Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Israel (1)

Christians tend to use the word “Israel” without defining clearly what they mean. It can refer to any of the following:

  1. The state of Israel;

  2. All the Jewish people living in the nation of Israel;

  3. All Jews throughout the world;

  4. All the descendants of Jacob (he was renamed Israel), whether they realise it or not.

Our loose use of the word creates confusion.
  • Many Christians seems to be referring to group 1 or group 2 when they speak about Israel.

  • The promises of the covenant apply to the fourth group.

  • The Christian focus on group 2 is too narrow. Only a small proportion of the descendants of Jacob are living in Israel.

  • The third group is two narrow. The Jews are mostly the descendants of Judah and Benjamin (two of Jacob’s sons). The ten tribes who were lost in Assyria are also descendants of Israel. They are spread through the world, and many do not know who they are.

  • Some of the fourth group (descendants of Jacob) will choose to return to the land of Israel, but they do not have to return to their land to discover Jesus.

1 comment:

Genghis7777 said...

Hi Ron

A few points to consider:

* There are also many Christians who count themselves as Israel or have "replaced" them.

* Some would argue that Paul considered Christians to have joined with extant Israel as one people. Hence his references to the "Israel of God" and the "One New Man." His homily regarding the Spirit of Adoption and His work could also be argued to support this view. If this is so, a case could be made that the Abrahamic and Mosaic promises equally apply to Christians as well. This school of thought leads to some interesting conclusions regarding how the OT might apply to Christian living. It is interesting to note that some Jews believe that the nation of Israel is always made up of converted Gentiles, Abraham being the first and most prominent of all. Other rabbis question whether an ethnic Jew with an uncircumcised heart can be considered a Jew but should really be considered a Gentile. This parallels Paul's thoughts on faith v ethnicity as roads to salvation. There are many OT passages that also suggest that God only ever intended His followers to be One People.

* Regarding the 10 "lost" tribes of Israel, it may be that they are only "lost" to the Western world. Many of my Jewish friends can trace their lineage to one of these ten tribes, and don't consider these tribes to be lost at all.