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Israel of God

In a prophecy given by the prophet Hosea the Lord said:

Hosea 11:1  When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt.

flight-into-egypt-01The Lord refers, in the first part, to the nation of Israel, while in its infancy, God called out of the land of Egypt. But the second part is a prophecy of Christ Jesus, the Son of God who, in a parallel way, God also called out of Egypt. This happened after Mary and Joseph had taken the infant Jesus down to Egypt to protect Him from King Herod, who sought to kill Him. Only after Herod died did Jesus return to Israel from Egypt.

Matthew 2:15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My son.

The nation called Israel really started with the conversion of Jacob to becoming a man of God. After his conversion God called him Israel. From him, i.e. his children, came the 12 tribes of Israel.

Genesis 32:24-28 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man [an angel representing the Lord God] with him until the breaking of the day.  25 And when He saw that He prevailed not against him, He touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as He wrestled with him. 26 And he said, Let Me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let You go, except You bless me. 27 And He said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob. 28 And He said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince have you power with God and with men, and have prevailed [overcome].

The name Israel means ‘God prevails’. Here, through whatever agency — an angel is most likely — the Lord God changes Jacobs name to Israel, who will lead God’s nation out of Egypt. But also it is a prophecy of Christ to come.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a Child [Jesus] is born, to us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

This prophecy was fulfilled about 4000 years ago when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which is called the city of David because it is the city David was from and where he was crowned king of Israel.

Luke 2:11 For to you this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

Jesus is God and was born on Earth (incarnated) as fully human yet also fully God. From a young age He grew in wisdom and in favour with God and man. He must have communed with His Father, God, which prepared Him for his ministry on Earth.

Luke 2:52  And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

He had no earthly father because His Father is God in heaven. On Earth He was recognised as the Son of God.

Matthew 14:33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth You are the Son of God.

This occurred after Jesus came walking on the water to meet some of the disciples in a ship. He demonstrated His ability to command the elements (wind and waves of the sea).

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake to them, saying, All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

He as God has all power in both heaven and earth.

Hebrews 1:1-3 God, who at sundry times and in divers [various] manners spake in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 Has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds [the universe]; 3 Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged [cleansed] our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Christ Jesus created the Universe and all it contains and He owns it all, including all people. It is He who the Father has given all authority.

John 3:35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.

Galatians 6:15,16 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Here the Israel of God means the saved believers. This is what the apostle Paul is talking about in this section of his letter to the Galatians. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision of the flesh is important for salvation but being born-again as a new creature. When we are unsaved we were not part of the Israel of God. Only via salvation, secured by Christ shedding His blood for us on the cross, were we made partakers of the promises and the covenant with God.

Ephesians 2:12 That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants [agreements] of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Ephesians 2:13-20  But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.  14 For He is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition [separation]between us; 15 Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of two one new man, so making peace; 16 And that He might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:  17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints [believers], and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone;

It was through the new covenant that Christ fulfilled on the cross when He said “It is finished” (John 19:30). This is the covenant of grace mentioned in Daniel 9:4,25-27. See Daniel 9 prophecy and Further evidence of the true meaning of who it is in Daniel 9:27 for details on this.

The first covenant was under the Law given through Moses. The second covenant was through Christ, a perfect sinless man, who died for the sins of the world. Only a perfect man could pay an infinite penalty for all sins ever committed to appease the justice of an infinite God. But if the first covenant produced the needed results, i.e. sinless perfection, then there would have been no need for the second covenant.

Hebrews 8:7-12 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with them, He says, Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 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 continued not in My covenant, and I regarded them not, said the Lord. 10 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 into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

The new covenant is not of the flesh but written in men’s hearts. Only this way could our sins be forgiven and God’s justice satisfied.

1 Peter 2:6-10 Why also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect [chosen], precious: and he that believes on Him shall not be confounded. 7 To you therefore which believe He is precious: but to them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar [God’s own] people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

Believers, whether Jews or Gentiles (non-Jews), are that holy nation, God’s own people. Only in Christ is the ultimate fulfilment of all the prophecies. I don’t doubt that the land given to Abraham in an everlasting covenant is still the land of Israel but that does not mean that God’s people are those born a Jew in the flesh apart from salvation in Christ. There is no difference in Christ. Only through accepting Jesus as Saviour can ethnic Jews be saved.

Romans 2:28,29 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Romans 9:6-11 Not as though the word of God has taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:  7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall your seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. 10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calls)

God made two quite separate promises to Abraham. One was that his offspring would be as sand by the seashore innumerable (e.g. Genesis 13:14-17, Hebrews 11:12). See God’s promise to Abraham. Another promise was that from Abraham’s offspring the Messiah would eventually be born.

Galatians 3:16-19 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed, which is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot cancel, that it should make the promise of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. 19 Why then serves the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed [Christ] should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Hebrews 3:1-6 Why, holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2 Who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. 3 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who has built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by some man; but He that built all things is God. 5 And Moses verily was faithful in all His house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6 But Christ as a son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

Christ is the Son over His own house. All born-again believers are that house, regardless ethnicity — Jew or Gentile. There is no back door inheritance for the Jews who do not accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour. As Jesus said:

John 10:7,8 … Verily, verily, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep …. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

John 14:6 Jesus says to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me. 

So this is the true Israel of God — the house headed by Jesus Christ.  However, this does not negate the other promises given to Abraham.

Nor does it negate the sovereign will of God in that He will graft the “natural branches (Jews)… into their own olive tree” (Romans 11:24) when the scales are removed from their eyes and they accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah.

Romans 11:25-27  For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery [hidden truth], lest you should be wise in your own conceits [thoughts]; that blindness [hardness of heart] in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer [the Lord Jesus Christ], and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is My covenant to them, when I shall take away their sins.

In the revelation given through the Apostle Paul the Lord message could not be clearer. God will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy. Who are we — lowly created beings — to judge?

Romans 11:31-33 Even so have these [ethnic Jews] also now not believed, that through your mercy [free mercy of God, which we receive by grace] they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all. 33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!

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By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.