ISRAEL AND THE TRUE VINE

The Psalmist said the following cornering Israel.

Thou hast brought A VINE out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, AND PLANTED IT. Thou preparest room before it, AND DIDST CAUSE IT TO TAKE DEEP ROOT, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs unto the sea and her branches unto the river. Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it (Psalm 80:8-13).

In Isaiah, we something very similar.

Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching HIS VINEYARD. My well-beloved hath A VINEYARD in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and PLANTED IT WITH THE CHOICEST VINE, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and IT BROUGHT FORTH WILD GRAPES. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and MY VINEYARD.  What could have been done more to MY VINEYARD, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to MY VINEYARD: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but THERE SHALL COME UP BRIERS AND THORNS: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For THE VINEYARD OF THE LORD OF HOST IS THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, AND THE MEN OF JUDAH HIS PLESANT PLANT: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness,  but behold a cry (Isaiah 5:1-7).

In Matthew 21 Jesus gives a parable about the vineyard.

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which PLANTED A VINEYARD, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when THE TIME OF FRUIT drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive THE FRUITS OF IT. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, THIS IS THE HEIR; come, let us kill him and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of THE VINEYARD, and slew him. When THE LORD OF THE VINEYARD cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out HIS VINEYARD unto OTHER HUSBANDMEN, which shall render him THE FRUITS in their seasons. 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 marvellous 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 21:33-43).

This parable spoken by Jesus is consistent with the description of the vineyard given by both the Psalmist and Isaiah the prophet. If we would have continued reading in Psalm 80, we would have read the following.

Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and VISIT THIS VINE; And THE VINEYARD WHICH THY RIGHT-HAND HATH PLANTED, and THE BRANCH that thou madest strong for thyself. It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance. LET THY HAND BE UPON THE MAN OF THEY RIGHT HAND, UPON THE SON OF MAN WHOM THOU MADEST STRONG FOR THYSELF. So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved (Psalm 80:14-19).

Who is this son of Man? It is Jesus, the true vine of Israel.

I AM THE TRUE VINE, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth, not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. ABIDE IN ME, and I IN YOU. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide IN THE VINE; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I AM THE VINE, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth MUCH FRUIT for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abides not in me, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned (John 15:1-6).

ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

Under the Old Testament, there were many Gentiles who became members of the nation of Israel.

And in EVERY PROVINCE, and in EVERY CITY, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And MANY OF THE PEOPLE OF THE LAND BECAME JEWS; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them (Esther 8:17).

These were Gentiles who became Jews. They were grafted in with the nation of Israel.

Under the Old Testament, Israel was not a race. Israel was a nation which began with the descendants of Jacob.

In Esther, the scripture says, “in every province, and in every city…many of the people of the land BECAME Jews.”

King Ahasuerus ruled over 127 provinces reaching from India to Ethiopia (Esther 1:1; 8:17).

Now consider how many Gentiles from 127 Provinces, reaching from India to Ethiopia, may have become Jews. The scripture says it was “many.” This is only one of the accounts of those mentioned in the Old Testament where Gentiles became Jews. 

Furthermore, have you ever considered how many people were born with Jewish DNA, which resulted from the Israelites committing fornication or intermarrying with other nations?

Consider Judges 3:5-6

So the people of ISRAEL lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and they INTERMARRIED with them. Israelite sons married their daughters, and Israelite daughters were given in marriage to their sons. And the Israelites served their gods.

The descendants of these marriages had Jewish ancestors, but they were not pure blood Jews.

One of the misconceptions about the Old Testament Israel is that they were a pure race of people. They were not. In Matthew 1, for example, we read of two women in the genealogical record of Jesus (Rahab and Ruth) who were not Jews by blood lineage. They were Gentiles who were grafted into Israel.

Though Israel began with the descendants of Abraham, they increasingly became a nation with a mixture of Gentile DNA. Furthermore, according to scriptures, the descendants of Abraham were not recognized by their blood line. They were recognized by circumcision, the Law, and the tribes they belonged to. This is why Rahab and Ruth are mentioned in the ancestral lineage of Jesus dating back to Abraham. 

At the foundation of the ideology which states that ethnic Israel maintains an ongoing covenant status with God, is the concept of Covenant with God based on Jewish DNA.

This concept, which is entirely unbiblical, breeds contempt towards those who believe God’s promises to Israel are fulfilled in Jesus Christ alone.

Jesus told Nicodemus, who was a leader in Israel, “I tell you the truth unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

DNA is of no value with regards to a relationship with God.

The accusation of being labeled as having a replacement theology for believing Jesus fulfilled God’s promises to Israel is simply unmerited. It is impossible that the church could have “replaced Israel,” because Israel has always been the church!

The church is NOT a new concept which began in the New Testament. In Acts 7 Stephen refers to Israel in the wilderness as “the church in the wilderness.” In fact, Jesus himself used the term “the church” in Matthew 16:18 and 18:17.

Israel is, and has always been “the church” in both the Old and New Testament. However, that which needs to be understood is Jews who reject the Messiah no longer have a covenant with God.

Jews who reject Jesus Christ are cut -off from the covenant with God as Moses said they would be (Acts 3:22-23). They are the branches of which Paul refers to as, cut off, in Romans 11. On the contrary, Gentiles who believe in Jesus are “grafted in.”

Grafted into what?

They are grafted into Israel with the believing Jews. Though the modern state of Israel may have the title, Israel, they are not God’s Israel. God’s Israel is “in Christ” who is both the King and Shepherd of Israel.

ABRAHAM REJOICED TO SEE MY DAY

Jesus told the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see MY DAY: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).

These Jews were standing in the presence of the Son of God, the Messiah, the Shepherd and King of Israel, yet they accused Him of falsehood and ridiculed Him.

Do you think God had a plan for “these Jews” apart from Christ? Do you think God required the Romans to bless THESE Jews in order to be blessed?

When God said, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you,” He was talking TO Abraham, and not to Israel.

These Jews missed the blessing of Abraham, and unless they repented somewhere between this dialogue in John 8, and the time of their death, they were cursed and have been separated from God for nearly 2000 years.

The apostle Peter preached to the Jews telling them, “UNTO YOU FIRST God, having raised up his Son Jesus, SENT HIM TO BLESS YOU, in turning away every one of you FROM HIS INIQUITIES.

Paul told the Galatians that Jesus bore the curse of the Law so that “THE BLESSING OF ABRAHAM” might come upon the Gentiles.

The blessing which God promised Abraham, saying, “I will bless those who bless you,” is in reference to Abraham becoming the father of many nations. This blessing comes ONLY through Jesus Christ. This blessing is not on national modern Israel, this blessing is in Christ, and it is upon those who are in Christ.

God told Abraham. “I will bless them that bless THEE , and curse him that curseth THEE: and IN THEE SHALL ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED” (Genesis 12:3).

In Galatians, the apostle Paul refers to this as the gospel in advance.

And 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. So then they which be of faith are BLESSED WITH FAITHFUL ABRAHAM (Galatians 3:8-9).

THE JEWISH CALENDER IS NOW DEFUNCT WITH REGARDS TO GOD’S TIMING

In Galatians, we read the following.

Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were IN BONDAGE UNDER THE ELEMENTS OF THE WORLD:  But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to THE WEAK AND BEGGARLY ELEMENTS, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? YE OBSERVE DAYS, AND MONTHS, AND TIMES, AND YEARS. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain (Galatians 4:1-11).

The believers at Galatia were being lured, by the Judaizers, away from the spiritual in Christ, back into an obsolete covenant.

The days, months, and years mentioned by Paul pertain to the Jewish calendar and the things which were relevant to the covenant such as the Sabbaths and Jewish feasts. Paul describes these things as “bondage” and as “the weak and beggarly elements of this world.”

The first covenant (the Law) employed the physical things of this world to carry on a system of worship which was dependant on the priesthood, the sacrifices, the tabernacle, including all everything in it, along with the meats, and drinks, and various cleansing rites, etc.

These were all employed from carnal things which were taken from things of this world. They were only A TYPE and A SHADOW of the heavenly reality found in Christ and His finished work.

When Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, he was given THE PATTERN for the Tabernacle, the Priesthood, and the sacrifices. The Pattern only served as an example to foreshadow the heavenly reality which would later be revealed through Christ (Hebrews 8:5; 9:23).

In Hebrews 9 the scriptures says, “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and A WORLDLY SANCTUARY.”

The service was divine in that it pointed to Christ, but it was worldly or (carnal) with regards to the things it employed to carry out its function. It was only a type, made according to the pattern of the Heavenly reality.

For instance the laver in the Tabernacle was made from mirrors taken from the Israelites. This was earthy in that it was made of something of this physical world. Yet it represented that which was spiritual, the Word of God.

The altar, the laver, the lamp stand, the table of shew bread, the incense altar, the Ark of the Covenant, and the fabric for the tabernacle were all made of the physical things of this world. In fact the gold that was used in the tabernacle was once used by the ungodly Egyptians.

It was from the Egyptians that Israel got the gold and silver and fabric that they brought as an offering in Exodus 25. They carried these things with them from Egypt, and these things were used to set up the system of worship which God gave Israel as a pattern of the heavenly things. The Tabernacle and all that was in it did not float down from heaven.

Again, the service was divine (of God) the things used to carry out the divine service was worldly (of this world). Now that Christ has come and brought the reality of which those things foreshadowed and we no longer need THOSE THINGS.
Though it once was a serviceable thing, the Jewish calendar is now defunct with regards to the things of God, because of the finished work of Christ!

THE BANNER FOR THE REMNANT OF GOD’S PEOPLE

In Acts 2:5, we read “…there were dwelling at Jerusalem JEWS, devout men, out of EVERY NATION under heaven” (Acts 2:25).

These Jews, who were scattered among other nations, had gathered in Jerusalem for the Jewish feast of Pentecost. In verses 6-11, we read of the nations from which these Jews were residents.

Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together and were confounded, because that every man heard them SPEAK IN HIS OWN LANGUAGE. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man IN OUR OWN TONGUE, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak IN OUR TONGUES the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:6-11).

The 120 disciples who were filled with the Holy Ghost were speaking of the wonderful works of God, and they were doing so in the languages of the nations wherein their fellow Jews were residents.

With this in mind, consider Isaiah 11:10 -11, “…in that day there shall be A ROOT OF JESSE, which shall stand for AN ENSIGN (signal, or banner) OF THE PEOPLE; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass IN THAT DAY, that THE LORD SHALL SET HIS HAND AGAIN THE SECOND TIME TO RECOVER THE REMNANT OF HIS PEOPLE, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

Careful study reveals that the locations mentioned in Isaiah 11 and the locations in Acts 2 coincide with one another.

Acts 2 was the beginning of the fulfillment of Isaiah 11:10-12 as God began gathering His people, the remnant of Israel, together under one banner, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Acts 2:22, the apostle Peter addressed these thousands of Jews as, “YE MEN OF ISRAEL.”

Ye MEN OF ISRAEL, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know…(Acts 2:22).

Peter goes on to lay the culpability for the death of Jesus to the charge of the house of Israel.

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, YE HAVE TAKEN, AND BY WICKED HANDS have crucified and slain…(v.23).

Peter then tells his Jewish audience, “God hath raised Jesus up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held by it ” (v.24).

Though they were responsible for the death of the Messiah, God had raised Him up, and in His mercy, God was gathering the remnant of those who would repent and trust in Jesus.

Peter goes on to declare how that through the resurrection of Jesus, God exalted and enthroned Jesus as the King of Israel at the right hand of God.

Therefore let all THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, BOTH LORD AND CHRIST (Acts 2:36).

The message of the resurrection of Jesus was for ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL. Jesus is the Banner which the Lord God of Israel had raised up to gather the remnant of His people to Himself.

In response to Peter’s bold proclamation about Jesus, three thousand souls were added as followers of Jesus.

In Acts 2:47, these Jews who believed in Jesus were called “the church.”  They were the beginning of the New Covenant Israel, gathered together as one people in the Messiah. However, those Jews who chose to reject Jesus were, consequently, cut off from the people of God as Moses had said they would be (Acts 3:22-23).

Later, Gentiles would begin to be grafted into the covenant with the remnant of the believing Jews, but first the Gospel would continue to spread to the whole house of Israel (Acts 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:30-32; 8:4; 13:16-46).

Through the gospel sent to the Jew first, God raised a banner and began gathering the remnant of His people just as He had said He would.

VESSELS OF WRATH AND VESSELS OF MERCY

There is a prevailing concept that Israel has been hardened and blinded so that salvation could come to the Gentiles. Yet this is precisely what Paul tells the Romans not to think.

Thou wilt say then, the branches were broken off, THAT I might be grafted in. ~ Romans 11:19

Paul then tells them why the branches (the hardened Jews) were broken off from the covenant.

Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear. ~  Romans 11:20

Paul does not say that Israel was blinded so that salvation could come to the Gentiles. Instead, Paul says Israel was blinded because of unbelief and because of unbelief they were hardened.

This hardening did not come as a result of their rejection of Jesus; rather, this hardening was the reason why they rejected Jesus, the Messiah.

(According AS IT IS WRITTEN, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) UNTO THIS DAY. ~ Romans 11:8 

Paul quoting from Isaiah 29:10 speaks at the time of his writing of Israel’s blindness as being unto this day. Paul then quotes the scriptures again.

And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always.  ~ Romans 11:9-10 

Here Paul quotes Psalm 69:22-23. This is the same chapter of Psalm in which we find the words quoted by Jesus in John 15: “they hated me without a cause” ~ Psalm 69:4; John 15:25).

Israel as a nation has always been, and continues to be, a stiffed necked people. In all of God’s efforts to make them a great nation, they continually rebelled. However, in God’s wisdom, their rebellion against him has resulted in God’s mercy towards all nations.

This is reflected in the parable given by Jesus concerning those who were invited to the wedding feast.

Because of Israel’s persistent rebellion as an nation, Israel no longer holds any special covenant privilege which makes them superior to any other nation. God’s holy people are those in Christ. In Romans 9-11 Paul explains how, in the wisdom of God, God has fulfilled his purpose of bringing salvation to all nations.

God has always had a remnant of believing Jews within ethnic Israel, and he has always had a remnant of Gentiles who sought to serve him as well. Yet only the nation of Israel had a covenant with God, through whom the kingdom of God was revealed.

When Jesus died and rose again everything changed. The kingdom of God was taken from the physical nation of Israel in the flesh, and given to those who follow Jesus, the Messiah.

In their hardness, ethnic Israel is the vessel of wrath fitted for destruction of which Paul makes references in Romans 9. Paul cites Pharaoh as a scriptural example of God’s sovereignty in hardening whom He wills.

In contrast, the remnant of believing Jews along with believing Gentiles, are the vessels of mercy whom God has called according to His grace.

Notice Paul’s words in Romans 9:22-23

What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, ENDURED WITH MUCH LONG SUFFERING THE VESSELS OF WRATH FITTED TO DESTRUCTION: And that he might make known the riches of his glory ON THE VESSELS OF MERCY, which he had afore prepared unto glory, EVEN US, WHOM HE HATH CALLED, NOT OF THE JEWS ONLY, BUT ALSO OF THE GENTILES? 

Stop for moment and notice that God called the vessels of mercy from among the Jews. This implies that not all Jews were called as vessels of mercy, even as all Gentiles are not called as vessels of mercy.

Throughout the scriptures we see many accounts when God’s wrath was carried out against Israelites who rebelled against him. John the Baptist warned the Pharisees to flee from the wrath to come and in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Paul refers to those Jews who oppose the gospel as being under the wrath of God.

Paul continues in Romans 9 saying: As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, A REMNANT SHALL BE SAVED: For HE WILL FINISH THE WORK, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. ~ Romans 9:25-29

Notice that it was because of the righteous seed within Israel that Israel was not destroyed as a nation before Jesus came, otherwise they would have been like Sodom and Gomorrha. Most of us know what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah when God’s wrath was revealed against them.

Paul continues:

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. ~ Romans 9: 30-33

Israel after the flesh was hardened and has been hardened since long before the coming of Jesus. They will continue to be hardened until the fullness of the Gentiles come in at which time all Israel (the vessels of mercy called from among the Jews and Gentiles) will be saved.

JERUSALEM MISSED THE TIME OF HER VISITATION

And when he was come near, he beheld THE CITY, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now THEY ARE HID FROM THINE EYES. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; BECAUSE THOU KNEWEST NOT THE TIME OF THY VISITATION. (Luke 19:41-44).

Jesus looked upon Jerusalem and wept over it because she had missed the time of her visitation. Her desolation was near and her end would be final.

Historical Jerusalem has been put away as an unfaithful and adulterous woman and God has taken a new bride, New Jerusalem, the heavenly city (full of the followers of Jesus) is the Lamb’s wife, the holy bride.

And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee THE BRIDE, THE LAMB’S WIFE. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, THE HOLY JERUSALEM, descending out of heaven from God (Revelation 21:9-10).

WAS PAUL A RICH PREACHER?

The apostle Paul never used manipulative tactics to raise support for his ministry. Paul chose to labor with his hands and pay his own way so that the truth of the gospel would not be hindered.

It’s remarkable that so many Christians don’t know that Paul worked to provide for himself and others in the ministry. Paul says the following in the book of Acts:

I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that THESE HANDS have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that SO LABORING ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:33-35).

Paul believed in working and paying your own way if possible.

For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat (2 Thessalonians 3:7-10).

You may find it interesting to know what I learned from a friend who is skilled in the Greek language. The handkerchiefs taken from Paul, which were used to heal the sick and drive out demons (Acts 19:12), were most likely those used for wiping the sweat during his making of tents.

Paul had the right to ask for support but chose not to do so, so that the gospel would not be hindered (see 1 Corinthians 9).

In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul addresses the gullibleness of the Corinthians who had allowed other “so-called apostles” to take advantage of them, and in contrast, how he had ministered to them without charge.

In 2 Corinthians 12:14 Paul says to the Corinthians, “Now I am coming to you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you. I don’t want what you have — I want you. After all, children don’t provide for their parents. Rather, parents provide for their children.”

Paul also appealed to the Corinthians to raise support for the poor saints in Jerusalem who were in need of help. He did not teach those poor saints who were in need to sow a seed to his ministry. On the contrary, he encouraged their brethren in Christ, who had the means to help, to give generously. He taught those who could help to do so within their means and as a result God would bless them, and their giving, and it would bring forth the fruit unto the praise and glory of God (2 Corinthians chapters 8 & 9).

Paul was also cautious about how this gift was to be handled.

We are also sending another brother with Titus. All the churches praise him as a preacher of the Good News. He was appointed by the churches to accompany us as we take the offering to Jerusalem —a service that glorifies the Lord and shows our eagerness to help. We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift. We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable (2 Corinthians 8:18-21).

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul thanks them for their generous gift of support for his ministry by saying the following:

How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. As you know, you Philippians were THE ONLY ONES who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. NO OTHER CHURCH DID THIS. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:10-19).

As can be seen from the text above, though he was sometimes supported by the gifts of some (namely the Philippians), Paul wasn’t one who went around teaching people to “sow seed” into his ministry and promising them that God would cancel their debts or make them rich.

Paul was a true minister of the gospel.

THE AXE IS LAID UNTO THE ROOT OF THE TREES

It is commonly thought within Christian Zionism that the Jewish people, as a whole, missed the first coming of the Lord. Therefore, they are excused, and they will seek him and turn to Him just prior to His second coming. There are variations in that view but that’s the gist.

This ideology is foreign to the New Testament.

Notice what the angel Gabriel had to say concerning John the Baptist.

And MANY OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him IN THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIAS, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; TO MAKE READY A PEOPLE PREPARED FOR THE LORD (Luke 1:15-17).

John 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).

Now consider these words in view of Malachi 4

For, behold, THE DAY COMETH, that shall BURN AS AN OVEN ; and all THE PROUD yea, and ALL THAT DO WICKEDLY, shall be STUBBLE: and THE DAY COMETH THAT SHALL BURN THEM UP, saith the LORD of hosts, that IT SHALL LEAVE THEM NEITHER ROOT NOT BRANCH. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb *** FOR ALL ISRAEL,*** with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you ELIJAH THE PROPHET before the coming of THE GREAT AND DREADFUL DAY OF THE LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse (Malachi 4:1-6).

These words were spoken to the people of national Israel and not to the Gentiles.

God sent John the Baptist to prepare a people for the Lord from among the nation of Israel. Those who believed and repented were established as God’s people and for them “the Sun of righteousness arose with healing in his wings.” Those who refused to repent were hewed down, for God left neither, root nor branch, of the wicked within Israel. He cut them all off. Only the remnant who repented continued as the people of the Lord.

GO BACK TO SHILOH

The prophet Jeremiah warned the inhabitants of Jerusalem not to trust in lying words by thinking that they could avoid the Judgment of God because the temple was there (Jeremiah 7:1-12). He told them to learn from Shiloh (the place God had originally chosen) and recall what He had done to it because of their sins.

But go ye now unto MY PLACE which was in Shiloh, where I SET MY NAME at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel (Jeremiah 7:12).

Shiloh was the place where the tabernacle was set up after the children of Israel entered the land of Canaan under the ministry of Joshua. Before the children of Israel crossed the Jordan, God told them the following through Moses.

These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do IN THE LAND, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your God. BUT UNTO THE PLACE WHICH THE LORD YOU GOD SHALL CHOSE out of all your tribes TO PUT HIS NAME THERE, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come…(Deuteronomy 12:1-5).

Israel was to completely destroy every place which was dedicated to other gods. God expressly tells them to destroy these “upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree.” Israel was to be a holy people consecrated to the worship of the One True God, and they were to worship God at the place where he would chose to place His name.

But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when He giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; Then there shall be A PLACE WHICH THE LORD YOUR GOD SHALL CHOOSE TO CAUSE HIS NAME TO DWELL THERE;  thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord: And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you. Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: BUT THE PLACE WHICH THE LORD SHALL CHOOSE in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee (Deuteronomy 5:10-14).

After Israel entered into the promised land, God chose Shiloh as the place where the tabernacle, which bore His name, would be placed.

During the days of the High Priest, Eli, and his two sons Hophni, and Phinehas, who were priests with him, Israel was in a state of apostasy.

1 Samuel 2:13 tells us, “the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.”

Belial means “lawless, wrecklessness, worthless.”  Literally, it means devil. In Deuteronomy 13, we see the use of this term “Belial” in the following context.

If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men, THE CHILDREN OF BELIAL, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, LET US GO AND SERVE OTHER gods, which ye have not known; Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword (Deuteronomy 13:12-15).

Eli’s sons were wicked men like these mentioned in Deuteronomy 13, being sons of Belial. They were so wicked that they stole the portion which belonged to the Lord from the sacrifices which the people brought to the altar. In 1 Samuel 2:12-17 we read the following from the NLT.

Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord or for their duties as priests. Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork. While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way. Sometimes the servant would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar. He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting. The man offering the sacrifice might reply, “Take as much as you want, but the fat must be burned first.” Then the servant would demand, “No, give it to me now, or I’ll take it by force.”So the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for THEY TREATED THE LORD’S OFFERING WITH CONTEMPT.

The sacrifices which were to be offered to God, according to the law, were sacrifices which were suppose to foreshadow the sacrifice of Jesus. Yet, these wicked priests handled the offerings of the Lord with contempt.

Furthermore, Hophni and Phinehas, were immoral and were seducing women at the tabernacle.

Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were SEDUCING THE YOUNG WOMEN who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning? You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the Lord’s people are not good. If someone sins against another person, God can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede?” But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death (1 Samuel 2:22-25).

This was “Shiloh” of which God was warning the inhabitants of Jerusalem in Jeremiah 7. Now consider Jeremiah 7:1-15 in view of Shiloh. We will read from the NLT.

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said,  “Go to the entrance of the Lord’s Temple, and give this message to the people: ‘O Judah, listen to this message from the Lord! Listen to it, all of you who worship here! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:“‘Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land. But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, “The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here!” But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever. “‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours,  and then come here and stand before me in My Temple and chant, “We are safe!”— only to go right back to all those evils again?  Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken! “‘GO NOW TO THE PLACE AT SHILOH where I once put the Tabernacle that bore my name. See what I did there because of all the wickedness of my people, the Israelites.  While you were doing these wicked things, says the Lord, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen. I called out to you, but you refused to answer. SO JUST AS I DESTROYED SHILOH, I WILL NOW DESTROY THIS TEMPLE THAT BEARS MY NAME, this Temple that you trust in for help, this place that I gave to you and your ancestors. AND I WILL SEND YOU OUT OF MY SIGHT INTO EXILE, just as I did your relatives, the people of Israel.’

God’s warning, through Jeremiah, to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem was that they not trust in lying words, thinking that God would not destroy the temple. God was calling them to repentance, but they refused, and would soon be exiled just as God had promised.

Now consider Jeremiah 26:1-9.

In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the Lord, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings. And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; THEN WILL I MAKE THIS HOUSE LIKE SHILOH, AND WILL MAKE THIS CITY A CURSE TO ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH.

God kept his word and in the days of King Zedekiah, Jerusalem was besieged and the temple destroyed.

Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years IN JERUSALEM. And his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And HE DID THAT WHICH WAS EVILE IN THE EYES OF THE LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For through the anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, till he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about. So THE CITY WAS BESIEGED unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. Then THE CITY WAS BROKEN UP, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden; (now the Chaldeans were by the city round about:) and they went by the way of the plain. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him. And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah. Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death. Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, And BURNED THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire: And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about. then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive certain of the poor of the people, and the residue of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the multitude (Jeremiah 52:1-15).

God’s judgment came because the people would not repent and serve the Lord. Seventy years would pass before the captivity would end, and the remnant would return to rebuild the city and the temple.

When God destroyed the tabernacle in Shiloh, the Ark of God (the Ark of the Covenant) left the tabernacle and never returned to it. In fact when Eli heard that the Ark had been taken by the Philistines, the Bible says, “he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died…(1 Samuel 4:18).

We then read the following.

And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, THE GLORY IS DEPARTED FROM ISRAEL: BECAUSE THE ARK OF GOD WAS TAKEN, and because of her father in law and her husband. And she said, THE GLORY IS DEPARTED FROM ISRAEL: FOR THE ARK OF GOD IS TAKEN.

During the reign of King David, the Ark was recovered, but it was not taken to the tabernacle. Instead, It was placed in a tent which David made for it. Later, when Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, the Ark of God was placed there. God had placed His name there and sanctified the temple as His House of worship.

It was this temple, built by Solomon, which was destroyed by the Babylonians during the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy. Though a second temple was built after the Jewish exiles returned from Babylon, the Ark of God never returned to the rebuilt temple.

From the time of the exile until the arrival of John the Baptist, the Ark of God’s presence was not in the temple in Jerusalem.