Nations in Prophecy--Final
Feb 18, 2012
Paul asked in Romans 3:1 "what advantage has the Jew?" The advantage was that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. Some have taken this to mean that the Scriptures were owned by them exclusively, and that they were not to share this treasure with other people. But the calling of Abraham makes it clear that they were to be a blessing to all families of the earth (Gen. 1:3).
Acts 3:25 and 26 further define "bless" as "turning every one of you from your wicked ways." This is how men are blessed in Abraham. They are turned by reading or hearing the oracles of God, because His law was designed to cause people to repent from their wicked ways.
So let us take it a step further. What advantage is there in being an Israelite? It was the same in terms of the blessing of Abraham and the oracles of God. The main difference is that when we contrast Judah and Israel, we see that their callings were different. Judah was to retain the right to the throne until the One came whose right it was to inherit the throne permanently. That One was Jesus Christ.
Judah produced Jesus, the Heir to the throne. That was the culmination of their calling. Meanwhile, their previous kings were called "until" Christ (i.e., "Shiloh") took the throne. Theoretically, this should have all ended with the first coming of Christ. However, He was rejected, as prophecy had indicated, making it necessary for a second coming with an interim time between these events.
Because the throne was usurped by those who possessed it on a temporary basis, the Kingdom was delayed until this legal issue could be resolved by divine decree. This conflict played into the divine plan, because for Jesus to inherit the throne permanently, He had to come from Joseph. Judah must bow to Joseph in the end.
So we find that Jesus' alleged father in the flesh was a man named Joseph. He was a prophetic type, but not the final fulfillment of the prophecy. Later, Jesus was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, again as a prophetic type, but not the final fulfillment.
Getting back to the advantage of being an Israelite, I am speaking first in terms of the flesh. The biblical Israelites had the advantage of having the Scriptures available to them nearby. Their dispersion, of course, largely deprived them of the Scriptures. They would be deprived of the words of the later prophets after the time of Isaiah, in whose day Israel was deported (Isaiah 38, 39). They were like Lazarus in the parable of Luke 16, who was "outside the gate" and received only a few scraps from the table of the rich man who fared sumptuously every day on the Word of God.
Even so, after the death of Judah (the rich man) and Israel (Lazarus), God saw to it that the Gospel went West into Europe, where the ex-Israelites were located. By this time they had largely forgotten their Israelite heritage, but God had not forgotten. They still received their inheritance--the Word. But then they became like the prodigal son, who squandered his inheritance and ended up eating pigs' food. They had done this in earlier days while in the old land, but they did it again in the wilderness of captivity.
Hence, the Church in the West became corrupt once again. This was the Age of Pentecost, the only leavened feast of Scripture (Lev. 23:17), which prophesied of this interim between the two comings of Christ.
Israel's advantage should not be overblown. We must recognize that Israel's downfall gave an advantage to the rest of the world. Rom. 11:11-15 says,
(11) I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles to make them jealous. (12) Now if their transgression be riches for the world, and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be? .... (15) For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
When Israel violated the Old Covenant, God made a New Covenant with them to replace it (Heb. 8:8-13). This Covenant was made with Israel and Judah, we are told, but this did NOT mean that it applied only to genealogical Israelites. It meant that one had to become part of Judah or Israel in order for this Covenant to apply to them. It was a matter of legal citizenship, not of genealogy.
To believe in Christ in His first mission on earth is what gives people citizenship in Judah. Hence, the Church is the continuation (or extension) of the tribe of Judah, as I explained previously. But if one goes beyond this and is an overcomer, one may become an Israelite. To be an Israelite, whether of the physical seed of Israel or not, means that a person conforms to the second work that Christ does in His second coming as Joseph.
That involves Sonship first. But in terms of the present conflict over the Birthright, it has to do with supporting Jesus' claim as the Heir of Joseph. To be of Judah, one only needs to recognize Jesus as the Messiah-King, the Son of David, of the tribe of Judah, and to have faith in His mission, which was to die on the Cross as the Sacrifice for sin and be subsequently raised from the dead and ascend to the throne in heaven. These are the basics of Christianity that distinguish true Christians from the pretenders.
But the second coming has a different purpose. First, it transfers the throne from Judah to Joseph. Secondly, the rulers in the Kingdom must identify with Joseph-Israel and support Jesus' claim as the Heir of Joseph's calling. Remember that it was Joshua, the Ephraimite, who brought Israel into the Promised Land (Num. 13:8, Joshua here is called "Hoshea"). Even Jesus could not bring us into the final form of the Kingdom until He came as the Son of Joseph.
When God dispersed the House of Israel, He divorced the nation (Jer. 3:8), saying, "She is not my wife, and I am not her husband" (Hos. 2:2). The law of divorce in Deut. 24:1-4 prevented God from remarrying His former wife. Thus, to fulfill the previous promises appeared to be impossible, and many thought that the Birthright must then transfer to Judah. They were wrong. God did the unthinkable by coming to earth in the Person of Jesus in order to die and be raised up as a "new creature" in the eyes of the law. As a new person, He was eligible to remarry Israel.
The only delay was in His refusal to marry a Hagar bride again. The terms of marriage were changed. So as long as the bride was carnal, the marriage would be postponed to the end of the Pentecostal Age. Saul would have to die first, for Saul was carnal, and he was the type of the Church under Pentecost. Likewise, in a very real sense, the Church under Pentecost was like a Hagar bride stuck in Old Covenant practices, while espousing New Covenant words.
But the real marriage is under the New Covenant, which is prophetic "Sarah" (Gal. 4:24-26). God is raising up a body of overcomers as the Sarah bride, and when this number is sufficient to constitute a "body," the marriage will be consummated historically.
When the Israelites were divorced and cast off, they became just one of the nations (i.e., "Gentiles"). Legally speaking, they were no different from any other nation. This put all nations an equal legal status, because the only way that ANYONE could join (or rejoin) the nation of Judah or Israel was through Jesus Christ. All must go through the Door in the same manner by the same faith.
The only advantage that a genealogical Israelite had was in the fact that they were among the first to receive the gospel of Christ. Those living far away would have to wait for the blessings to arrive.
This is the final part of a series titled "Nations in Prophecy." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones