A STUDY IN ROMANS 9 -11 (Part 4)

Chapter 9:9-13 – HEIRS ACCORDING TO THE PROMISE 

For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac.

Ishmael was born after the flesh (by human effort) and Isaac was born according to the promise, when Abraham and Sarah were beyond the age of bearing children. Ishmael was a descendant of Abraham as was Isaac, but Isaac was the child of promise.

Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob.

Esau was Isaac’s firstborn son, yet he did not esteem his birthright as first born,, which would have made him the heir to the blessing. Instead, he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of pottage (stew) ~ Genesis 25:29. Jacob bargained with Esau for his birthright because he desired the blessing. Through a series of events Jacob inherited and possessed the blessing which originally belonged to Esau.

Esau was a descendant of Abraham as was Jacob, but God loved Jacob and hated Esau because Jacob desired the blessing and Esau despised it.

As it was with Ishmael and Isaac, and Esau and Jacob, so it was with the nation of Israel. Within Israel, there were those who were Abraham’s descendants according to the flesh only. They were not heirs according to the promise, they are not the true children of Abraham.

In John 8, Jesus was opposed by some antagonistic Jews who boasted that they were the children of Abraham, in their opposition to Jesus.

Jesus says the following to them:

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. ~ John 8:36-39 KJV

Jesus goes on to tell them that not only were they not Abraham’s children, but they were actually the children of the devil even though they were physical descendants of Abraham.

The family God promised to Abraham is a household of faith – a spiritual family. In his confrontation with the antagonistic Jews in John 8 (referenced above), Jesus identified the true spiritual father of these physical descendants of Abraham.

But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. ~ John 8:40-44 KJV

In this confrontation, Jesus does not dispute the physical descendancy of these Jews. In fact he affirms it,“I know you are Abraham’s seed” ~ (v 37).  However, this physical descendancy did not mean they were God’s children, For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. ~ Romans 9:6-7

Jesus did not define “Abraham’s children” by their physical descent only. Neither did John the Baptist, who warned those who did not repent and follow Jesus that they would be cut off as the people of God.

And think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: ~ Matthew 3:9-11

The baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire is not a reference to the same blessing, but rather, a contrast between blessing and judgment. Those who would repent would receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Those who would not repent, would receive the baptism of fire, which is God’s wrath.

In the very next verse, after the baptism of fire is mentioned, John says, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” ~ Matthew 3:12

The ministry of Jesus and his fore runner John the Baptist, reveal that only those who responded to the gospel, from among the Jews, were truly Abraham’s children.

Consider Paul’s words from Romans 9:7-8 again: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 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.

We can see from these words of Paul that not all in Israel were the children of the promise, and therefore were not considered “the true seed of Abraham” in the eyes of God. This is consistent with the words of Jesus and John the Baptist.

Only those who were children of the promise were counted as the seed. Who then are the children of promise? They are those who are the children of Abraham by faith according to the truth of the gospel.

For  the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. ~ Romans 4:13

Notice first, that Abraham was promised to be the “heir of the world.” Abraham’s children were to be from “all nations” ~ Galatians 3:8. Secondly, notice that he says that the promise was not made to Abraham or his seed “through the law.” 

The Law was given to Israel through Moses, and served as ethnic Israel’s covenant with God. The Law bound the Jews with the curse if they did not circumcise their hearts to obey God, and serve him only. The Law made a distinction between ethnic Israel and the Gentile nations, serving as the rule of law and constitution for the Jewish people. It was the “wall of separation” of which Paul speaks in Ephesians 2, which made a distinction between the people of Israel (who were God’s covenant people) and the nations. Israel failed to obey the Law, and consequently broke the covenant.

When Paul says the promise was not made to Abraham or his seed “through the Law,” he is referring to Israel’s ethnicity.  The promise was not given to those who possessed a particular DNA, or ethnic status. This is why Paul makes the following argument:

Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision (Jews) only, or upon the uncircumcision (Gentiles) also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. ~ Romans 4:9-12

The promise was spiritual, and pertained to those who would follow Abraham’s faith!

For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.  Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. ~ Romans 4:13-17

The promise which God made to Abraham was that he would be the father of many nations. Abraham believed this promise and Abraham was declared righteous in the sight of God.

According to Galatians 3:8, when God made this promise to Abraham, he preached the gospel to him. In the fullest sense of the word, Abraham believed the gospel when he believed God’s promise to make him the father of many nations and was declare righteous!

Christ is the promised seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16) through whom the blessing promised to Abraham comes to fruition, for it is only in and through Jesus Christ that a person can be justified in the sight of God. Abraham was justified by God because he believed the promise  God made “in Christ”  (Galatians 3:17).

God promised to make Abraham the father of many nations through Christ the promised seed of the covenant.

Being an heir to the promise God made to Abraham comes only through faith in Jesus. This applies to Jews and Gentiles alike. Being a descendant of Abraham “after the flesh” is not the same as being “an heir to the promise.”

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. ~ Galatians 3:26-29

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A STUDY IN ROMANS 9 -11 (Part 3)

Chapter 9:6-8 – In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. ~ Romans 9:6-8

Here Paul makes a striking distinction between the Israelites, applying the promise God made to Abraham which says “in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (KJV) to those within Israel who are of faith, and not to those who were of natural descent only.

Paul here echos that which he has already stated in chapter 2:

25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But 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. ~ Romans 2:25-29

In Paul’s doctrine, one who was a Jew in the flesh (the circumcision) but did not keep the law, was as an uncircumcised person in the eyes of God “if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.” And the uncircumcised (Gentile) who obeyed the law was counted as a Jew in the eyes of God, “So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?”

Abraham’s family has always been a household of “faith” in the eyes of God. Being Jewish (Israel) has never been about race only. In his letter to the Galatians Paul tells the Gentile brethren, “if ye belong to Christ, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” ~ Galatians 3::29.  In the next chapter, Paul tells the Galatians, “For we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.”  ~ Galatians 4:28

Notice that Paul does not say to the Gentiles at Galatia, ye, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise.” Paul uses the pronoun “we” which would include himself, a physically circumcised Jew.

This is where many often stumble over Paul’s teachings. They think that the Gentiles have become the “spiritual children” of Abraham, while the Jews remain as the “true children” of Abraham because of their physical descent. This sort of thinking is out of sync with Paul’s.

The promise God made to Abraham was a family from “all nations,” for the children God promised to Abraham would be those who would follow his faith. They are the heirs of the promise which God made to Abraham. Abraham is the father of all who believe and that is why Paul makes the distinction that he does between the Israelites who sought righteousness through faith, and those who sought it through the works of the Law.

In Romans 9-11, Paul tells us that only a remnant of the people of Israel truly found God’s way of righteousness and that the people of Israel, as a whole, did not obtain righteousness because they did not seek it by faith. Instead, they sought it by the works of the Law, i.e., through their national identity.

In Romans 4, Paul tells us that because of Abraham’s faith, he was declared righteous in the sight of God, apart from the works of the law. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. In Galatians Paul says, “…the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed.” ~ Galatians 3:8

Abraham believed the gospel in advance which was God’s promise to justify all who believe. Therefore all who are of faith (faith in Jesus) are the children of Abraham and heirs to the promise – this is true for the Jew and the Gentile.

A STUDY IN ROMANS 9 -11 (Part 2)

Chapter 9:4-5 – HAS THE WORD OF GOD FAILED?

Verses 4-6

They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoptionthe glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

In the first installment of this study we saw the reason for Paul’s anguish and sorrow of heart for his kinsmen according to the flesh. Israel, like all other nations are under sin, and consequently under the judgment and wrath of God if they do not turn from their sins. God will not favor the Jew who is unrepentant.

Just as the Jews were to be the first beneficiaries of the blessing of the gospel, even so they would be the first with regards to God’s judgment.

6 He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but
for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 
11 For God shows no partiality.  ~ Romans 2:6-11

That the blessing of the gospel is to the Jew first (Romans 1:16) does not lessen it power or importance towards the Gentiles. The same is true of God’s judgment – the first partaker of God’s goodness, is also the first partaker of his severity.

It is this reality which causes Paul to sorrow over those among his kinsmen who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness. ~ Romans 2:8

In expressing his sorrow, Paul says, They are Israelites. And to them belong the adoptionthe glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

Has God failed? Has God deceived his people?

Why are they to whom such riches were given now now subjects to his righteous judgment as all other nations who reject God? How did they get here? How did they end up on the outside of the covenant, while Gentiles who did not have the law, now feast at their table? Did they not know that the very gospel which has been extended to outsiders, is their heritage?

18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
    and their words to the ends of the world.”

 

19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
    with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

 

20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
    I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

 

21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” ~ Romans 10: 18-21

This plight of the Jewish people was agonizing to Paul, yet Paul knew the Word of God had not failed, for he writes the following:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

Paul’s understanding of God’s promise in Isaac, which comes through strongly both here and in other some of his epistles, helped shaped much of Christian doctrine.

It is important to understand that Paul’s agony for his kinsmen is not nationalistic, but rather it is sorrow for every Jew who is misses out on the redemption that was provided to save them from their sins. This is the ultimate in lost of inheritance, for the gospel belongs to the Jew first, and if the Jew fails to partake, he has lost all his inheritance.

In our next installment in this study we will attempt to unpack some of the truth contained in the verses 6-8 (above) as we look closer at “the true Israel within Israel”.

A STUDY IN ROMANS 9 -11 (Part 1)

Chapter 9:1-3 – PAUL’S GREAT SORROW AND ANGUISH OF HEART FOR HIS FELLOW JEWS

Verses 1-3 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

Paul expresses his deep love for his fellow Jews. This love is expressed in sorrow of heart which Paul describes as “unceasing anguish”, so much so that Paul would rather be separated from Christ than for his kinsmen according to the flesh to perish.

As we study Romans 9-11 we need to keep in mind that Paul is not addressing Israel from the position of 21st century end-time eschatology. At the time of Paul’s writing of the book of Romans, Jerusalem had not yet been besieged by the Romans, the temple which Jesus pronounced judgment upon was still standing, and the temple service continued

In the opening chapters of the book of Romans, Paul addressed the rebellion of humanity which did not have the written law given to Israel, and in contrast, Paul shows how the Jewish people who do the same things are also subjects to the wrath of God, even though they had been separated as the people of God and given the Law.

Consider the following from Chapter 2:

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

At the outset of Romans, Paul levels the ground between the Jew and the Gentile, giving the Jew who sins and rebels against God not outlet for boasting before God, for the Jew may boast that he has the Law, but if it isn’t written on his heart, he has become as one who is uncircumcised in the eyes of God.

It is this which causes sorry to the heart of Paul. What he writes in chapters 9-11 is the continuation and outworking of the mystery of God with regards to Israel within the plan of God’s redemption, not only of the Jewish people but the whole world. And Paul’s grief in not that of 2019 eschatology. Paul’s grief is that of sorrow over the hardness and unrepentant hearts (uncircumcised hearts) of the Jewish people who boast in the law, while rejecting Christ.

In the verses which follow Paul, a will make a distinction between “Israel in the flesh who did not obtain what it had sought after, and the remnant seed within Israel who did.

 

HOW I CAME TO UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH ABOUT TITHING

I had preached tithing as a minister, as a Pastor, and as a youth pastor, but never understood the tithing texts in the Old Testament, until 2006.

I stood in my kitchen and got very honest with God, because I knew I didn’t understand the Old Testament scriptures which have been “re-worked” to teach Christians to give a tenth of their income.

I asked the Lord, “what’s the deal?” I had preached tithing for a very long time, and I was very good at it.

However, I knew in my heart, I did not understand the scriptures in the Old Testament regarding tithing, and that what I was preaching and had preached was only a nicely crafted defense for tithing, with no real understanding of the biblical tithe.

Though I had taught tithing, I was weary because I had never truly experienced the abundance that is supposed to come from giving the required 10% of my income, and I had been practicing this for some 26 years as a Christian at the time (in 2006).

I had been through all the nuances preached and taught by tithe teachers as to why tithing sometimes doesn’t work in bringing the blessings. Preachers are constantly having to come up with excuses when people don’t experience the promised success.

I had convinced myself that because of tithing, I was blessed, but in reality, I wasn’t. It was a constant struggle as me and my wife incurred much debt because we didn’t have much money left over to get through the month.

In 2006, I was set free from the bondage of giving what man told me I was “required” to give – even if I could afford it or not.

It has been 12 plus years, and…

God still talks to me.
God continues to answer my prayers, & receive my worship.
God continues to bless my life.
God continues to minister his presence to my heart and life.
God continues to provide for me and my family financially.

After 12 years, there is still “no sign” of any curse that I was taught and also taught myself would come for not giving a mandatory 10%.

By emphasizing the curse, tithe teachers can motivate people to give a particular amount so that they can insure they will have a certain amount of funds come in. – that’s just the truth!

If ministers made a habit of studying the scriptures so they could teach sound doctrine, rather than studying to get another angle on the topic they want to persuade people to believe, they could teach the curse mentioned in Malachi 3, within its contextual setting.

This is why you will never hear a tithe teacher, take you through the scriptures to teach you what the tithe in the Bible actually was, and what it wasn’t. They will never tell you who was required to tithe, and who wasn’t.

In my time of searching, I only observed one person attempting to do so, his attempt failed, but I do commend his effort.

As I stood there in my kitchen the day I got honest with God about wanting to understand the tithing scriptures, I took a neutral position. I petitioned the Lord with the commitment that if I were required to tithe, I would to continue to do so, but I wanted to understand tithing Biblically, so I could teach it correctly from the Bible.

However, If I were to find that I was not required to tithe, I wanted to know the truth as well.

That day, I purposed to take a neutral position before God, not leaning to the right or the left, but whatever he revealed to me from his word as the truth, I would believe.

I took communion and consecrated my prayer and search to the Lord. That same day, I put a large tithe check in the mail (that was money that my family could have used), but I did so because I did not yet know what God’s answer would be.

I prayed, “If I am required to tithe, receive this as my tithe, if I am not required to tithe, receive this as an offering.”

This was how my journey to find out THE TRUTH about tithing began. In due time, I came to an understanding of the Biblical tithe, it’s purpose under the Law, who was required, and who wasn’t, etc…

I experienced GREAT FREEDOM when I finally took that step of faith to believe the Bible, and that my giving would now be freewill offerings from the heart, and no longer a “required” amount that would bring a curse on my life if I didn’t.

I now know what that tenth was in the Bible – It was part of Israel’s welfare system to provide food for the priests and their servants, the Levites (who were given no land inheritance) and to provide food for the widows, orphans, and strangers.

While many have been taught to focus on the “percentage” of the tithe because churches need revenue (even though the tithe under the law was not revenue, but food), it’s the purpose for the tithe that believers should learn from, and that purpose is amplified in the New Testament as generosity which ministers to the needs of the poor.

God commanded the tithe from the herds and crops which were raised from the land of promise so that the poor would be taken care of and not go hungry. The lesson we should learn from the Old Testament tithe is God’s compassion to meet the needs of the poor.

_______________________________________________________

For a Biblical perspective on tithes and offerings follow the link below:

https://michaelbattle65.wordpress.com/2017/08/07/tithes-and-offerings/

 

THE HOUSE THAT GOD WANTED

Jesus saith unto them, did ye never read in the scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. ~ Matthew 21:42-43

Jesus is the stone, which the builders rejected. Who then are the builders who rejected Jesus?

They are the leaders of Israel (the chief priests and Pharisees ~ v. 45). They had corrupted the temple and had made it a den of thieves rather than a house of prayer (Matthew 21:13). Now their house was desolate (Matthew 23:38) and the Kingdom was being taken from them and given to another. Consequently, “there would be not one stone left upon another” of the temple they had defiled (Matthew 24:2).

The stone they rejected is the cornerstone which God himself has placed in Zion (1 Peter 2:6). This stone, Jesus, is the foundation of God’s true temple as testified of by the prophet Isaiah.

Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. ~ Isaiah 28:16

Jesus had asked the chief priests and Pharisees concerning this stone, “Did ye never read in the scriptures…?”

The scriptures given to Israel had testified that God would lay the foundation for his true temple (not the end time, man made temple, which modern Christian Zionists claim) but God’s true temple, the temple he has always wanted.

God personally laid the cornerstone for this temple he desired to inhabit.

It is said that the stone would be laid “in Zion”. Under the Old Testament Zion (earthly Jerusalem) was a type of the Heavenly Jerusalem to which the true people of God belong: ” you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God,  heavenly Jerusalem…” says the writer of Hebrews.

When the temple authorities rejected Jesus, they rejected the cornerstone which God himself had established as the foundation for his true temple

For this reason, the Kingdom of God was taken from them and was given to another nation (a chosen generation, a holy nation, with a royal priesthood, a special bought people, who were purchased by the blood of the lamb, and would demonstrate the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light ~ 1 Peter 2:9).

They would bring forth the fruits of the Kingdom! For they would be inhabited by the Spirit of the Living God. The temple made with human hands would no longer serve as the residence of God among his people.

When Jesus breathed his last on the cross, and surrendered his spirit into the hands of the Father, the curtain (veil) of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom (Matthew 27:50-51) and a new an living way was opened for the people of God (Hebrews 10:19-22).

God’s presence now abides in the temple of which his people are living stones, built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, and who offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

God will never again make his abode in a man-made temple. God’s plan, revealed in Jesus Christ, was to unite Jews and Gentiles into one family in Christ. This is God’s house!

For through him we both (Jews and Gentiles) have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye (Gentiles) are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints (the Jewish remnant who trust in Jesus), and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye (Jews and Gentiles) also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:18-22

This is the temple of the Lord, for it is his doing and it is marvelous in our eyes!

JEWISH IDENTITY VS. A CIRCUMCISED HEART

What happens to a Jew when his heart is circumcised? Does he boast in his Jewish identity after the flesh, or does he boast in Christ?

In Philippians 3, Paul warns his brethren in Christ to beware of those who boast in Jewish identity after the flesh. Paul says, “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.” ~ Philippians 3:2

This was Paul’s opinion of the Judaizers, (Jews in the flesh who were persecuting Paul and opposing his ministry to the Gentiles).

Not all Jews were persecuting Paul’s ministry, but those who were zealous for the Jewish religion were. They were evangelizing the Gentiles (Acts 15:1; Galatians 1:7) attempting to convert them to “Jew’s religion” (Galatians 1:13-14), a term employed by Paul in the book of Galatians.

Paul himself had been among their ranks, and Paul knew their motives, and calls them dogs, and contrasts them to the truth that is in Christ, saying, “look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh…”.v 2-3

Paul then lists his credentials as a Jew after the flesh:

  • Circumcised on the eighth day,
  • Of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin.
  • A Hebrew of Hebrews.
  • As to the law, a Pharisee.
  • As to zeal, a persecutor of the church
  • As to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Paul’s qualifications were many. Yet Paul did not consider any of these things of any value before God.

Paul continues, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” v. 7-8

In compassion to his relationship with Jesus, Paul considered his credentials as a Jew in the flesh as a “total loss.”

This is how a “true Jew” esteems faith in Christ.

Paul continues:

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. ~ See Philippians 3

Paul did not despise his heritage as a Jew, He often used it to promote the gospel. What Paul rejected was any boasting in his Jewish identity after the flesh.

Though Paul had all the outward qualifications as a Jew, circumcised in the flesh, he did not know God until his heart was circumcised, at which time his understanding of what God values began to change.

God values a circumcised heart, and this has always been true even under the Old Testament.

Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.” ~ Jeremiah 4:4

God’s appeal to the Jewish people through the prophet Jeremiah was “circumcise your hearts.” This message to the ancient Jews is the same message that was preached, by way of the gospel, to the Jews in the New Testament. Consider the words of John the Baptist to the Pharisees and Sadducees who were supposed to be the spiritual leaders in Israel.

You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. ~ Matthew 3:7-10

The message of John the Baptist to the corrupt leaders in Israel was to circumcise their hearts (Bear fruit in keeping with repentance). Their physical ancestry mattered not to God, for God was able to raise up descendants of Abraham from rocks if he so chose to.

Being Jewish in the flesh matters not to God. What matters is the heart. This comes through clearly in Jeremiah 24, where we read of a vision that God gave Jeremiah of two baskets of figs.

After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, and the metal workers, and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me this vision: behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord. One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. And the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.” Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. ~ Jeremiah 24:1-7

Notice that God interprets the “good figs” in Jeremiah’s vision as those among the ancient Jews whom he would give a heart to know him. God says, “they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”

Keep in mind this is a reference to some of the Jews, not all. It is a reference to a remnant, who would do more than have an outward Jewish identity. They would have a heart towards loving God, and knowing him. They would have a circumcised heart.

Now notice what God says of the the Jews who would not circumcise their hearts:

But thus says the Lord: Like the bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat Zedekiah the king of Judah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they shall be utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.” ~ Jeremiah 24:8- 10

The Jews in Jeremiah’s day, who loved wickedness, and whose hearts were not circumcised, were exiled from the land, and even worse, they were exiled from God’s presence and their memory was being cut off.

THE REMNANT WILL HEAR THE GOSPEL

When Jesus came, the elect (not the Calvinist doctrine of the elect, but the remnant of faithful Israel within the national Israel) received the gospel and the rest were blinded.

Why were they blinded? Because they did not believe on him whom God had sent.

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ~ John 1:11-13

This plays out in plain view in John 9 when the unbelieving, religious Jews expelled the man healed of blindness from the synagogue.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. ~ John 9:35-41

While men like the man born blind received salvation through Jesus, others like the Pharisees were blinded because of their unbelief. In Romans 11, Paul says, What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. ~ v.7

The elect (election) is a reference to those within Israel, who like the man born blind had heart towards finding the truth, for when he was asked by Jesus, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”

The Pharisees, on the other hand, had no desire to believe in him, but were rigorously opposed to Jesus because they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43), and in them was fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah: He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. ~ John 12:40

It is unfortunate, that some within Christian ranks, especially among the “prophecy gurus” have made unbelieving Jews, who despise the gospel, the central focus of their end time theology. Yet God has a people among them. Not a people who will find him in a rebuilt temple, but who will find him through the hearing of the gospel.

God has a remnant with the Jewish people, and like the man born blind, they need to know who the Son of God is so that they can believe in him.

SEEING THE REMNANT IN “ALL ISRAEL”

In Elijah’s day, there was a remnant of Jews who did not bow the knee to Baal, even though the nation at large had.

Paul cites this example in his defense that God has not cast away his people whom he foreknew. Consider Paul’s words:

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. ~ Romans 11:1-6

Paul’s defense that God has not cast away his people is not a predicated on Israel’s national status before God, but rather, the remnant within the nation of Israel who are called according to grace.

Paul believed there was a remnant within Israel who were called according to grace. By default, we can conclude that not all within Israel were called according to grace.

This is not a reference to the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace, but a reference to those who are true Jews from the heart and seek to serve God in truth – they are the called according to grace and the “Israel within Israel” referenced by Paul in the early part of Romans 9.

In Romans 11 Paul uses the allegory of the olive tree to describe the family of Abraham. Israel is referred to as the olive tree by nature (the olive tree cultivated by God), and the Gentiles who are of faith in Christ are called the wild olive branch which is grafted into the family of Abraham (the olive tree).

The Gentiles are not grafted the national Israel through faith. Rather they are grafted into spiritual Israel which is the true family of Abraham, for Abraham’s true children are those who are of faith.

This is why Jesus could say of Nathaniel, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” and then say to other Jews, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.”…”You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”

Jesus made a distinction between Nathaniel, who was a true Israelite, and those who wanted to kill him as children of the devil.

Nathaniel was called according to grace, for his heart was towards pleasing God, the others, though Israeli’s in the flesh did not have a heart towards pleasing God.

All throughout scripture there is a distinction made between Israel and “Israel within Israel” (the nation and the spiritual within the nation). This is evidenced by Paul’s theology that the promise of God did not come through Ishmael but through Isaac.

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. ~ Galatians 4:22-23

Those born of promise are those who are Abraham’s spiritual descendants like Nathaniel.

In Romans 11 Paul claims that God has not cast away Israel because there is a remnant within it who have a heart for God, and though some of the natural branches have been cut off from their own tree, God is able to graft them in again if they will believe the gospel.

These are they who are in view when Paul refers to “all Israel” being saved. Paul is not preaching an end-time restoration of a Christ-less national Israel who builds a temple and offers animal sacrifices.

Paul is referring to the remnant within Israel who will be saved through the gospel.

Thus says the Lord: “As the new wine is found in the cluster, and they say, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,’ so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all. ~ Isaiah 65:8

The all Israel who will be saved are the “true Israelites” or “true Jews”. They are the wine within the cluster. They are Israel within Israel:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. ~ Romans 9:6-8

The remnant is the blessing within the cluster mentioned by Israel. They are the “Israel within Israel” referenced by Paul. And as Isaiah says in another place, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved,” God will be faithful and graft them in again into their own tree when they believe the gospel.

Our responsibility to the Jews is to preach the gospel to them, It is not to support their apostate temple plans or their apostate animal sacrifices.

GOD’S PLAN FOR THE JEWS

God’s plan for the Jews is not to send them back to Israel to build an apostate temple, offer animal sacrifices, and separate them from all other nations, and make their identity distinct from Christ’s body (the church).

That is the theology of Anti-Christ!

God’s plan for every Jew is to graft them again into God’s Israel, the family of Abraham who are of faith. It is not enough to be a Jew in the flesh only.

Jesus told Nicodemus (a teacher among the Jews), “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). There is no inheritance in God’s Kingdom for any Jew apart from being born again. Yet many Christians have been taught that God has a Kingdom plan for Israel separate from the gospel which was delivered to us by the Jewish apostles of Jesus.

Paul, who was a Jew, and a man whose knowledge would be unmatched by any of today’s “prophecy gurus” tells us that God’s plan for the Jewish people has been revealed through the gospel. What then, is that plan?

The plan is the union of Jews and Gentiles in “one body” in the Messiah. God’s plan is not a Temple for Jews only. Instead, God’s plan is that Jews and Gentiles be joined together as the temple of God.

God’s plan is not that the Jews be separate from all other nations. God’s plan is for the Jews and Gentiles to be one family as the true children of Abraham, through Jesus Christ.

Paul says the following in Ephesians 3:

When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. this mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. ~ Ephesians 3:4-6

While Christians Zionists and “prophecy experts” teach that God has a “mysterious plan” for Israel independent of the church, Paul says otherwise, and describes this as the mystery of Christ.

God has no plan for Israel outside of Christ, and God’s plan for Israel in Christ is revealed through the gospel.

Paul continues:

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ… ~ Ephesians 3:7-8

What was Paul preaching to the Gentiles? Was Paul preaching to the Gentiles that God has a special salvation plan for them distinct and separate from his salvation plan for the Jews?

A thousand times, NO!

Paul preached to the Gentiles that they were fellow heirs with the Jews and members of the same body, or family, as the Jews who were saved through grace.

Paul continues:

… and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This is according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. ~ Ephesians 3:9-13

Christian Zionist attempt to divide Israel from the church, Yet in Paul’s theology, the church is the continuation of Israel and it is the church, and not Israel after the flesh, through whom the manifold wisdom of God’s plan is revealed.

God is not interested in a Gentile-less Israel. God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who is the embodiment of God’s plan and purpose for Israel, to die for the whole world. God’s plan for Israel is to fill it with both native born Jews and Gentiles alike, by circumcising their hearts and making them one family in Christ!