Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Compare and Contrast

Israel and the Church

I was thinking about the nation of Israel and the Church. One is not the other … in my humble but correct opinion. I ponder some of the conversations I have had with those of the persuasion that one is just a continuation of the other.

Contrast. Both groups are called the “chosen” of God, but are both groups made up of individuals chosen by God? Both are chosen, but are both chosen on the same basis? Individuals are chosen to be in Isreal by virtue of their physical birth. Individuals in the church are chosen in connection with faith (whether chosen because of faith ... or ... chosen to have faith is, of course, debatable, “debatable” being a deficient word in this case).

Compare. The chosen people of God, Israel, was full of rebellious, backsliding individuals. Then again, I have friends who would take the verse Romans 9:6 (For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel) to mean that the rebellious ones from the past in Israel were not truly “Israel.” This makes me wonder: who is God speaking of when he talks of the rebellious ones, because He calls them Israel?! (Head-scratcher)

Compare? Is the church a continuation of this? Are there any rebellious, backsliding Christians who don’t believe God’s Word in the church? Certainly such a one believed at some time or he would not be a part of the church (whether belief was the passive result of being convinced of the truth … or ... it was a gifting of faith…). However, can that same person doubt God’s word and turn away from God’s revelation and will, although a part of the body of Christ? Didn’t this happen with Israel? Is this a point of comparison?

Contrasting the two, I see that individuals in Israel were chosen based on the will of man and the flesh. They were procreated based on their father’s will (to have their mother) and then, through birth, they became an Israelite. However in the church, we are

… born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13)

Because:

… as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (John 1:12)

Contrast! We are given the power of God to become His children. We are out of many nations … making one body. We have one thing in common – we all received Christ and God gave us the right to be called the children of God because of CHRIST, His person and work. No one is born a Christian; you cannot be a Christian since the day of your physical birth, because being born again is connected with faith in Christ. Can an infant see faith in Christ? No. Can a person be an Israelite since the day of his physical birth? Yes, as most Israelites are!

So - we, the Church (should that be capitalized?) are in the house of God because of something different than the Israelites. Contrast! The Israelites are born as infants into a conditional covenant (?), being required to keep the law. We, however, are born as people of an age of reason into the house of God through faith in Christ’s work … which frees us from any requirement. They (Israel) receive an obligation that comes with a promise … or a promise that comes with an obligation. (I do recognize that there are promises made to Israel that are not conditional; we will see them fulfilled regardless of what Israel does). We receive a gift that is not related to obligation, but elicits positive behavior by implantation of the Spirit of God. When works are in attendance with us, they have been produced by a response of love, and a growth of the implanted Word with the Holy Spirit ever-present.

Compare! Something the individuals in Israel and the Church have in common is that none could do enough nor perform aptly to satisfy the demands of the Holy God based on their physical birth. Israel and the Church have this in common because both are physically generated from sources with a common problem – the taint of sin. However, there is a RE-generation with members of the Church. We have been born again as Israelites may be ... but are not entitled to be ... by virtue of their belonging to Israel. Contrast!

These are some of my thoughts. What do you think?

29 Comments:

  • I just edited the bottom half of this post a little, adding a couple of thoughts.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/06/2006 1:33 PM  

  • Good thoughts, Rose. The Church has another benefit that Israel never had: the permanent indwelling ministry of the Spirit of God.

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at 10/06/2006 3:38 PM  

  • Good post Rose.

    In His fellowship with you,
    brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 10/06/2006 10:05 PM  

  • Well, I do happen to differ, but there are still some really good thoughts here.

    My sense from the whole story of Scripture is that Jesus instituted what Israel was supposed to have been. In other words, there are several places in the OT where God refers to His plan for Israel to be a witness to the nations.

    The passage in the Gospels where Jesus is cleaning out the temple references statements from Isaiah. Mark gives a more complete quote from Jesus, saying, "My Father's house is to be a house of prayer for all people". If you look at the passage in Isaiah that Jesus was quoting (I forget off the top of my head...let me go look it up...ok, I'm back. It's Isaiah 56), it seems to indicate that God was talking about all peoples being part of "His people".

    Just out of curiosity, what are some of the promises that you believe are not conditional to the physical nation of Israel?

    steve :)

    By Anonymous Steve Sensenig, at 10/06/2006 10:48 PM  

  • it looks like you are getting a hang of this template thing now :)

    By Blogger Frank Martens, at 10/07/2006 2:35 PM  

  • Great post, Rose~.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/08/2006 4:54 AM  

  • Steve, God has a distinct purpose for all peoples, as nations that is independant to His plans for Israel and the Church (a celestial and supra-national body).

    During the Millennium and eternity, the nations will dwell in peace and righteosness under the rule of our Lord.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/08/2006 12:37 PM  

  • I have missed your blog, having been away two days, Rose~.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/08/2006 12:37 PM  

  • Rose,

    I think true Israel have always been those who believe like Abraham believed (Gen 15:6) thus the remnant idea articulated throughout the OT, and in Rom 9--11. The basis of salvation, IMO, is continuous throughout salvation history (both OT and NT). I still see a hope for a remnant within ethnic Israel (Rom 11:29) when some will receive Jesus as Messiah (Rev 1:7), and I see a distinction between Israel and the Church at this point (but only a "functional distinction"). In other words I don't see two distinct peoples of God, i.e. the Church and Israel, only one people (Eph 2)with different instrumental and functional purposes in the expression of God's unfolding plan of salvation for the "nations".

    Good post.

    In Christ

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 10/09/2006 3:33 AM  

  • I am just glad I am seed of Abraham!!!

    Gal 3:29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise.

    By Blogger nathaniel adam king, at 10/09/2006 7:19 AM  

  • Hi Jonathan,
    You're right. I alluded to this, but you have spelled it out plainly. Thanks for the visit.

    Thanks, J. Wendell. ;~)

    Steve,
    Hi, very nice to see you.
    Jesus instituted what Israel was supposed to have been...
    Wow, I have never heard that one before. I will have to kick that around a bit.

    Here are a couple of unconditional promises:

    That Israel will be regathered to their land. (This is most proabably what has been happening since earlier in the past century, although I know there are those who question whether or not the current situation is what was predicted in the Bible; I have little doubt about it!)

    That there will be a large multitude of Israelis who will seee the Messiah at the second coming and be converted.

    Check this out from Jeremiah 31:
    31 "The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, " declares the LORD. 33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." 35 This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD Almighty is his name: 36 "Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the LORD, "will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me." 37 This is what the LORD says: "Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done," declares the LORD.

    (I don't see how one can spiritualize that to mean something other than a promise to the PHYSICAL progeny of Jacob.)

    I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Do you see these promises to the nation of Israel as conditional?

    I agree when you see the words, "all people" ... it means means "all people". Yes, all means all and world means world. (chuckle) The temple had a court for gentiles. It was meant to be a place where all people could come and hear about the one, true God, no doubt.

    I checked out Isaiah 56 and it seems to me that this was speaking to an immediate situation at that time and it referenced a conditional promise:

    every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath and holds fast My covenant

    I could be wrong, though. It has happened. LOL!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/09/2006 9:23 AM  

  • Hi Frank,
    Your comment made me smile. I remember when you "heard" my cry for help about a year ago. I still think you are very nice. HTML is not very easy. I spent a few nights foregoing sleep so I could learn something of it. It isn't so bad once you figure out the basic idea, I am sure. (have I figured out the basic idea? I think so, but I am not sure! A couple of things worked for me! Another nice blogger, "KC", helped me last Spring via email.)

    DF,
    I missed you too, my British friend. I even worried a little bit when you didn't come to my blog for a day. I thought, "Where is Matthew? ... Is he OK?" Then I remembered you mentioned going away for the weekend.
    I just love this phrase: "supra-national body".
    That really spells it out. It is not a nation, but is above nations; the church is a heavenly people.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/09/2006 9:30 AM  

  • Hi Bobby,
    "True Israel" is a confusing concept for me. Help me out here? Other than Romans 9:6 For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel
    (which I see as saying that just because you are a part of that nation does not guarantee that you have a heart for God or that you are truly following in the footsteps of Abraham's faith.)
    Other than that passage, where else does the Bible present this "true Israel" idea? ... or a "false Israel" idea?
    I am sincerely asking, not being a smarty pants. I just don't remeber in my readings through the Bible getting an idea like God was implying that this nation was not real, or that he had "another Israel." I see the idea of another "people" there, but not "another Israel."
    Thanks for visiting Bobby!

    Nathaniel,
    (what happened to Sofyst?)
    Christ is Abraham's seed. If you are in Christ through faith, then you are an heir according to the promise. What promise?

    Genesis 22
    15 Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, 16 and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

    Does God mean me and you when he says "In your seed"?

    Check out Paul's commentary on the above promise, quoted at the beginning of Paul's discourse that you quote:

    Galatians 3:15
    16The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ.

    Christ is the physical seed of Abraham. If Jesus were not the physical seed of Abraham, he could not be the Messiah. The promise about multiplying his descendants ia also physical.

    Paul is recogninzing that "Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." This is faith which is how one enters "in Christ." In this way we, the church, are following in Abraham's footsteps. We have been made heirs according to the promise made back in Genesis:

    ... all the nations of the earth shall be blessed ...
    WE are blessed in Christ with every Spiritual blessing.

    So that is a context for this verse that you quote:

    Gal 3:29
    And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise.

    Paul never was into replacement theology:

    Romans 11:
    1 I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, (this is physical) of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew...

    This is also physical Israel:

    Romans 9:
    3For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

    Now, Nathaniel, I don't know if you were implying anything in your comment, but maybe I have answered what I think you were getting at. We, the church, have not replaced Israel. Good to see you, Sofyst! ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/09/2006 10:28 AM  

  • Rose~, I am planning a post on the sad lack of zeal and enthusiasm amongst Dispensationalists. The Reformed theology enthusiasts are really passionate about their theology.

    You are definitely an exception. It is great that there are still some people really passionate about Dispensationalism.

    I worry about you too when you disappear for a day or two.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/09/2006 1:50 PM  

  • I should've been more clear. I see Rom 9:6 speaking about ethnic Isreali's; my point was that the basis of our salvation is the same--both in the OT and NT thus leading me to believe in a continuity between the two people; i.e. not two separate people of God as Classic Disp. typically thinks.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 10/09/2006 3:40 PM  

  • Good post Rose. I told you we had stuff in common.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/09/2006 7:42 PM  

  • When asked, I have always said that God chose Israel for one reason and one reason only: He is God and He gets to choose.

    Israel was never, is not now and never will be any better or worse than any other group would have been had God chosen them, for we are all sinners and fall short of His glory.

    By Blogger Joe, at 10/10/2006 8:03 AM  

  • DF,
    Thanks! I do have a passion about this. It just makes sense and any other way of viewing these things seems so contorted to me.

    Hi Bobby,
    Hmmm... yes, I am more of a classic dispy than you, I guess. ... although I do believe that there has always been just one way tp come to God - by faith.

    Bugblaster,
    I knew it!

    Joe,
    Yes, warts and all, Israel was chosen as a nation to deliver the oracles of God and the Messiah ... and they have been set aside for some future glory too!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/10/2006 5:07 PM  

  • Rose, I'm completely cool not coming to agreement on this, because I don't view it as essential for fellowship. However, since you asked... ;)

    If Isaiah 56 only applied to "an immediate situation at that time", then why did Jesus quote it when He was clearing the temple?

    With regard to Jeremiah 31, I don't see it as necessarily something to be "spiritualized", but I do find the "new covenant" language quite in parallel with what Jesus instituted. Remember, Paul talks about us Gentiles being "grafted in". So the new covenant is also valid for members of physical Israel, should they choose to accept it. (Why is the Mission Impossible theme suddenly running through my head?!)

    I agree completely that Paul was not into "replacement theology", and I find it difficult to apply that term to what I believe. Maybe "continual theology"? ;) But when Paul says that God had not abandoned Israel, I think he's referring to the fact that Israelites (like himself) were still very welcome in the Kingdom of God.

    As for my "Jesus instituted what Israel was meant to be" comment, I didn't realize that would sound so foreign and strange to you. Have you bounced it around enough to have any additional thoughts on it?

    This topic is way too involved to address in small comments like this, so I realize this is tough on both sides. But thanks for the good interaction!

    steve :)

    By Anonymous Steve Sensenig, at 10/10/2006 9:11 PM  

  • I tend to go with the view of Chafer and Stanford that the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31 has nothing to do with the Church.

    Jeremiah 31 indicates nothing that would suggest that the Gentiles are included within its provisions.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/11/2006 7:56 AM  

  • Steve,
    Honestly, I have never heard that thought before about the church being what Israel was meant to be. I mulled it over a bit and I cannot get my mind to a place of embracing that at all. I see Israel as having had a very specific purpose and plan from God. I see the church as totally different. It is interesting how Christians can see thigns so variantly.

    As to Jeremiah, DF's comments are better than how I could say it ... and so pithy!

    As to Isaiah 56,
    This is what you originally said:
    Isaiah 56, it seems to indicate that God was talking about all peoples being part of "His people".

    Here is a specific from the chapter:
    And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant-
    7 these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.


    The bolded part is why I think it is not talking about the church, but about foreigners sojourning with Israel or seeking favor with the God of Israel. This passage speaks of foreigners sacrificing. I don't see us Gentiles sacrificing in the church age. I think Jesus quoted this,
    ...(which was for immediate situation at that time)...
    in the temple because he was declaring Israel's failure.

    That is how I see it, but I have been wrong before. ;~)

    you say:
    But when Paul says that God had not abandoned Israel, I think he's referring to the fact that Israelites (like himself) were still very welcome in the Kingdom of God.

    Here is another place where you and I would be at variance. I do see that Israelites (like himself) were still very welcome in the Kingdom of God, but that is not what Paul was saying, in my humble but correct opinion. No time right now to offer passages as to why I have that correct opinion ... gotta go ... but maybe later ... or maybe the man of few words will offer some whilst I am away. (DF)

    I agree with you here, brother:
    But thanks for the good interaction!

    Thank you!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/11/2006 9:38 AM  

  • No, Israel was never meant to be what the Church is, though resurrected OT saints will experience something of the Church's heavenly glory.

    Israel was called to be God's people on earth, a people with earthly promises, having their connections and privileges in the land.

    The Church is called to be pilgrims and strangers in this wicked world, having its position and privileges in heaven.

    What is more the Church is s supra-national body made up of people from al nations. Israel was a nation and by its nature limited to descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/11/2006 12:17 PM  

  • Rose and DF,

    Late in the posts, but I'll ask you guys the same type of question that I asked Bobby over at his site.

    If National Israel has a place in future events, who is National Israel? So does an Israelite need to be a full-blooded decendant of Jacob? Do we just assume that all the people living in the bounds of what we know as Israel the nation to be Israelites? Where's the cutoff line? If I'm 51% Jewish, do I inherit some of the blessing? Do I have to be a believing Jew to inherit the blessing? Is this where the "remenant" comes in?

    Please don't read sarcasm into the questions, not that you would. Just curious as to your views. I know it calls for a bit of speculation.

    Any thoughts?

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at 10/12/2006 12:06 PM  

  • Ten Cent, that is a very good question.

    The ultimate answer is that only the Lord knows who is a true Israelite. It is quite unnecessary for you and I to know who is descended from Abraham and who is not. In fact it would be a bad idea if we did, because we might suspect that one that we met would be among the remnant who are not converted until the end of this dispensation and thus fail to witness to him or her.

    It is probably the case that, contrary to Jewish tradition, only those with an unbroken male succession from Jacob are true Israelites. A Gentile mother does not break the succession, but a Gentile father would. The Jews in their apostasy switch it around (which would have broken our Lord's succession- He had several Gentile women in His ancestry).

    Thus, there are probably only a small minority of true Israelites among the Jews.

    It may be that the Jewish remnant who enter the Millennial Kingdom are limited to the 144,000 of Revelation chapter 7.

    Don't go listening to any ignorant person who tells you that all Jews are descended from the Khazar tribe. There were Jews living in Europe before the Khazar royalty converted to Judaism and it is not certain that all of the Khazars became Jews. The idea theory that all Jews are of Khazar descent is nonsense.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/12/2006 3:31 PM  

  • Matthew,

    Thanks for answering my question. Can I ask you one more? How does your view of there only being a small minority of true Israelites in present day Israel effect your attitude towards the nation of Israel as the world views it today? So, in other words, do you feel that it should be a high priority to protect/defend the nation we call Israel because there might indeed be some true Israelites within it?

    Or would your attitude towards the nation of Israel be the same as towards any other nation because any nation might have true Israelites within it? Or simply because we should defend the oppressed...?

    In Christ
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at 10/13/2006 8:32 AM  

  • Hey Ten Cent,
    I am glad Matthew answered your question. When I read it I had thoughts of some conversations with people over the ressurection. It made me think of what doubters sometimes say, not because I think you are a doubter or anything, but because I am reminded of the all-knowing mind of God.

    Doubters will say things like, "How could God raise someone's body that was cremated and whose ashes were scattered across the ocean?"

    The answer is, "God knows where every molecule of that body is, and since raising it is in His plan, can the destruction of the body by men thwart Him? He can gather those bits from all the four corners of the earth and put them back together."

    Well, that is what I thought of when contemplating your question. God knows who is an Israelite. He knows where they all are.

    As Matthew said: The ultimate answer is that only the Lord knows who is a true Israelite.

    I think Matthew's comments were pretty interesting. I usually think of someone with any Jewish ancestry as being a part of Israel ... but that is just me. When I think of those folks over in the land, I really think they will be at the epicenter of God's prophetic plan.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I don't think I have ever seen you here before.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/13/2006 9:09 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I've visited a few times before, however I don't believe I've commented on your blog until now. I have commented on Unashamed, Antonio's Blog, and Bobby Grow's Blog. Trying to garner the truth from each one's viewpoint, poke it, prod it, and see how it stands up.

    My beliefs on Israel tend to land closest to Bobby's views. Which, in all reality, are not too far off from your own, as much as I can see. There are specific promises to Israel, physical Israel, but then there are other promises that include all of God's people (believers in Christ).

    What I'm trying to get my hands around is if God made us one people through Christ, how does that effect the physical people of God. Romans 2:28,29 talks about how being a Jew is not about the physical circumcision, it's about circumcision of the heart.

    And doesn't John 17 reveal the heart of Christ, praying to the Father, asking that we all may be one as they are one.

    And in Ephesians 2 Paul talks about Christ bringing together the two groups, so that those who far off are now brought near and no longer stangers and aliens, but fellow citizens and saints.

    So I believe that we were once afar off, two separate people, having no hope and without God in the world, but now, in Christ, we are one.

    I do believe God still has a plan for His chosen people, National Israel. He hasn't forgotten them. And in spite of their unbelief, His Spirit will move within them and bring revival.

    Enough said for now. Thanks for interaction. And by the way, it's not that I doubt He could bring all the "full-blooded" Jews back into the land and effectively make good on His promises. It's that to hold to that belief (not saying it's right or wrong) it effects many areas, even international politics. And it can easily distract us from the beauty of Christ and His redeeming work, for all people.

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at 10/13/2006 11:17 AM  

  • Ten Cent, you will find my full position on the nation of Israel here:

    My Position on the Nation of Israel

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/13/2006 3:38 PM  

  • Matthew,

    Thank you for the link. And thanks for being specific in your beliefs in regards to Israel.

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at 10/15/2006 9:35 AM  

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