“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” Galatians 6:15, 16.
The true Israel of God
Joseph E. Lahud
The name Israel (Yisra’el in the Hebrew) means “to have power with God, a prince of God”. (Strong’s #410, #3478, and #8280) In the king James translation of the Bible it is found in 2301 verses, and it is used 2575 times. For most people today, the name Israel typically brings to mind the Hebrew nation otherwise known as the “Jews”, spoken of in the Old and New Testament. The display of power and miracles-which God performed on behalf of these privileged people indigenous at that time to the Middle East (Palestine in particular)-is breathtaking. Beginning with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph through Moses, we see the many miracles leading to the exodus from Egypt, including: the parting of the Red Sea; God’s very own voice heard among the thunder and lightning; and His fiery presence from mount Sinai, giving His Moral Law-the Ten Commandments-to the Israelites (which they were to proclaim to the rest of the heathen world). The animal sacrifices which pointed forward in the future to the shedding of the blood of Christ; the Tabernacle; the Ark of the Covenant containing the tablets of stone which God wrote with His own finger; the many prophets; the magnificent temple which Solomon erected, taking 46 years to build for God’s very presence to be manifested in the Shekinah glory that rested above the mercy seat; their downfall, captivity, and oppression by the Assyrians, the Midianites and the Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar; the destruction of the sacred temple and their final ruin at the hands of the Roman Emperors-all is a panoramic epic of the birth, victories, and failures of the colorful nation of Israel. Through this peculiar race of people-with their exalted and miraculous history-is given to us an example of the love, favor, grace, mercy, power, patience, forgiveness and judgments of the Almighty Creator of the universe. “But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward” (Jeremiah 7:24). The Apostle Paul has this to say concerning the history and character of this nation, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” I Corinthians 10:11. To this group of people is also accounted the rejection and crucifixion of God’s only begotten Son. This is not all true however, for the sins of the whole human race caused the death of God’s own Son, read I John 2:2. Christ is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” Revelation 13:8. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed…And the LORD [The Father] hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all…For He was cut off of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken…When thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, (Strong’s #2233 “Zera”) He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD [The Father] shall prosper in His hand…” Isaiah 53:5-12 (Emphasis added.) Notice the word “His seed”. Our heavenly Father declares through the prophet Isaiah that it is Christ’s “seed” which is to prosper. God’s pleasure and purpose is that His children prosper spiritually. Jew or Gentile, we are adopted as God’s “seed” through faith in the righteousness of Christ. We shall discover more about this later in this study.
“And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Gal. 3:29.
God’s “Zera”-His “Seed”
We begin the history of “Israel” with the patriarch Abraham, who lived approximately 3,900 years ago. Abraham was called “the friend of God” Isaiah 41:8. To this man Abraham, God made a covenant and a promise. We are going to see some parallels in the lives of the patriarchs that will reveal God’s faithfulness magnified, throughout our study. Abraham was not always called by this name, his given name was “Abram”. Let’s retrace the genealogy of Abram’s lineage. Later, we will examine evidence which will reveal in the Biblical timeline, just how far back to the beginning of creation God establishes the principle of His “Seed”. We pickup right after the flood, at the tower of Babel account where “God confounds the language of all the Earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of the Earth” Genesis 11:9. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japhet. (Gen. 5:32). Shem begat Arphaxad, who begat Salah, who begat Eber, who begat Peleg, who begat Reu, who begat Serug, who begat Nahor, who begat Terah. (Gen.11:10-26). Abram’s father was Terah, a native of Ur of the Chaldees. Terah had three sons: Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Terah then goes forth out of the land of his nativity and goes to the land of Canaan, to Haran. (Genesis 11:31). “Now the LORD said to Abram, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy fathers house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the Earth be blessed” (Gen.12:1-3). Did you notice the promise that God gave Abram? He just declared to him that not only is He going to make Abram a great nation, He is also going to cause Abram to be a blessing to all the families of the Earth! Not just one nation! But all the “families” (all nations, all people!). Please remember this fact, for we will see how God is faithful to keep His promises as we continue. Next we see, “And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, unto thy “seed” will I give this land” (Gen. 12:7) (emphasis added). This is the fourth time the word “seed” is spoken of by God in regards to offspring in the Biblical record. The first time, He says it to Eve and the serpent (Gen.3:15). The second time is to Noah regarding the animals in the Ark (Gen 7:3), the third time He establishes a covenant with Noah and “his seed after him” with the rainbow (Gen.9:9). Notice that God has brought forth the principle of a “seed” by which He will bless the Earth. This promise was given to Adam and Eve in the coming of Christ, (Proof of this is the lamb sacrifice which pointed forward to Christ’s coming to redeem mankind from our sins. See Gen. 4:4.) Eve mentions “seed” in her loss of Abel (Gen.4:25). In all of these accounts the word used Is Strong’s #2233 ‘Zera’ which means: “child, posterity”. Because of sin, God is bringing His “Seed”, His “Child”, His “Posterity” into the world.
“And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40). This promise is carried from Adam down through the centuries to its fulfillment in the birth of Christ at Bethlehem, and His death on the cross at Calvary.
Abram’s new name
Abram’s wife was Sarai, a woman which the Bible describes as very “fair” (beautiful). However, they have no children. While traveling through Egypt Abram instructs Sarai to say that she is his sister to protect his own life (Gen. 12:11-13). Here is revealed that Abram has some flaws in his character, namely, his lack of faith in God; which he makes up by deceit. Notice this trait is passed on to his grandson Jacob. Before God can use a man, He must first temper the man’s character. God must refine the man through the furnace of affliction to burn out the dross. In chapter 15 we read of the promise given to Abram of an heir, for Abram says to God that He has given him no seed (heir). Here God promises to Abram that his seed will be as the stars in the heavens (verse 5). Now notice what happens, the record left for eternity is this: “And he [Abram] believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him as righteousness”(verse 6). We see a change taking place in Abram’s character, he is becoming a man of faith. “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). God makes a covenant with Abram to give him the surrounding land as his inheritance. Next, Abram has a dream, “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And He [God] said unto Abram, know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them, and they shall afflict them four hundred years” (Gen. 15:12,13). God reveals a prophecy to Abram of the bondage and deliverance that the coming Nation of Israel -Abram’s descendants-will experience in Egypt. As we read earlier, Abram and Sarai have no children for Sarai is barren. Next we read the account of Sarai giving her handmaid to her husband Abram as a wife, so she could claim the child which God had promised them years earlier. This turned out to be more of a curse than a blessing. Hagar her handmaiden bears a child named Ishmael. His descendants, to this day, are bitter enemies of the Nation of Israel. Again God appears to Abram and reaffirms the covenant that He had declared earlier between them, “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I Am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and “be thou perfect”. [what does this mean, “be thou perfect”? It means faith and obedience!] And I will make my covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, as for Me, behold, My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shalt thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be called Abraham, for a father of many nations have I made thee…And I will make thee exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish My Covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee…This is My covenant which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee; every manchild among you shall be circumcised… And God said unto Abraham, as for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be” (Gen 17:1-7,10,15). God now pronounces a new name upon Abram and Sarai. Abram means: “High father”, Sarai means: “Head, chief”. They are now Abraham and Sarah. Abraham means: “Father of many nations”, Sarah mean: “Queen, princess”. God also affirms the rite of circumcision, which is of the flesh, an outward conversion. Through faith in Christ, by His Holy Spirit, we are circumcised in our heart, an inward conversion, which is spiritual. Paul has this to say, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God” (Rom. 2:28,29). “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63). Abraham’s conversion was first inward, “spiritual”. It was not by outward works, God honored Abraham because of his faith. Faith is the golden key to unlock God’s heart. “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom.14: 23). Imagine for a moment Abraham and Sarah and their large household (for they were very wealthy by this time) as they are traveling about, and when someone asked him his name he would say: “I am Abraham, the father of many nations”. Naturally, the response would be “how many children do you have? To which Abraham would have to answer “We have not one”!
Thirteen years passed before God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and Sarah. Finally, the promised seed comes forth. Isaac is born when Abraham was “an hundred years old” (Gen. 21:1-5). At the time when Isaac is seventeen years of age God tests Abraham. Thirty years have now passed since the promise was given, and Abraham’s heart is now tried in the cauldron of agony: “And it came to Pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thy only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of…And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, here am I, my son. And he said, behold, the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together…They came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the Angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, here am I. And He said, lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thy only son from Me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son”. (Gen.22:1-13).
What you have just read dear friends is one of the most powerful declarations of God’s love for mankind. Isaac is a type of Christ being offered up as a sacrifice. Twice the account mentions “thy son, thy only son” symbolic of God’s only begotten Son Christ Jesus. This is repeated to firmly establish the fact which God is declaring. We take pity upon Abraham, to think of what this aged and faithful servant of God must have suffered in this trial, but have we considered what God-our Heavenly Father-suffered through the sacrifice of His Son? A ram was given in Isaac’s stead, but no substitute was provided for our dear Savior. Like Isaac, He willingly, in obedience to His Father, went upon the altar cross at Calvary. Notice also Abraham’s answer to Isaac’s question: “God will provide Himself a lamb…”
Jacob’s new name -Israel
Isaac begat two paternal twin sons of his own, Esau and Jacob. You may read the account of these patriarchs in Genesis chapter 27. The account reveals that Essau sells his firstborn inheritance for a meal of lentils to Jacob. Later, when Isaac is old, as per the tradition of the time, he calls Esau, his firstborn, to give him his blessing. This equaled to no less than leadership in the family, and the inheritance or wealth the father possessed. Rebekah However, the boy’s mother, had a different agenda; she favored Jacob, and through deceit helps Jacob to receive the blessing instead. When Esau learned of this, he set his hand to slay Jacob his brother. Jacob flees to his mother’s brother Laban in the Eastern city of Haran, where he marries first Leah and later Rachel. Twenty years later, Jacob decides to return to his father’s house where he hopes to reconcile with his brother Esau. On the way he has a supernatural experience, one night he wrestles with the Angel of God. “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” Gen. 32:34. Jacob wrestled with him until morning, at which time the Angel said “Let me go, for the day breaketh, and he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, what is thy name? And he said Jacob. And he said, thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” Gen 32:26-28. This is the first mention of the name “Israel” in the Bible. Notice the Angel asked Jacob his name. The Angel knew Jacob’s name, but he wanted Jacob to acknowledge his own character. Names in the Bible are descriptive of the person’s character. Jacob means “deceiver”. Through his struggle, Jacob is humbled and receives a deep spiritual conversion transforming his character, he now becomes “a prince of God”- Israel. God had now given him a new character; the name “Israel” signifies a spiritual victory, birth, and transformation. So the man “Jacob” has now become a “spiritual Israel”. Same man, new character, from a “spiritual birth”! Beginning at this time, we have the name “Israel” applying to one man.
This man “Israel” had twelve sons, from where the twelve tribes of Israel originate. Later, these are the children of Israel “Which came into Egypt”. Exodus 1:1. Joseph, one of his children had many dreams, is betrayed by his brothers and is sold into slavery in Egypt. In Egypt, the children of Israel multiplied and were eventually forced into slavery until the time of Moses. When Moses is raised up, God tells him, “Say unto pharaoh, thus saith the LORD, Israel is My son, even My first born…let My son go.” Exodus 4:22,23. Please notice the transformation-taking place. The name “Israel” now embraces to include the descendants of Jacob. The name “Israel” no longer only applies to one man, but now, it applies to the “nation” of Israel. The children of Israel live in Egypt for over four hundred years, exactly as God prophesied to Abram back in Gen.15: 13.
The Nation is now called “Israel”. Just as God applied this name “Israel” to a man because of his spiritual victory, God also desires that this new nation of Israel becomes spiritually victorious through faith in Him, as the example also with Abraham. This same principle applies for us today. “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are past away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). Please remember how God now calls the Nation of Israel, “My son…My first born” this will become very significant later in our study. Notice the following texts, as we will compare them in the New Testament: Israel was called “a vine” that God brought out of Egypt (Psalm 80:8). God said, “But thou, Israel, art My servant,…the seed of Abraham” (Isaiah 41:8). Again God says, “Israel mine elect” (Isaiah 45:4).
About 800 B.C., the LORD said through the prophet Hosea, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him and called My son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1). By this time however, the nation of Israel had greatly strayed from its faith and obedience to God. They had failed to live up to their requirements in fulfillment of the covenant they had entered into with God at Mount Sinai, where God had spoken to them these words, “If you will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the Earth is Mine. And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:5,6) (emphasis added). The words “if” and “then” though small, are large in importance. Covenants are conditional upon the fulfillment of the terms. As New Testament Christians, Are we in covenant with God? If so, what are the terms? A reference to the covenant in the New Testament is found in the book of Hebrews Chapter eight verse ten, and chapter ten verse sixteen. Of particular interest is the fact that those texts are actually quoting the Old Testament book of Jeremiah 31:33! “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the LORD, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jer. 31:33) (Emphasis added). The “terms” are God’s moral law-the Ten Commandments.
The nation of Israel had not desired to walk in love and obedience to the terms of the covenant, which they had agreed to with God. “Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep His charge, and His statutes, and His judgments, and His commandments, always” (Deuteronomy 11:1). They (Israel) had declared also: “All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.” (Exo.24: 7). Are we certain that we are fulfilling our portion of the terms in the New Testament covenant with God? Of the nation of Israel God laments, “Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked everyone in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not.” (Jer. 11:8). The text “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt” is as a seed, and will burst forth with power and bear much fruit when we examine it, as well as other texts in the light of the New Testament.
The victorious Yahusha (Jesus)
“Jesus [Yahusha] was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king” (Matthew 2:1) Eight centuries had passed through time since the days of Hosea the prophet. Herod, fearful of the prophecies declaring the coming king of Israel-the Messiah, sets himself to destroy the potential rival to his throne. He orders his soldiers and “slew all the children that were in Bethlehem.” (Matt.2: 16). God however, warns Joseph in a dream of the danger: “Behold, the Angel of the LORD appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, arise, and take the young child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be though there until I bring thee word.” (Matt.2: 13). So the little family arose and “departed into Egypt.” (Matt. 2: 14).
We know that Matthew wrote His gospel under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, remember this as we read the following text: “And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the LORD by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son.” (Matt. 2:15). My dear friend, do you realize what we just read? Matthew is quoting Hosea 11:1. This passage, in its historical context, referred to the nation of Israel being called out of Egypt in the time of Moses. Yet here Matthew pronounces this text “fulfilled” in Jesus Christ! Remember the principle of God’s “Seed” which we spoke about earlier? We will now examine the evidence continued forward. The apostle Paul also teaches this same principle, as we will soon see. Remember the first time the name “Israel” was used in the Bible? It was in Genesis 32:28. It is a spiritual name given to one man named Jacob. Jacob’s name was changed to “Israel” because of his spiritual victory. This principle is being applied in the beginning of the New Testament to one man, the true prince of God, the victorious Jesus Christ! We are going to see the parallels between the history of ancient Israel and the history of our dear Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. In the account of the Hebrew’s history, a young man named Joseph, who dreamed dreams, went to Egypt. In the New Testament, another man named Joseph has dreams and also went to Egypt. When God calls Israel out of Egypt, He called that nation “My son.” (Exodus 4:22). When God calls Joseph, Mary, and Jesus out of Egypt He says: “Out of Egypt I have called My son.”(Matt.2: 15). When the nation of Israel left Egypt, the people went through the Red Sea. They were “Baptized…in the sea.” (I Corinthians 10:2). Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River “To fulfill all righteousness.” (Matt.3: 15). Then God declares Jesus, “My beloved Son, in whom I Am well pleased.” (Matt.3: 17). After crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness. Immediately after His baptism, Jesus was “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness” for 40 days (Matt.4: 1, 2). Please notice the prophetic day for a year principle which is given in Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6:“I have appointed thee each day for a year.” Please notice carefully as the plot thickens: At the end of the 40 days, Jesus resisted the devil’s temptations by quoting three “Thus saith the LORD”. The scriptures He chose were all from the book of Deuteronomy, the book God gave to Israel at the end of their 40 years in the wilderness! Was this a coincidence? Not in the least! In the Old Testament, the Law was given from mount Sinai. In the New Testament, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus magnifies the law. In the New Testament book of Matthew, Jesus is repeating point by point the history of the nation of Israel. Where they failed, He gained the victory! He has become the new Israel, the prince of God, whose righteousness overcame all sin for us.
In Exodus 4:22 God calls the nation of Israel “My son, even My first born.” The Apostle Paul call Jesus Christ “The first born of every creature.” (Colossians 1:15). In Psalm 80:8, Israel was called a “vine”. Jesus declared “I Am the true vine.” (John 15:1). In the book of Isaiah 41:8 the nation of Israel is called “the seed of Abraham.” Yet Paul writes, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many: but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16). The message is very clear. In Isaiah 41:8 God definitely called “Israel…the seed of Abraham” yet we read Paul’s testimony that Abraham’s seed does not refer to “many,” but to “one,…which is Christ.”(Gal.3: 16). Clearly, we discover that in the New Testament, what originally applied to the nation of Israel is now applied to Jesus Christ. Christ the Messiah is now the “seed” (Zera). Therefore, Jesus Christ is Israel! How do we overcome? How do we attain the spiritual victory that transforms our character, as did Abraham and Jacob? Through faith in Christ! “I Am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6).
At the beginning of our study, we made notice of the promise, which God had declared of His Seed going forth throughout the Old and New Testaments. This “Seed” which was spoken of in Isaiah 53:10, which God declares He is going to see prosper; has been faithfully manifested from the old Testament, and powerfully carried through into the New Testament. The most precious gift given to us in this sinful world is to believe in the power of the Son of God! It is our faith that overcomes. “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” I Cor. 2:5. Surely the victory is ours if we place our trust in Him! In Genesis and Exodus, the name “Israel” not only refers to one victorious man, to Jacob, but also to his descendants, who became Israel. In the New Testament, the same principle is revealed. Paul declares Jesus being “the Seed”. Immediately in the following verse Paul also declares to the gentile converts in the city of Galatia, “And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed.” (Galatians 3:29). Here we have in the New Testament the name Israel applying not only to one victorious man, the true Seed, Jesus Christ, but also to those who are “in Christ.” Believers in Jesus become part of the “seed”. So in fact, true Christians are now God’s spiritual Israel. At Mount Sinai, God made a covenant with the twelve tribes of Israel. Animal sacrifices were offered. Likewise, Adam taught his children (Genesis 4:4). Noah when he stepped off from the Ark (Genesis 8:20), Abraham also (Genesis 12:7). “Then Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you.” (Exodus 24:8). What does Yahusha (Jesus) do? At the end of His ministry, Jesus Christ made a new covenant with the twelve apostles in an upper room on mount Zion. Before offering Himself as the great sacrifice on the altar cross of Calvary, the Lord declares: “This is My blood of the New Testament [covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt.26: 28). Jesus Christ, the true Seed was making a new covenant with a new “Israel”. Like Moses who sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the altar before all the people (Exo.24: 6,7), Christ’s blood ratified the “New covenant” before the entire universe. Christ’s testimony is recorded by the apostle John “the revelator” in his Gospel, using Moses to also illustrate the relationship between “Israel” and Christ, John’s record states: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:14,15). In the Old Testament, God commanded Moses to cast a Serpent made of brass and raise it upon a pole for all of “Israel” to see. By doing so, through faith, their lives are saved. (Numbers 21:8,9), In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is raised upon a pole-a cross, and through faith in Him, His “Spiritual Israel” is saved! Notice the next verse immediately following, it is no other than the foundation of all Christianity: John 3:16! Powerful! The keeping of the law cannot save us. The law only condemns our sins. It is by the righteousness of Christ alone that we receive through faith that saves us.
The principle of two Israels
According to The New Testament, there now exists two Israels! The apostle Paul writes: “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.” (Rom. 9:6) (Emphasis added). The two Israels are these: There is an Israel “according to the flesh” (Rom.9: 3). And there is an Israel in the Spirit composed of both Jews and Gentiles who have a personal relationship and faith in Jesus Christ. “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.” (Gal.3: 6,7). In his book “Exploding the Israel Deception” Author Steve Wohlberg (White horse media productions) mentions a concept, which he refers to as “faith lineage.” Mr. Wohlberg’s book is very insightful. This was a helpful source of encouragement in the writing of this study.
“John the Baptist understood and boldly preached the truth of “faith lineage.” “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness.” “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them…” “Think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth forth not good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Matt. 3:1,7,9,10. Those Pharisees and Sadducees were part of Israel according to the flesh. They did not have faith like Abraham did; yet they thought they were his children. John the Baptist exposed this delusion. He thundered, “Don’t think that!” John then laid the “axe” to the root of the trees by saying that if those men did not bear “good fruit” through faith like Abraham did, then they would be “hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Verse 10. Thus natural lineage by itself is not enough. Without faith and a spiritual connection with God, those men were doomed. Jesus Christ taught the same truth. A certain group once said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus responded, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.” John 8:39. They claimed to be Abraham’s children, but they had no faith. By saying, “If ye were Abraham’s children,” Jesus denied their claim. Christ continued, “But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth. This did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father.” John 8:40,41. They responded, “We have one Father, even God.” Then “Jesus said unto them, if God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God.” “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” John 8:41,42,44,47. What an atomic text! Here Jesus Christ Himself spoke words that blast into shivers a large portion of the prophetic theories currently held in the Evangelical world. Jesus was talking to people who claimed to be Israelites, the children of Abraham. Yet they were only the Israel of the flesh! Jesus said they were not really Abraham’s children at all. Because they had no faith and were following lies, their lineage actually went back to Satan, “the father of lies!” Jesus Christ also taught this same concept of “faith lineage” in John chapter 1. A spiritually minded Jew named Nathanael was wondering whether Jesus of Nazareth was really the Messiah. Retiring to a favorite spot under a fig tree, he prayed about the matter. Soon a friend introduced him to the Saviour.When Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, He said. “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” John 1:47. Nathanael had a natural lineage that went back to Abraham. Yet he had more. In his spiritual life, he had gained victories over guile, which means deception.When Jesus discerned Nathanael’s spiritual lineage to Abraham and Jacob, He called him “an Israelite indeed.” Therefore, just as the man Jacob became a spiritual Israel, even so had this man Nathanael become an Israelite indeed. He was part of God’s true spiritual Israel.
Just as there are now two Israels, even so are there now two kinds of Jews. There are Jews in the flesh and Jews in the Spirit. In words of warning to certain Jews who were breaking the Ten Commandments, Paul wrote, “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God.” “For circumcision verily profiteth, if you keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision [Gentiles] keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?” “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Romans 2:17,25,26,28,29. Did you catch that? Someone who is “called a Jew” because he is a physical descendant of Abraham, and yet who lives as a law breaker, “is not a Jew.” His “circumcision is made uncircumcision.” To God, he is a Gentile. And the believing Gentile, who through faith keeps “the righteousness of the law,” his uncircumcision is “counted for circumcision.” Thus to God he is a Jew. The teachings of John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and Paul all agree that natural lineage is not enough. Whether or not someone is “an Israelite indeed” depends upon that person’s faith and spiritual character [obedience to God]. Paul summarized, “for we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Phillipians 3:3.
(S. Wohlberg “Exploding the Israel Deception”)
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are in the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be Spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom.8:1-8).
The record left in the sacred cannon of Scripture reveals that the ancient nation of Israel abandoned God through the rejection of the terms of the covenant. They did not love God. They wanted the benefits, but not the requirements. The question presented earlier was, are we in covenant with God? Are we following in the steps of ancient Israel? It could also be said, are we following in the steps of the modern nation of Israel? Most all who belong to the nation of Israel today reject Christ as the Messiah. While claiming to keep the Father’s law, they reject the Son of the lawgiver. Christians today do just the opposite. While claiming to pay honor and worship to the Son of God, they reject His Father by ignoring His Law. Can we truly honor God in this way? By a willing refusal to honor the terms of the New Covenant which was ratified by the blood stained path to Calvary? “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24. Examine this truth: the new covenant mentioned in the New Testament is found in the book of Hebrews, quoting the Prophet Jeremiah 31:33; please notice this peculiar fact: It mentions only Israel.
The new Covenant still reads the same:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the LORD; I will put My laws into their mind, and write it in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.” (Heb.8:10).
God affirms His promise through Paul for two chapters later we again find a mention of the new covenant:
“Whereof the Holy Ghost (Spirit) also is a witness to us: for after He hath said before, this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Heb.10: 15-17.
The new covenant contains these realities:
· It is still only with the house of Israel.
Wherefore we may ask ourselves, which Israel are we? Carnal or spiritual? The choice lies within our hearts. Of our own selves we can do nothing, it is only by the power of Christ in us that we can be faithful to keep God’s law, and fulfill the terms of the new covenant. It is the righteousness of Christ living in our hearts that will empower us for this work. Our heavenly Father promised to help us and He will do it. Through our faith, let us allow Yahusha (Jesus) to reign in our hearts.
“For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” Rom 4:13.
Are we bride or prostitute?
“ A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this: Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise. Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old-barely out of diapers-and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “an enterprise. That’s a business.” After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “yes, Martha.” She asked such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?”
The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on Holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, “I wish I’d thought of that.” I didn’t dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class. Martha’s question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. “When a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute? There is only one answer to her question. The answer is “yes.” The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don’t even know Him; and I mean really know Him. Our understanding of knowing and knowledge stems from our western culture (which is based in ancient Greek philosophical thought). We believe we have knowledge (and, by extension, wisdom) when we have collected information. A collection of information is not the same thing as knowledge, especially in the culture of the Bible (which is an eastern, non-Greek, culture). In the eastern culture, all knowledge is experiential. In western/Greek culture, we argue from premise to conclusion without regard for experience-or so we think. A similar problem exists with our concept of belief. We say we believe something (or someone) apart from personal experience. An example: Suppose my stockbroker calls me and says, “ I have a hot tip on a stock that is going to triple within the next week. I want your permission to transfer $10,000 from your cash account and buy this stock.” That is a bit of money, so I ask, do you really believe these facts? He answers “I sure do.” “Great!” I reply, “How much of your own money have you invested in this stock?” He answers, “none.” Does my stockbroker really truly believe? I don’t think so, and suddenly I don’t believe, either. How can we be so discerning in the things of this world, especially when it involves money, and so indiscriminate when it comes to spiritual things? The fact is, we do not know or believe apart from experience. The Bible was written to people who would not understand the concepts of knowledge, belief, and faith apart from experience. I suspect God thinks this way also. So I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know God-much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we came to God. Most of us came to God because of what we were told He would do for us. We were told He would bless us in life and take us to Heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we don’t care if He lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff. We have made the kingdom of god into a business, merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be the bride of Christ-that’s pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. Can you love someone we don’t even know? And even if we know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or prostitutes? What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute? Both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked myself the question, “what would happen if God stopped paying me?” For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I truly a lover of God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? I believe in the promises and blessings of God, the question is not whether God blesses His children, the issue here is the condition of My heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions? It took several months to work through these questions. Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God. Which is it going to be? Lover or prostitute? There are no prostitutes in Heaven, or in His kingdom for that matter. But there are plenty of former prostitutes in both places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no substitute for unconditional, intimate relationship with God. Take another look at Matthew 7:21-23 sometime. We must choose.” Written By: D. Ryser (Courtesy of Esther Moros.)
“He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
I John 2:4
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”