In the Scriptures, God promises a glorious future to Israel, but He also warns that the saved remnant of Israel will experience intense pressure to become what He intends them to be. Will the Church likewise emerge as a remnant that has been purified by a pressure no less intense?

Almost limitless misunderstanding, ignorance and distortion have pervaded the Church for many centuries concerning the identity of Israel. The origin of the confusion concerning Israel may be traced back to the early Church fathers, who developed a doctrine that the Church had replaced Israel in the purposes of God and was to be known as the ‘new Israel.’ However, the apostles never used Israel as a synonym for the Church. Nor does the phrase ‘the new Israel’ occur anywhere in the New Testament.

The opposite is actually true. There are various passages in the Bible where Israel denotes Jews who have actually rejected Jesus and therefore cannot be considered as members of His Church. Israel, on the other hand, is often used as a ‘type’ of the Church. Concerning the experiences of Israel in the Exodus, Paul says: “Now all these things happened to them as examples [or types], and they were written for our admonition...”(1 Corinthians 10:11)

A remnant out of all Israel
In Romans 9 Paul reveals that those Israelites whom God has actually chosen for Himself will be only a remnant out of all of Israel. In Romans 11:26 Paul looks forward to a time when ‘all Israel will be saved’. In the light of what he has said previously about a remnant, it becomes clear that the all Israel who will be saved will be the remnant whom God has chosen and has reserved for Himself by His grace.
For their sakes, He has patiently endured the appalling wickedness with which, over the centuries, man has persistently violated God’s laws and desecrated the earth. He has also permitted the many sorrows and sufferings with which it has been necessary to purify His chosen ones. At the end of it all, what is God looking for? A meek and humble people who will trust in the name of the Lord. This is a good example, of one way in which Israel is a type for the Church. What is God aiming to produce in the Church? A meek and humble people who will trust in the Lord.

The restoration of Israel
The prophets of Israel certainly do make clear, specific promises of a restoration of Israel which will take place in two phases: first to their land and then to their God. I see in the Scripture that God purposes to bring most of the Jews back to the land unredeemed in order that He may deal with them there.
This is stated in Hosea 1:10: “In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There it shall be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.’”

The place where God said, ‘You are not My people,’ was the land Israel.” There is a practical reason for this which is not readily appreciated in our contemporary version of Christianity. We have made our faith primarily a matter of a person’s individual relationship with his God: we speak about my Saviour, my faith, my church, my ministry, and so on. But this does not accurately represent the biblical perspective. Throughout the Scriptures, God deals with individuals in the context of a larger group – a family, a community, a congregation, a nation. Historically, this has always been true of God’s dealings with Israel. He has consistently related to them not just as individuals, but as a people, united by a covenant both to God and to one another.

This is how God intends to deal with them at the close of this age – as a people. In order to do this, however, it is necessary to gather the Israelites in one place. The place indicated both by logic and by Scripture is their own land – the land of Israel. (See also Isaiah 45:17,25)

However, physical restoration to the land is not the final goal. It is only a necessary prelude to the climax which is God’s ultimate purpose: restoration to God Himself. ‘You shall be my people, and I will be your God.’
From our earthly point of view, it is hard to discern the pattern which God is it from heaven’s perspective, we agree His ways are just.’ This is not to deny that, on the human level, there have been injustices perpetrated by the various parties involved in the return of Israel to their land.

There has also been great suffering. Of all the parties involved, however, none have suffered as much as the Jews. After six million had perished in the Holocaust, a tiny remnant had to face more than 40 years of life-and-death struggle for survival in their own land.

God’s everlasting love for Israel
As we read in the Old Testament God allowed Jewish people to suffer in order to bring them into line with His purpose. So, the question is: What will He permit to come on the Church if she persists in refusing to fulfil God’s revealed purpose for her?

God’s love for the Church, just like His love for Israel, is everlasting. He has a plan for the Church that involves tremendous blessing and privilege. However, just like Israel, the Church cannot access these blessings and privileges if it does not submit to or walk in God’s plan.

In Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15 Jesus commanded His followers to go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations. There is no Christian who is exempt. This call embraces our prayers, our finances, our activities and every priority in our lives. When we stand before Christ’s judgement seat, each one of us must be prepared to give a personal answer to the question: What part did you play in seeing that the gospel of my Kingdom was proclaimed to all nations? We need to remember, that there is no personal favouritism with God. The principles of His justice are the same for Christians as they are for Jews. God said to Israel – through the same prophet Jeremiah – “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

Yet His love for Israel did not cause Him to withhold the judgements. God loves the Church, too, with an everlasting love, but His love does not cancel any of the commands which He has given in the New Testament.
As the present age draws to a close, God intends to bring forth a people for His name, who will be fit to share His kingdom throughout eternity. Therefore, He will not spare His people any test that is needed to produce the kind of commitment and character that He requires.

It is important to acknowledge that Christians in many parts of the world are already being subjected to tests of this kind, in countries, such as China, North Korea and in many Muslim countries. Christians in the West have for the most part been exempted from tests of this kind, but there is no guarantee that this will continue. There is a divine purpose behind these tests, to which both Jews and Christians are being subjected. The same period of testing that faces Israel likewise faces the Church.

This is not a time, therefore, for Christians to stand back and say, ‘Let the Jews go through it; they deserve it.’ Rather, all of us – whether Jews or Christians – need to ask ourselves: Are we prepared to go through what it will take to make us what God intends us to be? For those who respond in the right way, will be a people-pleasing to God, fit to share His glory.


This is an excerpt from Derek Prince's book The Destiny of Israel and the Church.
 

Questions for Reflection

  1.  Derek Prince states that ‘almost limitless misunderstanding, ignorance and distortion have pervaded the Church concerning the identity of Israel.’ Why is it important to identify Israel and the Church separately? 
  2.  Make time today to reflect on some Biblical stories in the Old Testament that focus on how God treated Israel. What lessons can you draw from Israel’s behaviour for your personal walk with God?
  3. God deals with individuals in the context of a larger group. How does this impact the way you think about your church or the members of your congregation or small group? Take time to thank God and pray for your local church and the Christian Church in your country.
  4. Why would Jesus want you to be involved in making disciples for God’s Kingdom? Ask the Lord to give you opportunities and creativity today to share His love and for boldness in the Holy Spirit to be His witness.

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