arises as to whether this ‘blinding/hardening/stumbling’ is permanent.  Will Israel never recover? “ So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. “(Rom 11:11 ESV)  In other words, this blinding isn’t permanent, it was planned.  God had planned that Israel would stumble and thus he would turn to the Gentiles, why? “to make Israel jealous.” Where have we read this before? In Deuteronomy, the prophetic song of Witness that God told Moses to teach Israel “And He said, I will hide My face from them; I will see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness. They made Me jealous with a not-a-god; they made Me angry by their vanities; and I shall make them jealous by a not-a-people; by a foolish nation I shall make them angry.”(Deu 32:20-21 LITV) Paul referred to this passage earlier in Romans, “But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.’ Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.’ But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’ (Rom 10:19-21 ESV)The Jews had worshipped “no-gods” and now God shows favors to a “no-nation” (people).[9]Who is this ‘no-people’?  The Gentiles.


Gentiles and the New Covenant

 God was going to turn to people who were not apart of the sanctified race, these were those who were ‘not-a-people’ before God. Again,  It was God’s plan all along to include the Gentiles in salvation:  “And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him-- for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength-- he says: ‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’" (Isa 49:5-6 ESV also quoted in Acts 13:47) Now, we remember that God promised the New Covenant to the nation of Israel, "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jer 31:31-34 ESV) (see also Jer 32:40; Ezek 37:26) The sins of Israel would be taken away, atoned for; they would have new natures, their hearts changed; and God would be their God, and they His people.  This new Covenant has been applied to both Gentiles and Jews in the church.  Their sins are taken away, they have new natures(1 Peter 1:23;2 Cor 5:17) and they are God’s people.  Now does the fact that the church (made up of both Jews and Gentiles) is inheriting the New Covenant when in fact the New Covenant was promised to Israel, mean that the church is Israel?  No. When we look at Ephesians 2- 3 we find that the Gentiles are “fellow-heirs” WITH Israel, “while Eph 2:13,17 indicates that the Gentiles are ‘made near’ and are no longer excluded from  the ‘commonwealth of Israel,’ this does not necessarily mean that believing Gentiles become Israel.  Being near to something does not mean assumption of its identity.  Paul’s discussion of Gentiles going from being ‘far off’ to ‘near’ is reliant on Isa 58:18-19.  Thielman observes that Paul is relying on Isaiah’s eschatological expectation in which ‘the nations would come from afar and join Israel in the worship of the one ‘who created the heavens….who fashioned the earth and made it’ (Isa. 45:18).’ The fact that Gentiles have gone from being ‘far off’ to ‘near,’ or from ‘excluded’ to ‘not excluded,’ does not mean  they have assumed the identity of Israel…Paul will say that God has made  both believing Jews and Gentiles ‘one(2:14) and ‘one new man’,’ but he carefully avoids the title ‘Israel…Gentiles are brought near to Israel and Israel’s covenants, promises, hope, and God, but they ‘do not become Israel; they share with Israel.’”[10]


God was going to save the Gentiles as ‘Gentiles’, not as ‘Israel’.  Acts 15 shows the apostles accepting this: “And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, ‘Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.’ And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, ‘Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘'After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins,  and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,  says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.' “(Act 15:7-18 ESV emphasis added) “The primary issue in Acts 15 is soteriological…Inclusion of Gentiles in the messianic plan without having to keep the Mosaic law is the main issue here…As Marshall states, ‘God is making a people out of the nations and nothing in the text suggests that they are to become Jews in order to become God’s people…’… In Acts 15 James quotes Amos 9 to show that God’s messianic plan for Gentiles, which has been inaugurated with the coming of Jesus, includes the idea that Gentiles can be saved without becoming proselytes to Judaism.  Amos and other OT prophets affirm (‘agree’ with) this truth……Passages like Isa 19:24-25 and Zech 2:11 predicted that Gentiles would one day be called ‘people of God’ without becoming ‘Israel’” [11]


And  Paul’s warning to the Gentiles in Romans 11 confirms this. “Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree. “(Rom 11:12-24 ESV) In this letter, Paul brings race to the forefront here, he directly and deliberately singles out the Christian Gentiles, warning them not to get arrogant towards the unbelieving Jewish race, He reminds them Who is in charge of the situation. God.  God is the One cutting off branches and grafting in branches. The Gentiles are grafted in amongst the Jewish remnant.[12] And Paul points out that the Gentile races are not even ‘natural branches’, they are ‘wild’.  And being engrafted onto the cultivated Olive tree, partaking of the “nourishing root”, does not change their ‘wildness’,  “they remain wild branches benefiting as gentiles[13] And God can easily graft the original branches, the Jews, back into their own olive tree; and Paul goes on to explain that God will do so.


“Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob"; "and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins." (Rom 11:25-27 ESV) In Paul’s day, (and so far in ours) only a remnant of the people of Israel was being saved.  But Paul points out that there is coming a day when the New Covenant will be applied to all of Israel, just as was promised. The days prophesied by Jeremiah(chapter 31) are still coming, when God will effect the New Covenant with the  house of Israel and Judah(Israel as a whole).  Paul wants the Gentiles to understand this ‘mystery’, the that the hardening of the Jews is only temporary, New Covenant application to the whole of  Israel is still a definite event. The original intent/meaning of Jeremiah 31:31 still stands, the New Covenant will still be made with the house of Israel, despite the present application of the New Covenant to the Gentiles and only a remnant of Israel.  I like Ronald Diprose’s explanation of Paul’s use of the term ‘mystery’. “Readers of the Old Testament already knew that non-Israelites were to be blessed through the seed of Abraham(Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 49:5-6; cf. Romans 11:12,15), that God, when provoked by the Israelites, would harden them (see Deuteronomy 29:4; Isaiah 29:10; Psalms 69:22-23; cf. Romans 11:8-9), that Israel would return to seek the Lord ‘in the last days,’ and that, sooner or later, she would enter into the blessing of the new covenant(Isaiah 59:20; Hosea 3:4-5; Jeremiah 31:31-37; cf. Mathew 23:39, Romans 11:11-24).  What is new in this mystery passage concerns the order of events, ‘All Israel will be saved’ after ‘the full number of the Gentiles has come in’ and thus after the partial hardening of Israel has ended.  What emerges is a clear contrast between the salvation of a remnant of Israel(‘at the present time,’ v. 5) and that of all Israel as an eschatological event (v. 26).”[14] Michael Vlach points out that the interpretation of those who say that, “ Rom 11:26 is referring to elect Jews throughout history is…unlikely.  In a section in which Paul is explaining a glorious truth that ends in a wonderful doxology of praise, it seems unlikely that such an obvious truth that all believing Jews throughout history are saved would be the topic of this discussion.  As Nanos states, ‘This [view] too,  is redundant and hardly motivates gentiles to humility.  They [Paul’s readers] already recognize that Jews who believe in Jesus as the Christ are saved, don’t they?  What does this position tell us about the “stumbling” of Israel?’ To claim that the ‘Israel’ who will be saved is the trickling in of believing Jews throughout history hardly seems like something connected with a ‘mystery’ (Rom 11:25) or something that is the subject of a great doxology (Rom 11:33-36).”[15] God will fulfill the New Covenant as He promised He would: with the race of Israel.  


Israel and the New Covenant

“In many respects Israel's eschatology is the Christian's soteriology”[16] but the Christian’s soteriology does not fulfill Israel’s eschatology.  What the Christian, Jew or Gentile, is experiencing now, is a part of what the whole nation of Israel was promised and will experience in the future, but this does not make the church Israel.   

The results of the New Covenant being applied to Israel will be different from the results of the New Covenant being applied to the Church. The New Covenant when applied to the nation of Israel will include immediate material blessings, including land and multiplication of their numbers.  And when the race of Israel is under the New Covenant they will not be persecuted anymore, they will have peace.  The church on the other hand does not receive a material land to stay in, the church is scattered about the earth, and Christians may or may not having a permanent place to stay.  Also, Christians are not promised that their numbers will be greatly multiplied, they may or may not have children.  Christians are not promised that they will not be persecuted, actually, they can be fairly certain of experiencing persecution(2 Tim 3:12;1 Pet 4:12-16;).And they are not guaranteed earthly peace(Mat 10:34-37).

 The effect of the New Covenant being made with Israel as a whole will be the simultaneous fulfillment of the material promises of the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants.
The only way Israel would have the Abrahamic Covenant ‘confirmed’ with them is if they were righteous. As we have already dealt with, the promised New Covenant will make Israel righteous, and because the race of Israel will be righteous by the New Covenant, they would thence be able to receive the full benefits of the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenant, including the promised land of Israel, multiplication of their numbers and a descendant of David to rule over them.  The original promises to Israel have not been changed, they will be executed exactly as was promised, and to the race to whom they were promised. “I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first. I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it. "Thus says the LORD: In this place of which you say, 'It is a waste without man or beast,' in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast, there shall be heard again the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD: "'Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!' For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the LORD. "Thus says the LORD of hosts: In this place that is waste, without man or beast, and in all of its cities, there shall again be habitations of shepherds resting their flocks. In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb, in the land of Benjamin, the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of the one who counts them, says the LORD. "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.' "For thus says the LORD: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever." (Jer 33:7-18 ESV) 

The days are still coming for Israel(Jer 31:31-end), the New Covenant has yet to be made with the whole house of Israel. One day the Messiah will return, cleanse Israel of her sin and set up the promised kingdom in the land of Israel for a thousand years on this earth(Rev 20), fulfilling the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants.  

The question may arise as to why, if there is to be a literal material kingdom on this earth, Christ spoke of a seemingly spiritual kingdom: the “Kingdom of Heaven”(Matt 4:17; 5:10; 20:1…etc) and the “Kingdom of God”(Mat 19:24; Mar 4:11; Mar 9:1…etc.).  The simple answer to that is that the existence of a spiritual kingdom of God does not negate the promised material Kingdom of God, the kingdom of Israel. 

But what about John 18:36 where Christ says, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." (Joh 18:36 ESV)  Notice that Christ does not say, “My Kingdom is not in this world…My Kingdom is not going to be in this world.” Instead He says, “My Kingdom is not of this world…not from the world.””The expression is explained by our Lord Himself when He states that kingdoms of this world, of this world system, are inaugurated and sustained by physical force and warfare.  His will be in this world but not of that origination.”[17] Christ’s Kingdom will not originate from the world, it will not be obtained by human means, such as human warfare.  But Christ’s Kingdom will be, to use the expression, “in the world but not of it”.  And this does not mean that we should read the prophecies of the Kingdom as actually referring to God’s reign in the heart, or the ‘spiritual kingdom’ of God.  “…to call the kingdom God’s reign in the heart is to substitute the means to the kingdom for the kingdom itself.”[18] Again, God would only confirm the Abrahamic promises to the Jews if they were circumcised from within, not merely from without, and the application of the New Covenant will fulfill this requirement. Under the new Covenant, the race of Israel  will not only have God reigning in their hearts, but Jesus their Messiah reigning over them, in their own land of Israel, as their King Emmanuel(God-with -us).  

Christ never rebuked the disciples for believing in a literal kingdom within the land of Israel, rather He rebuked them for not believing ALL that the prophets had spoken, “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.  … And he[Christ] said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”(Luk 24:21-27 ESV) Christ did not deny all that the Disciples believed about the Kingdom, He merely said that they did not believe all that was prophesied. 

In fact, Christ had the perfect ‘opportunity’ to correct the disciples about whether to expect a literal material kingdom when, after His resurrection, having taught the disciples about the Kingdom of God for 40 days (Act 1:3-5 ESV)The disciples then asked Him the significant question, “… "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Act 1:6 ESV)"Forty days of instruction on the kingdom, and they knew one thing for sure, the kingdom for Israel was still coming.  And all they wanted to know was…WHEN?" [19] What was Christ’s answer? “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.’”
(Act 1:7 ESV)The answer was not in the negative, Christ did not say, “the Kingdom will not be restored to Israel, it is now in existence in the church, the true Israel”.  Instead, Christ merely said that it wasn’t important for the Disciples to know the timing of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. 
Notice that God’s sovereignty is emphasized, “…times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority.”  The timing is in God’s hands, and because it is in God’s hands it is certain to happen.

So, we learn from Christ’s testimony that His Kingdom is not of this world, His Kingdom is of God. The Kingdom will come by Divine means, not by human means.  And we learn that the timing of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel is in God’s hands. In other words, Isaiah 9:6-7 will be fulfilled in all the details,“ For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”  (Isa 9:6-7 ESV emphasis added).

Who predicted this in the past?...was it not I, the LORD?(Isaiah 45:21)

We have seen that God had prophesied that when Israel disobeyed curses would come upon her(Lev 26; Deut 28).  This happened literally, and it is still happening literally.  The majority of the Jewish people have been a wandering and persecuted people for a long time, a proverb and a byword amongst the Gentile nations.  Many Jews are presently back in the land of Israel, but they are still a sinful people before God, still persecuted by other nations, they do not have peace. And there are still Jews still scattered amongst the Gentile nations, not living in the Promised Land.  The curses happened/are happening literally, upon the race to whom they were threatened, why wouldn’t we expect that the blessings would happen literally, and upon the race to whom they were promised?

Several people, who might be termed ‘fulfillment theologians’ or ‘supersessionists’, believe that the Jews are under a perpetual curse, functioning as a sign to the nations of the truth of God’s Word.  And several concede that in the future God will save the Jews as a people, by applying the New Covenant to them. They believe that the Jews will be welcomed into the true Israel, the church. But they deny that the material aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant will then be literally fulfilled with the race of Israel.  Again, one of their arguments is that the material blessings were already fulfilled with Israel, and that Israel’s permanent enjoyment of these blessings was conditioned upon whether or not Israel could keep the Mosaic Covenant. Israel broke the covenant and so forfeited the material blessings. “But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you." (Jos 23:15-16 ESV)The promised good things have already happened concerning Israel, and Israel disobeyed, and so the evil things came upon her. 

There is a scriptural counter to this argument that the above verses mean that the ‘good things’(including the material things) promised to Israel have been completely fulfilled in Joshua’s day and completely cancelled by Israel’s disobedience.  In Jeremiah’s day, when the kingdom of Judah, a part of the nation of Israel, was rebelling and about to be punished, God promised through Jeremiah that in the future He would “gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety…. I will rejoice in doing them[Israel] good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. ‘For thus says the LORD: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them. Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, 'It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.' Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, declares the LORD." (Jer 32:37,41-44 ESV emphasis added) So, the material blessings, including land, were not cancelled, they were still going to come.  It may be replied that these ‘good things’, have already been fulfilled in Ezra and Nehemiah’s day, when Jews came back to the land. And that these material blessings were still conditional upon Israel’s not breaking the covenant, which they did.  Not only did they break the covenant, they rejected their Messiah as well, and thus, in a.d. 70 disaster came upon them again. In the New Testament the promises were shown to have been removed from physical Israel and fulfilled with the true Israel, the church. They will allow that the Jewish race has a soteriological eschatology, but not a material(earthly) eschatology.

I must give an emphatic ‘NO!’ to that theory, based upon Scripture.  Notice that I skipped some verses in my quotation above.  Here is what the whole says:  “Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation.  I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. "For thus says the LORD: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them. Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, 'It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.' Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, declares the LORD." (Jer 32:37-44 ESV) This prophecy has not been fulfilled yet. According to this passage, when God brings all of scattered Israel back to the land, there will be no way that Israel can forfeit these material blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant.  Why?  Because, when this prophecy is enacted, and Israel is again receiving the material Abrahamic blessings, God will not place these Israelites under the conditional Mosaic Covenant(the law), He will place them under an unconditional, eternal, New Covenant.

 At that time, Israel’s permanent enjoyment of her promised material blessings will no longer depend upon her keeping the law.  The law will have been kept, and not by Israel, but by her Messiah and King, Jesus the Son of David.  His righteousness will be reckoned Israel’s and He will put His glory within her, “I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory." (Isaiah 46:13see also Isa33:5)   Israel’s God and Messiah will be her Righteousness, and He will rule over Israel in her Promised land, "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness’.[ Bringing the Jews into their own land from the lands where they are scattered] “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when they shall no longer say, 'As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,' but 'As the LORD lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.' Then they shall dwell in their own land." (Jer 23:5-8 ESV) The people of Israel will have God’s law written on their hearts(Jeremiah 31), they will be ‘new creations’(2 Cor 5:17), they will never turn against God again.  Israel will no longer be a stubborn people, she will be a righteous people, a holy people, made so by her God’s righteousness and holiness.

I think that the entitlement of the group of books from Genesis to Malachi as the ‘Old Testament’ was a mistake.  It can give the impression that the New Covenant replaces, or supersedes, all that the so called ‘Old Testament’, contains.  The New Covenant certainly supersedes/fulfills the Old.  The problem is that, although the books of the ‘Old Testament’ speak of and contain, the Old Testament(old Covenant), that is not their sole content. They also contain the Abrahamic Covenant, which is not replaced by the New Covenant, rather it is fulfilled by it.  The ‘Old Covenant’ that the New Covenant replaces is the Mosaic Covenant/law; which was the covenant God made with Israel when He took them out of the land of Egypt(Jeremiah 31: 32;Hebrews 8:9). 

As we have seen, the Abrahamic Covenant would only be confirmed with a righteous Israel.  The Mosaic Covenant, which came later, could not make Israel righteous, it demanded righteousness from the people of Israel but Israel could not produce that righteousness. Thus the Abrahamic Covenant was not confirmed with them.  The New Covenant will supply Righteousness to the people of Israel, her Christ shall be her Righteousness. Christ having kept the law for Israel.  And thus, when God effects the New Covenant with the house of Israel,  Israel will be a righteous Israel and the Abrahamic Covenant will consequently be confirmed with her.

 The point that I am trying to make is that the results(not the nature) of the New Covenant being applied to the whole race of Israel will be different from the results of the New Covenant being applied to the Church as a whole.   The New Covenant does the same thing to Israel as it does to the whole of the church: cover sins by Christ’s righteousness, makes them new creations, writes His law on their hearts, and makes them His people. But the race of Israel was promised that when the New Covenant, was effected with them as a people(race), the promised material aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant would be effected/enacted simultaneously with them as a people(race).  This was not promised to the whole church, only to the elect nation of Israel.  There is a soteriological future for the nation of Israel, and because of this, there is an earthly future for the nation of Israel.
                                    
God’s Word is being carried out, things are going according to His plan.  Again, What has/is happening to Israel is exactly what God told Israel would happen in the prophetic song in Deuteronomy 32.  At first, God gave Israel good things, blessing her(Deut 32:7-14). But Israel rebelled against God and so He turned to a ‘no-people’ to make Israel jealous(Deut 32:15-25; Rom 11:11). But God will not leave Israel stuck in perpetual jealousy of the ‘no-people’. The blinding/disobedience of Israel is only temporary.   

In Romans 11;28-32, the apostle Paul continues the process of warning the Gentiles about not becoming arrogant towards the Jews, saying to them, “As regards the gospel, they[the Jews] are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. “(Rom 11:28-32 ESV) The prophetic Song of Witness has not ended, the nation of Israel has yet to sing the last part in the present tense..“…the LORD will vindicate His people.  And will have compassion on His servants; When He sees that their strength is gone, and there is none remaining, bond of free.  And He will say, ‘where are their gods, the rock in which they sought refuge?...See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me…Rejoice, O nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people.”(Deut 32:36-39,43)

There will come a day when Israel’s sins will no longer withhold good from her(Jer 5:25). Why? Because Israel will have no sin. “… I will bring Israel again to his pasture, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon the hills of Ephraim and in Gilead. In those days, and in that time, saith Jehovah, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I leave as a remnant. “(Jer 50:19-20 ASV)  All of scattered Israel shall be brought back to the Promised land; this time, their return shall be complete and final. No Israelite will be left in the lands of the Gentiles, they shall all be brought back to the land of Israel, never to leave it again because of the LORD her Righteousness.  "And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. The house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God, from that day forward. And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt so treacherously with me that I hid my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions, and hid my face from them. "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name. They shall forget their shame and all the treachery they have practiced against me, when they dwell securely in their land with none to make them afraid, when I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them from their enemies' lands, and through them have vindicated my holiness in the sight of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, because I sent them into exile among the nations and then assembled them into their own land. I will leave none of them remaining among the nations anymore. And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD." (Eze 39:21-29 ESV)

God led Israel out of Egypt, God gave Israel the promised land and other material blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant.  Joshua warned Israel that just as God brought to pass all of the good things promised to her, so He would bring the bad things if she broke His law, which she did.  Therefore the evil things came upon her. Then, God promised that just as all of the evil things happened to Israel so He would bring to pass the good things promised to her, including the New Covenant and the subsequent confirmation of the Abrahamic Covenant. This event will reveal the generation of Israelites who are children of promise(Rom 9:7-8).

Despite the New Covenant being applied to Gentiles, God will not completely reject His sanctified race, and He has not cancelled the promises to that race.  The New Covenant will be effected with the race of Israel, and the Abrahamic Covenant will be confirmed with them.  All of the race of Israel shall live in the promised land in peace.  This will happen despite Israel’s sins, and Israel’s present state.  “for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more…Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar-- the LORD of hosts is his name: "If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.’ Thus says the LORD: "If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the LORD." "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when the city shall be rebuilt for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the LORD. It shall not be uprooted or overthrown anymore forever." Jer 31:34-40 ESV)


[1] Charles Lee Feinberg, Israel in the Spotlight(Chigaco, IL; Moody Press; Revised edition, 1975, 124.

[2] Charles L. Feinberg, Mellennialism: the two major views(Winona Lake, IN; BMH Books, June 1, 1985, 231.
[3] John Gill, Harmony of the New Testament, p. 6. (l) Luke i. 54. (m) Prophecies of the Messiah, &c. p. 123, &c. (i) Hist. Eccl. l. 1. c. 8. p. 25, 26. (k)

[4] John Gill commentary on Hosea 11:1
[5] Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel? A Theological Evaluation(Nashville, Tennessee; B7H Publishing Group, 2010),145.

[6] In Galatians 6:16, ““Paul is defending the concept of salvation by grace through faith against the error of the Judaizers who held that circumcision contributed to salvation.  In doing this, Paul singles out Christian Jews in Galatia who correctly believed the gospel of grace and did not follow the error of the Judaizers.  Paul, thus, commends these Christian Jews and calls them the ‘Israel of God.’” - Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel? A Theological Evaluation(Nashville, Tennessee; B7H Publishing Group, 2010),144.

[7] “Now the statement, by the way, ‘God has not cast away his people, has he?’ is a statement which itself is built upon statements of the Old Testament, because several times in the Old Testament the expression is used.  ‘God has not cast away his people.’  So the apostle simply takes a statement from the Old Testament and rephrases it in question form expecting a negative answer.  In 1 Samuel chapter 12, verse 22 and Psalm 94, verse 14 and Psalm 95, verse 4 we have these statements made that God has not cast away his people.  He is faithful to the promises that he himself makes.” - ?

[8] - Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel? A Theological Evaluation(Nashville, Tennessee; B7H Publishing Group, 2010),146.

[9] Robertson’s Word Pictures
[10] Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel? A Theological Evaluation(Nashville, Tennessee; B&H Publishing Group, 2010),152-155.

[11] Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel? A Theological Evaluation(Nashville, Tennessee; B&H Publishing Group, 2010),100-104.
[12] Barry Horner, Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged(Nashville, Tennessee; B&H Publishing Group)271.
[13] Vlach  156
[14] Ronald E. Diprose, Israel and the Church: The Origin and Effects of Replacement Theology(Waynesboro, GA; Authentic Media, 2004),146.
[15] Vlach 160-161
[16] Kenneth Good, Are Baptists Reformed? (Regular Baptist Heritage Fellowship, 1986)
[17] Feinberg 264.
[18] Feinberg/Peters 279.
[19] John Macarthur – Message: Why Every Self Respecting Calvinist is a Premillennialist – Shepherds Conference 07



Scripture quotations marked 'ESV' are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


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