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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.