Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bless Israel?

"...but Israel shall be saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation. You shall not be ashamed or disgraced forever and ever." (Isaiah 45: 17)

"All Israel will be saved." (Romans 11:26)

It's widely known that God promised to save Israel in the Old Testament scriptures. But most Jews today are not followers of Christ, so does that mean that this an unfulfilled promise?

Some Biblical scholars say that we should be patient because these promises to save Israel will come true eventually. One day the Jewish people will receive Jesus as the Messiah and they will be saved in fulfillment of God’s promise.

Another theory is that God’s promise has already come true. How? Because, according to the Apostle Paul, many of us have misunderstood the true identity of "Israel" as God intends it. To elaborate, God did not mean to suggest that the natural, national, ethnic Jews would all be saved, but only those who receive the Messiah (either Jew or Gentile) are truly "Israel".

Where does this teaching come from? In Romans 9:6 Paul says, "But it is not as though the word of God has failed." Why does he say this? Because, as he's about to demonstrate, God's promise to save Israel has not failed because "...not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel".

God made promises to Israel, the nation, but not everyone who is Jewish by blood will automatically receive the promised salvation. As Paul has already said, in Romans 2:28-29:

"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."

So, who is truly a "Jew" and who is truly "Israel" according to the Word of God? Is it anyone born from Jewish blood? Or is it only the one who is circumcised of the heart and in Christ? Clearly, Paul is adamant that the only true "Israel" are those who are in Christ and who accept the Messiah as Lord and Savior.

Let's look to the Old Testament to see if we can find evidence to support this claim. In Psalm 50:5, God calls those Jews who have made a covenant with him as his "Holy Ones". Later, in Psalm 50:16 God says to the same Jewish Nation,

"But to the wicked, God says, 'What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant upon your lips?’ For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you."

So, God clearly divides the Jewish people into groups; those who love and obey Him, and those who rebel against Him and refuse to submit to His rule and reign. One group of ethnic Jews are "Holy Ones" who will receive His promise. The other group of ethnic Jews are "wicked" and have no right to the promise.

So, when God made promises to Israel, He did not mean every single person with Jewish blood in their veins (of the flesh), but only to those who are truly "Israel" and submit to His rule and reign and obey Him in love, from their hearts (of the spirit).

As Jesus said of Nathaniel, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" (John 1:47) What does it mean to be "an Israelite indeed"? Apparently, according to Jesus, it means having no deceit in your heart. Therefore, not every Jew, according to Jesus, is "an Israelite indeed" but only those whose hearts are open to the will of God.

In Jeremiah 31:31, the prophet says, "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." In the upper room, before his crucifixion, Jesus held up the cup and declared, "...this cup is the new covenant in my blood."

To whom did he proclaim this covenant? To his disciples who were truly "the house of Israel" because their hearts were circumcised according to the Spirit and not to the flesh (except for Judas, of course).

Paul's argument is that the true Israel is a remnant of people, not the entire Jewish nation or race. In fact, this is why he proclaims,

"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." (Galatians 3:28)

Notice that he doesn’t say, “There are now both Jews AND Greeks”. Instead he says that now neither one exists as a separate entity. There is no more separation between the two groups because, in Christ, these distinctions cease to exist and become irrelevant.

Then, to put the icing on the cake, Paul ends this same passage by saying:
“And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:29)


Of course, this should come as no surprise because Paul also says in Romans 9:8, “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.”

So, when we are told that, as good American Christians we must support a secular state like the Nation of Israel, regardless of what political or military actions are taken, we have to stop and ask ourselves, “What does the Scripture really say about this?”

The notion that Christians, and America as a nation, should support the Nation of Israel comes from the scripture where God says to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)

From this, we are told by our pastors and Christian leaders and political experts, that if we don’t bless Israel (the secular nation) politically, then we will as a nation will not be blessed. Is this true? I would say, no for several reasons.

First, because as we’ve already seen, not everyone who is Jewish is really “Israel”. Secondly, because there were plenty of Jewish leaders and Kings of the nation of Israel in the past who were anything but godly. So, for example, if we lived during the reign of Jeroboam (an evil King), God would not expect us to support his pagan worship practices, persecution of Jewish priests, and sacrifices to demons. Obviously not. So, the promise, (if it’s even intended to be something passed down to Abraham’s children or not), is meant to apply only to those who are spiritually “Abraham’s offspring” and according to Galatians 3:29, that means being in Christ, not being born a Jew.

Finally, I would like to ask what the fundamental difference is between today’s secular Jewish nation of Israel and the Pharisees of Jesus’ day? Both reject Christ as the Messiah and persecute Christians in Palestine. Should we support a government, any government, who persecutes our brothers and sisters in Christ?

What do you think?



Chase said...

Keith, I really appreciate this post. I've been confused about this issue for sometime, and you've eloquently — and supported by scripture — expressed my concerns. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Please could you help me to understand about Israel and the church ? Has God two plans ? one for the church and another for Israel ? I undesrtand that the church is God's plan before the ages.How to understand when the bible said that Israel will rebuild the templo ?

Keith Giles said...

Anonymous: God does not have 2 plans. As I've said in this article, God's plan from the beginning was to save all of Israel and the true Israel is the Church. Also, in my book, "This Is My Body:Ekklesia as God Intended" I outline how the Messiah's calling was to build the Temple of God. (As prophesied in Zechariah, 2 Samuel, etc.) and Jesus did build the true Temple of God - the Church! We are the Temple of God. The NT affirms this. And to put an exclamation point on this, in AD 70 the physical Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed (on the anniversary of the destruction of the first temple no less) and it remains so to this very day.

If you want to download my book for free you can do so at the link here on my blog.

Howard said...

I'm disappointed that you would write something that can so easily be used as fodder by anti-Semites who want the US to abandon our friends in Israel. I do not see those of us who support Israel as supportive of any particular government. Where you cite scripture to back up your view, there is also scripture that speaks to why we are called to support the historical homeland of God's chosen people.

Keith Giles said...

"God's chosen people" are who? According to the New Testament it's anyone who is in Christ.

I'm happy to discuss this topic with you, either here or in person.

othentic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
othentic said...

@Howard - What about our friends in Palestine, born in refugee camps, "contained" in a few cubic miles? Why do you assume those of us who do not support the political state of Israel are anti-Semitic? Is the daughter of former Mossad deputy anti-Semetic because she opposes Israeli agenda?

Laura Anaya said...

I am not sure how this could be used as anti-semitic? It seems to support loving humanity both Jew and Gentile the same as there is no distinction in Christ. Why is it that if someone is not in favor of how the Jewish nation know as Israel of our day is treating others they are anti-semitic? What if we disapprove of the violence both Israel and Palestine engage in with each-other? Are we then anti-semitic and anti-palestinien? Or are we Pro-humanity and any violence from either side is not the answer. I long for the day when one objects to violence they are not seen as hating the one side or the other but loving humanity.