WHO or WHAT is ISRAEL?

BY:  JONATHAN MITCHELL

DECEMBER 14, 2008 

I am approaching this study from the perspective of God’s economy in the new creation.  The thoughts which follow will obviously demonstrate that this is not a racial, nor an anti-Semitic, article.  Neither does it present what is commonly called “replacement theology.”  Rather, this will look primarily at what the NT says about Israel and ethnic groups in light of the Christ event.

To begin, let us consider Paul’s statement in 2 Cor. 5,

16.  so that we, from the present moment (from now) [on], have seen and thus know (or: perceive; or: are acquainted [with]) NO ONE on the level of (or: in the sphere of; in correspondence to) flesh, if even we have intimately, by experience, known Christ ([the] Anointed One) on the level of (or: in the sphere of; in correspondence to) flesh, nevertheless we now (in the present moment) no longer continue [thus] knowing [Him].

17.  Consequently, since (or: if) someone [is] within Christ (or: is in union with [the] Anointed One), [there is] a new (of different kind, character and quality) creation (or: framing; founding; act of creation): the original things (the beginning [situations]; the archaic and primitive [arrangements]) passed by (went to the side).  Consider!  New things have come into existence (have been birthed; or: It has become new things; or: He has been birthed and now exists being ones of a different kind, character and quality).

Let me stress two points here: first, we neither see (perceive) nor know ANYONE on the level or in the sphere of FLESH; second, there is now a new creation in Christ – the original, beginning, archaic and primitive arrangements passed on by, and new things (or: arrangements) have come into existence.

On the second point, we can conclude that the first covenant, the Law, and the arrangements under the first creation have all passed away.  We now have a new economy in God.  On the first point, in God’s economy there is no more division between Israel and the multitudes of ethnic groups (Gentiles; non-Jews; pagans; etc.)

Consider Eph. 2,

14.  For He Himself is (continuously exists being) our Peace (or: harmony; [= Shalom]) – the One making (forming; constructing) The Both [to be] one, and destroying (unbinding; unfastening; loosing; razing), within His flesh, the middle (or: partition) wall of the fenced enclosure (or: which is a barrier): the enmity (cause of hate; characteristics of an enemy; hostility),

15.  rendering useless (nullifying; rendering down in accord with inactivity and unemployment) the Law ([= the Torah]; or: the custom) of the commandments consisting in decrees (or: prescribed ordinances), to the end that He may frame (create; found; reduce from a state of wildness and disorder) The Two into One New [p46 & others: common] Man (or: mankind; humanity) within the midst of, and in union with, Himself, continuously making (forming; constructing; creating) Peace (or: harmony; [= shalom]);

Note: He, in His flesh, brought peace and harmony and made THE BOTH (i.e., Israel and the multitudes of ethnic groups, or Gentiles) to be ONE!

Let that sink in!  He created (formed) THE TWO into One New humanity {or: Man – see 1 Cor. 15:45 and 47.  “The first human (man), Adam, came for existence (was birthed) into a living soul;” [Gen. 2:7] the Last Adam into a continuously life-making (life-engendering; life-creating; life-giving) Spirit….

47.     The first human (man) [was/is] forth from out of the earth, dusty (dirty; soilish), the Second Human (Man) [is] forth from out of the midst of heaven.}

In God’s economy there are only two men, two humanities: the first and the last; the first and the second.  He deals with mankind as a whole.

But back to vs. 14 in Eph. 2, above: He destroyed (or: razed) the middle, or partition, wall of the fenced enclosure which brought enmity between Jews and Gentiles.  This partition created the “court of the Gentiles” in the Temple.  It no longer exists; these two groups are no more – they are all one new humanity.

Next look at Paul’s revelation in Col. 3,

9. Do not keep on (or: Stop) lying unto one another!  [Be] folks at once stripping off from yourselves (undressing yourselves from) the old humanity (the old man; = the old Adam), together with its practices,

10.  and then [be] suddenly clothing yourselves with (or: entering within) the new one (the fresh one which existed only recently), the one being continuously (or: repeatedly; progressively) renewed (made back up new in kind and character again) into full, intimate and experiential knowledge and insight which is down from and corresponds to the image (an exactly formed visible likeness) of its Creator (of the One framing and founding it from a state of wildness and disorder),

11.  wherein (or: in which place) there is no Greek [figure of the multitudes who are non-Jews, and of those who are cultured and civilized] and Jew [figure of a covenant people of God], circumcision and uncircumcision [figure for religious in-groups and out-groups; there is no longer a covenant people versus non-covenant people], barbarian [foreigner who speaks a different language], Scythian [figure or example of wild, uncivilized groups], slave, freeman, but to the contrary, Christ [is] all, and within all (or: Christ [is] all mankind, and within all mankind; or: Christ [is] everything or all things, and within everything and all things; [note: the Greek is plural, and is either masculine, signifying “mankind,” or neuter, signifying all creation, in these phrases]).

Taking verse 9 as speaking of the new economy in Christ, Paul tells folks to stop lying, speaking as though nothing has changed.  Go on, strip off the old humanity and enter within the new humanity – wherein there is no Greek or Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, etc.  Where then is the people called the Jews, or, Israel?  Where, in God’s view, are the ethnic multitudes, or, Gentiles?  In the new reality, they no longer exist as separate categories.

Consider what Paul said in Rom. 2,

28.  For you see, the Jew is not the one in the visibly apparent or outwardly manifest (or: For not he in the outward appearance is a Jew), neither [is] circumcision that [which is] visibly apparent (outwardly manifest) in flesh,

29.  but rather, a Jew [is] the one within the hidden [place] (or: [that which is] in the concealed [realm]), and circumcision [is] of [the] heart in union with Breath-effect (or: within [the] spirit), not in letter, whose praise (applause; full recommendation; [note play on words: Jew is a derivative of “Judah,” which means “praise”]) [is] not from out of mankind (humanity), but rather from out of God.

According to Paul’s revelation, a Jew is not that which is visibly apparent or outwardly manifest, nor is circumcision – which outwardly defined Israel, under the Law.  But things have changed: the old has passed on by.  Now a Jew (being a person of any natural, physical race) is such in the hidden realm; circumcision is of the heart, in union with spirit (or: Breath effect).

In Rom. 11:17, we see him using the metaphor of an olive tree (a figure of that which produced the anointing), and we see the Gentiles (non-Jews; see vs.13) were grafted in, among them (i.e., the Jews).  Note that it was only SOME of the Jews that were broken out of this tree – and their end is to be grafted back in again (vs. 23).  So, in this metaphor, there is only one tree, and we have been joined to it in Christ, among the believing folks of Israel.  He is not here speaking of an economy of two groups, but of one.  In God’s economy, there is only one humanity, and all natural ethnic groups (including Israel) are a part of this One New Mankind.

The New Covenant now applies to all humanity, in the heart and spirit – only in the flesh are there different ethnic groups.

But in considering ethnic groups, I find something quite interesting concerning the people of Israel in the flesh (whom we no longer know in the realm of flesh).  In the Scriptures they were clearly a patrilineal society – the descent and blood line, as well as transfer of property, was through the males of that society.  Today we see that “Israel” in the flesh has become a matrilineal society.  How could this happen and Israel still maintain their cultural integrity?  “Israel” of today is a group by culture and religion, and via a blood line of the mothers.

So do we look to OT Scriptures to be fulfilled in the culture, religion and statehood presently known as Israel?  How can this be?

God’s economy has moved into the new creation where there is One Humanity.  No more divisions by ethnic culture or natural race.  He is calling all to be His many brothers (= fellow believers, and fellow members of this new society).  Paul, in Gal. 3 tells us,

27.  For you see, as many of you folks as were immersed into Christ, at once clothed yourselves with Christ (or: were plunged into so as to be enveloped by then saturated and permeated with Anointing – or, the Anointed One – instantly entered within and put on [the] Anointing)!

28.  Within, there is not (there does not exist) Jew nor Greek (or: Hellenist); within, there is not (does not exist) slave nor freeman; within, there is not (does not exist) male and female; for you folks all exist being one (or: are all one person; or: are all united) within Christ Jesus.

29.  Now since you folks belong to Christ (or: have [the] Anointing as your source and origin; or: So since you people have the qualities and character of Christ), you are straightway and consequently Abraham’s Seed: heirs (possessors and enjoyers of the distributed allotment), down from, corresponding to and in the sphere of Promise!

Now I submit that in the economy of Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek… no “male and female.”  But the Christ is the Second Adam, the last corporate Mankind, and these, “the many” will be placed into the Way pointed out, and rightwised (Rom. 5:19), and thus, through the effects of one rightwised act [of Christ], all mankind [has been placed] into a rightwisedness which is life (vs. 18).

But not all have yet been birthed into this, for this happens, each person in his own order (1 Cor: 15:23).  Only in the eternal now of God does this now exist, being a finished work of Christ.  In this realm of flesh, many still sleep.

What is IsraelIsrael is the one of promise.  Israel is the one of spirit.  Israel is God’s olive tree, God’s tree of life.

In Ex. 4:22, God tells Moses to say to Pharaoh: “Thus says Yahweh, My son, My firstborn, [is] Israel.”  In the new economy we see that Christ is now “the Firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15).  And, in Rom. 8:29, He is “to be (to continually exist being) the Firstborn among and within many brothers!”  Then James says (1:18), “Being purposed (intended; willed), from pregnancy He brought us forth by a Word (collected thought; message) of Truth and Reality – [placed] into us – to be (or: to continuously exist being) a specific firstfruit of His created beings (or: of the effects of His act of creating; or: of the results of the creation which is Himself).”

We see this same figurative language used of Israel in Hos. 9:10, “Like grapes in a wilderness I found Israel; like the firstfruit on the fig tree, in its first [season], I saw your fathers.”

In Isa. 5:7 He says, “For the vineyard of Yahweh of hosts is the house of Israel, and each person of Judah His plant delectable.”  But in John 15:5 Jesus says, “I, Myself, am the Grapevine; you folks [are] the tender branches (shoots or twigs that can be easily broken).”  Christ is here identifying Himself, along with His disciples, as Israel – God’s Son, God’s vineyard – and those being joined to Him are also Israel, just as those who are of faith are Abraham’s seed.  Paul points out the principle that is here represented when in 1 Cor. 15:46 he says, “the spiritual [is] not first, but rather the one having the qualities and characteristics of a soul (the soulish), then afterwards, the spiritual.”  As Adam was a type of the new humanity in Christ (Who is called the “last Adam” in 1 Cor. 15:45), so Israel, as a natural people, was a type of the “heavenly” (vs. 48), or, the spiritual.

The old covenant presented pictures, or shadows, of the new: “For the Law (= Torah), having and holding a shadow of the impending good things – not the very image or same likeness of those things (of the matters; of the practices or deeds done)…” Heb. 10:1.  And again, in Heb. 8:5, they were “an example and by (or: in) a shadow of the folks upon the heavens (of the super-heavenly ones; or: of the things pertaining to completely heavenly places and things)…

Consider the words of Jesus to the Jews of His day, in John 8:

37.  “I have seen and know that you people are Abraham’s seed (offspring; descendants), but now you men continue seeking to kill Me, because My word (message; thought; idea; discourse) is not continuing to have room and make progress within you guys.

38.  “I am habitually speaking things which I, Myself, have seen, [being] at the side of the [others: My] Father, and you folks are yourselves habitually doing [p75: speaking] things which you hear (or: heard) at the side of your father.”

39.  In calculated reply, they said to Him, “OUR father is Abraham!”  Jesus then says to them, “If you folks are Abraham’s children, be continually doing Abraham’s deeds (actions; works) [other MSS: If you folks were Abrahams’ children, were you ever doing Abraham’s works (deeds; acts)?].

40.  “So now, proceed in seeking to kill Me! (or: Yet now you are continually seeking to kill Me; [note: the verb “seeking” is either present imperative or present indicative]) – a Man (person; human) Who has spoken to you the truth which I hear (or: heard) from (or: at) God’s side.  Abraham does not do this (or: did not do this).

41.  “You folks habitually do your father’s works (deeds; actions).”

They said to Him, “We ourselves were not born out of prostitution (or: fornication).  We have one Father: God!”

42.  Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you folks would have been, and continued, loving Me, for I Myself came forth and am arrived here from out of the midst of God.  For neither have I come from Myself (= on My own initiative), but rather that One sent Me away with a mission (commissions and sends Me forth as an Emissary, [His] Representative).

43.  “How (Through what [situation]) is it that you folks consistently do not understand (have personal, experiential knowledge of) the matter of My discourse (= Why don’t you understand what I’m saying)?  Because you have no power (are unable) to continue hearing (or: to habitually or repeatedly hear [implies to obey]) My word (My message; My thought and idea).

44.  “You folks, in particular, are (exist and have your being) from out of the father, the devil (or: the devil father; the father – the one thrusting-through), and you are habitually wanting (willing; intending; purposing) to be constantly doing your father’s passionate cravings (full-rushing over-desires).  That one was existing being a murderer (a man-killer) from [the] beginning (or: from the start), and he has not stood (has not made a stand) within the Truth (or: Reality), because truth (reality) is not (does not exist) within him.  Whenever he may be speaking the lie, he is continuing speaking from out of his own things – because he is (or: continues existing being) a liar, and its father.

In vs. 37 Jesus affirms that they are Abraham’s seed.  Then in vs. 39 He calls this into question.  Then in vs. 44 He affirms that they are of their father, the devil.  Was He contradicting Himself, or was He speaking of them literally being natural descendants of Abraham, but not spiritual or ethical children of Abraham because they were doing the works of an adversary – thus displaying the characteristics of a “devil”?  To be a “son” or “child” of something was a cultural idiom (a Hebraism) that meant to be like such a thing or such a person.  So here Jesus is addressing issues of the heart and spirit.  He was saying the same thing as Paul said in Rom. 2:28, 29  “For you see, the Jew is not the one in the visibly apparent or outwardly manifest (or: For not he in the outward appearance is a Jew), neither [is] circumcision that [which is] visibly apparent (outwardly manifest) in flesh, but rather, a Jew [is] the one within the hidden [place] (or: [that which is] in the concealed [realm]), and circumcision [is] of [the] heart in union with Breath-effect (or: within [the] spirit)…”

Evangelist John L. Bray, in his booklet Israel in Bible Prophecy, points out Heb. 11:10, where Abraham “continued taking (or: receiving) with the hand from out of the city continuously having the foundations – whose Craftsman (or: Technician; Artisan) and skilled Worker for the people (or: Producer; Architect) [is] God.”  He then asks what city Abraham was receiving from (KJV, “looked for”), and I agree when he points us to Rev. 21:14, a city that has foundations which are the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  Then he leads us to vs. 9-10, pointing out that this city which is descending out of heaven is actually the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

In Gal. 4, where Paul is comparing the bondage of the old covenant to the freedom in the new, he says,

25.  Now this Hagar is (= represents) Mount Sinai, within Arabia, and she continuously stands in the same line (row; rank; = corresponds to; or: is habitually rudimentary together) with the present Jerusalem, for she continues in slavery (or: bondage) with her children.

26.  Yet, on the other hand, the Jerusalem above is (continues being) free, who is (continues being) our mother.

So once again, Paul shows us that there are two categories: that which is below and in bondage – figuring the natural, and that which is above and free – figuring that which is spiritual and comes through promise.  God’s present economy is concerned with this latter.  The former He destroyed, having said of the natural temple complex, “Truly (or: Make it so; or: Assuredly), I am now saying to you folks, there can under no circumstances be a stone left or allowed to be upon [another] stone which will not be loosed down to bring utter destruction” (Matt. 24:2).  Jesus says no more about this temple, or, about it being rebuilt.

God’s economy moved from the natural to the spiritual.  The new creation has only one people, all members of the corporate Christ, the last Adam.  This new, reborn humanity Paul addresses in Gal. 6,

16.  So as many as are habitually advancing [other MSS: will advance; can advance] in line by ranks, corresponding to this measuring rod (or: continue belonging to the rank living in conformity to this rule; or: shall in this standard progressively observe the rudimentary elements or elementary principles and walk in line with them), Peace [= shalom] and Mercy [are continually] upon them – even (or: that is) upon the Israel whose origin and source is God (or: God’s Israel).

 

WHO or WHAT is ISRAEL? [Jonathan Mitchell] 12-14-08           1

 

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