THE TRUE ISRAEL (EXCERPT OF IT IS TIME FOR A REFORMATION OF CHRISTIAN THINKING)
From: It Is Time for a Reformation of Christian Thinking
Copyright © 1991 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
True Israel is the Kingdom of God, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem. Israel has been chosen by God from the foundation of the world to be His royal priesthood. By “true Israel” we mean every member of the Body of Christ.
The Body of Christ began as a purely Jewish institution. It will be concluded as a Jewish institution. Although in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, it remains true that the Kingdom of God is of the physical land and people of Israel.
We Gentiles who have been grafted on the root of Abraham through the Lord Jesus Christ are an integral part of the kingdom of priests, the holy nation of Israel. We have become part of the Seed of Abraham. We shall be an inseparable part of Christ when He is crowned King on the Throne of David in Jerusalem.
We believe that every member of true Israel is an eternal part of the new Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God. Although there is great diversity of ranks and roles among the saints, all are members of the Body of Christ.
True Israel is the Kingdom of God, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem. Israel has been chosen by God from the creation of the world to be His royal priesthood.
‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:6)
We Gentiles who have been grafted on the root of Abraham through the Lord Jesus Christ are an integral part of the “kingdom of priests,” the “holy nation” of Israel.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (I Peter 2:9)
By “true Israel” we mean every member of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ began as a purely Jewish institution. It will be concluded as a Jewish institution. Although in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, it remains true that the Kingdom of God is of Israel. We believing Gentiles have been grafted on Israel.
We shall be an inseparable part of Christ when He is crowned King on the Throne of David in Jerusalem.
This may come as a humbling shock to us Gentiles, for we regard Christianity as a Gentile institution. In actuality, Christianity is a Jewish institution. Let us not forget that. The Gospel of the Kingdom is to the Jew first, last, and always. We Gentiles have been added, by the will of God, to what is of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
There are many errors in Christian theology. None of them has done more to destroy straightforward biblical interpretation than the unscriptural doctrine that Jesus the Christ (Yeshua Hamashiach), the Son of David, will reign over a spiritual Gentile kingdom in Heaven and a physical Jewish kingdom on the earth. Such deception has robbed the Lord’s people of their ability to understand the Prophets.
There are those who believe that the Messianic revelations and promises found in the Prophets apply only to physical Israel and not to the Church of Christ. A little reflection on the consequences of such a position should cause any serious Bible student to abandon this idea. (Do the Twenty-third Psalm and the Fifty-third chapter of Isaiah apply to the Christian saints?)
Recently a young college student approached an internationally known Bible teacher. She asked him, “How can you teach there are two churches, a Jewish church and a Gentile church when the Scriptures state there is only one body?”
His reply was incredible. Yet, it reveals the thinking of our foremost teachers and scholars.
He said, “In Paul’s day the Gentiles were grafted on the Jewish church. Today the Jews are being grafted on the Gentile church.”
On what passage of the Scriptures could he have based such an answer? Are we seriously amiss in calling for a reformation of Christian thinking?
We will discuss the true Israel in five steps:
- Not all Jews are part of true Israel.
- The Body of Christ is true Israel.
- There are ranks in true Israel.
- True Israel shall be brought to purity and unity.
- True Israel shall be raised as a powerful army to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the air.
Not All Jews Are Part of True Israel
If we would make any progress in understanding the Prophets of Israel we must acknowledge that every human being who is born of Jewish parents is not necessarily a member of true Israel, a part of the royal priesthood of God.
The Apostle Paul taught that being born of Jewish parents does not establish the person as a member of true Israel. Paul was a Jew by race and also a member of true Israel.
But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,
nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.”
That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. (Romans 9:6-8)
“For they are not all Israel who are of Israel”!
for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— (Galatians 4:25)
The physical nation of Israel is not the seed of promise. It is the spiritual Jerusalem in the heavenlies, at the right hand of God, that is the true Zion. The Jerusalem above is the mother of every member of the Body of Christ, of the true Israel of God (Galatians 4:26).
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;
but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. (Romans 2:28,29)
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly”!
The Jews claimed to be Abraham’s seed:
They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” (John 8:33)
Jesus did not agree with them:
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44)
No physical Jew is a member of Abraham’s Seed by virtue of being born to Jewish parents. The Messianic promises never were made to the physical Jews. All the Messianic promises, the promises of the Kingdom found in the Prophets of Israel, are directed only to the Lord Jesus and to those who belong to the Lord Jesus.
Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)
To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into. (I Peter 1:12)
The Christian salvation is not of the Gentiles and for the Gentiles. The Christian salvation is of the Jews and for the Jews. The first Christians were Jews and the last Christians will be Jews. There is no “Gentile Church.” The Gentile Church does not exist except in the minds of the Gentile Christians.
In order for a Jew (or a Gentile) to receive any part of the Messianic promises, the blessing and inheritance of Abraham, he must be born again of the Spirit of God. Christ, the one Seed of Abraham, must be born in him. This is the only true Israel, the Body of Christ, the one Kingdom of God.
The Body of Christ Is True Israel
“And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:16)
“One fold, and one shepherd”!
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; (Ephesians 4:4)
We Gentiles have been called to be part of the true Jerusalem:
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, (Hebrews 12:22)
God has made us Gentiles one with the elect Jews through the broken body of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.
and that He might reconcile them both [Jews and Gentiles] to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (Ephesians 2:16)
The Prophets agree to this:
“As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’
“Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand. (Ezekiel 37:16,17)
It requires two sticks to make a cross.
In the symbol of the two sticks, Judah represents the Jews. Joseph, who married a Gentile wife, represents the elect who are drawn from the nations.
A careful study of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans will prove there is no “Gentile Church.”
Adam and Eve stumbled because of a trivial temptation. Abraham stood true throughout a heartbreaking testing. Abraham’s staunch obedience and faithfulness to God is in contrast to Adam’s miserable disobedience. Abraham is the father of all who believe in Christ (Romans 4:11).
We believing Gentiles—Europeans, Scandinavians, Americans, Africans, Asians—were branches growing out from wild olive trees. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are a holy, cultivated olive tree, being chosen by the Lord God of Heaven who does all things according to the counsel of His own will.
According to God’s foreknowledge and election, some of us Gentiles were cut out of the wild olive trees and grafted on the holy olive tree.
The holy olive tree never has become a Gentile tree, a wild tree. The holy olive tree never has changed its character.
Christ is the holy Olive Tree. Even Abraham himself must be born again in Christ, must be grafted on God’s holy olive tree, which is true Israel.
Having been grafted on the holy olive tree we now are an integral part of Christ, of Abraham, of true Israel. Even the Jew must be grafted on Christ, on the one true Vine of God. For no mortal human being, including the Jew, ever can enter the one Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 15:50).
The Christian salvation is by promise, by faith, by election—never by the Law, by human works of righteousness, or by natural birth. God saves whom He will through the Lord Jesus Christ. God shows mercy to whomever He decides to show mercy.
Each of us is obligated to live as righteously as he can, being diligent to make his “calling and election sure” (II Peter 1:10). Even our righteous desires and diligence in serving the Lord proceed from Him who works all things according to His own pleasure, who works in us “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
When God turns again to the nation of Israel, as will take place in the closing days of the present age, the principles of election, of obedience, of faith, of being grafted on Christ, of being born again, will apply in the same manner as they do today. Christ does not change.
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; (Romans 11:26)
Every member of true Israel will be redeemed in the same manner, according to the same principles of election and faith. The members of true Israel always are redeemed according to the principles of the new covenant. The new covenant can be made only with the house of Israel, never with a Gentile. We must become part of the one house of Israel before we can partake of the new covenant.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Hebrews 8:10)
We Gentiles are an integral part of God’s Israel. We are married to Christ; therefore we have become part of Israel.
When Asenath, the Egyptian, married Joseph she became an integral part of the nation of Israel. If she had not, Ephraim and Manasseh would have been part-Egyptian and part-Israelite. But Jacob claimed Ephraim and Manasseh as his own body and blood (Genesis 48:5). Asenath, and Ephraim and Manasseh, lost their identity as Egyptians.
Ephraim and Manasseh, born of an Egyptian mother, became an integral part of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The Body of Christ, the Christian Church, the Kingdom of God, the Wife of the Lamb, is true Israel. The Wife of the Lamb is the new Jerusalem, not the new Paris, or the new London, or the new New York. She is the new Jerusalem. The Wife of the Lamb is related nationally, politically, to Israel.
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)
The Church of Christ is the “Israel,” the “Zion” spoken of by the Spirit in the Hebrew Prophets (I Peter 1:12; Hebrews 12:22).
There Are Ranks In True Israel
So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)
The Apostles of the Lamb will judge the tribes of Israel.
It is God’s will that every member of true Israel be a king and priest before Him, ruling over the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people. All who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed.” (Isaiah 61:9)
Keep firmly in mind that the Prophets are speaking of the true anointed Israel, of Christ—Head and Body. If you do not maintain this concept you will misunderstand the plan of God for the world.
True Israel consists of God’s kings and priests, the royal priesthood. Physical Israel was a shadow, a type, an example that exists for the benefit of those who receive the Substance, which is Christ.
Every member of the Body of Christ is a king because Christ, the only true King, is reigning in him. He who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than the greatest of the Hebrew Prophets, as they were while they were prophesying on the earth (Matthew 11:11).
Before God has finished working and dealing with His Israel, every member from the least to the greatest will know God. Such knowledge of God by every member of Israel is the end result of the new covenant.
“None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. (Hebrews 8:11)
Every member of true Israel, of the Body of Christ, of the Wife of the Lamb, of the new Jerusalem, will be exalted to a degree of glory incomprehensible to us in the present hour.
But, as we have stated, there is as great variety of roles and opportunities for service in the Kingdom of God as there is variety among the personalities of the members of true Israel, the saints, the called of God.
The better one knows the Scriptures the more easily he will be able to call to mind the diversity that exists among the personalities and attainments of God’s elect. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews describes some of the heroes of faith and we can notice the differences listed there.
Kings, prophets, patriarchs, mighty men, teachers, priests—all march across the canvas. The Kingdom of God is as varied as the members of mankind. No doubt that is why there are twelve (and not just one) gates of the new Jerusalem.
Every member of the Body of Christ is destined to be changed into the image of Christ and to enter complete, restful union with Christ. In addition the uniqueness of each member will be developed to its fullest potential.
In Christ we lose our individuality (in the sense of being a person separate from God) but we retain our identity. It is paradoxical that as we lose our life in Christ to the extent it no longer is we who live but Christ who lives in us, our own personality is then brought into its God-ordained uniqueness.
We lose our individuality in that we become an inseparable part of Another, of Christ. Our personality, that which God had in mind when He created us, becomes many times more sharply defined.
Truly, if we seek to save our life we will lose it; but if we lose our life in Christ we will gain it. There is no disappointment in Jesus.
There are thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and a hundredfold in the Kingdom of God. Three out of twelve were chosen to stand on the Mount of Transfiguration.
There are many examples, in both the Old Testament and the New, of the variety existing in the Israel of God, in the Body of Christ.
Since the Wife of the Lamb appears in white raiment at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, and then appears as the glorified holy city at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, it seems reasonable that one of the principal purposes of the Kingdom Age is the perfecting and glorifying of true Israel, the Body of Christ.
Jesus referred symbolically to the need to perfect the members of His Body by stating He would walk two days, referring, we believe, to the two thousand years of the Church Era, and then be perfected on the third day, the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Hosea 6:2; Luke 13:32).
When the Lord’s people die physically they pass into the spirit realm in widely varying states of maturity. Some, as the Apostle Paul, are spiritual giants. Paul is of the first rank. After that there are many levels of spiritual maturity down to those who had been given little time on the earth in which to come to know the Lord.
The Song of Solomon suggests the different stations occupied by the members of the household of God. One passage in particular points to the work of perfecting the immature members of the Church:
THE SHULAMITE’S BROTHERS We have a little sister, and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister in the day when she is spoken for?
If she is a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver; and if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar. (Song of Solomon 8:8,9)
“We will build… we will enclose.”
The immature members of Israel will be assisted by the stronger, we believe, until they attain their place and role in the Kingdom of God.
We must remember to be diligent to make our calling and election certain, for if we do not serve the Lord we will be cut off from the Israel of God (Romans 11:21,22).
True Israel Shall Be Brought to Purity and Unity
The Scriptures, both Old Testament and New, speak clearly that in the last days judgment will begin and it will commence with the house of God.
True Israel will be purified by fire until a Bride emerges who is without spot, wrinkle, or any other blemish of any kind whatever. It seems impossible, considering the “dry bones” of today, that God could purify and unify His Church in the earth. But He can and He shall. However, the purity and unity will be accomplished by fire.
And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion [tested Christians] and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem.
When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, (Isaiah 4:3,4)
We see that there will be a purifying of the Church of Christ until only the true Bride remains.
When Christ comes in judgment He will:
He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)
John the Baptist applies this prophecy to the Body of Christ:
“His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:12)
The Apostle Peter interprets the fiery testings and tribulations that fall on the Christian saints:
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:17)
The program of refining will continue until every member of true Israel is a “mighty man of valor.”
“In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them. (Zechariah 12:8)
It is our understanding that the purifying and unifying of the Body of Christ, of true Israel, has begun. Also, we quickly are approaching the joining of elect Gentiles to the elect of the Jews. We are in the last days. The great tribulation is close at hand. But first there must come the “latter rain” revival, the last worldwide witness to the nations of the earth. Then all that the Prophets have spoken concerning the Kingdom of God will come to pass.
True Israel Shall Be Raised as a Large and Powerful Army to Meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the Air
The thirty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel describes the day in which we are living. Israel, both natural and spiritual, is scattered as dry bones over the face of the earth. There is no way possible in which the holy spiritual nation can be born. But God has promised to bring the spiritual Zion into travail. When He does, God’s nation, the Body of Christ, will be “born at once” (Isaiah 66:8).
The coming together and strengthening of spiritual Israel is proceeding in parallel with the coming together and strengthening of natural Israel.
God will bring together His elect with “sinews,” strengthening them in unity. He will send His pastors to feed the flock until the sheep grow fat and strong and can break the yoke on their necks. Then the Lord will cover His Bride with the “skin” of the beauty of holiness.
After this, Christ will breathe into His army the breath of resurrection life. The saints will come forth from their graves and rise to meet their Commander in Chief in the air. He will descend with them to the Mount of Olives and they will overpower the wicked of the earth. Now will Christ and His saints reign triumphantly in Jerusalem.
So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. (Ezekiel 37:10)
“Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:12)
The second chapter of the Book of Joel describes the invasion of the earth by Christ and His army (compare the nineteenth chapter of Revelation):
A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations. (Joel 2:2)
Christ’s saints will shout for the battle. The Archangel Michael will command his angels. The trumpet of God will sound. The Lord’s warriors will arise from their graves and stand in triumph on the earth.
Antichrist and the nations of the wicked will tremble with the fear of God. The light radiating from the resurrected saints will be as that which came from the garments of the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Then Christ will call up His legions to Himself. Where the body of the slain Lamb is, there the “eagles” (those who live by His body and blood) will be gathered together.
Christ and His army will descend from the clouds until the Lord Jesus is standing on the spot from which He ascended. This event will mark the beginning of the judgment of the wicked at the hands of the saints of God.
The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. (Joel 2:10)
These are the historic signs of Christ’s return (Matthew 24:29).
The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it? (Joel 2:11)
When Christ calls up His Church from the earth it will be as Israel coming out of Egypt. There will be no Gentile identity associated with it. Also, when the Church descends to enter the earth as into its land of promise, the King who is leading His army will be the Son of David. He—Christ—will come and sit on the Throne of David in Jerusalem.
“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
“And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32,33)
Again, there is no Gentile identity associated with the Kingdom of God.
The Lord Jesus sits on the throne of the hearts of His saints as far as the Church is concerned, but on the Throne of David in Jerusalem as far as the world is concerned.
Every true saint, whether a Jew or Gentile by race, is a member of true Israel, the Christian Church, the Body of Christ. He will be with the Lord Jesus Christ when the Lord takes His rightful place as King of the earth, reigning on the Throne of David in Jerusalem.
It is our understanding that the events of world history from the present hour forward will serve to bring about the events we have just described.
After the coming “latter rain” revival the Lord will turn His attention to His own people, the Jews. Then there will be days of great tribulation. The tribulation will force the elect Jews from Jerusalem, and the Lord’s true remnant of saints, both Jewish and Gentile by race, will be used by Jesus to bring the revelation of Himself and His salvation to the persecuted, afflicted Jewish nation. The future salvation of the nation of Israel was portrayed by the reunion of his brothers with Joseph—they having been forced out of Canaan by the famine.
If we who believe in the Lord in the present hour desire to be with the Lord as the extraordinary events of the last days come to pass, and not be a part of the spiritually-dead church of Babylon (man-directed Christianity), we must cease from our worldliness and sin and begin to cry out to the Lord with our whole heart.
The Christian churches are filled with deception, sin, self-seeking, covetousness, immorality, and every other evil work. It is time for judgment to begin in the house of God.
The days ahead will prove to be difficult for us. But every one of the fiery tests and tribulations will serve to purify us and make us one in Christ if we will look always to Jesus and obey Him with a perfect heart.
(“The True Israel”, 3236-1)