Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee

Support via Patreon | Subscribe

If you've read my previous two articles on Israel, then this will probably seem familiar. This is a combination of the previous two combined into one study, focussing more on who Israel is under the New Covenant rather than the geopolitical/war situation of the Middle East.

So Who is Israel?

No doubt what I'm about to say will cause some knee-jerk reactions, but to properly understand the New Covenant, we need to address the issue of who is Israel, Biblically speaking? Yes, there is a modern nation known as "Israel" now since 1948, but is that the same Israel of the Bible? The same Israel to whom God made his promises? If so, does that mean God's plans were on hiatus while there was no nation of Israel from AD 70 when Rome destroyed them, until 1948?

Who Is Israel?
How many chosen people are there?

So I'm just going to say it: the nation of Israel in the Middle East which we know of today, is not the same Israel of the New Covenant.

Advertisement

So who is Israel then, according to the New Testament?

In a word: Jesus.

Galatians 3:16

Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, “And to offsprings,” as of many; but it says, “And to your offspring,” that is, to one person, who is Christ.

Advertisement

That promise to Abraham of his offspring blessing the earth was not speaking of the Jewish people as a whole, but their culmination in being the lineage to which the Messiah would come!

What about the nation of Israel?

There are some internet memes which are still doing the rounds every so often, quoting Gen 12:3 ("I will bless those who bless [Israel], and the one who curses [Israel] I will curse") and by implication, putting guilt on anyone who dares say a bad word against the nation of Israel. Yes, all the families of the earth shall be blessed — but not by national Israel, but Jesus who IS the true Israel; the one in whom all the promises to the people of Israel are found complete (2 Cor 1:19-20).

It is now through faith in Jesus that we are grafted into the true Israel of God, and because of that, we are blessed! The true Israel of God now are those who believe in the promise that was given to Abraham, which was the Gospel, and not his earthly/natural descendants.

Don't take my word for it though, read for yourself how the Apostle Paul understood this:

Galatians 3:6-9

Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of AbrahamAnd the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.” For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.

This passage from Galatians is an echo of what God said in Gen 12:3, and also Gen 22:18, which Peter also refers to as well in Acts 3:25-26.

Opponents to this view (a view often called "Replacement Theology" or "Fulfillment Theology") say that this means that God somehow failed in his plans with physical Israel and needed a "Plan B" as it were, hence, the Church. Sometimes it will be stated that there is a "dual-covenant" in which the Mosaic Law still applies to Jews, but not to non-Jews, and that this is how the Jewish people attain salvation separate from Jesus. But I can't see how this is possible, given what the New Testament says.

Advertisement

To be clear though, I'm not saying the Church replaced Israel, but rather it is the continuation of what Israel was always meant to be, and so will be the people group in whom the promises from God will be made complete. It's no longer about land or race, but Jesus's righteousness and faithfulness and an expanded plan to include all people – not simply the Jews. God didn't fail in his promises to bless the nations, his plan was just bigger than anyone first imagined!

To be against this idea/view that Jesus is Israel though, is to be against the teachings of the Apostles and the Church Fathers, and therefore the historical foundation of Christianity.

For example, many of the early Christians taught that Christ had fulfilled the Old Covenant in himself, and therefore superseded it with the New:

Justin Martyr (about 100 to 165): "For the true spiritual Israel ... are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ."

Tertullian (ca.160 – ca.220 AD): “Who else, therefore, are understood but we, who, fully taught by the new law, observe these practices,—the old law being obliterated, the coming of whose abolition the action itself demonstrates. . . . Therefore, as we have shown above that the coming cessation of the old law and of the carnal circumcision was declared, so, too, the observance of the new law and the spiritual circumcision has shone out into the voluntary observances of peace.”

(Source: Wikipedia)

I'm not quite sure how you can come to a conclusion other than that physical Israel is of no consequence when Paul writes things like this to the church in Rome:

Romans 9:6-8

It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants; but “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” 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 descendants.

Paul is building his case that it is not simply a matter of being born a Jew any longer. God's plan all along was to include Gentiles (ie. non-Jews), but that was only going to happen after his Messiah had come. God's plan was always for the whole world, but his vessel of choice to bring this to fulfillment, was the Jewish people. It is now through faith that we become the true spiritual Israel under the New Covenant, grafted into the vine (Rom 11:17; Jn 15:1) so that by God showing mercy to the Gentiles through the Jews disobedience, God can in return, show mercy on them again through the Gentiles in order than none can boast, but all may be humbled by God's overwhelming grace (Rom 11)!

This is Paul's theme throughout his letters to the churches and the new believers, making the point over and over that natural Jews are now no different than Gentiles when it comes to the promises of God. Through Jesus, God has created a new humanity — a new race of people, who are heirs and descendants to Israel's promises!

Eph 2:14-16

For he [Jesus] is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.

Galatians 3:28-29

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

And finally,

Romans 2:28-29

For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God.

Did you catch that? It is not literal.

Thus, it follows then, that it is the Church and Christians - whether natural Jew or Gentile, who believes in and follows Jesus, that are now "spiritual Jews" grafted into the True Vine of Israel, that is, Christ Jesus.

Advertisement

Take note of this quote from another blogger who made an interesting observation with regards to this matter, and the parallels which God spoke concerning ancient Israel, and with what Peter says to the Church.

I think this sums it all up nicely (the letters A,B,C are to highlight the parallels between the two verses):

To ancient national Israel: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be [A]MY TREASURED POSSESSION among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to Me [B]A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS and a [C]HOLY NATION…” (Exodus 19:5-6).

To the church: “But you are a chosen race, [B]A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a [C]HOLY NATION, a people [A]FOR HIS OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people…” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Advertisement

 

It's not about land anymore!

But also, aside from the physical, national Jewish people; Israel the land isn't the point either.

What did Jesus say about having a special place for worship when a Samaritan woman asked him about where the proper place to meet with God was?

John 4:21,24

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem ... God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

 

Now, under the New Covenant, it's no longer about nationality, race or land. Jesus changed all that by being the culmination of what the Old promised and then some (Hebrews 8:13)!

Christianity is a new race. A new people group — a new creation in Christ.

Advertisement

The new creation isn't some far flung future event, but was and is a current thing which happens right now! As far as Paul was concerned, once you were in Christ, the old was gone and the new had come already:

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Galatians 6:15

For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!

 

God's Kingdom is limitless and without bounds. As Christians it is no longer (and shouldn't be) about physical boundaries, race or nation for we are all one in Christ, born again into a new creation — a new race and people of God to worship in spirit and in truth!

 

Advertisement

Let that sink in, and then go out and live your life by this truth!

 


Further reading:

Contribute on Patreon

Enjoying this? Consider contributing regular gifts for this content on Patreon.
* Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator's community and pay them for making the stuff you love. You can simply pay a few pounds per month or per post that a creator makes, and in return receive some perks!

Subscribe to Updates
Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 911 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates and join over 126 subscribers today!

Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to Blog updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS RSS

‹ Return to Blog

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Is The Rapture Biblical?

| 21st September 2020 | Eschatology

Is The Rapture Biblical?

Most people have some idea about what the rapture is – or do they? Generally there is an idea or concept of a form of escapism from the world when Jesus returns, which happens pre, mid or post tribulation and in some connection to the millenium. Now, if you understood any of those terms, you are most likely on, or aware of, the Dispensationalism side of things. There’s a lot of doctrine all bundled together in “end times” beliefs, and a fair bit of speculation around “the rapture” with its timing and logistics etc. which makes the whole thing a but murky, but nonetheless, it’s pretty much taken for granted as a staple belief within the Evangelical world. But has this always been so, and does it have any biblical basis? In short: sort of. What is The Rapture? This is the primary verse where the doctrine finds its footing: …then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. — 1 Thessalonians 4:17 On the face of it, that is a pretty obscure (and short) text, yet so much has been written on and speculated about around this event.  I’m not going to cover every aspect of rapture doctrine here, but rather want to just highlight the context of this verse and its parallels in Paul’s other letters, as this seems to get lost under centuries of doctrinal baggage, which, incidentally, also the leads to the next point to look at: is the rapture biblical? The origin of The Rapture The word “rapture” itself comes from the Latin word rapere, which means: “to seize” or “to abduct”. It is a translation from the Greek word that is rendered as “caught up” (ἁρπάζω / harpázō) in our English Bibles today. For many, asking if this belief is biblical is a non-starter because it is assumed so based on 1 Thess. 4 so obviously it is. But this is a presupposition, reading the modern ideas of what “the rapture” means into the text. The modern idea being that Jesus comes back briefly (and maybe secretly), whooses all the Christians into the sky and takes them to heaven, away from all the troubles on the earth, before coming back later to do a proper “second coming”. John Nelson Darby, a 19th-century theologian, is often credited with creating this premillennial rapture doctrine, followed closely by C.I. Scofield who wrote a best-selling annotated Bible which promoted Darby’s rapture views in its footnote commentary. This particular Bible became wildly popular across America in the early 1900s and ended up solidifying the futurist dispensational viewpoint for generations to come within Evangelicalism. Despite the popularity of Scofield’s Bible, what it (and Darby) taught was a novel idea which had not been seen nor heard of before in the previous 1800 years of Church History, yet many Christians accepted it without hesitation, likely due to it being part of the exposition alongside the Scripture they were reading, and therefore a seeming authority. I realise there is somewhat of an irony here in that I’m acting similarly like an authority telling you that this belief is wrong whereas Scofield was writing as though it were accurate, but in an even more ironic twist, just a handful of verses later, the same letter to the Thessalonians says to “test everything; hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). This is what I would invite you to do: don’t just take my word for it, test everything and see if what I say is accurate. The context of The Rapture So what is the context of these verses, if not about being whisked away into the sky with Jesus? A couple of things, but one slightly more obvious than the other, though still overlooked by people, I’ve noticed; the other requires knowing some more about the ancient Greco-Roman culture of the time. Firstly, we only need go back a few verses to see what Paul is writing about here: he begins the passage in verse 13 by say...

Slavery in the Bible – Does God Condone Slavery?

| 15th September 2020 | Slavery

Slavery in the Bible – Does God Condone Slavery?

This is a guest post by Joshua Spaulding from eternalanswers.org. The views are that of the author and don't necessarily reflect the views of That Ancient Faith. As you read through the Scriptures, you will come across some passages that seem to suggest that slavery is not condemned by God. Some who think this to be the case are sincerely seeking truth, while others are only looking for reasons to discount the Bible. Some of the passages in question are Exodus 21:2-6, Deuteronomy 15:12-15, Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 4:1 which provide instruction on the treatment of slaves. In light of these Scriptures, does God condone slavery? Before diving too deep into the topic, there is one very important thing we must understand before we can rightly interpret these Scriptures, and others. Forced slavery, like that which was ended in the U.S. in modern-day history, is not always the same as the slavery mentioned in the Bible. This is significant! (Just a side note: there are still to this day an estimated 21-36 million people¹ in slavery across the world.) Additionally, seeing something such as forced slavery in the Bible does not necessarily mean God approves of it. The Bible consists of legal, historical, poetic, and prophetic books. The historical books are historical accounts of times past and sinful things are not excluded. God knows the heart of man. The laws He gave in regards to slavery were given as grace for those in slavery.We see at least two forms of slavery in the Bible and God gives guidelines, seemingly approving of one of those forms of slavery. We see the type of forced slavery that the Jews, God’s own people, were forced into (Exodus 1:13-14). The Lord delivered Israel from that slavery. So we know that this type of slavery certainly does not have God’s approval (Exodus 6:6). God would not need to “deliver” a people from something that is not sinful and wrong. So God gives guidelines on one from of slavery, seemingly approving of it to a certain extent, while condemning another form of slavery and delivering His people from it. Herein lies the seed of the confusion. Some innocently read the Bible and don’t realize this, but most who bring this topic up are skeptics just looking for a reason to discredit the Bible. They do not realize, or willingly suppress the fact, that the type of slavery that God gives guidelines for, and seemingly approves of to a certain extent, is not the same type of slavery that God clearly condemns. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) and God’s Word does not contradict God’s Word. In Bible times (1st century Greco-Roman times and prior) slavery was not exclusive to any one particular race or language, nor were slaves segregated². They were just like everyone else. These slaves were willing bond-servants. They were often times very well educated contributors to society. Their servitude was rarely for life, but sometimes they willingly agreed to it out of love for their master. These servants were not kidnapped and forced into slavery, which God condemns (Deuteronomy 24:7, 1 Timothy 1:9-1:11). These servants were willing bond-slaves. There is even a book (actually a letter) in the Bible (Philemon) that was written by the Apostle Paul to Philemon (a slave master) emphasizing the fact that all who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of their sin should be treated in the same way … with the same love and respect. What about Leviticus 25:44-46? It is true that God specifically made room for forced slavery, as seen in Lev. 25:44-46. However, this passage should not be seen in the same context as other passages we have considered when dealing with the moral implications of slavery. The reason being that this slavery was a form of judgement by Holy God on a paganistic, rebellious people. It was actually mercy that the Lord allowed them to live in slavery, rather than to be destroyed for their extreme rebellion against God in embr...

An Examination of Conditional Immortality (Part 1)

| 25th May 2020 | Hell

An Examination of Conditional Immortality (Part 1)

I know this is quite a divisive topic, and one you may have come across before (sometimes referred to as “Annihilationism”); and have been told outright that it’s “heresy” or false, or that it’s an emotional argument people want to believe because it ‘sounds nicer’ than the doctrine of Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT). Or maybe you’ve never even heard of this before and you didn’t realise there were alternative interpretations and views on hell. Any discussion on “hell” is going to cover a lot of ground, and refer to many, many places throughout Scripture; so with that said, this will be a long one, so get comfy! I will do this in two parts as it will become too lengthy for one blog post. This article will just focus on the Scriptural basis for the position of Annihilationism, as opposed to ECT, but to begin with I’ll define some terms as words like “hell” have become quite loaded with extra and unbiblical meaning over the centuries. What is hell, anyway? If you read through the Old and New Testament in older translations like the KJV, you’ll see the word “hell” a lot more often than in more recent Bible translations, which will most likely transliterate the Greek words instead. Not all the words get this treatment, and some still get presented as the word hell in English, for example, the NIV and NRSV will convert the word Gehenna into “hell”, but keep the Greek word Hades as-is (see: Matt. 5:22; 11:23). The etymology of “hell” and its origins and how it became the word we know today in English, would take more time than I have space for here, but in short, there are three main Greek words which often get translated as the word “hell”, even though they are each different words with different underlying meanings: GehennaLiterally means “valley of Hinnom”, which is a place near Jerusalem where children were once sacrificed to Baal (see Jer. 19:5–6). Due to its history, it took on a more eschatological/spiritual meaning as a place of judgement and destruction. Hades (Sheol)This is the Greek form of the Hebrew Sheol found in the Old Testament, usually (and properly) translated as “grave”, or meaning the general place of the dead (similar to the place of the same name in Greek mythology). TartarusThis only appears once in the New Testament in 2 Peter 2:4 and is used in relation to the angels who sinned and were put in chains. Interestingly, it’s another word borrowed from Greek mythology, for the prison where the Titans were sent as punishment. If you are interested in how we got the word “hell” in our English language, and more importantly, into our Bibles, I highly recommend that you read this study: The Real Hell. A Case for Conditional Immortality (aka Annihilationism) We are often taught that our souls, human souls, are inherently immortal. But where does this idea come from, because it’s never actually stated in Scripture that this is so. This is an Hellenistic philosophical assumption brought into the text (mainly from Plato’s influence) which can taint our interpretations. If we look at 1 Timothy 6:16 we can see that it is God alone who is immortal: It is he [God] alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen. Any other mention of immortality or eternal life is only ever spoken of as a gift given to us by Jesus, and is often contrasted with the alternative: death, perishing and/or destruction. Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 2 Timothy 1:10…but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. John 10:28; 17:2I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. […] since you have given him authority over all people, ...

That Ancient Faith is Expanding!

| 11th May 2020 | General Interest

That Ancient Faith is Expanding!

EXCITING UPDATES! Just a quick update for you about a couple of new and exciting things I am offering now! Firstly, I have now launched a new range of faith-inspired clothing, which you can see some examples of in the image banner above. If you want to proclaim Christ and your faith via what you wear (especially in these dark times where churches are closed), head on over to: https://thatancientfaith.teemill.com     The second thing to mention, as you may gather from the logo above, is that I now have a YouTube channel! I have begun it by doing a read through of my book, 40 Days with the Fathers, through Lent, so you can listen to the whole book for free. I also plan to create videos discussing the topics I write about where I can go into things in more detail or explain some of the thinking behind the various topics which I can't always fit into the blogs. So if you enjoy watching things on YouTube, come on over and subscribe to my channel.   That's right: I have a new book in the works! It draws on some of the series and articles I've written on this site to do with Old Testament prophecy and its links into the New Testament, the Incarnation (briefly) and the Second Coming and what we have to look forward to (or worry about). Stay tuned for updates, I'll post some more information soon when there's something more solid to show. If you want to get some insider previews or maybe some advanced reading or snippets etc. then come on over to my Patreon and sign up. Members will get advanced access to any news and updates before anyone else, plus other bonuses! That's all for now, leave a comment if you have any queries or thoughts! ...