Sunday, March 15, 2009

God's Single Plan Through Israel For The World

I find it really amazing that anyone who reads the New Testament [Covenant] doesn't realize that Jesus did not come to start a new religion. Jesus had no intention to found a 'church' because there already was one, namely the congregation of God which consisted of the remnant of Israel. Jesus' intention was therefore to bring reformation to Israel, not to found a different community altogether. He came as "that prophet" mentioned by Moses, who would be like unto him; and as such brought the provisions of the New Covenant to the Israel of his day. The prophecy specifically states that those who would not listen to him would suffer the consequences; in reality be cut off from Israel; and those who accepted the message that he brought, would be recognized as members in the Israel of God, the ecclesia [called-out assembly - congregation]of God.

However, even before Jesus came on the scene in Israel; John the Baptist had begun his ministry as a prophet sent of God announcing an imminent judgment on the nation of Israel, and urging her to repent, warning that her status as YHVH's covenant people would not be enough, to deliver her from the coming disaster. John had told Israel that, if she did not repent, her God would create children for Abraham from the very stones. From one point view, this treated Israel as a whole as if she were pagan, needing to repent as would a proselyte if she wished to be re-included in the people of YHVH.

In first century Judea anyone collecting people in the Jordanian wilderness as John the Baptist did, was symbolically saying: THIS IS THE NEW EXODUS. Anyone coming from a priestly family, as John the Baptist did, offering a baptism for the forgiveness of sins out in the desert, was presenting a clear alternative to the Temple. Anyone inviting those who wished to do so; to pass through an initiatory rite of water baptism; was symbolically saying:


By implication, those who did not join in what John the Baptist was setting forth, and rejected his message and baptism were forfeiting the right to be regarded as the covenant people of God.

The believing remnant of Israel; those who were baptised through the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist retained their status as the Israel of God - YVHV; and they having been so prepared accepted the message that Jesus brought with authority, speaking the words God had given him to proclaim. The result was that this believing remnant who now constituted the true Israel of God, became a part of Jesus "ecclesia", a called-out assembly, the congregation of God, God's household [a term used for Israel]. As with repentance, so with faith: Jesus' call carried the implication that those who followed him, followed his way of being Israel, were the true Israel, whom YHVH was calling into being. That is why Jesus promised the 12 apostles ruler-ship over the 12 tribes of Israel; which includes those Israelites who will live over into the new age; after the coming of Jesus the Messiah; when he comes to sit on the throne of David at Jerusalem as the King of Israel.

Now the amazing news, the mystery Paul reveals is that Gentiles have been grafted in to the Israel of God by a new and living way; and that way is through belief in the lord Jesus the Messiah of Israel whom God sent to bring them into fellowship with Himself and to become a part of the Israel of God.

In Paul's allegory in Romans 11:17-24 the olive tree represents the people of God. The cultivated olive (kallielaios)is Israel, from which some of the branches were broken off (Jews who rejected Jesus as their Messiah, and so lost their place as God's people), while shoots of a wild-olive (agrielaios) tree were grafted in their place (the inclusion of Gentiles in the people of God). So we see the stock remains the same; it is only in the branches that changes occur. So Israel, the people of God, is a continuous entity (OT use of the olive is a symbol for Israel), but its membership is subject borth to the exclusion of native Israelites and the inclusion of the alien stock of Gentile believers. It is interesting that in ancient horitculture the grafting in of wild olive branches to a cultivated olive tree was a devise used to rejuvenate an otherwise unproductive cultivated olive tree.

We see in Jesus the embodiment of the remnant of the Israel of God and when we come to be in him we are automatically included as members of his body and as a result seen of God as a part of the Israel of God. In Israel [Jesus] there is salvation - deliverance in every sense of the word. We, as members of the body of the Messiah, are Messianic believers and as such recognize Jesus as the coming King of Israel; who will take his place on the throne of David in Jerusalem upon his triumphant return; and we will co-rule and co-reign with him as spiritual Israelites ruling over the physical nation of Israel with the 12 apostles ruling over the 12 tribes of physical Israel, and eventually that will include rule over all the world, as the nations come up to Jerusalem to keep the feast [Tabernacles - ingathering, Zech:14].

If we are not now and will not be a part of the Israel of God, why the future Temple? why is Jesus seated on the throne of David as the King of Israel? why are the 12 apostles to rule over the 12 tribes of Israel; are they different that ourselves as believers? Perhaps if the early "ecclesia - church - assembly" had not given up recognizing Jesus death during the Passover season this knowledge would not have been lost.

It's time to recognize that we are as believers, individually part of the Israel of God ("the stock remains the same"), and as a result Jesus is indeed our Messiah, God's anointed King of Israel, to whom we belong and he is the head of the "ecclesia", the congregation of God, the household of God [all terms that relate to Israel],

Listen to how Peter talks about those who make up the Israel of God:

1 Peter 2:4: So as you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but chosen and priceless in God's sight, you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus the Messiah.

For it says in 1 Peter 2:6-8: "Look, I lay in Zion a stone, a chosen and priceless cornerstone, and whoever believes in him will never be put to shame." So you who believe see his value, but for those who do not believe, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and a stumbling-stone and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

verses 9-10: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, A HOLY NATION [THE ISRAEL OF GOD], a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. You once were not a people [not a part of the Israel of God], but now you are God's people [Israel has always been known as the people of God, even now to this day]. You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Indeed we have been shown mercy to be included in the Israel of God because of the sacrifice of the lord Messiah of Israel, Jesus. Those of physical Israel who rejected Jesus; God's sent one; who brought the message about the coming Kingdom of God; and the revelation of the New Covenant as THAT prophet; that was ratified by his shed blood on the tree, are as a result, no longer considered to be a part of the Israel of God; even though they can claim natural descent from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Gentiles, on the other hand who accept the message of the Messiah of Israel, and believe in him as the one whom God has sent, are now considered in God's sight as members of the Israel of God; and have the opportunity to do now what Israel did not do as they should have done; to proclaim the message of the living God to all the world, and show forth to the world what blessings evolve from living according to God's revelation given through His son and to anticipate the coming Kingdom of God under the ruler-ship of His son and our saviour the lord Messiah Jesus.