Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Nation of Israel

Many promises were made to the people God brought out of the land of Egypt roughly 3500 years ago, and many see biblical promises being fulfilled in the Holy Land in recent and current events. This morning, however, I read a passage of Scripture that causes me to at least revisit my understanding of the nation of Israel.

Charles Spurgeon often referred to the people of his church as the people of Israel; "Israel in the covenant of grace is not natural Israel, but all believers in all ages." (Quoted from here.) Romans 2:28-29 suggests that we should view the followers of Christ as part of the true Israel. "28For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God."

Who, then, does Revelation 7 refer to regarding the 144,000 of Israel? Just as circumcision was prescribed for the ethnic Israelites of the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit performs circumcision on the hearts of the spiritual Israelites of the New Testament. In Ezekiel 37:16-22, the Lord promises to join together again the tribes of Israel under one King, never to be divided again. Romans 11:11-24 depicts the nation of Israel as a olive tree with wild olive branches (representing non-Jews) being grafted in. Obviously, all these passages refer to a spiritual nationality vs. a physical ethnicity.

Thus, the Bible seems to teach that we, as believers in Jesus Christ, are part of the covenant community of the children of Israel.