Monday, July 11, 2011

We can ALL be Israel, part 1

What was the purpose of God calling out the nation of Israel? - to be separate, to be special, to be unique, "peculiar",  to be blessed and to be a blessing?  As a nation specially called "out" and made special, starting with Abraham, they were to stand out among all the heathen peoples of the time - to show what God could do in a corporate nation's life.
They were to be the light on a hill - to point people to the coming Saviour, to prepare the world for the great high point of earth's history; and they would draw men's minds to God by their pure, holy and exemplary lives. They were, as Jews, to be a "guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,". (Romans 2:19).  Like a precious jewel among the nations.

Hezekiah pleaded to God (in Isaiah 37:20) "...O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only."  Even in God's deliverance of them from their enemies, people all around were to know that God is the only God.  God's name was to be lifted up in everything Israel did, and in that way, the way of salvation was to be revealed to all nations. And in their seed was to come the Deliverer, Jesus.

Well, we all know the people of Israel failed God.  Instead of showing people a better way, they capitulated and took on the heathen's gods; they took on their customs, their morals, their idolatry.  Instead of showing the world that God was soon to come in the form of Jesus, as their Saviour, they actually rejected Him, the Messiah, their redeemer from sin, and the world's saviour!  In many ways they were WORSE than the heathen around them. God gave them a "probation" (time to prove themselves and do God's will) up to the time of Stephen's martyrdom (A.D. 34).  A time when they should have done the will of God but didn't.  God, and His revelation in the Scriptures, was never meant to be for the Jews only
They were to know Him and spread the word.  They were the guardians of the scriptures - but not to hoard it and keep it from others.

Jesus therefore predicted their downfall and rejection as God's chosen nation: Matthew 23:37,38 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." It was their choice as a nation to reject the commission He had given them long ago.  He then commissioned the Christian church to do the work Israel should have done and in this way, WE become the new, Spiritual Israel: Matt. 24:14: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."  The question is - will we now fulfill our commission as Spiritual Israel?

God never forces anything on people - He gives many conditional promises and if we steadfastly reject them, He reluctantly drops the case and we suffer the consequences.  If we continue to say that the temporal, contemporary and national Israel is still God's chosen nation (we're not talking individuals), then we're saying God is forcing them to be His chosen nation even after they rejected Him - the long awaited Messiah.  It's too late for them now to do what they should have done thousands of years ago.  Now they have to accept Christ Jesus as the Messiah and by so doing, join the Christian church (Christ's disciples) to tell people the gospel and to point now to His Second Coming.

In the next blog I'll show how the Bible reveals that we are Spiritual Israel.

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