Compare and Contrast
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)
… 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?