Archive | Israel and Christ RSS feed for this section

The Church and Ethnic Jews

14 Jun

I love history, especially history about Ancient Roman architecture and construction. Great Britain is soaked in Ancient Roman history in terms of its structures and buildings. If I were to locate a marvellous Roman excavation and replace it with a modern building, I’m sure many historians, organisations and even government would be horrified at my dishonour and arrogance. The new building that I constructed has written off hundreds of years of history, society and great importance to the formation of contemporary Great Britain. The better option would be to restore it to be all it was created to be.

This is similar to the Church and ethnic Israel’s position. The Jewish people have great history and importance. Paul describes many of their attributes in Romans 9 as follows: ‘theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah’.

If the Church were to come along and say, ‘we don’t need any of that, we are now the new chosen people of God, and in fact we don’t even need to consider our history or founders of our faith’ then we would be committing a great crime, being arrogant and dishonouring. God would not be happy. Rather, the people of the Messiah (the Church) must honour and not write off their heritage, history and foundations. The architecture God used in the form of Israel to bring about his redeeming purposes for his people in Christ is highly significant and must be preserved. Not only must this history be preserved, but our attitude towards the ethnic Jews of our day must also be of honour and respect. We should not be arrogant, as Paul describes in Romans 11, toward the Jewish people, ‘If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches.’ The gentiles have been grafted into Christ (the olive tree) along with believing Jews to form the church. However, just because we have been grafted in to God’s family does not mean we are better or superior to the branches that are not currently part of his family (unbelieving Jews).

Using the analogy above (though not perfect), we might say that God is in fact restoring the ancient building (rather than replacing it) under new management, namely the Messiah. The new restored part of the building (God’s family through the Messiah) should not say ‘I am a new building, better than the old one that used to exist’. Rather it should say ‘I honour the previous existing building and desire it to be renewed to the requirements of the manager’. The new restored part of the ancient building is fulfilling its destiny to be the building the architect desired it to be.

In summary:

1/ the church must recognise, honour and respect its Jewish foundations and history ensuring it is preserved and understood

2/ the church must not be arrogant toward unbelieving Jews who are not yet part of God’s family, thinking of itself as more superior

3/ the church’s desire should be for God to restore humanity (Jew and Gentile) into a commonwealth through the Messiah to be all it was designed to be

Seeing The Gospel Objectively

31 Jan

Seeing the bigger picture in the gospel is highly important in giving us insight, deeper understanding and meaning to Christianity. The gospel subjectively is one of a very personal nature, in that God saves me from my sins that have separated me from Him. Now I have personal access to the God who walks with me every day, I have a relationship with Him. These facts may be very true, however to naively focus on the subjective gospel would do salvation an injustice. Seeing the gospel through an objective lens is essential for contextualising our individual and corporate experience/journey.

The promise fulfilled in Christ

2 Corinthians 1:20 For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.

In order to understand the gospel more fully there has to be an understanding of the promise given to the fathers, as the gospel is a fulfilment of the promise given to Abraham.

Genesis 12:1-3:

Now the Lord said to Abram,

“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
2 And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
3 And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Genesis 22:18 “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

In chapter 12 the promise given to Abraham has three focuses.

1/ The Land – Abraham is to go to the land God shows to become a great nation

2/ The Nation – the Nation is to be blessed

3/ The Nations – all the Nations are to be blessed by this formed Nation

Abraham gives birth to Isaac and Isaac gives birth to Jacob. In Jacob God forms the Nation Israel. Israel is to enter the Promised Land to be a blessing to the surrounding nations, sharing the light of God. However, cutting a long story short, Israel had failed to be a blessing to other nations because of disobedience and turned away worshipping idols and false gods, therefore invoking the wrath of God in the form of exile (Babylonian and Assyrian invasion).

Israel’s rebellion sets the stage for the long awaited Messiah who will redeem the nation back to God, therefore enabling it to become once again a light to the other nations through Him(Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, 60:3). 700 years after the prophet Isaiah speaks of the Messiah, Jesus is born in Bethlehem.

The Nation Israel who were commanded to be a light had failed, therefore the Light of the world (Jesus) appeared in the form of a man to be a light unto the nations (gentiles). In Matthew 4:15-16 the writer quotes the prophet Isaiah:

“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles
16 “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light,
And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death,
Upon them a Light dawned.”

Here we see the Messiah promised to Abraham (Galatians 3:16) and prophesied by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15) accomplishing the promise by fulfilling Israel’s destiny. Christ chooses His disciples and walks with them for 3 years founding them on the revelation of Himself and The Kingdom. The gospel of the Kingdom is proclaimed through Him telling of God’s ruler-ship and reign, not of an earthly Kingdom but of a heavenly one.

Nearing the end of His ministry on earth, Christ is put to death at the hands of gentiles and Jews. Israel due to disobeying God’s law had bought a curse upon themselves and although now not in physical exile, were exiled spiritually (Deuteronomy 27:26), therefore Christ became a curse on Israel’s behalf (Galatians 3:13).

He is then buried in a tomb; however He could not be held by death and therefore rises from the dead in the form of a resurrected body. Jesus then ascends in to heaven 40 days later after a period of revealing Himself to His disciples where He must remain until the period of the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). The redeemed nation in Christ (Church (1 Peter 2:9)) receives the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus and go into the known world (nations) preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins through Him.

We see this gospel preached in Acts 13:32-39:

32 And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today i have begotten You.’ 34 As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ 35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.’ 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; 37 but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

So in summary the gospel is the good news that all people can be part of the promise given to Abraham by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ through the forgiveness of sins. This gospel Jesus bought to earth in Himself was the fulfilment of the promise given and repeated to many other Israelite generations. The promise was fulfilled in Christ’s resurrection in that Christ is the Messiah, foretold to come from the Kingly line of David (the blessing of David). David served the purpose of God in his generation, however died. Christ served the purpose of God in His generation however lives.

Returning back to the promise, we look again at the focuses in the light of Christ’s fulfilment:

1/ The Land – Abraham is to go to the land God shows to become a great nation

Christ fulfils the land promise in that He forms a nation in Himself, called in Galatians 6:16 “The Israel of God”. This new nation is not an earthly but a heavenly nation, God does not replace Israel (Romans 11 (The Church does not become Israel, however Jews and gentiles must be saved and grafted into Christ through faith)), He forms a new creation (one new man) of people through faith in His son. It is formed not through ethnicity, for Christ brings down the dividing wall of Jew and Gentile and fashions a commonwealth of believers through faith and not allegiance to the law.

The hope of the promise is fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection of the heir of promise (Christ) affirms that the promise inherited through the righteousness of faith (Romans 4:3), to all who believe and have faith, past and present have the hope of a bodily resurrection on earth. Therefore the promise that Abraham and his seed would inherit the land is confirmed in Christ’s resurrection. This promise to Abraham is still yet to be completely fulfilled at the consummation of age when the righteous dead are raised and given new embodiment in the eternal Kingdom of God.

2/ The Nation – the Nation is to be blessed

3/ The Nations – all the Nations are to be blessed by this formed Nation

This new nation formed in Christ, composing of Christ’s disciples of faith is blessed. Christ fulfils the promise given to Abraham that “all the families of the earth will be blessed” by turning everyone away from their wicked ways (Acts 3:26).

Acts 3:24-26:

24 And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. 25 It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

Now in Christ, His followers are sent into the entire world to preach the gospel of the Kingdom to creation (Mark 16). The gospel enables even gentiles to become heirs and partakers of the promise in Christ (Ephesians 3:6). God through Christ dwells no longer in a temple made with hands (which is how God dwelt with Israel under the old covenant) but in those who are Christ’s disciples. His disciples bear God’s image throughout the earth as people from every tribe and tongue through the good news are born in to His new covenant, preparing the way for His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. His body (Church) is sent out to usher in the “already here but not yet” Kingdom before His return to reign on earth.

So what does this mean in terms of seeing the gospel objectively?

Christ dwells in me – Christ dwells in His creation

As we have seen, in the promise fulfilled by Christ, God wishes to dwell in the earth and rule and reign in the nations. He wishes to bless the nations and become central to them, being central in their political, social and economic systems. After all, Christ’s inheritance is the nations (Psalm 2:8). Christ dwells in His believers, but to what end? The glory of God in all the earth, and as believers we are to recognise and serve as part of this much bigger plan.

The gospel changes my heart – The gospel transforms the world

The gospel not only transforms an individual’s heart, it penetrates the world systems that misrepresent and disrepute God’s Kingdom.  Fruit must be seen in a person who has heard and believed the gospel; however, the earth’s transformation is essential in a world that refuses to acknowledge its creator.

“The call of Jesus is actually much more radical than simply a moral repentance; his call is completely world altering. It defies the religious, political, economic structures, even so far as the basic family structure. What is beautiful about Jesus is he goes further with his message than even the average radical street corner proselytizer is willing to go; Jesus goes all the way down to destroying your whole world view, not just your moral code.” (http://jonathanperrodin.com/2010/08/n-t-wright-on-repentance/)

Sin separates me from God – Sin distorts and contaminates God’s creation

Sin is destructive; in Genesis we see sin separating God and man but also man’s involvement in creation. When Cain murdered Abel, Abeles blood cried out to God from the land. This murderous act not only meant his punishment was becoming a vagrant wanderer in the earth but also had an impact geologically and geographically. In Numbers 35:30-34 we see that sin pollutes the land.

The gospel enables me to have a relationship with God – The gospel restores the world into its rightful place with its Creator

When I believed in Christ and He forgave my sins I entered into a relationship with God. This gospel stretches further than my redeemed relationship, it re aligns the world into its rightful place. God is a God of order and cannot contend with sin; therefore all things stained by sin must be redeemed. This includes not only my personal relationship but order is also required in governmental, political, social and economic systems.

I speak the gospel to my friends and colleagues – We speak the gospel to creation

To belittle telling the good news to friends, family and colleagues would be wrong. This gospel must be spoken to those we interact with in our daily lives. Nevertheless it is not solely spoken to humanity, but to creation itself. To explain this further we could take the example of global warming. As I have described above, sin distorts and affects our earth geologically. The gospel therefore must also be effective in redeeming our physical earth. Scientists need the gospel to research renewable clean energy, governments require the gospel to keep recycling a priority and farmers must grasp the gospel to use ethical products in their farming.

So how can we conclude?

1/ our focus on the gospel must not be merely subjective but objective.

2/ the gospels bigger picture is one of fulfilment of the promises given to the fathers.

3/ an objective lens helps us to contextualise our personal experience of salvation.

References

http://jonathanperrodin.com/2010/08/n-t-wright-on-repentance/

A personal perspective in regards to Israel and Salvation

16 Sep

A personal perspective in regards to Israel and Salvation

I believe God is helping me understand salvation through understanding the place of Israel. By no means am I trying to belittle Israel, rather I am attempting to gain a correct view of salvation and the centrality of Christ in His gospel. I am in a season of gaining a clearer perspective on salvation and although never complete, currently he is revealing this to me whereby Israel is a major part of understanding. Please do not think I am in anyway undermining ethnic Israel, I am simply trying to gain clear perspective.

After reading please let me know your thoughts.

Issues of promise

Biblically I don’t believe Israel have a right to the land i.e through promise, as the promise of land to Abraham pointed to a bigger picture (see Heirs of Promise) than a physical location. This has been and is being fulfilled in Christ, namely the gospel redeeming nations and all of creation.
I do believe however they possibly have a right to the land historically and legally.

I believe the promise is not relevant to ethnicity but relationship with Christ. It is not to ethnic Israel, it is to true descendants of Abraham, Christ’s seed, that is believers in Christ of which are composed of Jew and Gentile.

We are not heirs of the promise with Israel.
But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him  who was born  according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say?
“CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON,
FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN.” So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman. (Galatians 4:29-31 NASB)

Israel were in bondage and under a curse as Galatians 3:10 describes. However Paul goes on to say that it was for freedoms sake that Christ set us free. Therefore only in Christ are we made free.

Ethnic Israel are special in the sense of their fathers, their history and the fact that salvation is from the Jews.
They are not special in the sense that they are God’s chosen people to spread the gospel to the nations or are a superior chosen race. This I believe is anti-Christ and opposes the gospel. The gospel brings down the dividing wall of Jew and gentile. Only those in Christ are Abraham’s descendants and only the church or another way of putting it, the Israel of God (Gal 6:16) are sent by Jesus to proclaim the gospel to creation (Mark 16:15).

So Jews who oppose Christ are on an equal playing field as Gentiles who oppose Christ. They are no more special in terms of salvation.

Jewishness I.e. ethnicity is not a requirement for salvation however the gospel does not mean a loss of tradition I.e. Jewish customs, Passover etc., in fact they point to Christ, Christ fulfils many Jewish traditions.
In the same way when I became a Christian I did not stop my English traditions such as drinking tea, frequenting the local pub. I do not lose my tradition or history after salvation. Neither do Jews or any other ethnicity, God is in all things.
That being said, a new identity is formed within, a Christ identity. The Jewish identity of circumcision is rendered powerless under the gospel of Christ. Similarly with the gentile, uncircumcision is rendered powerless. There is no longer circumcision or uncircumcision but one new man, one new identity.

I do believe however that many Jews will be saved as proclaimed in Romans 11. The issue is how not when. To speculate as to when this will happen I believe is foolish. To think about how , provokes us to the thought of blessing the work of God in history, his wonderful salvation that he ushered in through the choosing of the Jews and leads us to bless and provoke Jews to jealousy, not because they are more important but because God was gracious to work in them for our salvation. Therefore we as gentiles must not be arrogant towards Jews, for salvation is from the Jews.

This issue is important in centralising the work of the cross and Christ. We are in danger of being misguided and moving towards witchcraft if we make Israel or any other race a focus. Christ fulfils all promises. He has not created a church to replace Israel, however believers aren’t added to an ethnicity but a commonwealth which has many people from many races and backgrounds all under one new identity, namely Christ.

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy  be  upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14-16 NASB)

So are Israel God’s chosen people?

Under new covenant in the gospel age:
I don’t believe Israel are chosen therefore they bypass salvation through Christ alone.
I don’t believe they are chosen collectively to be heirs of promise through ethnicity.
I don’t believe they are chosen to be a light to the nations.
All of the above takes place only in and through Christ, Jew or gentile.

I do believe they are chosen in regards to their fathers I.e the covenants, promises, law, and Christ came through them.

Romans 11:28

28 [j]From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but [k]from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Romans 9:3-5

For I could [a]wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is [b]the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed [c]forever. Amen.

Let me know your thoughts.

Heirs of Promise

22 Aug

Since the day faith came under the New Covenant ethnicity is no longer the requirement to be a descendant of Abraham. Only those of faith in Christ receive the promises given to Abraham.

What was the promise?

Land

  1. “Get thee out of thy country…unto a land that I will shew thee” (Gen. 12:1).
  2. Abraham “went on his journeys…to Bethel (in Central Israel) And the Lord said unto Abram…Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever…walk through the land…for I will give it unto thee” (Gen. 13:3,14-17).
  3. “The Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates” (Gen. 15:18).)
  4. “I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8).
  5. “The promise that he (Abraham) should be the heir of the world” (Rom. 4:13).

Seed

  1. “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee…and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:2,3).
  2. “I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered…all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever” (Gen. 13:15,16).
  3. “Look now toward heaven, and tell (count) the stars, if thou be able to number them…So shall thy seed be…Unto thy seed have I given this land” (Gen. 15:5,18).
  4. “I will give unto…thy seed after thee…the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Gen. 17:8).
  5. “I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:17,18).

Neither Jew nor Greek

Galatians 3

Verse 7 “Therefore be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham”.

Verse 28-29 ” There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahams offspring, heirs according to promise.”

To be an heir of Abraham is not based on ethnicity, gender, race etc but is based on faith in Christ. Why? The law did not nullify the promise given to Abraham, however it couldn’t enable us to receive the promise as we were shut up under sin (verse 22) but is given to us not on the basis of our works, ethnicity or race but on the basis of who Christ is. He is the author, fulfiller and rightful heir of the promise. Therefore the promise can only be received in Christ by faith (not based on merit).

Romans 9:6-13

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s [d]descendants, but: “[e]through Isaac your [f]descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as [g]descendants. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would [h]stand, not [i]because of works but [j]because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Geographical or heavenly?

When coming to the Old Testament we must view it through a New Testament lens. With this in mind we can say that the things of the Old Testament pointed to something greater, namely Christ.

Hebrews 11:8-10

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

The land of promise that Abraham dwelt in pointed to something far greater which he looked for. Not a geographical dwelling place but a dwelling place with foundations God has built, namely the eternal land of promise, a dwelling place in God that can only be accessed in Christ. This is indicated by the fact that he is described as an “alien living in a foreign location”. So the promise of land points to a greater completion of the promise fulfilled by Jesus, the nations having access to dwell with God in Christ, not in Canaan geographically but a heavenly Canaan, the Kingdom of God.

The writer goes on to say, “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”

In revelation 21:1 John writes “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”

This is the city Abraham longed for. He had knowledge of him being part of a much bigger plan, namely Christ’s bride. He looked forward to the heavenly marriage, the heavenly city that will be established on earth by Christ at his return. He looked to something greater than an earthly land or location we know presently.

Hebrews 12:22-24

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

Similarly, this scripture states that we have now come to the city of the living God, In contrast the preceding verses compare Mount Sinai with Mount Zion. Sinai was a mountain that could not be touched or commonly accessed; it represented law, judgement and Gods holiness. Now, however, we have come to an accessible Mount Zion, which represents Grace and Gods righteous judgment through Christ. Those who have come to it are made perfect by Jesus who’s covenant is far greater/gracious than the punishment/judgment for the shedding of Abels blood which Cain describe in his own words as “too great to bear” (Gen 4:13).

Then, under the Old Covenant, Mount Zion where the temple was located was a place of bloody sacrifice and offering which God had no desire for. Now, under New Covenant, Mount Zion is a place where we find grace and refuge from the wrath of God, where the Son of Man offered a perfect sacrifice reaching all eternity.

Therefore no longer do we seek an earthly Zion, but a heavenly one, a heavenly City for which we are enrolled in now and will be partakers of through Gods grace at his coming.

We align our hearts with the writer of Hebrews, “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” Hebrews 13:14

So we can rule out two questions.

1/ Does ethnic Israel have a basis for receiving the geographical land today? No

2/ Do those in Christ (heirs of promise) have a basis for receiving the geographical land? No

The picture is not the church or ethnic Israel taking possession of an earthly nation, but a heavenly nation is formed in Christ through the gospel. One day Christ will return to establish this heavenly Kingdom on earth where He will reign over all creation.

Conclusion

So we can conclude as follows

1/ Inheritance of the promise given to Abraham is not based on ethnicity, gender or race but is based on faith.

2/ The land promise has been fulfilled in Christ, we look no longer to an earthly city but a heavenly one in which we are enrolled in now and will partake in at Christ’s return.

3/ There is a bigger picture than a receiving of an earthly location as an inheritance but a heavenly nation is formed in Christ in which we harvest the benefits of through faith.

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.