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ISRAEL

PART 2: THE CHOSENNESS OF ISRAEL

By Norman Manzon

View Part 1: Who Is Israel? Who Are the Jews?


Israel is part of an extensive and detailed biblical exposition of the doctrinal statement of The Association of Messianic Congregations. It has been adapted here for broader readership.

For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all
the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

~ Deuteronomy 7:6 ~


CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION
II. THE AMC STATEMENT ON ISRAEL
III. THE GOLDEN RULE OF INTERPRETATION
IV. THE FACT OF ISRAEL'S CHOSENNESS
V. GOD'S PURPOSES FOR ISRAEL'S CHOSENNESS
VI. THE PROVISIONS FOR ISRAEL'S CHOSENNESS
VII. THE AMC STATEMENT ON THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
VIII. THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
A. THE PROVISIONS OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
B. THE UNCONDITIONALITY OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
C. FOUNDATION TO THE OTHER COVENANTS
IX. THE LAND COVENANT
X. THE DAVIDIC COVENANT
XI. THE NEW COVENANT
XII. THE MOSAIC COVENANT
A. THE NATURE OF THE MOSAIC COVENANT
B. THE BREAKING OF THE COVENANT AND ITS RESULTS
C. THE BREAKING OF THE MOST CRITICAL COMMANDMENT
D. WHY DID GOD INSTITUTE THE COVENANT?
E. THE BARRIER OF THE DIVIDING WALL
XIII. THE IRREVOCABILITY OF THE UNCONDITIONAL COVENANTS
XIV. "The election of Israel is irrevocable"
XV. THE COVENANTS STILL BELONG TO ISRAEL
XVI. THE APPLICABILITY OF THE UNCONDITIONAL ISRAELI COVENANTS TO GENTILES AND THE CHURCH
XVII. THE CHOSENNESS OF ISRAEL IN THE CHURCH AGE
A. JEWS ESTABLISHED, INSTRUCTED AND LED THE CHURCH
B. THE GOSPEL IS TO GO TO THE JEW FIRST
XVIII. THE CHOSENNESS OF ISRAEL IN THE GREAT TRIBULATION
a. israel blesses the nations
B. GOD BLESSES ISRAEL
XIX. "God will ultimately fulfill every aspect of the covenant in the Messianic Kingdom, both physical and spiritual"
XX. A RECAPITULATION OF THE OUTWORKINGS OF ISRAEL'S CHOSENNESS
XXI. AFTERWORD
ENDNOTES

I. INTRODUCTION

We have seen in Part 1 that literal Israel and the literal church are not one and the same, that the church has not been joined to Israel, and that neither Jews nor Gentiles ever forfeit or lose their national identities for any reason. We have also noted, with plenty of support, that "Jew" will be used in this series in the sense of bloodline Jews, the way Jesus, His disciples and all their contemporaries in Scripture used it.

There are certain relevant claims made by significant portions of the church which raise the following questions: Are Gentile believers really Israelites who are members of the ten "lost tribes"? Has the church replaced Israel? May it be considered spiritual Israel? May it be considered the new Israel in any sense? May it be regarded as Israel in a figurative sense? May believing Gentiles be regarded as spiritual Jews? We will examine these claims in our next issue; but before we do, it would be wise for us to address key passages of Scriptures that have to do with Israel's chosenness and the purposes for it in the outworking of God's divine agenda.

What is herein presented is not intended to negate or downplay the chosenness of the church, but is intended to examine and affirm the ongoing chosenness of the nation of Israel, and to examine the interplay between the two.

Many of the points in our Statement will be addressed either as major headings or as points under major headings.

II. THE AMC STATEMENT ON ISRAEL

We believe Israel is God's special people, distinct from the body of Messiah, chosen by Him to be a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. The election of Israel is irrevocable. Jewish believers in Yeshua have a unique twofold identity. They are the spiritual remnant of physical Israel and at the same time are part of the body of Messiah. We believe the Abrahamic Covenant is an irrevocable, unconditional covenant God made with Jewish people. This covenant provides title to the land of Israel for the Jewish people and promises a descendant (the Messiah) who would come to redeem Israel and bless the entire world. The spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant overflow to all the nations. God will ultimately fulfill every aspect of the covenant in the Messianic Kingdom, both physical and spiritual. We believe that Israel's eternal covenant relationship with God does not grant atonement to individual Jewish people. Therefore, it is the believer's privilege and duty to tell the Good News of Messiah Yeshua to the Jewish people. (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:1-21, 17:1-21; Romans 11:1-29; Galatians 3:14-17)

III. THE GOLDEN RULE OF INTERPRETATION

One fundamental principle of biblical interpretation needs to be considered at the outset: The Golden Rule of Interpretation.

When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise.1

When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense. As an example, when the Bible says "Israel," it should be presumed that what is meant is literal national Israel unless there is clearly a good and valid reason to interpret it otherwise.

IV. THE FACT OF ISRAEL'S CHOSENNESS

In Deuteronomy 7:6, Moses said, For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Our Statement contains the phrase special people. What is here translated a people for His own possession is rendered differently in other translations, but the key Hebrew word is סְגֻלָּה, se-goo-lah'. One of the definitions that Strong's gives it is special.

Other verses that straightforwardly declare Israel's chosenness are Deuteronomy 14:2; 1 Chronicles 16:13; Psalm 33:12; 105:6,43; 106:5; 135:4; Isaiah 41:8-9; 43:10,20; 44:1-2; 45:4; Amos 3:2; 1 Peter 2:9-10. 1 Peter 2:9-10 will be discussed.

In various translations, "chosen" is rendered "elect," both of which mean sovereignly chosen by God for divine purpose and blessing.

V. GOD'S PURPOSES FOR ISRAEL'S CHOSENNESS

The presupposition for chosenness is that there are reasons for it. Gleaning from the above passages and others, these points summarize the purposes for which God chose Israel:

  • to be a holy people unto Him. Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2; etc.
    In reference to Israel, holiness carries the meanings of being set apart, dedicated, consecrated, hallowed, sacred, which is seen in Exodus 19:6: You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

  • to be His own possession, His special treasure. Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 4:20; 7:6; 14:2; Psalm 135:4.
    The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it (Psalm 24:1). Yet, of all the nations, God chose Israel to be His own possession among all the peoples (NASB), His peculiar [special] treasure (KJV) (Exodus 19:5).

  • to be His servant. Isaiah 41:8,9; 44:1,2,21; 65:9,15; Jeremiah 30:10; 46:27,28.

  • to be His inheritance. Deuteronomy 9:26, 32:9; Psalm 33:12, 74:2, 78:62,71, 94:6, 106:5; Jeremiah 12:7,9.

    One meaning that "inheritance" has in the Hebrew Scriptures is a valuable possession that is given to, or set aside for, a particular person or group (e.g., Joshua 14:1-15, esp. v. 13). A narrower meaning is something of value that one gains possession of after the death of its present owner (e.g., Numbers 27:7). Israel is already God's possession and inheritance according to the first meaning; but will eventually become His inheritance in a special way as a result of the death of her Messiah when, in the future, all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).

This summary is fleshed out by a massive amount of Scripture, but Peter sums it up in 1 Peter 2:9:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Much evidence indicates that Peter was addressing Jewish believers as representative of their chosen nation. The verse itself contains references to Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6, 10:15; Isaiah 42:16, 43:20, and 61:6. Other points of evidence are listed in the Footnotes.2

VI. THE PROVISIONS FOR ISRAEL'S CHOSENNESS

The provisions that God made for the establishment and fulfillment of Israel's chosenness and the purposes for it reside in the five covenants that He made with them. There are some who believe that the covenants were made with the church. Let us follow a simple line of reasoning to clear up the matter:

1. 1 Corinthians 10:32 shows that Israel, the Gentiles and the church are three distinct groups: Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God.

2. Paul affirms in both a positive and a negative manner that the covenants were made solely with Israel. In Romans 9:3-4, he states positively that the covenants were made with the people of the literal nation of Israel: 3. my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4. who are Israelites, to whom belong . . . the covenants and the giving of the Law; and in Ephesians 2:11-12, he emphasizes the negative aspect concerning the Gentiles, that they were strangers to the covenants of promise.

In the sequence in which the covenants were announced, they are the Abrahamic (1900 B.C.), Mosaic (1450 B.C.), Land (1400 B.C.), Davidic (1000 B.C.) and New covenants (600 B.C.). The covenants are of two types: conditional and unconditional. The Abrahamic, Land, Davidic and New covenants are unconditional, and the Mosaic Covenant was conditioned upon Israel's faithfulness and obedience to God.

The two types are kept distinct in each of two passages. In Romans 9:4, the unconditional covenants are referred to as the covenants, and the conditional Mosaic Covenant as the giving of the law. In Ephesians 2:11-16, the unconditional covenants are referred to as the covenants of promise (v. 12), and the Mosaic Covenant as the barrier of the dividing wall. . . the Law of commandments contained in ordinances (vv. 14-15).

The Abrahamic Covenant is the first covenant that God made with Israel, and is foundational to the other four.

VII. THE AMC STATEMENT ON THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
We believe the Abrahamic Covenant is an irrevocable, unconditional covenant God made with Jewish people. This covenant provides title to the land of Israel for the Jewish people and promises a descendant (the Messiah) who would come to redeem Israel and bless the entire world.

VIII. THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT

God made the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3,7; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-21; 22:15-18), passed it on to Abraham's son, Isaac (Genesis 26:2-5,24), then to Isaac's son, Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15), whose name became Israel (Genesis 32:28); and finally, to the twelve sons of Israel and to all of Israel through them (Genesis 49:1-28). The foundational declaration and promises of the covenant, and of all of the covenants, are contained in the first passage, Genesis 12:1-3:

1. 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."

A. THE PROVISIONS OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT

These are the key provisions. God promised:

  • to make of Abraham a great and numerous nation (Genesis 12:2; 13:16; 15:5; 17:1-2,7; 22:17);

  • to give the land of Canaan to him and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob, and spelled out its borders (Genesis 12:1,7; 13:14-17; 15:17-21; 17:8);

  • that Abraham's descendants will be enslaved by Egypt and be delivered after four hundred years (Genesis 15:13-14);

  • that all the families of the earth will be blessed through Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 22:18);

  • to bless those who bless Abraham, and curse those who curse him (Genesis 12:3).

    The wording of the last promise may cause some to wonder whether it was meant to apply to Abraham specifically or to the whole nation. Scripture makes it clear that it not only applied to Abraham personally as in Genesis 12:10-17; 20:1-3,18, but to all in his chosen line. It is implied in the fact that God passed the covenant through Isaac and Jacob to all Israel, and in His intention to bless all the families of the earth through them, and may be observed at work in the lives of those who blessed or cursed Israelites other than Abraham: e.g., Potiphar, who blessed Joseph (Genesis 39:1-5); Haman, who cursed Mordechai (Esther 9:25); in the life of the nation in biblical history (e.g., Zechariah 2:8; Matthew 25:31-46, esp. 40,45) and in post-biblical history.

  • Circumcision was to be the sign of the covenant. Genesis 17:9-14.

B. THE UNCONDITIONALITY OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT

God placed no condition upon any individual or on the nation for the covenant's fulfillment. He emphasized the covenant's unconditionality when He ratified it in Genesis 15.

According to the custom of the day, the most serious of covenants were ratified when the parties to it passed between the sections of animals that they had slaughtered, establishing a solemnity and seriousness in the parties' minds by the shedding of blood. When God ratified His covenant with Abraham, only one party passed between the pieces: God Himself, Who appeared as a flaming torch,3 (v. 17) indicating that the fulfillment of the covenant's promises depended solely upon His own faithfulness and divine attributes.

C. FOUNDATION TO THE OTHER COVENANTS

The Abrahamic Covenant is the basis for the three other unconditional covenants and for the conditional Mosaic Covenant though the two types served the Abrahamic Covenant differently. The unconditional covenants elaborated on the Abrahamic Covenant, and the Mosaic Covenant set Israel apart unto God and served as a fortress to protect them from ungodly external influence. We'll first examine the unconditional covenants, and then the Mosaic.

IX. THE LAND COVENANT

The Land Covenant is found in Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20. It has commonly been called the Palestinian Covenant because, until Israeli independence in 1948, the Land was known as Palestine (Philistia, land of the Philistines), so named by the Roman Emperor Hadrian after the Romans crushed the Bar Cochba revolt in 135 A.D. However, Palestine was never a biblical name for the Land, and "Palestinians" is currently being used of a people who seek to dispossess the Jews of their divinely promised Land. Therefore, to curtail misunderstanding, we will take the lead of Dr. Fruchtenbaum and call it the Land Covenant.4

The provisions of the Land Covenant are as follows:

  • Israel will disobey the Law of Moses and be scattered. Deuteronomy 29:2-30:1, esp. 29:20-28, 30:1.

  • Israel will turn their hearts to God. Deuteronomy 30:2,6,8.

  • Messiah will then return. Deuteronomy 30:3,

  • God will curse Israel's enemies (Deuteronomy 30:7), and

  • Regather her to the Land and bless her there. Deuteronomy 30:3-5,8-9.

The highlight of the Land Covenant is the regathering of Israel to the Land after their turning to the Lord on a national scale. It elaborates on the promise of the Land to Abraham by reaffirming Israel's title deed to it by divine fiat irregardless of her subsequent disobedience and repeated scattering.

Inasmuch as this is an unconditional covenant, God will surely bring it to pass.

X. THE DAVIDIC COVENANT

The words of the Davidic Covenant, spoken to King David by the prophet Nathan, are found in 2 Samuel 7:11-16 and 1 Chronicles 17:10-14.

The key provisions of the covenant are as follows. God promised the King:

  • an eternal dynasty (2 Samuel 7:11,16; 1 Chronicles 17:10-14). The House of David, the king's royal line of descendants, will never come to an end;

  • that David's throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7:13, 16);

  • that Messiah will be born of David's line (1 Chronicles 17:11); and

  • that Messiah's house. . . kingdom. . . and his throne shall be established forever (1 Chronicles 17:14).

In other words, God promised David an eternal dynasty, throne, Descendant and kingdom.

Implicit in God's promise to Abraham, in you all the families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3) is the coming of a Messiah through Abraham's line; nevertheless, Abraham said to God resignedly, You have given me no descendant (Genesis 15:3). God did eventually give him the promised descendant in Isaac. Isaac begat Israel, and Israel had twelve sons who became the twelve tribes. In Genesis 49:10, the Messianic line was narrowed to the tribe of Judah. Now, a thousand years later with the Davidic Covenant, the Messianic line was further narrowed to David's line. In so doing, the Davidic Covenant reaffirmed and elaborated on God's covenant to Abraham by declaring that Messiah will be brought forth of David, a descendant of Abraham.

The Abrahamic Covenant was unconditional, and the Davidic covenant reaffirmed relevant aspects of it unconditionally.

XI. THE NEW COVENANT

The centerpiece of the New Covenant is Jeremiah 31:31-34:

31. "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32. not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. 33. "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34. "They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

Please note:

1. No condition was placed on any individual or on the nation for its fulfillment. It is unconditional, and will come to pass fully in all of its aspects.

2. It is an ongoing, eternal covenant, making possible the promises of verse 34.

3. I will make (v. 31) - future tense. The covenant was first announced here and provisions of the covenant were given here, but it was not made here. It was signed by God at the cross with the blood of His Son. As Jesus said, This cup is the new testament [New Covenant] in my blood, which is shed for you (Luke 22:20). Also, Hebrews 8:1-10:18, esp. 9:14-16.

4. Though the signing of the covenant opened the door for the creation of the church just fifty days later, it was not made with the church. It was made with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah (v. 31), that is, the whole literal nation of Israel.

Aspects of the Jeremiah 31 passage are further affirmed in Isaiah 53:3; 59:21; 61:8-9; 66:22; Jeremiah 32:40; Ezekiel 16:60; 34:25-31; 37:26-28; and Romans 11:26-27.

The key provisions of the New Covenant are as follows:

  • Its chief provision is the assurance of the salvation of all Israel, which Paul reiterated in Romans 11:26: all Israel will be saved. This refers to every Jew that is alive at the end of the Great Tribulation (Isaiah 59:1-21; Ezekiel 20:38; Zechariah 12:9-10; 13:1,8-9).

  • Whereas the Mosaic Covenant provided for the covering of sins through the sacrifices of animals offered in faith, this covenant provided for the forgiveness of sins (v. 34).

  • God promised to indwell all Israeli hearts by the Holy Spirit (v. 33), empowering them to do the will of the Lord, which the Mosaic Covenant did not provide for (Romans 1:8-4).

  • Israel will be blessed with great material blessings. Isaiah 61:8; Jeremiah 32:41; Ezekiel 34:25-27.

  • Just as the Mosaic Covenant constituted a code of conduct for believers, so the New Covenant contains a code, written in the pages of the New Testament. This code of conduct is called the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus in Romans 8:2, and the Law of Christ in Galatians 6:2. It replaced the Mosaic Code, including the Ten Commandments, and covers all issues of morality, ethics and practice that are of concern to God in the present Church Age.

It is through the salvation of all Israel that God's promise to Abraham, in you all the families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3), will finally be fulfilled (Isaiah 61:6; Zechariah 8:20-23; Romans 11:15). Indeed, its fulfillment has already begun (Matthew 28:19). While it is true that the crucified and risen Messiah has already touched the lives of numerous families of the earth, He has not yet touched all. At the time of this writing, the Joshua Project of the U.S. Center for World Mission holds that there are 6,760 unreached people groups out of 16,467 people groups in the world, about 41%.5

All teachers and commentators that I am aware of see the New Covenant promises of Jeremiah 31 as extending from verses 31 through 34. I do not understand that. It seems to me that they extend at least through verse 37.

Verses 35-37:

35. Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: 36. "If this fixed order departs from before Me," declares the LORD, "Then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever." 37. Thus says the LORD, "If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done," declares the LORD.

What God promises here is that He will never turn His back on Israel as His people no matter what. Consistent with all previous unconditional covenants, as well as with verses 31-34, it is an unconditional promise of Israel's physical survival and state of chosenness; and the promise to bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who curse him is the chief means by which God insures its fulfillment in the realm of Israel's relations with people and nations. For example, in Genesis 12:1-17, God cursed Pharaoh, and in Genesis 12:1-2, He cursed Abimelech, for taking Abraham's wife Sarah into their harems. If either of these situations had continued, Isaac, Abraham's child of promise, would never have been born, the nation of Israel would never have been born, and all of God's plans to bless Israel and the nations through Israel would have been cut off.

Isaiah gives the same assurance of national continuance: "For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me," declares the LORD, "so your offspring and your name will endure" (66:22).

XII. THE MOSAIC COVENANT

We've just considered the four unconditional covenants. Now we'll consider the conditional Mosaic Covenant.

A. THE NATURE OF THE MOSAIC COVENANT

The Mosaic Covenant extends between Exodus 20:1 and Deuteronomy 28:68. It consists of six hundred and thirteen commandments, ten of which God gave to Moses at Sinai, and six hundred and three of which He imparted to him during the subsequent wilderness wanderings, all of which comprise a single code of Law (James 2:10). It was a conditional covenant, conditioned on Israel's obedience to God's commands, its conditionality being expressed in promises of blessings for obedience and judgments for disobedience (Exodus 15:26; 19:3-6).

B. THE BREAKING OF THE COVENANT AND ITS RESULTS

Israel broke the Mosaic Covenant (Jeremiah 31:32). It is instructive to note the various definitions of the Hebrew word translated they broke. The word is הֵפ֣רוּ, he-phe-ru'. According to Strong, it is based on the verb parar, "A primitive root; to break up (usually figuratively, that is, to violate, frustrate): - any ways, break (asunder), cast off, cause to cease, clean, defeat, disannul, disappoint, dissolve, divide, make of none effect, fail, frustrate, bring (come) to nought, utterly, make void." In other words, Israel violated the covenant and thereby caused it to cease, disannulled it, dissolved it, voided it. From the time that they broke it, it became inoperative.

Four things are to be noted:

1. The Mosaic Covenant was rendered inoperative at the cross (Romans 10:4, Ephesians 2:15, Colossians 2:13-14, Hebrews 7:18, Hebrews 10:19), including the Ten Commandments (2 Corinthians 3:2-11). This means that not one of its commands needed to be obeyed from that time forward. The substance of a particular command may appear in some other form in one of the covenants that are still operative, but would need to be obeyed as a commandment of that covenant, not the Mosaic Covenant. The command for a Jew to circumcise is a good example. It appears in the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. A Jew today is under no obligation to circumcise because it is a Mosaic command, but is under obligation to circumcise because it is an Abrahamic command as the Abrahamic Covenant is still operative. Nine commandments of the Ten Commandments (the Sabbath commandment being the exception) appear in different forms in the New Covenant, and must be heeded as New Covenant "commandments" whether implied, exhorted or commanded.

A great number of Mosaic commandments do not appear in any form in any of the other covenants, and do not need to be obeyed.

2. God replaced the Mosaic Covenant with the New Covenant: 31. I will make a new covenant . . . 32. not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke (Jeremiah 31:31-32).

When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear (Hebrews 8:13). Now this is a "replacement theology" many would do well to adopt!

3. In keeping with Deuteronomy 28-29, Israel's breaking of the covenant resulted in the worldwide scattering of virtually the entire nation, and in all the troubles she's experienced for the last 1900 years in the Diaspora (Dispersion) and in the Land.

4. Though many of the promises of the unconditional covenants were also promised in the Mosaic Covenant, those promises that have not yet been fulfilled cannot be mediated through the Mosaic Covenant as it is no longer operative.

C. THE BREAKING OF THE MOST CRITICAL COMMANDMENT

Without a doubt, the most critical Mosaic commandment that Israel broke is stated in Deuteronomy 18:15. Moses said to the people, 15. The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.

There are many parallels between the lives of Moses and Jesus, but what makes Jesus the only possible prophet like [Moses] is that, of all humanity, only Moses and Jesus spoke with God face to face (Moses: Exodus 33:10-11; Deuteronomy 34:10. Jesus: Matthew 11:27; John 1:18; John 5:19; 6:46; 8:38; 10:15,30; 14:10). Indeed, the scattering of the nation to the four corners of the earth did not take place until Israel rejected their Messiah though he proved Himself in accordance with detailed prophecies and Pharisaic benchmarks. After His rejection, He declared in the hearing of the Pharisaic and scribal leaders of Israel,

37. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39. For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!"

~ Matthew 23:37-39 ~
Verse 39b is quoted from Psalm 118:26

Instead of being gathered by Him as He longed to do, they were scattered; and their house (Temple, בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ, Beit HaMikdash, "House of the Holy") was indeed left to [them] desolate when the Romans destroyed it in 70 A.D., and crushed the First Jewish Revolt, slaughtering, enslaving and scattered multitudes out of the Land. The second and final wave of the worldwide scattering took place when the Romans crushed the Second Jewish Revolt in 135 A.D.

Why was this the most critical commandment? The chief purpose of the Law was to drive Israelites to Messiah (Romans 8:1-4; Galatians 3:24-25). When Israel rejected their Messiah, they broke the very purpose of the Law.

D. WHY DID GOD INSTITUTE THE COVENANT?

God, in His foreknowledge, knew that the covenant would become inoperative. Why, then, did He institute it?

The reasons may be summarized as follows:

  • to provide a code of conduct for the nation and the individuals in it.

  • to serve as the barrier of the dividing wall between Israel and the other nations. (Ephesians 2:14-15)

  • to keep Israel distinct from the other nations (Leviticus 11:44-45; Deuteronomy 7:6;
    14:1-2);

  • to sequester them for ministry to the world; passively through God's actions on their behalf, and actively through prophesying to other nations (as Jonah to Nineveh), writing the Hebrew Scriptures and bringing forth Messiah.

  • to reveal His holiness.

  • to train them in holiness.

  • to provide occasions for corporate worship.

  • to drive Israelites to saving faith in Messiah (Romans 8:1-4; Galatians 3:24-25).

God's holiness was revealed when He delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses with "terrible" preparations and signs and wonders; when He judged Israel for their idolatry and licentiousness at the foot of the Mount; by the Levitical blood sacrifices for sin, worship and thanksgiving; when He spoke with Moses from the Tent of Meeting and the Tabernacle; by His miraculous provision for Israel in the wilderness; when He judged Israel at other times in the wilderness for their unbelief and rebellion; when He judged them by Canaanite nations when they turned from Him; when He delivered them from those nations when they returned to Him; when the Shechinah glory filled the Temple in the days of Solomon; when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among them, and other ways.

E. THE BARRIER OF THE DIVIDING WALL

The barrier of the dividing wall was subservient to some of the other reasons. Israel was kept distinct from the other nations not only by the Code of Law that she had to follow, but also because the Gentiles needed to climb the barrier if they wanted to partake of Israel's covenantal spiritual blessings.

The nations surrounding Israel were idolatrous and practiced child sacrifice, temple prostitution and other abominations; but God chose Israel to be a people holy in heart and practice and to serve as His channel of blessing to the nations. To bring about that holy state, God maximized their set-apartness by erecting the barrier of the dividing wall (Ephesians 2:14-15), which minimized the influx of idolatrous Gentiles.

The entire Law was the barrier of the dividing wall, and constituted a burden that a Gentile would not bear without good reason: laws of Sabbath observance, sacrifice and giving, dietary laws, proscriptions against cutting the corners of the beard and of mixing linen and wool in the same garment, the necessities of wearing fringes on garments and the putting on of phylacteries, and numerous other such laws: 613 in total. If a Gentile truly believed in the God of Israel, his faith would move him to observe the Lord's commandments (per James 2:18). He would renounce his idolatrous ways, be circumcised and take on the burden of the Law on pain of the (sometimes severe) penalty of the Law. In this manner, the barrier of the dividing wall maximized the likelihood of his leaving his idolatrous ways and detestable practices on the other side of the wall.

The barrier
was like monastery walls in the Dark Ages which, in the best of cases, isolated monks for prayer, the copying and study of the Scriptures, and as a base of operations for good works and evangelism; like modern immigration laws and oaths of allegiance that insure a country's integrity; like fences and walls around military training camps that isolate soldiers for training in the winning of battles and wars.

For fifteen hundred years, God used the barrier of the dividing wall as a means of preserving and consecrating the nation; but because it lacked the power to cleanse their hearts and transform them into a nation after His own heart, He could not fulfill His promises by means of the Law (Romans 8:3). By virtue of the barrier, Israel has had periods of turning to the Lord, but they were brief and did not include all Israel; has blessed many families of the earth through her production of the Scriptures and the bringing forth of Messiah, but not all families. What is yet lacking cannot and will not be fulfilled on the basis of an inoperative covenant, but on the basis of the four unconditional covenants that will remain operative until the end of time. In the same vein, the status of Israel's chosenness cannot, did not, does not and will not stand on the platform of the Mosaic Covenant, but does stand solidly and solely on the rock of the unconditional covenants.

XIII. THE IRREVOCABILITY OF THE UNCONDITIONAL COVENANTS

The Abrahamic, Land, Davidic and New covenants are unconditional, and are therefore irrevocable. Context makes it plain that Paul was speaking of national Israel when he said, the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). When God was about to effect His mighty deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage as promised in Genesis 15:13-14, He announced Himself as the Maker of the Covenants with their fathers: "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6,15,16; 4:5). As surely as He fulfilled His promise to deliver Israel, He will also perform that which is as yet covenantally undone for the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes (2 Corinthians 1:20).

XIV. "The election of Israel is irrevocable"

Romans 9:3-4: 3. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Messiah for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh 4. who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons.

To Israel belongs - present tense - the adoption as sons. God still calls Himself Israel's Father (Jeremiah 31:9), and calls Israel His children (Deuteronomy 14:1), His son (Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1), His first-born (Exodus 4:22; Jeremiah 31:9).

Paul declared,
 

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, of the tribe of Benjamin. . . . 28. From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are - present tense - beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29. for the gifts and the calling of God - on Israel - are irrevocable.

~ Romans 11:1,27-29 ~

Israel's status as an elect, chosen people is irrevocable. They are no less chosen today in their unbelief than they were in the days of the judges and kings when they fell into idolatry so often; and as He dealt with them then, so is He dealing with them today for the purpose of completing the work that He started in them. What Paul said to the church in Philippians 1:6 is also true of Israel: He who began a good work in you will perfect it . . . .
 

3. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? 4. May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, "That You may be justified in your words, and prevail when You are judged."

~ Romans 3:3-4 ~

God's promises to Israel are unconditional. He will keep His promises despite her unbelief. God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! The election of Israel is irrevocable.

XV. THE COVENANTS STILL BELONG TO ISRAEL


3. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated
from Messiah for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh 4. 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, 5. whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Messiah according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

~ Romans 9:3-4 ~

Paul did not say that the covenants . . . and the giving of the Law belonged - past tense - to Israel, but belongs to them - present tense. The covenants refer to the four unconditional covenants, and the giving of the Law to the Mosaic Covenant.

Romans 11:27: "This is - present tense - My covenant with them, when I take away their sins." The quotation is actually a summarization of Isaiah 59:21 and Jeremiah 31:34, each of which declares the eternality of the New Covenant. Not only does the context of the Romans passage reveal the current operative state of God's New Covenant with Israel, but also that it is still uniquely Israel's.

None of the five covenants have been transferred out of Israel. They still belong to her.

XVI. THE APPLICABILITY OF THE UNCONDITIONAL ISRAELI
COVENANTS
TO GENTILES AND THE CHURCH

Our Statement reads, "The spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant overflow to all the nations."

Even before God divided mankind between Israel and the Gentiles (Genesis 12:1-3), the salvation of believers of all of earth's ages was assured when, in the days of Adam and Eve, God promised that the woman (Miriam or Mary) will bear a Seed or Descendant (Jesus) (Genesis 3:15); but once there was an Israel, the covenants that God made with them contained soteriological provisions for the Gentiles both for their sakes and for Israel's. Paul labored to provide an accurate understanding of this interplay. We must therefore labor to understand.

The applicability of the Jewish covenants to Gentiles during the Church Age, and to the church, is fourfold:
1. Ephesians 3:6: The Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
 

13. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15. by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.

~ Ephesians 2:13-15 ~

13. Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree" 14. in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

~ Galatians 3:13-14 ~

Now that the barrier of the dividing wall has been broken down, Gentiles may be partakers along with Israel of the salvation that was promised to Israel without first coming under the Law (Acts 15:1-19; Galatians 5:1-6), but simply by faith in Messiah. In addition, just as God promised Israel that, upon their national salvation, the Spirit will dwell permanently within all of their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), in our present Church Age saved Gentiles may be partakers along with saved Jews of the permanent indwelling of the Spirit. By the blood of Christ, Jews and Gentiles are now equally fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, and are also on an equal footing with one another in the body of Christ, being fellow heirs and fellow members of the body.

2. God opened the covenants to the Gentiles so that, as a result of their salvation, individual Jews might be saved, and that His covenantal promise to save all of Israel might be accomplished.

Romans 11:11: I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

Surely God did not bring salvation to the Gentiles merely to gain leverage with Israel! He brought them salvation because He loved them (John 3:16) and to take from among the Gentiles a people for His name (Acts 15:4); yet, what is ignored in virtually every church is that God also brought salvation unto the Gentiles, for to provoke [Israel] to jealousy. This denial must be repented of, and instruction from the pulpit must follow. What the verse means in practical terms is that saved Gentiles must be godly examples to Jews, bless them in practical ways, and share their faith with them in a loving way so that they would fervently desire the salvation and blessedness of spirit that these godly Gentiles have. Could it be that the great kindnesses shown by the Sheep Gentiles of Matthew 25:31-40 to the persecuted Israel of the Great Tribulation (My brethren, v. 40) will prepare their hearts to receive their Messiah when He reveals Himself to them? According to Romans 11:11, I cannot conclude otherwise.

3. Romans 11:25-26: 25. a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26. and so all Israel will be saved.

When God has brought the full number of Gentiles that He has preordained into the body of Messiah, the Rapture will occur, and He will set the stage for the salvation of all Israel at the end of the Great Tribulation.

4. All that God has promised to the church will surely come to pass for them by virtue of the unconditional covenants of which she is now partaker because The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). Though Paul declared that true specifically of Israel, the principle applies to the church, as well. All of Romans 9-11 emphasizes that point, and the passage must be viewed in the context of the promises of Romans 8 and the exhortations of Romans12 to be understood. Just as God will bring about the full blessings that He promised to a disobedient people in the unconditional covenants that He made with them (Romans 9-11), so will He bring about the full blessings and promises that He promised to His sinning church in Romans 8 and elsewhere.

XVII. THE CHOSENNESS OF ISRAEL IN THE CHURCH AGE

The chosenness of Israel during the Church Age may be seen in the following aspects:

A. JEWS ESTABLISHED, INSTRUCTED, AND LED THE CHURCH

It was a Jew, Peter, who was given the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19) to open the door of the church to the world's three people groups as categorized by religious content:
1. Jews and proselytes, who had the Scriptures (Acts 2);
2. Samaritans, a mixed Jewish-Gentile race who excised and edited the Torah to their taste, held to an eclectic Mosaic-pagan belief system, and worshiped in an unauthorized Temple that they built on Mt. Gerizim, (Acts 8:14-17); and
3. Gentiles, generally pagans who did not have or hold to the Hebrew Scriptures (Acts 10).

It was also Jews who instructed and led the church until the scattering of Israel out of the Land (Acts 15:1-31; Romans 3:22; Ephesians 2:22).

B. THE GOSPEL IS TO GO TO THE JEW FIRST

Just as the Lord brought the Gospel to Israel before He sent it to the nations (Matthew 10:6; 15:24; 28:19), even so during the present Church Age the Gospel is to be brought to the Jew first (Romans 1:16), which commission Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13), carried out wherever he went, and again when he returned, which commission we ought to follow, as well, because it is necessary (Acts 13:46).

XVIII. THE CHOSENNESS OF ISRAEL IN THE GREAT TRIBULATION

a. israel blesses the nations

During the Great Tribulation just prior the Kingdom, Israel will bless all the families of the earth when 144,000 Israelite men will complete the evangelization of every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues (Revelation 7:1-9, esp. v. 9).

B. GOD BLESSES ISRAEL

As the Great Tribulation draws to a close, God's promise to Abraham, I will bless you, will likewise be fulfilled in a major way when all Israel will be saved (Zechariah 13:1; Romans 11:26).

The salvation of all Israel will be the climax of the Great Tribulation (Zechariah 13:1): It will lead to the Lord's return (Hosea 5:15; Matthew 23:39; Revelation 19), the binding of Satan (Revelation 20:2), and the establishment of the millennial Messianic Kingdom (Psalm 2:6-8; Isaiah 9:6-7; Luke 1:30-33; Revelation 20:4).

XIX. "God will ultimately fulfill every aspect of the covenant
in the Messianic Kingdom, both physical and spiritual"

Inasmuch as the foundational Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional, all promises in it and its subservient Land, Davidic and New covenants that have not yet been fulfilled will meet their complete fulfillment in the Kingdom.

They may be summed up as follows:

1. Messiah Yeshua will reign as King over the whole earth (Psalm 2:6,11-12; Isaiah 2:2-4), and the church, having returned with Messiah in their glorified bodies, and the resurrected Tribulation saints in their natural bodies, will reign with Him (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:4-6); resurrected King David will reign over Israel (Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24); and the twelve apostles will rule under David over the twelve tribes (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:28-30).

2. The Earth of the Kingdom will be a marvelous renovated planet (Isaiah 2:4; 11:6-9; 65:17-25).

3. Israel, still God's chosen, will be preeminent among the nations (Deuteronomy 15:6; 28:1,13; Isaiah 14:1-2).

4. As to spiritual blessings, all Israelites that will be born to those who entered the Kingdom in their natural bodies will be saved. These include the children of the all Israel that was saved and of the resurrected Old Testament saints (Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2). The children of the Sheep Gentiles of Matthew 25:31-40 will have the opportunity to receive salvation (Isaiah 49:6) and worship in the Millennial Temple (Isaiah 66:18-24).

5. As to special spiritual service, King Messiah will minister from Jerusalem (Psalm 2:6,11-12; Isaiah 2:2-4), and Israel will be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6), a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), the priests of Jehovah . . . the ministers of our God (Isaiah 61:6), Messiah's first wave of ministry to the world (Zechariah 8:20-23).

6. Church saints in their glorified bodies will soar far above physical concerns, and all the saved in their natural bodies will enjoy abundant physical blessings.

7. All physical blessings promised to Israel will be fulfilled in that nation. Jesus will already have vanquished her enemies (Zechariah 12:2-9); and now, at the beginning of the Millennium, He will gather them from the four corners of the earth to their promised Land (Isaiah 11:11-12; 43:5-7; Jeremiah 31:7-10; Ezekiel 11:14-18; 37:15-23; Mark 13:27) where they will live within its full promised borders in peace and complete, unharassed, unworried enjoyment of it (Deuteronomy 30:5; Isaiah 27:12; 30:23-26; 35:1-2; 65:21-24, etc.). They will erect a new Holy Temple in the Holy City in which they and the saved of all earth's ages will worship the Lord under a new code of Law: Kingdom Law (Ezekiel 40:1-43:27; 44:1-46:24).

XX. A RECAPITULATION OF THE OUTWORKINGS
OF ISRAEL'S CHOSENNESS

To summarize and highlight, God chose Israel:

  • to show forth His holiness and glory to the nations;

  • to be the first recipients of God's Word in all ages since Abraham;

  • to prophesy to other nations;

  • to bring forth the Scriptures;

  • to bring forth Messiah;

  • to establish, instruct and lead the early church;

  • to complete the evangelization of the world;

  • to be the only nation to be blessed with total national salvation at any point or span of history;

  • to be Messiah's first wave of ministers to the world in all ages since Abraham.

XXI. AFTERWORD

Numerous prophecies containing hundreds, if not thousands, of details have already come to pass literally and in detail from Israeli enslavement to Egypt (prophesied in Genesis 15:13-14) to the first worldwide regathering of Israel to the Land in 1948 (Ezekiel 20:33-38; 36:22-24) to the conquest of the Temple Mount in 1967 (necessary for certain Tribulation events to occur). Of insurmountable note is the coming of a literal Messiah in fulfillment of at least thirty detailed prophecies.

In light of such fulfillments, it is a certainty that all prophecies and covenantal promises that are not yet fulfilled will also be fulfilled literally and in detail. There is no ground for treating them as poetic fantasies or as language to be interpreted any way other than literally. Israel means Israel, Gentiles means Gentiles, the church means the church, the promised Land means the geography promised to literal Israel, and so on.

Let us remember the Golden Rule:

When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise.1

Amen.



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1. Cooper, Dr. David. Biblical Research Society. http://www.biblicalresearch.info/page7.html.

2. There is much evidential support that 1 and 2 Peter were written to Jewish believers.

  • Peter was the apostle to the Jews, not the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8), who were Paul's field of ministry (Romans 11:13).

  • He wrote to the dispersion (1 Peter 1:1. Young's Literal Translation). Israel was scattered into the Gentile world. The Greek term for the dispersion is diaspora, "the Diaspora" being the technical term for the Jews outside the Land that is still in common use today.

  • In 1 Peter 2:12 and 4:3-4, he contrasts the recipients of the letter with the Gentiles.

  • 1 Peter 2:9 addresses a nation. Many other passages call Israel a nation, but there is no evidence from other passages that the church is a nation.

  • Peter quotes the Old Testament copiously. For example, 1 Peter 2:9 contains references to Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6, 10:15; Isaiah 42:16, 43:20, and 61:6. Matthew and the author of Hebrews did the same because they wrote specifically to Jews.

  • 1 Peter was written in 63 AD, just before the Roman siege of Jerusalem. 4:17-18 is consistent with the Book of Hebrews, which warns Jewish believers to get out of Jerusalem and be physically saved.

3. Fire and smoke were forms in which God appeared in His Shechinah glory in Old Testament times (Exodus 3:2; 13:21; 19:18; Isaiah 4:5; 6:4, etc.).

4. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Dr., Messianic Bible Study 021: The Eight Covenants of the Bible, pdf, 4.

5. The Joshua Project, http://www.joshuaproject.net.

Part 3: Contrary Claims, part 1

Concerning Israel
~ a messianic Bible study ~
© Norman Manzon 2010
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