ISRAEL IS THE CHURCH
Copyright © 1996 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.
Israel is the Christian Church. The Christian Church is Israel. The Christian Church does not replace Israel, it is Israel and always has been Israel. The New Testament writings reveal clearly that there is only one Israel, only one Church, only one elect whether Jew or Gentile by birth. It is impossible to cut a straight course in the Word of truth until we grasp the concept that there is only one Israel of God.
Table of Contents
The Jewish Babylon and the Gentile Babylon
Physical Israel; spiritual Israel
Physical Jew; spiritual Jew
Physical Jerusalem; spiritual Jerusalem
The Body of Christ
One new man
The olive tree
The new covenant
ISRAEL IS THE CHURCH
Introduction and Definitions
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— (Ephesians 2:11)
“Once Gentiles in the flesh”!
We physical Gentiles who believe in Christ are now spiritual Israel.
The thesis of this short article is that Israel and the Church are one. It is our point of view that the concept of the Church being separate from Israel is one of the most destructive ideas ever to appear in Christian doctrine.
It is destructive because without the Church there can be no Kingdom of God on the earth and without Israel there can be no Kingdom of God on the earth. By putting a division between Israel and the Church Satan has effectively rendered the Divine plan for the establishing of God’s will on the earth ineffective and incoherent.
We must keep in mind that Satan cares little whether Christians “go to Heaven.” Satan’s fear is that God’s Christ will come to earth and convert the nations to righteous behavior. Such conversion can be accomplished only through the Church, and Christ will govern only from Jerusalem, for thus it is written. Therefore by driving a wedge between Israel and the Church, Satan hopes to prevent the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
Let us always keep in mind that the Church of God is not Gentile. It began as a Jewish institution and shall conclude with a great outpouring of the Spirit of God on the Jews. We Gentiles are in the middle of the sandwich. To teach otherwise is to ignore history, to ignore practical considerations, and to substitute man-made doctrines for the eternal Scriptures.
By claiming that to teach otherwise is to ignore practical considerations we mean, for example, what about believers who are part Jewish, part Gentile by race? What do we do about the early Apostles, all of whom were Jewish? Are they part of the Gentile Church or part of Israel? Such speculation is foolishness, but erroneous doctrine has created unbelievable havoc in the understanding of the Scriptures and the Kingdom of God.
The Jews I have talked to will not receive us Gentile Christians as being a part of Israel. I have attempted to explain that the Gospel is their bread, that they are first in line to receive the Kingdom of God, that Christianity is a Jewish religion, that the state of Israel is destined to be the leading Christian nation of the world, and that believing Gentiles are an integral part of the one Kingdom from Heaven.
They will have none of it!
Gentiles are often anti-Semitic. Jews are often anti-Gentile.
The terms church and Christianity are hated by Jews and this is a large part of the Jews’ problem in understanding the relationship between Israel and the Church. The Gentile Christians are proud and the Jews are hostile. The Jews are hostile with reason!
How ironic, in that Israel is and always has been the Church of Christ.
An explanation of some terms may be needed.
- The Church.
- The Jewish Babylon and the Gentile Babylon.
- Physical Israel; spiritual Israel.
- Physical Jew; spiritual Jew.
- Physical Jerusalem; spiritual Jerusalem.
- The Body of Christ.
- One new man.
- The olive tree.
- The new covenant.
The Church. The term church means “called out.” The word has nothing whatever to do with a building or with a Christian organization such as the Roman Catholic Church. This fact alone should help Jewish people start on the road to understanding.
The term “Christian” is a term referring to the early followers of the Lord Jesus. Since the first followers of Jesus of Nazareth were primarily Jews, then many of the first Christians were Jews.
“Christ” is the same term as the Hebrew Meshiach, Messiah. The word means the One who is anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit, the Person chosen by God to bring deliverance to Israel.
Christ (Messiah) is a Jewish term. There is not one shred of Gentile origin in the term. Christ is Messiah—nothing more, nothing less. A Christian is a “Messian,” to coin a term.
The Christian Church (the group of people whom God has called out from among the nations of the earth and anointed with the Holy Spirit for the purpose of revealing Himself to the nations) originated with Abraham and Sarah. Abraham and Sarah were the first Christians. The Christian Church began when Abraham and Sarah were called-out of Ur of the Chaldees.
Every individual who receives Christ and is born again of the Spirit of God is a part of the one Seed of Abraham.
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)
All the promises of God, including the promise of the Holy Spirit, belong solely to those who are part of Christ. They are God’s elect, true Israel—those whom God has called out from the world to be a royal priesthood.
There is no other eternal Israel, no other Church, no other olive tree, no other royal priesthood, no other Kingdom of God.
Israel, the Church, the called-out people, continued with Isaac and Jacob—not because they were born of the flesh of Abraham and Sarah but because the Spirit of prophecy, the holy anointing of God, rested on them.
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 9:7,8)
The anointing of Christ, of the olive tree of God, rested on the sons of Jacob. After Jacob wrestled successfully with the angel the name Israel was given to him and his descendants. Israel means “he struggles with God.” Every true Christian is Israel. He or she struggles with God.
When the Israelites were in the wilderness of testing, God informed them that they were a special priestly nation among the nations of the earth. The following passage reveals why physical Israel was at that time the anointed Church, the elect of God, the royal priesthood.
‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.
‘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 19:5,6)
This is what the Christian Church is. It is a “special treasure” to God, a people who must keep all His commandments.
who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:14)
The Christian Church is a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.
you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5)
The problem in Jewish thinking, with reference to the term church, is that they do not know what the Church is. When Jews think of the Church they think of the Roman Catholic Church or her daughters, the Protestant churches. It may come as a surprise to Jewish people, but the Roman Catholic Church is about as far removed from being the true Christian Church as could be imagined. The same is true of the historic Protestant denominations.
Members of the true Christian Church, the Body of Christ, may be found in many of the Christian organizations. However, Jewish people will never understand Christ or His Church until they realize clearly that the Christian organizations are not the Church. They are manmade adaptations to human needs and often are viciously seeking their own ends, not the ends of Christ.
In addition, the Roman Catholic Church and some of the large Protestant organizations have been notoriously anti-Semitic and have consistently dealt treacherously with the Jews. This is how we know of a certainty that the Christian organizations are not of the Lord Jesus Christ; for Christ, coming from a Jewish background, would never turn against His own people, the Jews.
A true Christian person, whether a Jew or Gentile, a member of God’s elect, has a deep love and concern for the Jewish people because he recognizes that the Jews are the only race that God has been identified with on a physical level.
The term church brings up in all of our minds the organizations that call themselves Christian but in actuality have little to do with the Lord Jesus Christ.
If a Jew wishes to know what the term church actually means he should seek out a true Christian man or woman, a fervent believer, who recognizes that while he may be in a Christian organization, this is a temporary arrangement destined one day to fall away like scaffolding.
When the Jew encounters a true Christian he will discover someone who loves the Jewish people and who is a true Jew in the finest sense of the word. The true Christian looks on the Hebrew Scriptures with the same reverence as the devout Jew. In fact, the fervent Christian and the Orthodox Jew are closely related in numerous ways, and worship the same God. This is not true of the God of the Muslims who apparently hates the God of the Jews.
In the day in which we are living the true Christians are in spiritual travail as Christ is being formed in them. Because Christ is coming forth in the true Church there is entering the devout Christians a desire to return to the physical land and people of Israel in accordance with the prophecy of Micah.
Therefore He shall give them [Jews] up, until the time that she who is in labor [Church] has given birth [to Christ in them]; then the remnant of His brethren [sons of God] shall return to the children of Israel. (Micah 5:3)
The nation that shall be born “at once” is the Body of Christ. It is a holy nation made up of both Jews and Gentiles. The believing Jews and Gentiles have in common that Christ is being formed in them.
My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)
Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children. (Isaiah 66:8)
As the history of the descendants of Jacob progressed it became clear that many of the Lord’s chosen people were behaving wickedly. As Christ said, they were not children of Abraham but of Satan. Their behavior proved this.
Isaiah spoke of a remnant of Israel who would be saved, indicating that then as now the true Church, the true elect of God, was only a remnant of the multitude of people who were called by the name of the Lord.
Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved. (Romans 9:27)
Now we come to the time of the Lord Jesus. To this point the Kingdom of God, the Messianic Kingdom, had remained within the land and people of Israel. But here comes the God of Sinai, the Olive Tree, true Israel, the King of the Kingdom.
The following statement is an extremely important point if one desires to understand the oneness of spiritual Israel: the first Christian Church was thoroughly, totally Jewish. The original Body of Christ was Jewish. Not only was it Jewish, the Jews were Orthodox as we would use the term today. The first believers did not understand the new covenant for they were careful to keep the Law of Moses.
And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; (Acts 21:20)
When did the Church cease being Jewish and become Gentile? You will find no such change in the Scriptures!
Anyone who views Israel and the Christian Church as separate religious institutions needs to understand that the Church was born as a purely Jewish work of God. Just because Gentiles have been added to the Olive Tree does not mean the Church is now Gentile.
The true Christian Church was, is, and forever will be Jewish! The destiny of every member of true Israel, Jew and Gentile, is the new Jerusalem. The names of twelve Jews are in the foundations of the wall of the new Jerusalem. The names of twelve Jews are on the gates of the wall of the new Jerusalem. How, then, is the glorified Christian Church, the new Jerusalem, Gentile?
The Jewish Babylon and the Gentile Babylon. When we speak of “Babylon” we mean religion that is man-centered, man-instituted, man-operated. The Jewish Babylon persecuted the early Christians and the Gentile Babylon has tortured and murdered the Jews throughout the Christian Era.
Neither the true Judaic revelation nor the true Christian revelation are religions. Judaism came by revelation from the day God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush. True Christianity came by revelation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Moses and Jesus were both Jews.
True Christianity is the giving of spiritual significance and incorruptible life to the words and forms of Judaism. Christianity actually is the spiritual form of Judaism. The two are one revelation from God.
The three symbols of Judaism are the altar, the menorah, and the booth. The altar speaks of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. The menorah, the golden Lampstand, portrays Christ—the One anointed with the Spirit of God. The booth reveals the ultimate intention of God, which is to dwell in man as well as with man, first in the elect Jews and then in the elect Gentiles, as being the firstfruits of mankind.
Thus Judaism and Christianity are one, and the same revelation of the same Lord.
Notice how Christianity is a continuation of Judaism:
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1,2)
The “fathers” were Jews and the people to whom the Book of Hebrews was written were Christian Jews.
The “fathers” transformed what originally was a stupendous revelation of the eternal moral law of God into a body of traditions that could be mastered and administered by scholars. This is Judaic Babylon.
The fathers of the Christian church have transformed what originally was a stupendous revelation of God through His Son, His Christ, into a body of traditions that can be mastered and administered by scholars. This is Christian Babylon.
Because the masters of the laws of Judaism are filled with their own glory and seek the glory that comes from people, and the masters of the laws of Christianity are filled with their own glory and seek the glory that comes from people, the two sets of self-seeking religionists are perpetually at odds one against the other. Neither truly knows God. Each is ready to murder the other while preaching about the necessity for social justice and the rights of people.
The true Jew is the Jew of the circumcised heart. The true Christian saint is the believer of the circumcised heart, be he Jew or Gentile. The true Jewish saint and the true Christian saint may be in the religious organizations but the organizations are not in them. Some day the organizations will be done away and God’s Israel will fulfill the words of the Hebrew Prophets and the Christian Apostles (all of whom were Jews!).
Physical Israel; spiritual Israel. Israel was the name given to Jacob, the son of Isaac, because he struggled with the angel of God and prevailed. From that day to this the term Israel has been used to refer to those who are physical descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, and sometimes to members of the Christian churches.
Today there is considerable confusion concerning who is Israel. Some are teaching that Israel refers only to physical Jews and that all the words of the Hebrew Prophets are directed toward the physical land and people of Israel.
This can be disproved easily by the New Testament.
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)
Others are insisting that the Christian Church has replaced Israel in the plan of God. This also can be quickly disproved from the New Testament.
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
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;
For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27)
At least one Christian teacher has advanced the idea that the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter 11 are Israel and the Church.
In every instance, a distinction is made between Israel and the Christian Church. There is, however, an abundance of Scripture to prove that true Israel and the true Church are one and the same body, having the same Prophets, the same Apostles, the same Holy Spirit, the same blood of atonement, the same promise of the one Kingdom of God to come.
Notice the words of Paul concerning the oneness of all believers in Christ:
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—
that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both [Jew and Gentile] one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,
having abolished in His flesh the enmity [between Jew and Gentile], that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two [Jews and Gentiles], thus making peace,
and that He might reconcile them both [Jews and Gentiles] to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.
For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11-22)
The above passage is so plain we cannot understand how anyone could maintain a distinction between Israel and the Church. There only is the one new Man!
Perhaps the following thoughts will help.
There exists a physical land and people of Israel, a country that today is numbered among the nations of the earth. We have visited Israel many times and enjoy the land that God has called His own.
When Bible teachers use the term Israel, there is confusion in our minds concerning the distinction between physical Israel and spiritual Israel.
Spiritual Israel, in its finest, truest sense, is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus is Israel. Spiritual Israel is the Lord Jesus and the Lord Jesus is Israel.
We understand, then, that a Jew can either be of both physical Israel and spiritual Israel, or else just of physical Israel. Some of the promises of the Prophets were addressed only to the physical land and people of Israel. Other promises are spoken to spiritual Israel and apply to Jews and Gentiles who are of God’s elect.
There is no distinction between spiritual Israel and the Christian Church. Continuing in the Book of Ephesians:
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
One may ask, “How can we say that the Jews prior to the first century could be part of Christ?” The answer is, Christ is Yahweh of the Jews. Christ is the “I Am” who appeared to Moses. Christ is the Rock who followed the Jews through the wilderness.
and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. (I Corinthians 10:4)
It was the Spirit of Christ who spoke through the Hebrews Prophets.
searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. (I Peter 1:11)
When the Lord Jesus came, He came to His own people, the Jews. The Kingdom is their Kingdom. The Spirit of God is their Holy Spirit. The original Pentecost fell upon 120 Jews. We Gentiles are enjoying the Jewish redemption. One could wish that the Jews would receive their own bread, their own Kingdom, their own Christ!
Let us think for a moment about what the Apostle Paul stated concerning who is a true Jew, a true member of Israel. Paul, the chief Christian Apostle, was an Orthodox Jew.
I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. (Romans 11:1)
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. (II Corinthians 11:22)
circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; (Philippians 3:5)
Paul had a deep concern for physical Israel, his own race.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, (Romans 9:3)
Paul was aware that at one time many (not all!) of his race were of spiritual Israel; that his was the only nation that God had chosen as the revealer of His law and Glory.
who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;
of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. (Romans 9:4,5)
Our Christ came from among the Jewish people. Let us Gentiles never forget that.
Now comes a statement that is exceedingly important in terms of our concept that physical Israel and spiritual Israel are not the same people, except when physical Israel is walking in the light of God’s will and under His anointing. Being a member of physical Israel does not make an individual a member of spiritual 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.” (Romans 9:6,7)
“They are not all [spiritual] Israel, which are of [physical] Israel”!
The above passage is stating that not all Jewish people are members of God’s elect. God has put a great love for Jewish people in the victorious saints of today. Let us keep in mind, however, that God is selective even among the Jews concerning the Messianic Kingdom. Let us keep in mind also that God today is moving on the physical Jews to return to the land of Israel. Since we Christians are debtors to the Jews for our spiritual inheritance we ought to respond to our obligation by helping the Jewish people in every way we can as they return to their land.
For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.
It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. (Romans 15:26,27)
What does Paul mean by saying that being one of Abraham’s descendants does not qualify the individual to be a part of spiritual Israel? Paul is declaring that Isaac and Ishmael were both Abraham’s descendants, but God chose only Isaac to carry on the Messianic anointing. No spirit of prophecy rested on Ishmael.
It is true that Ishmael was born of a concubine and was not a child of both Abraham and Sarah. This makes no difference in reckoning lineage. Several of the sons of Jacob were born of the two women who were servants of Jacob’s wives. Yet they are considered to be genuine descendants of Israel.
Esau was the legitimate son of Isaac and Rebecca. but Jacob became Israel and Esau was rejected by the Lord.
The point is, the true Seed, Christ, is always by prophetic promise, never by the flesh alone.
Abraham’s descendants are reckoned only through Isaac. It is not the children of the flesh but the children who are by the Divine anointing, the prophetic promise, who are counted as the descendants of Abraham.
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 9:8)
A Divine promise preceded the birth of Isaac.
For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.” (Romans 9:9)
A Divine promise was given to Rebecca concerning the birth of Jacob and Esau.
And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac
(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),
it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.”
As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” (Romans 9:10-13)
There is physical Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham through Jacob. Then there is spiritual Israel—those whom God has elected to be His royal priesthood, chosen from among physical Israel and also from Gentiles ordained to eternal life by the Lord.
Membership in the royal priesthood, in spiritual Israel, is always by promise and election, never by physical birth.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28,29)
Physical Jew; spiritual Jew. Who is a Jew?
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)
“He is a Jew who is one inwardly.”
“Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter.”
The true member of Israel is by promise. The true Jew is not the physical Jew but the one born again of Christ.
True circumcision is of the heart. This was a fact even under the old covenant.
and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt— (Leviticus 26:41)
“Their uncircumcised hearts.”
The Lord Jesus pointed out to the Jews that it was Satan who was their father, not Abraham.
They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. (John 8:39)
“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 [nature], for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44)
A physical Jew is a person who is born of Jewish parents. A spiritual Jew is one whose heart has been circumcised so that he loves God in truth.
The Supreme Court of Israel has declared that if a physical Jew becomes a Christian he no longer is a Jew. The Israeli jurists are stating that the only Jew is the one who subscribes to the tenets of Judaism. By claiming that a physical Jew who becomes a Christian no longer is a Jew the jurists are tampering with the definition of the term “Jew.”
However, in the customary use of the term “Jew,” if an individual is born a Jew he remains a Jew whether he or she is a Muslim, an agnostic, an Orthodox, or a Christian. A physical Jew remains a Jew regardless of his or her faith. How could it be otherwise?
If your father and mother are Jewish you are Jewish, regardless of your faith. You may not be a true child of Abraham if you do not walk with God as Abraham did, as the Lord Jesus said. You may not be a member of spiritual Israel as we are using the term. But you are a Jew!
A member of spiritual Israel is the individual who is serving God through Christ whether or not he or she is Jewish by race. These are God’s elect, His royal priesthood.
Physical Jerusalem; spiritual Jerusalem. There is a Jerusalem on earth. There also is a Jerusalem in Heaven and all believers in Christ already are in the spiritual Jerusalem whether they are Jewish or Gentile by race.
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)
“You have come.”
Many of us have been to the land of Israel and to Jerusalem. We feel at home there as though it were our homeland. In fact, Jerusalem indeed is the homeland of those who belong to Christ. There is no other land on earth that belongs to God in the same manner that is true of the land of Israel.
We must remember, however, that the true Jerusalem is in Heaven. One day the true Jerusalem will descend from Heaven and clothe the earthly Jerusalem just as our body from Heaven will descend, in the day of resurrection, and clothe our resurrected flesh and bones.
But until that time, earthly Jerusalem is Hagar—that is, the concubine whose children cannot be heirs with Isaac.
For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.
But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, (Galatians 4:22,23)
Again we find that spiritual Israel always is by promise, never by mere fleshly lineage. Ishmael was born of Hagar, the slave woman. Isaac was born of Sarah, the free woman. The physical Jew is born of the flesh, and sometimes by the promise as well, thus becoming a true Jew, a true member of the royal priesthood.
which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—
for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— (Galatians 4:24,25)
Paul is pointing out to us the way we should interpret the persons, things, and circumstances of the Old Testament. They are allegories. They portray spiritual truth. They happened for our benefit who are recipients of the Kingdom of God through Christ.
Physical Jerusalem corresponds to the Law of Moses and to Hagar, the mother of Ishmael. The physical land and people of Israel are not of Sarah, the free woman, but of Hagar, the slave woman. The physical land and people remain in slavery to the flesh.
but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. (Galatians 4:26)
The mother of every true member of God’s elect, whether Jew or Gentile by race, is the heavenly Jerusalem, which corresponds to Sarah, the free woman.
It often is true that the members of the Seed of Abraham are not as readily fruitful as are the physical Jews but are dealt with in a special manner by the Lord. We think of Sarah, of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, all of whom were barren for many years. But when true Israel begins to conceive the result is many more children than is true of the physical descendants.
Joseph in prison is a type of those whom God has chosen to be specially fruitful. Until their time comes the Word of God tests His elect and they remain “barren.”
For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.” (Galatians 4:27)
We Gentiles who are members of Christ are like Isaac in that we are children of promise.
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. (Galatians 4:28)
That which is born of the flesh, the babylonish Judaism and the babylonish Christianity, will flourish grandly for a season. They will despise and persecute those who have been born of the Spirit of God.
But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. (Galatians 4:29)
However, no matter how fleshly Judaism and fleshly Christianity strive and leap like the mountains of Bashan, they will discover in the end that God has chosen Zion. This is to say, God has chosen that which is to be His own holy dwelling place, and that place is Christ and all who are part of Christ, whether Jewish or Gentile by race.
Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” (Galatians 4:30)
Those who are born of the flesh alone, whether members of Judaism or Christianity, will never inherit the Kingdom of God.
So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. (Galatians 4:31)
The Jewish Apostle Paul is speaking to the Christian Gentiles of Galatia. Paul is saying, “We who are of Christ, whether we are Jew or Gentile, are children of Sarah, of the Zion that today is in Heaven and tomorrow will come down to clothe the earthly Jerusalem with eternal life.”
This is Paul’s answer to those whose circumcision is of the flesh and not of the heart.
The Body of Christ. Every Christian Gentile and every Jew, if he or she would maintain a true perspective, must keep in mind that the first Christian Church was composed only of Orthodox Jews and that it was spiritual Israel. There never was a point in history at which the Christian Church was separated from spiritual Israel.
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:13)
“We were all baptized into one body.”
We could not prove from the immediate context that the “all” of the above verse is referring to Jews as well as Gentiles, but from other writings of Paul we understand this to be the case.
It is difficult for us, in the twentieth century, to keep firmly in mind that at the beginning of the Church Era it was almost unheard of for a Gentile to become a Christian, a member of the Body of Christ. The Apostle Peter had to be shown a vision before he would bring the Gospel to a Gentile. Paul had a disagreement with Peter because Peter would not eat with Gentiles.
Christianity is not a Gentile salvation, it is a Jewish salvation to which selected Gentiles have been added. Is this too much for us to accept?
Every true member of the Seed of Abraham, Jew or Gentile, is an integral member of the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb. Christ—Head and Body—is the Servant of the Lord described in the Old Testament.
“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles [nations]. (Isaiah 42:1)
God’s Servant, His Christ who is to come, is Israel.
“Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant, and Israel whom I have chosen. (Isaiah 44:1)
Sometimes the Prophets spoke directly to the physical land and people of Israel.
“but, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ And they shall dwell in their own land.” (Jeremiah 23:8)
But when the Prophets spoke of the Messianic Kingdom they were referring to spiritual Israel, composed of elect Jews and Gentiles.
But you shall be named the priests of the LORD, they shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles [nations], and in their glory you shall boast. (Isaiah 61:6)
One may say, See there! The line is drawn between Israel and the Gentiles. The fact is, it is drawn between spiritual Israel and the nations, not between physical Israel and the nations.
The New Testament writings show clearly that once a Gentile receives Christ he is an integral part of spiritual Israel and is not viewed any longer as a Gentile.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, (Ephesians 2:19)
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. (Colossians 3:11)
Think about the following:
“The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”’” (Ezekiel 37:28)
In terms of the above verse (Ezekiel 37:28), are the Gentiles who are members of the Body of Christ of Israel still of the heathen nations or are they an integral part of Israel and the sanctuary of God?
in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)
It appears from the above that the Gentiles of Ephesus who were part of the Church were “living stones” of the sanctuary of God, the “habitation of God through the Spirit.”
Some Bible teachers maintain that the saved Gentiles will be placed in Heaven, in the Spirit realm while the Jews rule in a kingdom on the earth.
We believe this position to be unscriptural. God will rule the earth from the city of Jerusalem, and the rulers will be victorious saints in Christ, both Jewish and Gentile, and not the physical Jews.
The teaching that the Gentile Christians will be in Heaven while the physical Jews govern the nations of the earth is unreasonable because of the problem of placing someone who is part Jewish, part Gentile. Would he be in Heaven or on the earth?
It is unreasonable because of the problem of placing the Apostles of the Lamb. Would Paul be in the spirit realm as part of the so-called “Gentile Church,” or would he be among his own people on the earth?
It is unreasonable because of the problem of placing the Jewish believers of the first century who all were zealous of the Law of Moses. Are we to believe that they are in Heaven with the Gentile believers? Will they be on earth with the physical Jews ruling over the nations? When Gentiles first were added to the early Church, were they told they would be part of a heavenly bride while the majority of the disciples would be on earth?
The Scriptures teach clearly that Christ will govern from Jerusalem—that Jerusalem will become the throne of God.
“At that time Jerusalem shall be called the Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. (Jeremiah 3:17)
If Jerusalem will be called the throne of the Lord, then the Lord Jesus will be in Jerusalem. The Scripture teaches that the Christian saints will be forever with the Lord. Would the Gentile Christians desire to be in Heaven while the Lord Jesus is in Jerusalem on earth?
The Scripture teaches that when the Lord comes he will bring the deceased saints with Him. Will He bring only the deceased Jewish saints, or the Gentile saints, or will He bring both and then send the Gentiles to Heaven and leave the Jewish saints on earth?
Let us say that everyone who is a Christian, Jewish or not, will rule in the heavenlies while physical Jews will rule on the earth. This would mean that people not born again, not a part of the one Seed of Abraham, not a part of Christ, would be representing God on the earth. Jerusalem would be the throne of God but Christ and His Bride would be in Heaven.
However, the promise to the victorious saints is that they will govern the nations with the rod of iron.
“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father; (Revelation 2:26,27)
Will they be on earth or in the heavens while they are governing the nations? If in Heaven, what about the non-Christian Jews who supposedly are ruling on the earth? Will the heavenly rule interfere with their rule, or reflect their rule, or what?
Notice carefully the following:
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9,10)
Is this speaking only of Jews—people “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation”?
These are not physical Jews but redeemed Israel of all nationalities. They now are in Heaven with the Lord Jesus. And where shall they govern?
“We will reign on the earth.” Not in Heaven but on the earth.
In order to conceive of a Gentile Church as separate from the one Body of Christ, from the one true Israel of God, one must discard much of the writing of the Apostle Paul.
One new man. The concept of the one new man is a simple idea to keep in mind. The one new man comprises the Jew who is in Christ and the Gentile who is in Christ.
having abolished in His flesh the enmity [between Jew and Gentile], that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two [Jews and Gentiles], thus making peace, (Ephesians 2:15)
We have mentioned several passages of Scripture to support our thesis that Israel is the Church of Christ and that it is unscriptural and confusing to speak of Israel and the Church. The Church is Israel. Israel is the Church.
We have said there is a physical land and people of Israel and that they originally were of God and shall be again in the future. But when they do become of God they shall once again be spiritual Israel and one with the Church, the Israel of God. How could it be otherwise?
Can a person see or enter the Kingdom of God other than by being born again? And when he is born again is he not an integral part of the one Seed of Abraham, the one Christ, the one Israel of God?
Who is the one new man if he is not Christ, the Church, the Israel of God? We would not keep repeating these obvious facts if it were not for the abundance of confusing and destructive teaching concerning “Israel and the Church” as though they were separate entities.
The olive tree. Who or what is the “olive tree”?
And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, (Romans 11:17)
Our position is that the Olive Tree is the Lord Jesus Christ and all who are part of Him.
The Olive Tree came to Abraham and then was passed by prophecy to Isaac and then Jacob. From Jacob, again by prophecy, the Olive Tree was passed to the sons of Jacob.
The Olive Tree was with Israel in Egypt and then stood before Pharaoh and pronounced the Divine judgments. The Olive Tree was in the Passover, the manna, the cloud by day, and the fire by night. The Olive Tree spoke from Sinai and was the visible Glory resting on the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
The Olive Tree, the Anointed One, Christ, guided Joshua across the Jordan and then was with the judges of Israel.
The Olive Tree was with King David in a remarkable manner, and then spoke through the Prophets. The last Prophet was John the Baptist.
The Olive Tree was born in a manger, died on the cross to make an atonement for our sins, and then was raised from the dead by the power of the Father in Heaven.
Then an elect remnant of Jews and an elect remnant of Gentiles were grafted on the Olive Tree.
What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (Romans 11:7)
In the last days, the days in which we are living, the Church, spiritual Israel, will enter a travail of spirit that Christ might be formed. When Christ is formed in the saints, Christ in them will turn to physical Israel, reveal Himself, forgive their sin, and remove the presence and power of sin from them just as the Lord converted Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus.
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;
For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:26,27)
The expression “all Israel” means all the elect of God, all who are of true Israel. In the last days the power of judgment and deliverance shall come from spiritual Zion and release the members of the Body of Christ, especially the elect of the Jews.
Notice in the Epistle to the Hebrews:
so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)
who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)
The Olive Tree is Christ, the anointed One through whom deliverance always comes to mankind. Christ—Head and Body—is Israel, the Servant of the Lord, the Christian Church, people called out from the nations of the earth to be a royal priesthood to God.
The new covenant. The new covenant cannot be made with a Gentile. In order to partake of the new covenant a Gentile must become an integral part of Israel.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—
“not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law [Torah] in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
The new covenant is made only “with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”
Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—
“not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.
“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 8:8-10)
The true Christian saint is a part of the house of Israel. No member of the Gentile nations can enter the new covenant except by becoming a part of spiritual Israel through marriage to the Lord Jesus, just as Asenath, the daughter of the Egyptian priest of the sun, became a part of physical Israel by marrying Joseph. If this were not the case with Asenath, Ephraim and Manasseh would have been part Hebrew, part Egyptian.
There is only one Body of Christ, one Christian Church, one Israel of God, one new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
The destiny of the Christian Church is identical with the destiny of the Israel of the Prophets, because the Christian Church, being the one Seed of Abraham, is the only true Israel of God.
The Christian Church has not replaced Israel, Israel is the Christian Church. Moses, Isaiah, Elijah, are all members of the one Seed of Abraham, the one Israel of God, the one Church of the Firstborn—the Lord Jesus Christ.
Until we understand that God has only one eternal Israel the Scriptures cannot be understood. When teachers speak of what God will do respecting “Israel and the Church” there always will be misunderstanding, as in the case of the theory of Dispensationalism.
Some of the prophecies of the Old Testament refer to the physical land and people of Israel. They shall be fulfilled to the letter. But the one Kingdom of God, the one, eternal Messianic Kingdom, can be seen and entered only by those who have been born again in the Lord Jesus Christ. After we are in Christ, and particularly after the resurrection of the dead has taken place, the distinction between Christian Jew and Christian Gentile vanishes completely and there remains only Christ and His Body, which is the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16)
“The Israel of God.” From what you have read in this brief article, would you say that by the Israel of God, Paul means all who are part of Christ?
The Israel of God is spiritual Israel and the rightful heir of the one Kingdom of God. Physical Israel is Hagar, the child of the slave woman, and shall never be heir with the child of Sarah, the free woman.
The Israel of God is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(“Israel Is the Church”, 3931-1)