The Nations, Israel and Christ

1 Aug

The bigger picture

There was a much bigger picture than Israel, namely the nations. God declares in Isaiah 49:6 that it was too small a thing for His servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the preserved of Israel, but He would also make Him a light of the nations so that Gods salvation would go to the end of the earth.

Israel Not forgotten

This does not mean that God had forgotten Israel as verse 14 – 17 reads, “But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, And the Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. “Behold I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands; your walls are continually before me.”

Israels failure

God declared He would redeem Israel through His servant (Isaiah 49:5) who would bring back Jacob to God, in order that Israel might be gathered to God. However, he would not only redeem Israel but the nations. Israel had failed to be a light to the nations as God had commanded them (Genesis 18:17-18, 12:3). They had failed to fulfil their great commission to bless the nations and reveal God’s righteousness (Isaiah 48:18-19).

Christ becomes the centre

Gods servant, namely the messiah became the focal point, the one who would not only redeem Israel but the nations, so that all men whether Jew or gentile would be saved through Messiah (scripture). Not of works so that no man may boast (Ephesians).

Christ fulfills all promises (the gentiles grafted in)

God grafts the gentiles in so that “salvation may reach to the end of the earth” and Israel is therefore enlarged as a result. Christ fulfils the promises given to Abraham that in him that “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”, his descendants become like the sand and offspring like grain. In Abrahams seed (Genesis 22:18) that is Christ (Galatians 3:16), all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.

Christ redeems Israel

Christ is sent to the house of Israel to redeem her through the cross and a new commission (or previous commission made able by Christ) is given to Israel (disciples, the Israel of God – Galatians 6:16), Abrahams descendants (Galatians 3:29), through Christ (Abrahams seed) to be witnesses to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6, Matthew 28:16-20).

This was also spoken of beforehand by the prophet Isaiah in chapter 43:8-13 where he says that “all the nations have gathered together” (Pentecost). God then declares “you are My witnesses” (Acts 1:8) “and My servant whom I have chosen, in order that you know and believe me, and understand that I am he.” Christ chose the disciples (one new man, the commonwealth of Israel) similarly as God had chosen OT Israel to witness that He is the only true God.

This does not mean Israel is replaced; it is expanded in Christ by adding nations/gentiles into its commonwealth.

To make Israel or the Jews centre would be wrong. To emphasise one group or race over another is anti-Christ. Hitler’s Arian race would be one example of an attempt to glorify one race over another. Our goal and focus must be on the centrality of Christ. This does not mean Israel has no importance in history, present time or future. Without the Jews there would be no salvation for “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).

Christ is Israel

To emphasise Israel or to emphasise the church (with a motive to replace Israel) can often separate the God of Israel and Christ. Christ however is the God of Israel and if you will accept, Christ is Israel (Isaiah 49:3). For Christ is Abrahams seed, he is God’s promise who fills and fulfils all things.

Dr Constable’s commentary on Isaiah 49:3 describes Israel and the Messiah as follows:

Yahweh called His Servant Israel. Israel would indeed prove to be an instrument of God by which He demonstrated His glory, but in the context, the Servant appears to be an individual. Messiah was Israel, in that, He was the personal embodiment of ideal Israel, what the nation should have been but never attained. Furthermore, He was the Prince with

God that neither the nation nor its namesake ever fully became. When God referred to His Servant as Israel He was referring to the Servant’s function, not His identity. Throughout this book we have seen that the nation Israel was not able to carry out her function of being a light to the nations because she was blind, deaf, and rebellious. God would provide an individual to do what the nation had failed to do.

“Faced with Israel’s failure, God does not wipe out the nation; he simply devises another way in which Israel’s servanthood could be worked out: through the ideal Israel.”

(Dr. Constable, http://www.soniclight.com)

Hosea and Matthew provide further evidence for Christ being Israel:

Hosea 11:1 1 When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.

Then Matthew directly quotes Hosea:

Matthew 2:13-15 13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”

14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.”

Israel (the nation) is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end which is the Messiah. Israel therefore is a means to Christ. Similarly as the Law leads and points us to Christ so does Israel. Israel is not ended in Christ, Israel is fulfilled in Him for Christ is Israel. He is the fulfilment of all that Israel was called to be.

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