An item not for intellectual combat and killingAn item to be digested unto life and holiness among Gentiles and Jews.An item to be regarded as a heart cry on the Walls of Jerusalem, the heavenly and the earthly.An item for the prayer chamber, to mobilize a heart when the many turn against the Jew.Lars W.The Mystery of Israel and the Church Art KatzChapter 9 - The Israel of God To some degree, we have all been victims of a dispensational mentality. In other words, Christianity, as we know it, is seen as independent of its Hebraic roots. But this is a distortion of Gods salvation purpose in history, and there needs, therefore, to be a radical return to the fullness of the faith, which will not be ours until we see the face of Israel in it. In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul astounds us with a statement of the cosmic proportions of the faith, and unless we understand this dimension, and have it presented to us in the Church, we are hearing something that is much less requiring, much less glorious, and risks being false.Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by the so-called Circumcision, which is performed in the flesh by human hands - remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of Gods household (Eph. 2:11-19). These verses are addressed to the Gentiles in Ephesus, and Paul is telling them to remember something, which they at one time evidently knew, maybe even by virtue of his own apostolic preaching. Few, if any, are teaching the Gentile Church today that they have been grafted into the root and commonwealth of Israel, and that this is their deepest and truest identity. Paul is calling us to the recognition of that fact, ...you in times past were Gentiles in the flesh who are called uncircumcision by that which is called the circumcision.If you know anything about the history of Jew and Gentile, we Jews have invariably looked down at Gentiles with no little disdain and contempt. Gentiles were looked upon as pagans, while we Jews were the people of the Covenant, and we bore the seal of it in our own flesh via circumcision. The contemptuous term for those who were non-Jews was the uncircumcised. The Ephesian believers had not understood the rudiments, origins and the source of the faith, and did not see that they had been brought back into that very faith itself, namely, into the faith of Israel.
The Unbroken Continuum...you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints. When Paul wrote this, he clearly meant the Jewish saints, the saints of old, the patriarchs, and all who had preceded them in the one faith of God. There is an unbroken continuum between the Hebrew people of the past and what is called the Christian faith today. It is one faith, one God and one hope. Those who were far off, and without hope, and without God, have been brought nigh by the blood of Jesus, into the hope, calling and promises of Israel, into, as we have said, the very commonwealth of Israel, being made one new people with them. Is it possible to have authentic, valid hope in God, indeed to have God, the God of Jacob, without having, at the same time, a deep recognition that we have been brought by Him into Israels commonwealth and made partakers of their covenants, their promise?Though it may seem elementary to say it, to be a Christian means to be in conscious covenant relationship with Israels God. Has it really penetrated our own consciousness, that there is one God, and that He Himself chooses to be identified as the God of Israel and the God of Jacob? Israel may have forsaken their own inheritance, they may have broken their own covenant, and they may have been cast away temporarily, as Paul says in Romans 11, but they are not permanently cut off. God is not to be relegated to an ambiguous concept, but the particular Deity who is uniquely the God of Jacob. It is in the lack of this specific identification with God as that God that something very grave is lost, namely, the reality of God as God. There is something in the genius of God that makes Him Israels God. Of all the people with whom He might have identified Himself, He enlists the name of a people who are the most abrasive, whose history is the most disgraceful, and who have historically been the most apostate, stiff-necked and backslidden. To what degree is this calculated for the breaking of stubborn human pride that presumes to have God on its own terms and conditions? Have we really made our peace with the humbling recognition of God as the God of the Jews? The fact that the Jews themselves do not submit to God does not in any way alter His identification, His relationship or His heart toward them. We must not be deflected away from Him being the God of the Jews simply because of the way that Jews themselves have lost that identification. God has insisted upon this identification, and we need to ask ourselves whether we, in fact, have willingly submitted, all the more if we have no natural affinity or disposition for Israel and the Jew.
The Revelation of GodGod is the God of Israels history, and it is a history that has been written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1 Cor. 10:11b). The history of God with Israel is the history of God, and the revelation of God, as He in fact is. Nothing more reveals Him than in the way in which He has been pleased to express Himself in His relationship to that people historically. To take Him out of that context is to remove an understanding of God in a way He has chosen to reveal Himself in His particular relationship with that specific people, both in severity and also in blessing.This may well account for the woefully inadequate knowledge of God so rampant in the modern Church. We have not understood the severity of God toward Israel in judgments that have fallen upon that nation, nor in that which will yet befall them. If He did not spare Israel, and indeed, has temporarily cut them off from the root of God, then will He spare us if we do not abide in faith? The absence of fear toward God and the knowledge of His judgments are altogether, in our opinion, directly related to the absence of our knowledge of Gods direct dealing with Israel in judgment. Our witness, therefore, to Israel is equally as inadequate. Something is lacking that would have brought us to a texture of the faith, to an integrity of the faith, and to a sense of identification of things future that could only be ours because of Gods past relationship with Israel and what He prophetically declares of Israels future.
The God of CovenantMessiah is not Messiah except in the Hebraic content and the counsel of God as given in Old Testament Scripture. The very terms that have been coined Old Testament and New Testament lend themselves to an artificial severance of what is organically inseparable. The New Covenant [Testament] is comparatively meaningless unless you understand what was spoken in the prophets, in Jeremiah chapter 31, of a covenant to come that would be everlasting. The New Covenant goes back to the Old Covenant itself. It is not some innovation. God did not make some new thing. He made a new provision for the fulfillment of the old thing. I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel (v. 31), but not in terms of its content or requirements. What makes it new is that, I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it (v. 33). It will no longer be an outward conformity to external requirements. God Himself will dwell in them. The Covenant Maker will be the Covenant Keeper within them. He will give them the very enablement, and for that reason it will be everlasting. Israel has shown that she does not have the propensity to be covenant keepers. God sees the nation as covenant breakers, who do not keep the promises of God and who do not cherish the Word of God. But He is going to do something for them in the Last Days purely out of His mercy. God is going to restore them to Himself, and make with them a covenant that they cannot break. For the God who makes covenant is the God who will keep it in them to the eternal praise of His glory.This is the very covenant into which the blood of Messiah Jesus has brought us who believe. The Old is not annulled, but reaffirmed by the New. The only difference is the form of the covenant. The New Covenant is not, therefore, a different covenant, but the original covenant established, now, everlastingly, as once-and-for-all. Jesus did not do away with the Old Testament dispensation by putting something new in its place, but only in the sense that the Old has found its ultimate and deepest fulfillment in the New. There is an unbroken continuum; it is one faith, one hope and one God, and He is the God of Israel. The idea that we are now living under the dispensation of grace, as if the dispensation of law is over, is artificial and false. It breaks the whole continuity of the faith and makes us think that we belong to something other than what God has established with Israel. God has not abolished the Law. He has only abolished the law-keeping as a means by which salvation is to be obtained, but the righteousness of the law is still very dear to Him, and is obtained by those who walk in His Spirit and not in the flesh. Nothing has been abolished, but something new is provided by which the Old can be obtained.
This is the one God, the one faith, the one call, and when it takes hold of us and comes into our spirits, it will transform our whole perception of the faith. We have no awareness of how anemic, loveless, narrow, predictable and mechanical a fellowship or people are that have lost their identification with Israel, and do not understand that the rudiments of the faith and its very root go deep into the life of that people and that peoples God. Gentiles, who were far off and who were sucking beer out of skulls in pagan lands, and who were without God and without hope in the world, have been brought nigh by the blood of the Messiah Jesus. And by that access and entry, they have full right to Israels covenants, her promises and her inheritance. It is enlarging and liberating to know that we have such an ancestry and such a destiny as had been exclusively reserved for one people alone, the Israel of God, into which now we have been brought by the blood of the Messiah when we were far off.There is a reason why God is calling the Church, presently, to this remembrance. If it loses that identification, it loses, to the same degree, its identification as the Church. The Church is the magnificent creation of God; He has taken those who were far off and joined them with His ancient people in one blood and in one Spirit through one Father by the gospel, and made of them, where there were two, one new man, thereby making peace. That statement is not for our convenience. That union of the two peoples, Jew and Gentile, who were once at such historic enmity, now reconciled by the blood of the Messiah and brought into the commonwealth of Israel and into the destiny of that nation to bless all the families of the earth, is a paradigm and pattern of Gods intention to reconcile all things both in heaven and in earth! The reconciliation of the Gentile with the Jew into a corporate entity called the Church paves the way for His ultimate intention, which is to bring the whole benign pattern of God to very creation itself. It is a cosmic destiny for the Church, and it has everything to do with Israel and Israels God.How can we understand Jesus exaltation as King except as the King of Israel? There was a mocking sign over His Cross in three languages: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. It was a statement of the ironic twist of men in their revulsion from the recognition of that fact. He is going to be celebrated and honored, however, in the very place where He was crucified. He will be the King of the Jews, and only as the King of the Jews will He be the King of all nations....you shall not see Me until you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! (Matt. 23:39). There will come a day when Jews will say these words to the representatives of that coming King, a Church who already shows forth in its corporate life the glory, purity, holiness and covenant blessing of that God who comes as King. Jews will see in us the reality of what might have been theirs if they had not been broken off from that root. They will begin to cry out, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! We are saying that even before the Lords return, something of the anticipation of that glory, namely, the light to lighten the Gentiles (Luke 2:32a KJV), will beam from our faces.
The Churchs IdentificationThis is an ultimate call to the Church in the willing setting aside of our own cherished cultural and ethnic identification. It calls for everything that both Jews and Christians want to preserve, but which must be brought up to the mount of sacrifice, for God has something in the bush that is better. That something will not be ours until we are willing to forsake that which we presently clutch in our need for an identification of some kind, even one that is earthly, natural and demonic. We have not had an appeal presented to us that transcends culture, race, nationality and ethnic distinction, and there is only one gospel that does. It is the gospel of God, which has made a way for those who were far off to be brought in by the blood of the Messiah Jesus that they might enter, and have full participation in the purposes and the glory of that commonwealth. In the very doing, they move a presently unrepentant nation to jealousy. Now we can better understand why Paul concludes Rom. 11 with Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! (Rom. 11:33).A Jew that can be moved to jealousy is one who can recognize in that Gentile something transcendent that is beyond race, culture and nationality. He needs to see a resonance of the depths of the God of Israel and the reality of that God through one in whom he would never have suspected it could be found. Now that is the mystery, and it is a mystery that has been lost to the Church for millennia. It seems that we, as the Church, have wanted a God who is, like unto us, either through anti-Jewish sentiment, or ignorance of the nature of the faith of Israel into which we have been brought.
The Roots of the FaithOur hope, then, is rooted in having part in Israels covenants and promises. To be without hope and without God in the world, and strangers to the covenants, is to be, at the same time, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel. To have hope, to have the promises, to have expectancy is to be in the commonwealth of Israel. Even while the state of Israel is itself presently far removed from this commonwealth, we, remarkably, are in it, and in it for the purpose of bringing back those branches that were broken off. They will recognize in us what they have been missing for so long, and what they have been missing is not just an equivalent to their Judaism, but it exceeds anything that can be called Judaistic, and precedes even the adoption of present rabbinical Judaism. Jews are presently seeing in the Church a religious, cultural alternative that is essentially non-Jewish. One reason for this would be the Churchs failure to take to heart the fact that God has not called it to be an alternative to the Hebraic faith that preceded it, but that it is its very continuation, completion and fulfillment. This is not a call to some kind of affectation of Jewishness that brings a sentimental dimension to our otherwise arid Christian life, but rather, the deepest spiritual appropriation of the faith of God as being the faith of the God of Israel in all of His deep-rooted history with that people. With the advent of Messiah, both Jews and Gentiles are included in the Israel of God. We are not in some fictitious, ethnic identity that is ours by reason of the faith. We are still Jews and we are still Gentiles, or else we rob God of the potential of the mystery that makes of the two, one new man. First-century Judaism was so hostile towards Gentiles that Jews were not even permitted to be in the house of a Gentile. The apostle Peter, himself, was so steeped in the historical prejudice, pride and superiority that he required a vision of the transformation of what had been considered unclean until then. The inclusion of the Gentiles was a mystery and a surprise to the first Jewish believers, who were expecting the Lords imminent return, but they did not realize that God was revealing something that was yet to have a two thousand year history, a parenthesis, and that this was the Church age made up predominantly of Gentiles with a small remnant of Jews. They did not see the Church being the key to the restoration of Israel to their God and to their Land at the end of the times of the Gentiles. The early believers had to be instructed in this because it had been hidden to them.Gentiles have been grafted in, but the God who grafted us in by His power is also able to graft Israel in again. Can He not do for erring Jews what He did for us who were dead in our sins and transgressions? Not only can He do it, He will, and it ought to be the most glorious celebration when we welcome our kinsmen and brethren into their own faith that we have preserved for them through these centuries.We were grafted into the living body of historical Israel, and now the only thing that remains is that they themselves be grafted back into their own root. The issue of their re-entry is our witness, our moving them to jealousy, the depth of our supplication and travail and our anxious desire for them to be part, because we know we are not complete without them. We know that their King, and ours, will not come until they come, and they will not come until they see a demonstration from us that is something far more than what they have historically observed.
The Reconciliation of All ThingsThe faith of God, the call of God and the gospel of God have to do with the gospel of the kingdom, the theocratic rule of God over the nations from Zion as well as the redemption of all creation. The world today is awash in the blood of racial hatred, animosity and ethnic differences that provoke men to be at each others throats, but the ache and heart of God is reconciliation. The wisdom of God is the reconciliation of men through the power of the Cross, by which is made the one new man. When that is demonstrated to the Powers of the air, the story is over, the drama is finished, and the saga is concluded. The purpose for the Church in its creation has been established; the Powers of the air are defeated and the King comes to establish His throne and His glory. His nation is restored. The earth, long in bondage and groaning and travailing, even until now, in the corruption that has been visited upon it, breaks free, and then the trees will clap their hands and the hills skip like lambs, for redemption has come to the reconciled sons of God!The Powers of darkness know better than the Church the centrality of Israel to this faith, and have done everything to oppose this heavenly realization. The Ephesian letter, by virtue of its breadth and majesty, describes the supremacy of that which, in the divine intent, eclipses time, culture and nationality, and is the calling and eternal purpose of the Israel of God, comprised of Jew and Gentile in Messiah Jesus, one as He is one.