Message, January 16, 2000
A short discussion about the terms Israel, Jews.
The name conferred on Jacob after the great prayer-struggle at Peniel #Ge 32:28 because " as a prince he had power with God and prevailed." See JACOB 24945 This is the common name given to Jacob's descendants. The whole people of the twelve tribes are called "Israelites," the "children of Israel" #Jos 3:17 7:25 Jud 8:27 Jer 3:21 and the "house of Israel" #Ex 16:31 40:38 This name Israel is sometimes used emphatically for the true Israel #Ps 73:1 Isa 45:17 49:3 Joh 1:47 Ro 9:6 11:26 After the death of Saul the ten tribes arrogated to themselves this name, as if they were the whole nation #2Sa 2:9, 10, 17, 28 3:10, 17 #2 Sa 19:40-43 and the kings of the ten tribes were called "kings of Israel," while the kings of the two tribes were called "kings of Judah." After the Exile the name Israel was assumed as designating the entire nation. (Online Bible.)
The name derived from the patriarch Judah, at first given to one belonging to the tribe of Judah or to the separate kingdom of Judah #2 Ki 16:6 25:25 Jer 32:12 38:19 40:11 41:3 in contradistinction from those belonging to the kingdom of the ten tribes, who were called Israelites. During the Captivity, and after the Restoration, the name, however, was extended to all the Hebrew nation without distinction #Es 3:6,10 Da 3:8,12 Ezr 4:12 5:1,5 Originally this people were called Hebrews #Ge 39:14 40:15 Ex 2:7 3:18 5:3 1 Sa 4:6,9 etc., but after the Exile this name fell into disuse. But Paul was styled a Hebrew #2 Co 11:22 Php 3:5 The history of the Jewish nation is interwoven with the history of Palestine and with the narratives of the lives of their rulers and chief men. They are now dispersed over all lands, and to this day remain a separate people, "without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image [R.V. 'pillar, 'marg. 'obelisk'], and without an ephod, and without teraphim" #Ho 3:4 Till about the beginning of the present century they were everywhere greatly oppressed, and often cruelly persecuted; but their condition greatly improved, and they were admitted in most European countries to all the rights of free citizens. In 1860 the "Jewish disabilities" were removed, and they were admitted to a seat in the British Parliament. Their number in all is estimated at about six millions, about four millions being in Europe. The 20th century brought a renewed persecution far worst than any which had come before There are three names used in the New Testament to designate this people, 1. Jews, as regards their nationality, to distinguish them from Gentiles. 2. Hebrews, with regard to their language and education, to distinguish them from Hellenists, i.e., Jews who spoke the Greek language. 3. Israelites, as respects their sacred privileges as the chosen people of God. "To other races we owe the splendid inheritance of modern civilization and secular culture; but the religious education of mankind has been the gift of the Jew alone." (Online Bible. Note that the above treats "Jew" as is commonly done today, as a Biblical nation still scattered without a king, Hos. 3:4. However, Hos. 3:4 looked forward to Christ. Though Israel was without a king, prince, sacrifice, image, ephod, and teraphim, for many days, those days ended with Christ, for they all pointed to his office over his people, Israel. Hos. 3:4 was fulfilled in Christ, The King, Prince, Sacrifice, God, Judge [i.e., ephod, teraphim] of his people, Israel, ed.)
Dr. Bernhard Weiss states the facts well:
§ 44. The Elect Race
The Christian Church, in which the promised completion of the theocracy begins to be realized, is the elect race, which consists of believing Israelites. (b) Their election to participation in the completed salvation is accomplished in baptism, in which God makes them a holy nation by equipping them with His Spirit, and granting them the full forgiveness of sin. (c) All Israelites who would not obey the demand of the message of salvation are excluded from the elect race. (d) Wherever individual Gentiles are received in to the Church through baptism, they are joined to the elect race, whose substance is formed by believing Israel. (Dr. Bernhard Weiss, Biblical Theology of The New Testament, 1: 204. 1879. Clark's Foreign Theological Library. New Series, Vol. XII. T. & T. Clark, 38 George Street, Edinburgh. 1888.)
This last year, the Southern Baptist "issued a prayer guide urging Southern Baptist to pray for Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah." The prayer guide created quite a stir among Jews, as did the urging of men to be proper heads of their households a few years ago stirred up the feminist.
Larry King Live, CNN, 1/13/2000, had the head of "Jews for Jesus," the president of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, and two Jewish Rabies. It was a hour discussion concerning the SBC prayer guide, and thus maybe become what is called a "Messianic Jew." And it seemed to me as though Larry King was defending the right of the Baptists to try to win over the Jews to Christ, while the Jews were saying that it was very intolerant of the Baptists to try to make heaven exclusive to only those who have trusted Christ.
In fact, one rabbi was very hateful, and implied that any person who tried to convert a Jew was no better than Hitler who tried to exterminate the Jews.
The reality of the matter is that since Christ, one cannot be a "Christian" and a "Jew" in its common usage in the Old Testament. There can be no such thing as a "Messianic Jew," for one can either believe in the Messiah or be a Jew. Christians refuse to believe this fact, though the "Jewish" community is very vocal about it:
Jewish leaders representing all four of the faith's mainstream movements sent a letter, dated November 8, to the president of the Southern Baptist Convention urging him to end "deceptive" and "offensive" claims that one can be both a Jew and a Christian. The leaders are particularly upset that SBC leaders have embraced Messianic Jews. Mainstream Jewish belief holds that to accept Jesus as the Messiah makes a Jew an apostate. The argument arose when the SBC issued a prayer guide urging Southern Baptists to pray for Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. "I find it ironic for Jewish activists to assert that believing in Jesus as the Messiah disqualifies one from being a Jew, but one can be an atheist and still be considered a Jew," said Mark Kelley, a Southern Baptist spokesman (Christian News, 11/15/99). (What in the World, Bob Jones University, V. 26, N. 11.)
The reason pagans can be Jews is because the basis of being
a Jew is rejection of Christ. Judaism is simply a matter of following
the rites and rituals of that religion while denying that Christ
fulfilled those rites and rituals. Clearly, when a Jew accepts
Jesus as the Messiah, he or she is no longer Jews, for Judaism
is simply a religion, based in rejecting Christ.
Officially, "Who is Israel? - Who is a Jew?"
When ask the question, "Who is Israel? - Who is a Jew?", the Israeli government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) answered:
The term Israelite is purely Biblical. An Israeli is a citizen of Israel, regardless of religion. A Jew is a person anywhere in the world born to a Jewish mother, or converted to Judaism, who is thus identified as a member of the Jewish people and religion. Information Division Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem. (E-mail: email@example.com -URL address: http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il [2/20/1997])
Though tying the term "Israelite" to Scripture, MFA
admitted that "Israelite" or "Jew" has nothing
whatsoever to do with a blood line to Abraham: an "Israelite"
is one (no matter his "religious persuasion") living
in the literal nation of Israel, and a "Jew" is one
who follows the very antichrist Jewish religion. (One rabbi on
Larry King typified the Jewish attitude toward Christ - extremely
hateful toward Christ and Christians.)
"A Jewish mother" is simply a mother who is "identified as a" follower of the Jewish religion. Obviously, anyone can become an "Israelite" by moving to that Palestinian nation, and/or can become a "Jew" simply by converting to Judaism, i.e., denying that Christ fulfilled all the Old Testament rites and ceremonies that spoke of His work for His people. Officially, Judaism is simply a religion, claiming no physical ties to Abraham, Isaac nor Jacob. A Jew is one who follows the religious practices prescribed by that religion.
The first usage of the title "Jew" is found in 2 Kings 16:6, well after the division of the Israelite kingdom after Solomon died. It came into common usage during the captivity in Babylon, as described in the book of Esther. The name Jew and Israelite could be used interchangeably from the captivity to Christ, and was centered around the worship of the God of Israel, the Creator of heaven and earth.
Christ came claiming to be that Creator, and was rejected by the Jews or Israel:
John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. John 8:54: Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
Old Testament Judaism WAS a religion that worshiped the one true God of heaven and earth, as practiced by Abraham, Isaac and Moses (who actually gave the rites and rituals of that religion). Since Christ, however, Judaism rejects Christ, so one cannot be a "Christian Jew." There is no such thing as "Judeo-Christian" heritage in America. America was distinctly Christian, and the Mayflower compact made it clear that Jesus Christ was the chief corner stone of this nation.
In the Old Testament, Israel, and latter the term Jew, referred to God's Elect Race of people. Obviously, not everyone in that race was saved, but Israel was the race of people God chose to reveal himself through to the world. The original promise of God's blessing to the world was made to Abraham, and passed on his descendants, Isaac, Jacob, and finally to Christ.
However, since Christ, the Elect Race of God's people refers to the Church. (See my commentary on the book of Galatians and the book, "Israel's Identity/Israel's Conversion.") God still shows himself strong through his Elect people, or through the Jews or Israel, but the new Israel of God is the Gospel Church.
Ephesians 3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
Here are my points of observation from Weiss' Sction, II, The Elect Race. Also see my "Who is Israel/Israel's Conversion" file for the entire text:
First, the elect race, or nation, of God is identified as Israel, The Israel of God. Israel consisted of the congregation of the Lord. Its foundation is traced to the promises made to Abraham, passed down through Isaac and Jacob/Israel, and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah.
Second, that physical nation was called to be a holy nation to the Lord God, and represent Him midst the pagan nations around them.
Third, that nation had two sides: physical and spiritual. The physical nation of Israel consisted of both believers in the Messiah Who would come, Jesus Christ, and non-believers. Faith in the Messiah was evidenced by faithful obedience to the laws given to it by the Lord Jesus Christ, including the rites and rituals pointing to His coming.
Fourth, those who were unfaithful were cut off from physical Israel, cast out of the nation of Israel. Those who refused to obey the demands of salvation were excluded from the elect nation; those who obeyed the demands of salvation were grafted in even before Christ, e.g., Rehab, Ruth, &c.
Fifth, the physical nation, or national Israel, totally rejected the Messiah, putting Him to death. The result was that God totally cut off that nation. It no longer exists as it did in the Old Testament.
Sixth, however, spiritual Israel, the elect race, continued, for it was made up of those faithful to the gospel message of the Messiah. They, the remnant from the Old Testament, were kept faithful by the electing grace of God: He reserved them unto Himself, Romans 11:4.
Seventh, at the coming of Christ, the elect physical nation, or congregation of the Lord, took on another name, the Gospel Church. To finalize the establishment of the Church in place of national Israel, Old Testament national Israel was totally destroyed when Christ finally judged her for her sins, Matthew 23:34-39 (Lk. 11:50).
Eighth, the Gospel Church is built upon the same foundation as was the true Israel of God in the Old Testament - faithful obedience to the gospel message, James 2:8-26. (Mt. 16:15; Jn. 6:69.) The Gospel Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. (Ep. 2:20. Note that the prophets had to be the Old Testament prophets. Cf. Lk. 24:44ff.)
Ninth, the Gospel Church is the continuation of the elect nation of God, the Israel of God, as a daughter is a continuation of her mother. The believers of old, the true Israel of God, are the stem of the Church; they are the fathers of the Gospel Church. (1 Cor 10:1, speaking to a church made up of both "Jews" and "Gentiles," Paul identified their fathers as the ones who came out of Egypt, being led by the cloud in the wilderness.)
Tenth, there is no difference now, for both "Jews" and "Gentiles" alike must be grafted into the "root" of Jessie, Jesus Christ, the true Israel of God. (Is. 49:1-7. Christ is called Israel by God the Father. Thus all who are in Him are in the Israel of God.)
Eleventh, the Gospel Church replaced national Israel as God's elect race. (Gal. 6:16, Eph. 2:12.) And like the nation of old, it is made up of those who have obeyed the Gospel call, and of those who have depended upon something other than converting gospel of Christ. Those who refuse to obey the demands of the Christian Gospel are required to be removed from the congregation of the Lord. (1 Cor 5.) Baptism by submersion is the physical sign of entrance into the physical Israel, outwardly showing the faith of the believer in the converting work of Christ in his heart.
Twelfth, though He at one time dwelt in the temple made with hands in old Israel, the Gospel Church is now the dwelling place of the Most High God.
When the history of Old Testament Israel is followed, with its ups and downs, we see how God works through his Elect race of people, the New Israel of God, the Gospel Church. The term "Church" can easily be substituted for the term "Israel" throughout the Old Testament.
1 Corinthians 10:11 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.
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