1 John 3:16

"By this we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."

Friday, 30 April 2010

Romans 11

We will start with a thematic review of the chapter. Romans in general is about God’s plan to save His people. The book is about grace. It starts off by proving that both Jew and Gentile are under sin. The Jews have sinned by the law and the Gentiles have sinned by their conscience, so that all men are without an excuse before God. Neither the law, conscience, nor the witness of creation can save. They serve only to condemn. So the conclusion to this part is:

They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no not one. (Rom 3:12).

That being the case, the only way to God is through grace. This means that God will not allow any boasting by man. He will receive no man with a boast. He will receive us by one way only, through grace:

Therefore, it is of faith, that it might be by grace…(Rom 4:16).

From there Paul proceeds to show us how grace works. The essential ingredient he describes in Romans 9 and Romans 11 is election. It is because of election that we have no boast before God. From this footing Paul continues in Romans 11 to explain how God draws his people to Himself through grace alone. This is the summit of the book.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Not a Place - A Person

This is the place that the Father prepared for us, in Christ. “I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-3). This is the mystery that Paul spoke of: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col 1:27). How simple and consistent is the revelation of scripture!

How Dispensationalism has taken people away from the plain meaning of scripture, which is Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

Jesus is the fulfilment of the promises. He is the land. It is a person. Salvation is not a place. It is so much better that a piece of real estate. It is eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ.

And this is the record, that God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; and he who has not the Son of God has not life. (1 John 5:11-12).

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

What is the City They Sought?

They lived in the land and had not received the promise. What was it that they looked for? The text says the promise they looked for was the heavenly promise in Christ, the land in Christ that God had prepared for them. Hebrews 11 goes through all the heroes of faith who dwelt in the Promised Land and concludes:

And all these, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Heb 11:39-40).

Hebrews12 tells us what this city is:

But you are come to mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem and to an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven and to God the Judge of all and to the spirits of just men made perfect and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant and to the blood of sprinkling…(Heb 12:22-24).

Zion and Jerusalem are the church of Jesus Christ, the elect of God in Christ. Hebrews was written to show this very thing, to stop earthly Zionism and direct all to Christ as the fulfilment of the whole law and prophets. Galatians 4, Hebrews and the book of Revelation tell us that Jerusalem is the church.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Land in Hebrews

Now coming to the book of Hebrews:

For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that has entered into His rest, he has also ceased from his own works, as God did from His. (Heb 4:8-10).

(The KJV uses “Jesus”, derived from the Greek for Joshua.) This passage is about Joshua bringing Israel into the Promised Land. The text says that when Joshua brought them into the Promised Land he did not succeed in giving the people rest. That is, this land was only a type, it was not the fulfilment. The fulfilment is Christ and this is the point of Hebrews.

Hebrews here is referring to Psalm 95, where the rest is still promised a long time after Israel had occupied the Promised Land. This shows that the land itself was not the rest and was not thus the promise. This is why Zionism completely misses the gospel intention of the scripture. The Jews looked to the land and not to Jesus. We are to “look unto Jesus.” (Heb 12:2).

Hebrews said the same thing about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, when they dwelt in the Promised Land:

By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked for a city whose builder and maker was God. (Heb 11:9-10).

If Abraham had arrived in the land of promise, why did he sojourn there by faith? Because that was not the fulfilment of the promise! He counted the land as a strange country. This shows the mistake of Israel. They did not look beyond their land and see Christ, so they fell short of God’s promise. Abraham had faith that he would yet see the fulfilment. What was the fulfilment that he was expecting? It was that he would come to the city whose builder and maker was God.

The same is said of Abraham’s descendents who dwelt in the land:

For these all died in faith, not having seen the promises. But having seen them afar off and were persuaded of them and embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country…But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He has prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:13-16).

So all of Abraham’s descendants who lived in the Promised Land confessed that they were pilgrims, meaning that they had not yet arrived in the land that God promised. This means that the land called the Promised Land today is not the land that God promised. He promised certain boundaries under the Old Covenant, but Hebrews explains that this was a type of our redemption, security and safety in Christ.

Joshua brought Israel into the shadow of the true land. The whole Covenant under Joshua was a shadow of the fulfilment in Christ. This is the whole meaning of Hebrews.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Everlasting Promises

In the Old Testament everlasting promises were made to Abraham and this is what Dispensationalism has used to confuse some people. God promised that there would not fail a king upon David’s throne forever and this has been fulfilled in Christ.

We know that this “forever” is fulfilled in Christ’s reign on the throne of David. We know that Jesus is the seed of David in whom this promise is fulfilled. So this everlasting or eternal promise has been fulfilled in Christ and God’s word to David has not fallen to the ground.

Similarly, when God promised the land to Israel “forever” in Psalm 105, this also is fulfilled in Christ. This is what the book of Hebrews sets out to explain. Why should we say that the promise to David was fulfilled in Christ, but the promise of the land is not fulfilled in Christ? We agree that the promise of the land was an everlasting covenant, just as the promise to David of a king was everlasting.

Everlasting describes a covenant begun in Israel by figure and type and fulfilled in Christ (Ezek 37:26). For example, Abraham’s descendants were to keep the everlasting covenant of circumcision (Gen 17:13). This was given before the law, but we know it was a shadow fulfilled and ceased in Christ (Gal 6:15).

Everlasting is also used of the Aaronic priesthood, a covenant to “all generations”, a phrase similar to that used in Psalm 105 regarding the land. The Aaronic/Levitical priesthood is fulfilled and ceased in Christ (Ex 40:15). The Day of Atonement was an everlasting statute and the book of Hebrews says it is fulfilled and the ceremony is ceased in Christ (Lev 16:34).

If we say everlasting can only be fulfilled in Palestine, then how does Israel being out of the land for the last 2,000 years work? If we are literalists we have a problem here. Also, if we say that everlasting for the land refers to Palestine, then it must also refer to Aaron, to the Day of Atonement and to the whole Law of Moses. This is the quagmire of Dispensationalism.

Psalm 105 says that God fulfilled His promise bringing Israel out of Egypt into the land, “That they might observe His statutes and keep His laws.” (vs. 45).

Deuteronomy states that Israel’s occupancy of the land depended on this obedience. The promise concerning Palestine was conditional and was put aside (Heb 8:13).

Psalm 105 is a depiction of the types of Christ. Moses and Joseph are spoken of. 1st Corinthians 10 shows Moses was a type of Christ. The Psalm, therefore, has a shadow meaning, which is fulfilled in Christ, God’s true Israel. In Him His promises are yes and amen. The oath to Abraham is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This is what the Psalms in general depict. This was Stephen’s whole point to Israel in Acts 7.

The lament of John Gerstner locates Dispensationalist thought well: “This certainly does make it hard on the Jews! When they might have had a glorious piece of real estate on the Mediterranean, all they end up with under this interpretation is Christ.” (in Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth). “All they get is Christ!” Is this how Dispensationalism views Christ?

Concerning a future return of Israel to Palestine, Stephen Sizer claims “Nowhere, however, is a third re-gathering to the land explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Each passage quoted by Scofield or (Hal) Lindsey refers either to the first or second re-gathering to the land (from Egypt and Babylon), or, as in Amos 9, to Pentecost.” (in Christian Zionism). This statement would be difficult to refute using biblical hermeneutics.

Sizer concludes on the theology of Christian Zionism, that in it: the promises of blessings are isolated from their covenantal context; the interpretation of scripture by Jesus and the apostles is ignored and; the sacralising of Zionism ultimately subordinates the cross.

Sunday, 25 April 2010


The scripture does not warrant allegorizing where it is not intended. But to give a literal interpretation to passages where the Bible context is clearly using a shadow or picture that points to fulfilment in the New Covenant in Christ, is also breaking the intention of scripture. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev 19:10).

Literalism is as wrong as unwarranted allegorizing. Literalism is making literal what the Bible intends to be symbolic. But once we know that Jesus is the sum of the scriptural witness we have the right focal point for hermeneutics. We must interpret scripture by its intended plain meaning, neither allegorizing when unintended, nor literalizing when unintended.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Spiritualizing Scripture

Some say this is spiritualization of the text, making the land to be the person of Christ. Rather, it is the specific intention of scripture. The prophets spoke in pictures. This is the language style that the Hebrew used. This is well known and accepted. Scripture has to be interpreted by its context and by its genre. Genre means the kind of text it is.

If it is Hebrew prophetic text then it used pictures to portray meaning, especially when the meaning is beyond usual human understanding. For the most part the Hebrew could not understand prophetic texts about Messiah unless redemption was expressed in the context of their current experience.

It is the stated intention of scripture that pictures, shadows and types are used to portray the redemption and kingdom of Christ. This is not miss-allegorising. Concerning terms such as Israel the prophets specifically stated that this meant God’s elect (Is 42:1, 45:4, 65:9).

And I will bring forth a Seed out of Jacob and out of Judah an inheritor of My mountains; and Mine elect shall inherit it and My servants shall dwell there. (Is 65:9).

Dispensationalists say that they go by the literal interpretation of scripture. Actually they do not. They allegorise many passages. They suppose that Ezekiel 36 by “double fulfilment” speaks of a second return of the Jews to the land before Christ’s return, while it was fulfilled over 400 years before Christ by the return of the captivity from Babylon and the nations of the north.

They allegorize the six days of creation in Genesis 1 to be 6,000 years of human history from creation until now, supposing that Christ will reign in Jerusalem for the 7th day (1,000 years). Genesis does not say this. Allegory is one of the roots of their hermeneutics.

Allegory in itself is not wrong. John Bunyan wrote the classic Pilgrim’s Progress, which is an allegory. Allegory is wrong when it misrepresents the intent of scripture, or invents themes not in the scripture. Good allegory is useful. Scripture often uses allegory, but we must be faithful to the scripture’s intent.

Friday, 23 April 2010

The Land

We will be looking at the book of Hebrews to see what it says about Israel and the Promised Land. The concept of the Promised Land comes from Paradise, where Adam walked in relationship and communion with God.

The concept of paradise or the land appears in the prophets in symbolism, where it is a place of rest, or peace, of security from enemies and reconciliation and peace with God. Phrases like “every man sitting under his fig tree” describe the serenity of reconciliation in a way that can be understood in human terms (Is 65:22, Zech 3:10).

There are many pictures like this, of living in the land under the New Covenant. They do not picture a one thousand year reign of Christ in Jerusalem. They picture the redemption of Christ. The land is thus reconciliation. The land is Christ, just as the Sabbath is.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Paul’s Mystery

Paul speaks about this greater inclusion of Gentiles in Ephesians. In Ephesians Paul is describing his call and ministry:

How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery; as I wrote before in a few words, whereby, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and of the same body and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel…To me, who am less than the least of the saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Eph 3:3-8).

Paul explained the mystery: that the Gentiles are included in the same body of Christ through the gospel and that we are the seed of Abraham through Christ. In Ephesians 2 Paul explained that we, the Gentiles, who were once afar off have been made nigh by the blood of Christ and are included in the Commonwealth of Israel, which is Christ (Eph 2:11-22).

In Eph 3:2 Paul describes his ministry, “If you have heard of the dispensation (stewardship) of the grace of God that is given to me to for you.”. He also shows this by his introduction to the epistle:

That in the dispensation of the fullness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in Him. (Eph 1:10).

This describes Christ’s reconciliation on the cross, in bringing all things under His subjection and through the gospel gathering together the elect of the Jews and Gentiles into one body in Christ. Things in heaven means that we have peace with the Father, that we all may be one in Him. He brings us all into one body. This is what Paul’s ministry was about, to declare Is 42:6, 49:6.

“That in the ages to come (now in the church era) He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Jesus Christ.” (Eph 2:7).

That is what God has been doing in the nations as He gathers in His elect throughout the ages that we are now in. Paul made the same point about this inclusion of the Gentiles in Romans 11. We look more closely at this further below.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Inclusion Theology

Inclusion Theology is not a fully accurate term. The term means that Gentiles have been included in Israel, the household of faith, under the New Covenant. However, Gentiles were always included in Israel. Abraham was a Gentile when he was called. There were many others in the Old Testament, including Rahab and Ruth, both of whom were included in the lineage of Christ. The Old Testament law made provision for Gentiles to join Israel, to worship God and be saved.

However, during the Old Covenant Israel were not commanded to preach to all the Gentile nations. God kept a greater inclusion of all men into His household for the New Covenant age. Speaking of the Messiah’s ministry and the New Covenant the Holy Spirit said:

I the Lord have called You in righteousness and will hold Your hand and will keep You and give You for a covenant for the people (Israel), for a light to the Gentiles. (Is 42:6).

In the New Testament James shows the same understanding:

…James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken to me: Simeon has declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets;

as it is written, After this I will return and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof and I will set it up: That the residue of men (“remnant” [NIV]) might seek the Lord and all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called, who does all these things. Known to God are all His works from the beginning of the world. (Acts 15:13-18).

James said here that the prophet’s words about the rebuilding of David’s tabernacle were fulfilled in the church. He said that the church was made up of the remnant of the nation of Israel and the elect of the Gentiles of all nations, whom the Lord would take out for Himself, according to His plan from before creation.

Dispensationalism misconstrues this passage, saying that “after this” means after the church age. James’ clear intent was to show that the gospel age is the fulfilment of the prophets. The church is David’s tabernacle.

Always in the mind of God Israel has meant God’s people, not a tribe or nation. It has always referred to God’s elect. Gentiles were included in that in the Old Covenant era, but in the New Covenant there is “much more” grace extended through Christ.

Monday, 19 April 2010

The Israel of God

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be upon them and mercy and upon the Israel of God. (Gal 6:15-16).

Israel is the new creature in Christ. Paul said that the church is the Israel of God. Dispensationalism claims that Paul is speaking here of two groups of people: the church and the nation of Israel and prays that peace be upon both of them. This contradicts Paul’s point. He is plainly saying that the new born are Israel.
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision (circumcised Jews). For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh. (Phil 3:2-3).

Paul told the believers to beware of the false leaven of the Jews, who spread legalism and the law and rejoice in their flesh and natural descent from Abraham. He said that the church is the true circumcision, or the true Israel of God.

For you, brethren, became followers of the churches…in Judea…for you also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets and have persecuted us; and they please not God and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. (1 Thes 2:14-16).

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Natural Israel is as Ishmael

For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was after the promise.

Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which genders to bondage, which is Hagar. For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and answers to Jerusalem which now is and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. (Gal 4:22-26).

The New Covenant Jerusalem is not a city in the Middle East. Jerusalem is the city of God from heaven. There is no prophetic significance to the city of Jerusalem in Israel today. That city is in bondage. We can cast every Muslim and Arab that we like to out of Jerusalem and it will still be in bondage. There is no advantage in removing the Mosque and building a temple. They are both alike a rejection of Jesus Christ.

The second point of the above passage is that Paul shows that natural Israel is Ishmael. Ishmael was the son of Hagar. He was Abraham’s seed according to the flesh. Israel as a nation is also Abraham’s seed according to the flesh. Abraham’s seed are those born according to the promise, not according to the flesh. Paul told the Jews that unless they are in Christ, they are the seed of the flesh, just as Ishmael was.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Israel Means the Elect

For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calls…(Rom 9:11).

Isaac had two children. Jacob was counted for the seed and Esau was not. They were both born of Abraham, but only one was counted as Israel. Paul said again that it was the elect that was the seed (Israel), not the child of the flesh.

We will come back to Romans 11 later, but for now we will look at Paul’s other epistles. Every time Paul mentions Israel he gives the same definition. He is following Jesus’ pattern from the Gospels.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you be Christ’s then are you Abraham’s seed…(Gal 3:28-29).

In God there is no separate nation of Israel now. God has brought all into one in Christ. There is no Jew or Gentile, but those in Christ or out of Christ. Paul shows here again that Abraham’s seed are those of faith.

For the promise that he should be heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law (natural descent), but through the righteousness of faith. (Rom 4:13).

Friday, 16 April 2010

Not New Covenant Innovation

The next passage is lengthy, but it gives a biblical definition of Israel. Paul bases this definition on Old Testament theology, so therefore we cannot say that this is New Testament replacement theology, or an innovation of the New Covenant. Paul proves his theology from the Old Covenant, showing that God’s view of Israel has always been the same. Paul goes back to Genesis:

…for they are not all Israel who are Israel. Neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac your seed shall be called. (Rom 9:6-7).
Here Paul ascribes two meanings to the word Israel. First, Israel is a term that refers to the children of God, not to a nation. Then he also mentions the national race of Israel. He says that not all in the nation of Israel are Israel, that is, the children of God.

Israel means the children of God. Paul claims that not all Abraham’s natural children are Abraham’s seed. “In Isaac your seed shall be called” means that it is the children of promise, not Abraham’s natural seed, who are Abraham’s true seed. Isaac was born by promise, not by Abraham’s natural ability, “not by the will of the flesh.” (John 1:13).

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. (Rom 9:8).
Natural descent does not make someone a child of God. God makes children Himself by faith, promise, grace and election, i.e. by His Spirit. The seed of Abraham are those in Christ. Paul then shows the same again, by referring to Esau and Jacob.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

How Paul Defined Israel

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God. (Rom 2:28-29).

Paul defined a Jew as one who has a relationship with God not based upon works. The seed of the flesh base their righteousness on themselves and do not believe the promises. The true seed are those elected by grace. Their calling is not due to their natural descent. This is the meaning of “whose praise is not of men”. We do not put our confidence in our natural descent.

So to Paul, a Jew is one whose heart is circumcised by faith and the term is not determined by natural descent.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Jesus the Heir

That is why Jesus went down to Egypt as a child, to fulfil this type. Just as Israel came out of Egypt, so Jesus was called out of Egypt. God did this to show that Jesus is the real Israel and the fulfilment of all the promises and hopes of Israel. He is the one whom the Father loved and called Israel. When Jesus came out of Egypt the scripture says:

When Israel was a child, then I loved Him and called My Son out of Egypt. (Hosea 11:1).

And (Jesus) was there (in Egypt) until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son. (Matt 2:15).

Jesus is called the firstborn, meaning the one God loves, whom He has chosen and the heir of Abraham (Matt 3:17, Heb 1:6). This is why Pharaoh lost all his firstborn (Ex 4:22-23). He was trying to stop God’s firstborn from going out to serve the Lord. So God smote Pharaoh’s firstborn. The nation Israel was not God’s firstborn, but only a type. Pharaoh was touching Jesus Christ, God’s real firstborn.

The nation of Israel failed as God’s firstborn, so Jesus is His firstborn and heir. The whole Old Testament is about two things:

1. Man’s failure.
2. God’s remedy in Christ.

But the scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to all who believe. (Gal 3:22).

Paul explained this in Galatians when he said Christ is Abraham’s seed. He said, not “seeds”, as of many, but one seed, even Christ. There is only one seed of Abraham. That is Jesus Christ (Gal 3:16). So Israel is Christ and all of us who are in Him by His faith. “And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:29). Christ and His body (church) are one, which is Israel.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Christ Is Israel

Israel means to have power with God, or to be an overcomer in faith. Jacob received this name in type. Israel as a nation received this name in type. But they fell short of its meaning. They hardened their heart and turned away from God. But God had a remnant, who was the real Israel, or those whom He had a relationship with.

Remnant theology is throughout the Old Testament. These were the people of God.
Israel is a bit like the church today. The church as an organisation carries the name church, but it is not the church. The church is the body of Christ, those who are born again, who are in the household of faith, not in a brick building. The world thinks of the organisation, but the church is those who are in Christ. Israel is the same. It is not a nation. It is the people of God.

David’s house was considered the remnant after the ten northern tribes defected. This left Judah. But even Judah fell. David’s lineage itself fell away from God. At the end there was none that overcame in God’s faith. Even the remnant fell short. The Bible says that God looked and there was no man, therefore His arm brought salvation (Is 59:16). The prophets called Israel a cut down tree, totally cut off in judgement, with no man or remnant remaining (Is 11:1, 10).

This means that all from Jacob fell short of the faith that the term Israel portrayed. Was this to be the end? Israel had its hope in David’s offspring, but David’s house was in judgement. But God had one from David’s house who would not fail. He would overcome when tried. He would remain faithful. He would inherit the promises. He would fulfil everything meant by Israel and be the hope of our salvation.

It is at this point that Christ came forth, “the shoot”, “the root of the stem of Jesse” and the “branch”. Jesse was David’s father, or David’s house. His house had been cut down in judgement, so only the stump was left in the ground. There was no hope from any among man or from any remnant. So God brought forth Christ as a shoot from the stump and from Christ He brought salvation to His people.

When Israel fell and none could be counted as Israel, none had kept the faith. Christ alone was left. He alone overcame in His faith (John 14:31,16:33). This means that He perfectly obeyed the Father. Christ is God’s Israel. According to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary Israel means “He will rule as God.”. He, as in one: seed, as in singular. This was not Jacob. Jacob was a type. Christ is Israel, the Servant of the Lord.

Read Isaiah chapter 42 onwards, which depicts Jesus as Israel the Servant, along with Jacob whom the Servant redeemed (us). Israel was to serve God spreading His word in the world, but failed, so Jesus becomes that Servant to succeed and to redeem mankind. Here Jacob means the people of the Servant, believers from the Jews and from all the Gentile nations, the total elect whom the Servant saved.
You are My Servant O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. (Is 49:3).

It is a light thing that You should be My Servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel. I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You may be salvation to the ends of the earth. (Is 49:6).

Israel is Jesus Christ, in whom are the restored and preserved (elect) of the nation Israel and the elect of all nations of the Gentiles, to the ends of the earth. This is Israel and Jacob, the family of God in Jesus Christ. The prophets could not have made it any clearer.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Fulfilled in Christ

The Gospel of John is full of I am’s: “I am the bread of Life”; “I am the light of the world”; “Before Abraham was, I am…”; “I am the good shepherd”; “I am the door”; “I am the way the truth and the life”. It is clear also that John was putting Jesus forward as the hope of Israel.

If Jesus fulfilled all the Old Covenant shadows, such as the priesthood, Sabbath and temple, etc. why do some not include in this that Jesus also fulfilled the imagery of the term Israel and the Promised Land? What is the difference? We should include the nation of Israel and the land. Jesus fulfilled them all.

Take for example Jacob. His name was changed to Israel. Did Jacob really overcome by his own works and merits, or was he given that blessing in Christ? The name Israel that was accredited to Jacob was really fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We know certainly that Jesus Christ alone overcame. Jacob (Israel) therefore was a picture of Christ and spoke of the coming redeemer.

Concerning the land, Jesus said, “…believe Me, the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father…But the hour comes and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth…” (John 4:21-23). With this one statement Jesus abrogated all holy land. It does not exist anymore. He is its fulfilment.

Jesus also said, “Wherever two or three are gathered, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt 18:20). By this He meant that no one had to come to the temple or to Jerusalem to worship. He also said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt 5:5).

The Greek word He used here for earth is ge. This term was used for land in general, or was used for Israel’s land. In religious terms it referred to the fulfilment of promise. The Bible portrays the Promised Land as being fulfilled in rest and symbolizing redemption (Heb 4:8). Christ Himself is the promise of rest and redemption for the meek. “Thank you Father, for You have hid this from the wise and revealed it to babes…Come to Me…and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:25, 28).

The land refers to the Old Testament garden imagery: paradise. It means a place of rest, fulfilment, where there is no sin, where there is no frustration, where only good happens. This is not something to come, but it is our redemption. We hear this in secular songs, people wishing for such a place. We have such a place. He is Jesus, who overcomes sin in the heart with faith.

But many of the Jews were Zionists, meaning they wanted a restored kingdom in Israel, in Jerusalem. They wanted what they wanted, not what God was doing. This is not what Jesus came to do. All the apostles said that the church is the fulfilment of the Old Testament types and shadows. None of them mentioned any continuing role of any of these types, including Israel, the land, or the temple.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Early Christian Church

All Old Covenant imagery relates to Christ and has its fulfilment in Him. This is what made the church distinctive in its early years. It claimed that Christ fulfilled all the expectations and hopes of Israel. A doctrine that does not find its fulfilment in Him, but in some peripheral idea or event, is not Christian. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” which means all the types under the Old Covenant (Heb 11:1

To think that the Jews, or a millennial kingdom in Israel, were to be a fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecy was unthinkable. All is fulfilled in Christ. Christ is everything. This is what makes Christianity Christianity and not a Judeo/Christian sect. There is no fulfilment of scripture outside of Christ. He is the theme of the entire word of God. This was Paul’s view:

But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal to Caesar…because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain…he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. (Acts 28:19-20, 23. See also Matt 5:17 and Luke 24:44).

Jesus is the hope of Israel, meaning that all of their hopes are fulfilled in Him. All of the prophetic and symbolic expectations are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This is what the church stood to declare in the book of Acts. Israel’s hopes are not fulfilled in a national kingdom, but in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, for eternal life. The scriptures claim that those from Israel who do not follow Christ are cut off from God’s people (Deut 18:15-19, Acts 3:22-23). This is the plain teaching of the word of God.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Jesus and the Temple

Jesus stated that His kingdom was not of this world and that He fulfilled and thereby put away the Old Covenant types and shadows. For example, in John 7:37-39 He stated that He is the fulfilment of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Old Testament temple imagery. John 7:38 refers back to Ezekiel’s temple in Ezekiel 47, out of which flowed rivers of living water. Jesus’ interpretation of Ezekiel’s temple was not a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, but the church.

Nowhere in the Gospels did Jesus interpret this in any other way, nor speak of any kingdom or temple in Israel to come. Jesus did not prophesy of a national kingdom of God in Israel during or after the church era on earth.

Jesus said to the Jews, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19). The temple He spoke of was His body. Jesus put Himself forward as the fulfilment of all Old Testament shadows and types. It is clear in scripture that He fulfilled:

1. The Old Covenant priesthood (Heb 8:1).
2. The promises to David that a king would not fail to sit on his throne forever (Zech 6:3).
3. The Sabbath.
4. All the feasts (festivals).
5. The Jubilee.
6. The tabernacle and temple.
7. The Old Covenant sacrifices.
8. Israel.
9. The Promised Land.

Jesus fulfilled all Old Covenant types and shadows, not some of them. The whole testimony of scripture is concerning Jesus Christ. He is the spirit of prophecy, meaning the whole word of God points to Him (Rev 19:10).

…I come, in the volume of the book it is written of Me, to do Your will, O God…He takes away the first that He may establish the second. (Heb 10:7, 9).

The first that He took away was the Old Covenant and all its imagery and types. He came to fulfil all. He is the will of God. The shadow is not the will of God and has been taken away by the reality of Jesus Christ.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Jesus’ View on Israel

We will start with John the Baptist, who introduced Jesus’ ministry. John said to the Jews:

Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham as our father: for I say to you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. (Matt 3:9).

Here it is clear that having a natural lineage from Abraham does not make us Abraham’s seed. This is the teaching right through the Gospels. Jesus said to some of the Jews that they were not Abraham’s children, but children of the devil:

They answered and said to Him, Abraham is our father. Jesus said to them, If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a man that has told you the truth, which I have heard from God: this Abraham did not do…You are of your father the devil. (John 8:39-44).

Here Jesus claimed that whether we are children of Abraham depends on our deeds. Thus Jesus said that the children of Abraham shall come from afar and many in the racial kingdom of Israel shall not be included in Abraham’s seed:

And I say to you, That many shall come from the east and west and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 8:11-12).

In Jesus mind it is clear that Abraham’s seed meant those who have the faith of and who walk in the steps of, Abraham.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

A Definition of Israel

Israel was a term used before Israel ever became a nation. It was used to designate the worshippers of Jehovah. Gerhard Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament shows this ancient usage of Israel. It meant literally to have power with God, meaning relationship, or to overcome in faith. It means the people of God, to be in the family of God, to be the elect of God, to be called of grace through faith.

Israel is not a racial term. It is a theological term. It means to be the people of God by the election of grace. The first time we see this term in the Bible is with Jacob in the book of Genesis. He was called Jacob which means deceiver or swindler and that is what he did until the time that he met with God on his way back from staying with his uncle Laban.

God called Jacob according to His plan before he was born and met him face to face. This encounter changed Jacob’s character and from that time he was a changed man. Before that time he had a religious faith, but was still a deceiver. When he met with God his name was changed to Israel, which meant God’s heir, possessor of the promises, elect of God and one who is in God’s family.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Christ is Israel

In this chapter we look at the meaning of the biblical term Israel. Topics include:

• The Old Testament view.
• Jesus’ view on Israel.
• Paul’s view on Israel.
• The Promised Land.
• Romans chapter 11.
• What does national Israel mean today?

There are four main theories to explain the identity of Israel:

1. Israel is the racial nation of the Jews, today situated in the Middle East and scattered in other nations. We believe that in some contexts in the Bible the term is used for a racial group and in other instances it is used for a faith group.

2. Replacement Theology, which is the idea that the church has replaced Israel. This view holds that God has no restoration plan for racial Israel. This term is used more by detractors of the two views below. The replacement view is not seriously held by many.

3. Inclusion Theology, which means that the Gentiles are more widely included in the Commonwealth of Israel in the New Covenant era. This is view we hold in this chapter.

4. Christ is Israel and He includes with Him believing Jews and Gentiles. This is more exactly the view that we hold in this chapter.

There are other theories, such as British Israel (BI), which holds that British tribes are the lost tribes of the northern House of Israel. There is also Japanese Israel (JI) and many other forms, as various nations stake their claim. These are fables and harmful doctrines. Calling is in the cross of Christ, not through nationality.

Dispensationalists hold to the racial theory of Israel. In this view Israel according to the flesh (the natural descendants of Abraham) is Israel. This can be disproved in one statement: If the seed of the flesh are Israel, then Ishmael and Esau would be Israel also. They too are the sons of Abraham. Paul said this directly in Galatians 4, which we look at below.

This view also sees the land of Palestine today as the Holy Land. It sees the return of the Jews there today as a last-days event before the Second Coming of Christ. The view also holds that he who blesses Israel as a nation is blessing Abraham’s seed and so will be blessed of God. The view claims that we should pray in a particular way for the city of Jerusalem.

It is also said by some that there is spiritual merit, even a greater access to God in prayer, in travelling to Israel. Not all hold the teaching to this extreme, but this does show the potential for an antichrist position. There is one access to the Father and that is through the blood of Christ. Access is through Jesus Christ alone.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Rom 5:1-2).

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter the holiest through the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh. (Heb 10:19-20).

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Early Christian Church

All Old Covenant imagery relates to Christ and has its fulfilment in Him. This is what made the church distinctive in its early years. It claimed that Christ fulfilled all the expectations and hopes of Israel. A doctrine that does not find its fulfilment in Him, but in some peripheral idea or event, is not Christian. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” which means all the types under the Old Covenant (Heb 11:1).

To think that the Jews, or a millennial kingdom in Israel, were to be a fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecy was unthinkable. All is fulfilled in Christ. Christ is everything. This is what makes Christianity Christianity and not a Judeo/Christian sect. There is no fulfilment of scripture outside of Christ. He is the theme of the entire word of God. This was Paul’s view:

But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal to Caesar…because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain…he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. (Acts 28:19-20, 23. See also Matt 5:17 and Luke 24:44).

Jesus is the hope of Israel, meaning that all of their hopes are fulfilled in Him. All of the prophetic and symbolic expectations are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This is what the church stood to declare in the book of Acts. Israel’s hopes are not fulfilled in a national kingdom, but in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, for eternal life. The scriptures claim that those from Israel who do not follow Christ are cut off from God’s people (Deut 18:15-19, Acts 3:22-23). This is the plain teaching of the word of God.

Christian Liberty

Paul said all things are lawful, but not all things edify, all things are lawful, but I will not be brought under the power of anything (1 Cor 6:12, 10:23-24). The issue is not so much what we do, but why we do it? What is our motive? That which we allow for ourselves is fine, so long as that thing does not rule and control us.

Paul also claimed we should not allow our liberty to be a stumbling block to others. If our liberty would cause others to stumble, then we should not take that liberty (1 Cor 10:27-33). This means that love for others is more important than our freedom to do something.

Finally, Paul said we that should use our liberty not as an opportunity to the flesh, or to serve self, but to serve one another (Gal 5:13). Liberty from the law is for the purpose of serving God. It comes back to what Jesus said, “Not My will but Your will be done.” (Luke 22:42). This is what it means to be not under the law. God is a God of liberty, not of law. The “glorious liberty of the Sons of God” means there is no law and no sin, because the nature is right (Rom 8:21). This was God’s plan before the earth was made.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Civil Laws

Deut 22:8 speaks of putting a protective barrier around our roof, when people sit on the roof, as they did in Israel, to help prevent people accidentally falling off. This puts some burden of responsibility on the owner to take due care for the wellbeing of others and to avoid their harm.

This does not mean that the property owner is responsible for the foolish behaviour of others. It is not meant to be an opportunity for a litigious society of corrupt lawyers and greedy people seeking to take money from others.

Thieves who went outside the law to steal private property would to some extent, but not entirely, lose the protection of the law. The owner of the property had rights to protect the property. Ex 22:1-3 said if the thief is killed at night the house owner is not blamed. Here there is a balance between the right to protect oneself and the responsibility not to take extreme measures against others.

In so many different laws, regarding slaves, property, marriage and many other civil issues, there is the balance between rights and responsibilities. These are the guiding principles for our societies today. The scripture is beyond equal in the principles it furnishes for modern nations to build upon.

Regarding slavery, the Law of Moses did not outlaw it but accommodated it as a fact of the society of fallen man, due to the hardness of their heart. It is right that in Christian society we do not have slavery. The Christians (such as William Wilberforce) who finally won over the selfish business interests of Britain and outlawed slavery were possibly the first in human history to achieve this.

But Moses’ Law protected the interests of slaves. Slaves were often temporary economic slaves, because they owed a debt. They had rights. This system, with cities of refuge, the Year of Jubilee and capital punishment for serious crimes, can sometimes be favourably compared with modern systems of crowded prisons and increasing crime rates.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Eco Sustainability

According to Deut 22:6, if the people of Israel met a bird’s nest, they could take the eggs or the adult bird, but not both. If they took both there would be no birds for tomorrow. This verse is not in favour of the “Greens” who say that we should use neither the eggs nor the bird.

It is not in favour of unproven science (global warming theories), that say we should not develop. It means that we should develop our nation in a way that limits the damage to our natural environment. There is responsible management of our environment. This does not mean that we should be opposed to economic growth.

Saturday, 3 April 2010


Continuing the theme on dress, the way a person dresses shows their attitude. A woman who dresses provocatively shows the type of person she is. A man who dresses sloppily or over casually also shows his character.

People should not dress on the edge of social acceptability, but with respect for others. People often claim Christian liberty in the way that they dress, but this is not Christian liberty, but self-centeredness. It is not what suits you that counts as a good behaviour, but what is respectable towards others.

Similarly, dressing expensively is not good as a Christian. Peter tells the woman not to let her beauty consist of expensive clothing. This means expensive fashion and brand names. Prosperity preachers speak of having expensive suits, when other suits are very decent but cost much less. 1 Pet 3:2-4 applies equally to the men.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Interpreting the Law

We will now go through some passages in Moses’ Law to see how it should be interpreted. First, we start with dress.

The woman shall not wear that which pertains to a man, neither shall man put on a woman‘s garment: for all that do so are an abomination to the Lord their God. (Deut 22:5).

This verse is not about whether women may wear trousers. There are certain types of clothing that are acceptable in one culture but not in another. Rebelling against what the culture deems to be decent and godly shows a bad attitude.

This scripture is about issues of sexuality. A man should not dress as though he were a woman, nor a woman as a man. It means homosexuality, transvestite and sex changes are an abomination to the Lord. It means sexual perversion is an abomination to the Lord.

Thursday, 1 April 2010


Marriage problems are one area where the letter of the law can harm. The law is not a formula we apply legalistically to every case that arises. In some regions polygamists are saved. It is wrong to tell them that they must drive away their wives. The Holy Spirit will guide in each situation to work out what is best, in time. Each case must be treated in love on the basis of its own particular details.

Divorce and remarriage is rampant in some regions. Paul said in 1st Corinthians 7 that if the unbelieving partner departs let them depart. This means the other partner is free to remarry, but it should be clear to all that the “innocent person” is innocent. Paul then referred to Jesus (our Lord), who said that if we marry we should not leave our partner, but if we do leave, we should not remarry (1 Cor 7:10-11).

For this reason Paul said that if a man puts away his wife and marries another then he is not fit for leadership in ministry. This is what Paul meant in 1 Tim 3:2 by “husband of one wife”. The Greek and Jewish cultures of that time did not practice polygamy. The exeget Gordon Fee admits that the Greek term used in 1 Tim 3:2 refers to divorce and remarriage, not to polygamy.

If a man cannot take care of his own household, how can he take care of the household of God (1 Tim 3:5)? A leader is to be an example in family, for others to follow. When leadership compromises an issue once, the members of the church will compromise the same issue many times. Divorce and remarriage in the church multiplies when leadership does it.

In 1st Timothy 3 Paul is not applying law to leadership in the church. He is applying godly values and common sense. There is right behaviour and wrong behaviour. Grace does not change that. Some have said that Paul was making suggestions to Timothy, that we should not be legalistic about. We are not speaking of legalism, but the effect our example has on others.

If a woman is being beaten by her husband and if the husband is a drunkard and is not caring for the family and if the lives of the wife and children are in danger, or if the husband is sexually unfaithful, then that man is a covenant breaker and has departed from the marriage, even though he may be boarding in the house.

In such cases the wife may in time remarry in the Lord. If the first husband later be saved, then he must move on in the grace of God and not go back to the first marriage. This principle is even in the law (Deut 24:1-4). He cannot go back to the first marriage if the woman has remarried.

Marriage is a very crucial matter. Do not marry someone who confesses Christ, but someone who has the real Spirit of Christ shown by fruit. Know the person well before you agree to marry them. Once you make your bed you must lie in it. With patience build your house!