Should Christians Support Israel? Part 6
Jun 01, 2011
So far our discussion has centered largely upon the true identity of Judah. The Scriptures make it clear that this is an issue of citizenship, not of genealogy. Jeremiah 24 tells us that there are two kinds of Judahites: good figs and evil figs. Paul actually defines the difference between the two in Romans 2:28, 29. And finally, John tells us that there are some who claim to be Jews, but who are not true Jews at all, but are "a synagogue of Satan" (Rev. 2:9; 3:9).
"Satan," of course, means adversary, indicating that they are adversarial in some manner. There is no doubt in my mind that John was referring to the conflict between David and his adversary, Absalom, which was replayed in the story of Jesus and the temple priests.
Yet what begins to emerge, the more we look at this, is the fact that this is largely a case of mistaken identity. At the very least, it is an identity dispute being fought in the Divine Court, each side claiming to be the true inheritor of the Scepter of Judah with the right to rule the Kingdom.
No doubt David presented his case to God when Absalom usurped his throne with the help of Ahithophel. God heard his prayer and reinstated him upon the throne.
The same occurred in the New Testament, when Jesus came of the lineage of David to claim the Scepter (throne). He proved His worthiness by fulfilling the original prophecy that Jacob gave to his son, Judah. Gen. 49:9 makes it clear that the "lion" of Judah would have to die and be roused up. This was later illustrated in the story of Samson, who killed the lion and later found honey in its carcass (Judges 14:8, 9). That is the "land flowing with milk and honey," that is, the Kingdom, which comes out of the death of the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
The conflict was prophesied in many different ways throughout the Old Testament. The first major prophecy was in the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac. Hagar was a type of the old Jerusalem, while Sarah was the New Jerusalem (Gal. 4:25, 26). The son of Hagar (those of Judaism) persecuted the son of Isaac, as we read throughout the book of Acts and in many of Paul's writings. Paul understood this perfectly, because he had been one of the main persecutors until he was converted from Ishmael to Isaac on the Damascus road.
Paul's story shows us the connection between the story of Ishmael-Isaac and the story of Saul-David. Hence, Ishmael was also Saul, and each persecuted the true inheritor in his day.
When Judah decided to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites in Gen. 37:25-28, he became a prophetic New Testament type, where Jesus was sold into the hands of the Ishmaelites (Jews of Jerusalem). In that case, Judah represented both the nation of Judah as well as Judas, the disciple of Jesus who betrayed Him.
The more we study these Old Testament types and shadows, and see how they played out in the New Testament, the easier it is to understand who is who in the great identity dispute.
The Law of Sacrifice
Though God appeared to choose a particular genealogy from Abraham, Moses shows us clearly that being "chosen" is a matter of law, rather than of genealogy. In other words, it has more to do with one's character and actions than it does with one's genealogy. Genealogy provides people with greater opportunity, but it is not the ultimate determining factor.
There are many places in the law which threaten rebellious Israelites with exile and disinheritance if they rebel against God. An ungodly rebel could be "cut off from among his people," even if he had impeccable pedigree. One such law is the Law of Sacrifice found in Leviticus 17.
(3) Any man from the house of Israel who slaughters an ox, or a lamb, or a goat in the camp or who slaughters it outside the camp, (4) and has not brought it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord, bloodguiltiness is to be reckoned to that man. He has shed blood and that man shall be cut off from among his people.
Jesus fulfilled all the laws of sacrifice by His death on the cross. As the Sacrifice for sin, it was prophesied by Moses that He would die at the hands of the priests themselves. (It was never prophesied that the Romans would offer this great Sacrifice.) The Law then says that the slaughtered sacrifice had to be presented to God "as an offering to the Lord."
This showed that the person recognized the sacrificial nature of the animal being killed. He presented it to God in order that the blood might be applied to his own heart to obtain forgiveness of sin. If the man did not do this, then he was to be cut off from his people, exiled, disinherited, no longer a citizen of the Kingdom, no longer a member of the tribe into which he was born.
In other words, he would be guilty of bloodshed unless he recognized the true meaning of that sacrifice. If this were merely an act of killing an animal, the judgment of God might seem a bit harsh. Men kill animals all the time and never think of it as a sacrifice. But this was prophetic of the Messiah who was to come. It was not wrong per se to put Christ to death. In a sense, we all did that, or at least helped to cause His death by our sin. The guilt comes only when one refuses to recognize Him as the great Sacrifice for sin. To treat Him like just another animal to be slaughtered was to incur the divine judgment of being "cut off from among his people."
In the New Testament story, we recognize that it was in the divine plan that the priests kill the Messiah as the great Sacrifice for sin. But that is the point where the people are separated into good figs and bad. Those who present Him to God as the Sacrifice for their own sins remain in the tribe as citizens of the Kingdom. Those who refuse are cut off.
This law tells us who is a Jew and who is not a Jew in the eyes of God Himself. Those who recognize Jesus as the Messiah and apply His sacrificial death in the lawful manner are those who come under the New Covenant and receive the circumcision of the heart (as Paul says in Rom. 2:29). The others, having a mere outward circumcision, and perhaps having a mere genealogical connection to Judah or one of the other tribes, are not Jews at all (Rom. 2:28).
Remaining under the Old Covenant cannot save any man. No man is good enough or perfect enough to earn salvation by his own will or work. God does not have two plans of salvation for different genealogies. Neither are there two messiahs, one for Jews and another for non-Jews.
The book of Hebrews was addressed to Hebrews. It is not The Book of Gentiles. It shows how Hebrew people can make the transition from the Old Covenant (Hagar) to the New (Sarah). The word Hebrew is literally an "immigrant." The book of Hebrews was written to show them how to immigrate from the Old Covenant to the New, even as Abraham immigrated from Ur of the Chaldees to the Promised Land.
Breaking the word down into its component parts, it is spelled with an ayin ("eye"), followed by the word bar ("son"). It means "to see the Son" or "to manifest Sonship." A true Hebrew is one who sees the Son of God for who He is, and as a result he is given the authority to become a son of God (John 1:12).
If we think that we are sons of God by virtue of our fleshly genealogy, we are mistaken. This is another case of mistaken identity. Our identification with Adam has only brought us death. Only our identification with the Last Adam can bring us life and the inheritance that we seek.
This is the sixth part of a series titled "Should Christians Support Israel?." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones