Israel and the Church – Brit-Hadashah Ministries

June 17, 2009

Israel and the Church

Teacher:
Passage: 1 Corinthians 10:32

This topic is one of the more controversial in the Church today, and it has significant

implications regarding the way we interpret Scripture, especially in regard to the end

times. More importantly, it has great significance in that it affects the way we understand

the very nature and character of God Himself. Romans 11:16-36 records the illustration

of the olive tree. This passage speaks of Israel the (“natural” branches) being broken off

from the olive tree, and the Church (“wild” branches or shoots) being grafted into the

olive tree. Since Israel is referred to as branches, as well as the Church, it stands to reason

that neither group is the “whole tree,” so to speak; rather, the whole tree represents God’s

workings with mankind as a whole. Therefore, God’s program with Israel and God’s

program with the Church are part of the outworking of His purpose among men in

general. Of course, this is not intended to mean that either program is of little

significance, because as most commentators have noted, more revelation is given in the

Bible regarding God’s programs with Israel and with the Church than any of God’s other

dealings!

The best way to interpret Scripture is with the Scripture itself, so with that in mind,

recall that in Genesis 12, God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great

nation (the Jews), that that the Jews would possess a land, and that nation would be

blessed above all other nations, and that all nations would be blessed out of Israel. So,

from the beginning God reveals that Israel would be His chosen people on the earth, but

that His blessing and working would not be limited to them exclusively. Galatians 3:14

identifies the nature of the blessing that would come to all the other nations in addition to

Israel. It says, “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus

Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” All the nations of

the world, then, would be blessed by Israel, through whom would come the Savior of the

world. God’s plan of redemption is built upon the finished work of Jesus Christ, who

came from the line of David, who is himself a physical descendant of Abraham. Of

course, Christ’s death on the cross is sufficient for the sins of the entire world, not just the

Jews! Galatians 3:6-8 states, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to

him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the

children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen

through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations

be blessed.” Finally, Galatians 3:29 says, “And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's

seed, and heirs according to the promise.” When you put all of this together, what it is

saying is not that believers become Jews (the physical descendants of Abraham), but that

in Christ, they are counted righteous by faith in the same way that Abraham was

(Galatians 3:6-8). Verse 29 tells us that if people are in Christ, (believers, members of the

Church), then they are partakers of the blessing of Israel and all nations in the redemptive

work of Christ. In this sense, believers become the spiritual descendants of Abraham. In

summary, believers do not become Jews, but may enjoy the same type of blessings and

privileges as the Jews. Now, this does not contradict or nullify the revelation given in the

Old Testament. What took place in the Old Testament is still valid, in that God’s

relationship with Israel as a chosen people points to the work of Christ as a Redeemer of

the whole world. The Old Testament contains the Mosaic Law, which is still mandatory

for all the Jews (the physical descendants of Abraham) to follow, because they have not

yet accepted Christ as their Messiah, who would do what they could not do—fulfill the

Law in all its details. As New Testament believers, we are no longer under the curse of

the Law (Galatians 3:13), because Christ has taken that curse upon Himself on the cross.

The Law served two purposes, first to reveal the problem of unrighteousness, and

mankind’s inability (on his own merit) to do anything about that problem, and to point us

to Christ, who fulfills the Law. His death on the cross completely satisfies God’s

righteous requirement of perfection.

It must be remembered that God’s promises are not made invalid by the acts and

unfaithfulness of man. Nothing we do is ever a surprise to God, and He does not need to

adjust His plans according to the way we behave. No, God is sovereign over all

things—past, present and future—and what He has foreordained for both Israel and the

Church will come to pass, regardless of circumstances. Romans 3:3-4 explains that the

unbelief of the Jews would not nullify His promises concerning them: “What if some did

not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be

true, and every man a liar. As it is written: ‘So that you may be proved right when you

speak and prevail when you judge.’"

One final thought: promises made to Israel are still going to be kept in the future. The

“clock” for that has been temporarily stopped, and only God knows when those things

will come to pass. However, we can be sure that all God has said is true and will take

place, because of His character and consistency. Earlier, I mentioned that how one views

Israel and the Church have implications on the interpretation of Scripture, and here is

why: it is not possible for the Church to fulfill or expect to have fulfilled for them the

promises made to Israel. So, as one reads Scripture, it is absolutely essential to follow the

pattern set by Scripture itself and keep Israel and the Church separate.

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