Who Are the Jews in Israel Today?


Growing up under Christian Zionist and dispensationalist teachings, I took for granted that the following narrative that was presented to me was the correct one:

The Jewish people in Israel are direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and God restored them to their land as a nation in 1948 in fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are newly-arrived Arabs, mainly from Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, who flooded the land when they saw the Jews beginning to come back from Russia, Europe, and elsewhere.

Although it’s been a number of years since I learned that this narrative is far from correct, more recently I’ve learned some details that, if true, take this distortion to the next level. They show the claims of Christian Zionism and dispensationalism to be even further off-base, not only Biblically but also in terms of history. 

I recently read an article written by Schlomo Sand, an Israeli history professor at Tel Aviv University, whose parents were Polish Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. I don’t agree with Sand’s stance on the Old Testament, but he makes some interesting statements regarding the inhabitants of Palestine in the centuries prior to Israel becoming a nation in 1948:

“[After Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD], apart from enslaved prisoners, the population of Judea continued to live on their lands, even after the destruction of the second temple. Some converted to Christianity in the 4th century, while the majority embraced Islam during the 7th century Arab conquest.

Most Zionist thinkers were aware of this: Yitzhak Ben Zvi, later president of Israel, and David Ben Gurion, its first prime minister, accepted it as late as 1929, the year of the great Palestinian revolt. Both stated on several occasions that the peasants of Palestine were the descendants of the inhabitants of ancient Judea.

[See David Ben Gurion and Yitzhak Ben Zvi, Eretz Israel in the past and present, 1918 (in Yiddish), and Jerusalem, 1980 (in Hebrew); Yitzhak Ben Zvi,Our population in the country, Executive Committee of the Union for Youth and the Jewish National Fund, Warsaw, 1929 (in Hebrew).]

Sand goes on to talk about the large impact of Jewish proselytizing, especially during the Middle Ages, when non-Jews, ethnically speaking, converted to the Jewish religion. He adds,

“The most significant mass conversion occurred in the 8th century, in the massive Khazar kingdom between the Black and Caspian seas. The expansion of Judaism from the Caucasus into modern Ukraine created a multiplicity of communities, many of which retreated from the 13th century Mongol invasions into eastern Europe. There, with Jews from the Slavic lands to the south and from what is now modern Germany, they formed the basis of Yiddish culture.”

[Yiddish, spoken by the Jews of eastern Europe, was a Germano-Slavic language incorporating Hebrew words.]

Sand was an Israeli soldier for three years and fought in the Six-Day War of 1967, so it’s interesting what he says next:

“The Israeli forces who seized Jerusalem in 1967 believed themselves to be the direct descendents of the mythic kingdom of David* rather than – God forbid – of Berber warriors or Khazar horsemen. The Jews claimed to constitute a specific ethnic group that had returned to Jerusalem, its capital, from 2,000 years of exile and wandering.

…Since the 1970s supposedly scientific research, carried out in Israel, has desperately striven to demonstrate that Jews throughout the world are closely genetically related… By validating an essentialist, 
ethnocentric definition of Judaism it encourages a segregation that separates Jews from non-Jews – whether Arabs, Russian immigrants or foreign workers… But Jews worldwide have always tended to form religious communities, usually by conversion; they cannot be said to share an ethnicity derived from a unique origin and displaced over 20 centuries of wandering.

*Please note that I disagree with Sand when he says that David’s kingdom was mythic.

Arthur Koestler (1905 – 1983) was a Jewish author and journalist from Hungary (later a British citizen) who wrote a book in 1976 titled, “The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and Its Heritage” (available in PDF form here). Koestler’s thesis was that a majority of Jews today have ancestral roots in the ancient Khazar region (corresponding to modern SW Russia, Eastern Ukraine, and Western Kazakhstan), where many members of the Khazar royalty and also of the general population converted to Talmudic Judaism in the 8th century AD and adopted the Yiddish language, which is based on the Hebrew alphabet. Toward the end of Koestler’s book, he summarized its contents with these words:

“In Part One of this book I have attempted to trace the history of the Khazar Empire based on the scant existing sources. In Part Two, Chapters V-VII, I have compiled the historical evidence which indicates that the bulk of Eastern Jewry — and hence of world Jewry — is of Khazar-Turkish, rather than Semitic, origin. In the last chapter I have tried to show that the evidence from anthropology concurs with history in refuting the popular belief in a Jewish race descended from the biblical tribe.”

Koestler stated that his research undermined many accusations of anti-Semitism, since many Jews are not even Semitic. His work was understandably considered to be controversial. Some DNA experts were critical or skeptical of it, while others agreed. Dr. Eran Elhalk and Dr. Avshalom Zoossmann-Diskin are two geneticists who agree with Koestler’s hypothesis. They conducted a 2012 study at John Hopkins University, finding that the European Jewish population featured a mix of Caucasus, European, and Semitic ancestries. Their work is summed up in this abstract published by Oxford University Press:

The question of Jewish ancestry has been the subject of controversy for over two centuries and has yet to be resolved. The “Rhineland hypothesis” depicts Eastern European Jews as a “population isolate” that emerged from a small group of German Jews who migrated eastward and expanded rapidly. Alternatively, the “Khazarian hypothesis” suggests that Eastern European Jews descended from the Khazars, an amalgam of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries CE and converted to Judaism in the 8th century. Mesopotamian and Greco–Roman Jews continuously reinforced the Judaized empire until the 13th century. Following the collapse of their empire, the Judeo–Khazars fled to Eastern Europe. The rise of European Jewry is therefore explained by the contribution of the Judeo–Khazars. Thus far, however, the Khazars’ contribution has been estimated only empirically, as the absence of genome-wide data from Caucasus populations precluded testing the Khazarian hypothesis. Recent sequencing of modern Caucasus populations prompted us to revisit the Khazarian hypothesis and compare it with the Rhineland hypothesis. We applied a wide range of population genetic analyses to compare these two hypotheses. Our findings support the Khazarian hypothesis and portray the European Jewish genome as a mosaic of Near Eastern-Caucasus, European, and Semitic ancestries, thereby consolidating previous contradictory reports of Jewish ancestry. We further describe a major difference among Caucasus populations explained by the early presence of Judeans in the Southern and Central Caucasus. Our results have important implications for the demographic forces that shaped the genetic diversity in the Caucasus and for medical studies.

Khazaria in 850 AD, Map Source

Martin Trench, the lead pastor of Gateway Alliance Church in Edmonton, Canada, shared similar thoughts in a closed Facebook group recently and gave permission to quote him:

“[There is a] modern misunderstanding of the terms ‘Israel’ and ‘the Jews.’ Moses and the people of Israel who crossed the wilderness were not ‘Jews.’ They were Israelites. The Jews of the post-Babylonian period until the time of Jesus were also Israelites, with some Edomites mixed in too who lived in Judea, but not in Galilee. And the Jews of today are a different ethnic group – roughly 80% of them are an ethnic mixture of non-Israelites who converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages and follow a different religion than the Biblical Israel. They follow the religion of Talmudic Judaism, which was developed AFTER the time of Jesus, not the Old Covenant religion of Israel which requires a Temple, priesthood, and sacrificial system.

The true Israelite Jews in Judea at the time of Jesus either accepted him as the Messiah and so fled to Pella before 70 AD; or they stayed on and fought the Romans in the 66-70 AD war, with many being taken as slaves to Pompeii (which itself was destroyed a few years later by Vesuvius). The survivors who weren’t taken as slaves (because the Romans did not do whole-sale exile, like the Babylonians and Assyrians did – they left most poor people behind) stayed in the land as poor peasants, and the Pharisees, etc. went to different places – mainly Babylon where they wrote the Babylonian Talmud (which is very anti-Jesus and is quite vile and blasphemous). Those were the genuine Biblical Jews, but they were very small in numbers. In the Middle Ages, the Khazar kingdom in Eastern Europe converted to Talmudic Judaism. They were pagans before, known as the “serpent people,” but they had Muslims on one side and Christians on the other, so they converted to Judaism so they could trade with both – they became Ashkenazi Jews, the vast majority of Jews today.”

Concerning the point about “Ashkenazi Jews,” see the Wikipedia entry on this subject for a lot of well-documented information. Notable Ashkenazi Jews have included Theodore Herzl, Albert Einstein, Anne Frank, and Golda Meir.

Concerning Talmudism, interestingly Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister of Israel, submitted a new Basic Law to the Knesset in early May of this year that “would establish the Talmud, the core work of Jewish law, as an official basis for Israeli state law” (Source:Report: Netanyahu Promises Talmud Will Be Israeli Law,” Israel National News).

To whatever degree the above information is true, it doesn’t make Jews today, whether they are Semitic or non-Semitic, any more or any less valuable, human, or worthy of respect. What it does likely do, however, is further confirm that key claims within Christian Zionism are false.

The New Testament already clearly refutes the Christian Zionist idea that ethnic Jews (rather than followers of Christ) are God’s chosen people (see this post and this post and this post and this post for more on this). The New Testament also refutes other such ideas that emphasize Jewish ethnicity over faith. Christian Zionism stands strong on the idea that many of the plans, purposes, and promises of God flow to the ethnic descendants of Abraham, even those who despise God’s Son, Jesus. This is despite the fact that Scripture says all of God’s promises are made to Jesus and His followers (e.g. Galatians 3:16, 28-29). Christian Zionism has also chosen as its foundation the assumption that modern Israel is nothing less than the national gathering of Abraham’s ethnic descendants in fulfillment of Bible prophecy.* Biblically, these claims are far-fetched, and they are looking to be far-fetched historically as well.

*See this article for a refutation of the idea that Israel became a nation in 1948 in fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

Here is another brief article of interest on this subject: “DNA of Ashkenazi Jews shows ancient female ancestors were converts from Europe.”

All of our studies related to Christian Zionism can be seen here.

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The Land of Palestine From 1896 – 1948 (Two Videos)


Here are two videos portraying life and society in Palestine from 1896 to 1948. This is great history.

The first video is 2.5 minutes long and features footage from 1896 when there were about 500,000 inhabitants in Palestine, including about 30,000 people in Jerusalem. Jews made up roughly 50% of Jerusalem’s population, but less than 5% of the population elsewhere. Outside of Jerusalem, where more than 90% of Palestine’s population lived, Muslims made up about 85% of the population and Christians made up about 10% of the population.

The second video is 10 minutes long, and features quite a number of still photos spanning the decades prior to Israel becoming a nation in 1948. There are universities and colleges, sports matches, and other evidences of a vibrant society. The music that this video is set to is pretty neat too. This video footage was included in a French documentary called “Palestine, Story of a Land.”

This footage might bring to mind the expression that has been attributed to early Zionists, that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people without a land.” Within the last couple of years I’ve learned some things about the origins and development of this expression. As Diana Muir points out in a well-written 2008 article, it appears to have its roots in a statement made

“by Church of Scotland clergyman Alexander Keith in his 1843 book The Land of Israel According to the Covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. Keith was an influential evangelical thinker whose most popular work, Evidence of the Truth of the Christian Religion Derived from the Literal Fulfillment of Prophecy, remains in print almost two centuries after it was first published. As an advocate of the idea that Christians should work to encourage the biblical prophecy of a Jewish return to the land of Israel, he wrote that the Jews are “a people without a country; even as their own land, as subsequently to be shown, is in a great measure a country without a people.”

Muir goes on to give examples of other Christian writers and leaders adopting this phrase in some form before Israel Zangwill in 1901 apparently became the first Zionist to use it, saying, “Palestine is a country without a people; the Jews are a people without a country.”

In any case, as these videos show, Palestine had much more of a thriving society before 1948 than many people have been willing to acknowledge. By numerous accounts, Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs also got along quite fine during that time period. For example, Elias Chacour, a Christian Palestinian Arab who was nine years old when Israel became a nation, wrote about a childhood experience he often witnessed in the village of Biram:  

“Many of these Jewish neighbors came to Biram to trade as well. When they stopped by our house for figs, father welcomed them with the customary hospitality and a cup of tar-like, bittersweet coffee—the cup of friendship” (Elias Chacour, Blood Brothers, 2005, p. 24).

If one looks past the awful headlines that are currently dominating the news concerning this part of the world, one can find examples of Palestinians, Jews, and others actively working for peace there. Elias is one of them. May the people of this region soon experience the healing and the restoration that they need.

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A reader, PJ Miller, pointed out another interesting video depicting life in Palestine, this one being nearly 180 years old:

Upcoming Debate on Romans 11:25-27 (Dr. Michael Brown & Don K. Preston)


Of all the questions asked by readers here at this site, Romans 11 has been one of the most popular topics brought up over the last five years, particularly the phrase, “In this manner all Israel will be saved” (verse 26). I’m glad to see that two well-known teachers will be leading a moderated debate on June 3rd concerning the meaning of Romans 11:25-27. Don K. Preston, the president of Preterist Research Institute (websites 1 and 2), will be debating this topic with Dr. Michael Brown, an author, professor, and radio host (websites 1, 2, and 3). Dr. James White, an author and speaker, will be moderating the debate.  Here is the formal announcement for this debate:

I am thrilled to announce that just this morning, (5-13-14) we confirmed final agreement for a formal, moderated debate between myself and Dr. Michael Brown, a very popular Christian apologist and radio / Internet host.  Dr. Brown has done some fine work in debating Muslims and atheists. He is not a “typical” Millennialist, in that he takes the Classic or Historical Premillennial view, which is in many respects, totally different from modern Dispensationalism.

Dr. Brown has a nationally syndicated radio program: “Ask Dr. Brown,” (also known as The Line of Fire) in which he welcomes callers to ask any question. On April 2014, Dr. Brown issued a challenge to any qualified preterist to engage in a formal moderated debate. Some listeners posted to me about that challenge and I responded, accepting the invitation.

You can listen to the debate, live, here: (2-4pm, June 3, 2014) Eastern time: http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/in-the-line-of-fire/listen-live/

dr michael browndon k preston

The debate will be on June 3, 2-4 Eastern Time (1-3 Central). I am particularly pleased to say that Dr. James White, of Alpha and Omega Ministryalso a noted Christian polemicist, will act as the debate moderator.

The Debate subject will be:

Resolved: The Bible teaches in Romans 11:25-27 that at some point of time in our future, “all Israel shall be saved” at the time of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Affirm: Dr. Michael Brown
Deny: Don K. Preston
Needless to say, this is a very, very important topic. Many Postmillennialists, some Amillennialists, and certainly, Millennialists of all stripes believe that there is yet to be a massive conversion of ethnic Jews at the time of the second coming of Christ. Obviously, I believe this view is not supported by the scriptures.
 
This offers to be a very lively debate, with a ton of information being made available. You don’t want to miss it, so put it on your calendar, and tune in!

You can read more about Dr. Michael Brown here: http://askdrbrown.org/press-room/

Here is the Scripture text which will be under discussion in this debate:

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins‘” (Romans 9:25-27).

Since Don Preston first made this announcement, I’ve heard that the debate likely won’t begin at 2 pm EST on June 3rd, but will be somewhat later in the afternoon. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to watch it live, but once the debate video is posted on YouTube or elsewhere, I plan to post it here. It’ll be good to see what these two men have to say on the subject, and there will be an open invitation, for anyone who wishes, to evaluate what they have to say and discuss it here (as well as to look at discussions that may happen elsewhere).

Questions to consider:

1. What is the blindness that happened to Israel? How long was it to last? Where else does Scripture speak of this blindness?
2. What is the meaning of “the fullness of the Gentiles“?
3. Who is Paul speaking of when he says, “all Israel will be saved“?
4. Is Isaiah 59:20-21, quoted in Romans 11:26-27, about Jesus’ first coming and His work on the cross, or is it about His coming in judgment and in His kingdom (often spoken of as His Second Coming)? Is Isaiah 59:20-21 already fulfilled, or not yet fulfilled?

UPDATE: The debate took place as scheduled, and I’ve posted the video, along with notes and time stamps, here: 

http://kloposmasm.com/2014/06/07/debate-michael-brown-and-don-preston-on-romans-1125-27-video-and-notes/

Identity Crisis: The Israeli ID System


Today I saw this graphic, shared by Stephen Sizer on Facebook, and found it to be informative, although it certainly doesn’t touch on every issue concerning the Israeli/Palestinian situation. The statistics are said to be valid as of 2011. This graphic illustrates a range of disparities between three groups of people when it comes to freedom, restrictions, living access, and voting:

  • 5.9 million Jewish citizens in Israel
  • 5.5 million Palestinians in Israel, East Jerusalem, West Bank, and the Gaza Strip
  • 5.7 million Palestinian exiles/refugees with no access to Israel or the Palestinian territories

Graphic courtesy of Electronic Intifada and Visualizing Palestine

Why I Believe Jews Are God’s Chosen People


I believe Jews are God’s chosen people, and in this post I’d like to explain why I believe this. Jews are described very well in Peter’s first epistle:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (I Peter 2:9-10).

Indeed, Jews are called out, chosen, made holy, have received God’s mercy, and are walking as light in the midst of darkness. Here are a couple more passages which mention and describe God’s chosen people:

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being chosen according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12).

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).

Would you agree that each of the above passages describe Jews? Why not? After all, the apostle Paul, an ethnic Jew, says that true Jews are those whose hearts have been circumcised:

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that 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, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).

Statements abound on the internet, made by Christians, claiming that all Jews are God’s chosen people, and by this they mean ethnic Jews. This flies in the face of what Paul wrote: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly.” On the other hand, Paul affirms who really is a Jew: “…but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, in the Spirit.”

Only those who are circumcised in heart, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can live out the callings of God’s chosen people described in I Peter 2, Ephesians 1, and Colossians 3. Are some ethnic Jews part of this chosen people, and living out these callings? Yes. Is this true of all ethnic Jews, or even a majority of them? No. Are some non-Jews (ethnically speaking) part of this chosen people, and living out these callings? Yes.

Notice the verses immediately preceding Colossians 3:12 where Paul speaks of God’s chosen (or elect) people. He says that God’s people “have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:10-11). He then goes on to say, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved…” God’s chosen ones are simply those who are in Christ, and ethnicity is not a factor at all.

Circumcision of the flesh (a major identifying trait of ethnic Jews) is meaningless under the new covenant, and meaningless when it comes to the role and identity of God’s chosen people:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love… For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 5:6, 6:15-16).

Remember that true Jews, Paul says, are those who are circumcised in their hearts. And Paul says elsewhere, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh…” (Philippians 3:3).

Ultimately, why is it that God’s chosen people are chosen today? It’s because we are in Jesus, and Jesus is the chosen One!

Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:1).

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased‘” (Matthew 3:16-17).

The following passages further demonstrate why all ethnic Jews are not God’s chosen people, but why all who are in Christ are God’s chosen people:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire‘” (Matthew 3:7-10).

And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11-12).

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).

Jesus answered, ‘You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.’ …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.’ …You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do” (John 8:19, 39, 44). 

For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people’” (Acts 3:22-23).

How can those who are in outer darkness, who don’t receive Jesus (God’s chosen One), whose father is the devil, and who are “utterly destroyed from among the people” — how can they be God’s chosen people? And how is it that thousands of Christians are ready to roll out the accusation of “replacement theology” as soon as someone says that Christians are God’s chosen people? It’s a phenomenon of our time.

To Review

1. God’s chosen people are a holy nation, called out of darkness into God’s light, proclaim God’s praises, have obtained mercy, have an inheritance, and are called and empowered to obey Christ’s commands.

2. Ethnic Jews, who are only outwardly Jews or circumcised in the flesh, are not Jews in the eyes of God. Those who are circumcised in their hearts are Jews inwardly, and are Jews in the eyes of God.

3. Among God’s chosen people, there “is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised,” and all that matters is being made a new creation in Christ.

4. The circumcised in heart, who Paul says are Jews in the eyes of God, are those who worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Jesus Christ.

5. All ethnic Jews (and others) who reject Jesus are children of the devil and not Abraham, are in outer darkness, do not know the Father, and are utterly cut off from God’s people.

Israel Is God’s Chosen People – What Does That Mean?


Two days ago Andrew Strom, a well-known minister from New Zealand, created a firestorm with his post, “Replacement?? – Israel & the Church.” I personally agree with about 90% of what he wrote. As expected, there have been many responses, some very emotional. There are nearly 350 comments under that post, as of last count, and they address so many different aspects of this topic (and beyond) that it can make the mind spin. I’m very interested in what some have to say, but quite baffled at what others say. I’d like to get feedback, if possible, regarding one baffling statement that appeared repeatedly in that forum, one which I’ve heard so many times before:

“Israel is God’s chosen people.”

For those who say this and believe it, what does that mean? Does it mean that all citizens of Israel are God’s chosen people? At face value, that’s what it seems they would mean. Somehow, though, I get the impression that people mean Jews only, when they say this. Did you know that there are roughly 1.6 million Arab citizens in Israel? According to this Wikipedia entry, that’s the case. Are they also among God’s chosen people, since they live in Israel?**

Others claim that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people, and I also completely disagree with this idea. Scripture teaches that only those who belong to Jesus are God’s chosen people. In I Peter 2:4-10, for example, those who belong to Jesus are chosen to be a royal priesthood, to receive mercy, to be a light in the darkness, etc. This is true of those who belong to Christ. It’s not true for those outside of Christ, even if they happen to be Jewish. For a deeper discussion on this topic, please see this post:

http://kloposmasm.com/2010/09/23/who-are-gods-chosen-people-and-why-are-they-chosen/

However, I’m even more baffled by the claim that the nation of Israel is God’s chosen people. It makes no sense Scripturally, and it doesn’t even make sense politically. What are your thoughts on the claim that “Israel is God’s chosen people”?

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**I believe that some Arab citizens of Israel actually are among God’s chosen people, but only those who belong to Christ. And some of them do – praise God.

No Alienation from the Commonwealth of Israel


(Thoughts on Ephesians 2:12)

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a remarkable book, one that is full of wonderful expressions of truth. In the first three chapters Paul lays out, in glorious fashion, the riches of the grace we have in Christ. His adoration for the gospel just keeps spilling out, and he even gets long-winded (in a good way) as he does so. Take a look at some of his gospel-saturated, lengthy sentences which span several verses at a time (e.g. 1:7-10, 1:15-21, 3:14-19). Some of the most magnificent portrayals of the New Covenant are found in this book.

With this in mind, it’s amazing to consider that today there is a popular teaching insisting that the New Covenant which Paul describes here in Ephesians and elsewhere is NOT the same New Covenant which was foreseen by the Old Testament prophets (e.g. Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 36:26-27). This is despite the fact that the author of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah’s prophecy and explicitly states (Hebrews 8:6-13) that this New Covenant had been established in his own time (i.e. in the first century AD). The “problem” seems to be that Jeremiah and Ezekiel addressed their prophecies to “the house of Israel.” Dispensationalism and Christian Zionism are notoriously unwilling to acknowledge that the Church IS spiritual Israel, and their proponents often have harsh words for those who believe this. Shortly we will see that Ephesians 2:12, being just one such example in the New Testament, does not allow their position to stand.

[Please bear with this brief explanation before we get back to looking at Ephesians. Prior to Progressive Dispensationalism taking root in western Christianity within the last few decades, Classic Dispensationalists like H.A. Ironside, Charles Ryrie, Dwight Pentecost, and John Walvoord claimed that the Old Testament never foresaw the coming of the Church age, and that God will one day bring an end to the Church age and resume His program with national/ethnic Israel. This was the teaching of John Nelson Darby, who founded this theological system in the 1830’s, and of C.I. Scofield, who published his famous reference Bible in 1909. These men and others also taught (or teach) that the New Covenant is reserved for a future millennium period! Consider the following statements regarding Jeremiah’s prophecy of a coming New Covenant:

[1] “This covenant must follow the return of Christ at the [yet future] second advent… This covenant will be realized in the [yet future] millennial age… the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 must and can be fulfilled only by the nation Israel and not by the Church” (Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, 1958).

[2] “…the new covenant is with Israel and the fulfillment [will be] in the millennial kingdom after the second coming of Christ… the new covenant as revealed in the Old Testament concerns Israel and requires fulfillment in the millennium kingdom” (John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, 1959).

[3] “The Church, then, is not under the new covenant…it is Israel which is God’s covenant people” (Harry Ironside, Notes on the Prophecy of and Lamentations of Jeremiah, 1906).

One proposed solution by more recent Progressive Dispensationalists is that there are two new covenants (!) in Scripture, one for the Church (now) and one for national/ethnic Israel (later). This belief seems to be true for those who would affirm that the Church presently lives in the New Covenant (and experiences the taking away of sin), but who also assert that Romans 11:26-27 (“And in this way all Israel will be saved…and this will be My covenant with them when I take away their sins”) will only be fulfilled in the future for ethnic Jews. This belief doesn’t stand up either, as we will see. For a much fuller treatment of the implications of this facet of Dispensationalist teaching, please see the first half of this post from our series on Revelation 20.]

Having expressed these thoughts, let’s now look at a very pivotal section in Ephesians 2, verses 11-22. I don’t want to take anything away from the very valuable things Paul expresses earlier in this chapter, and in fact verse 11 begins with “therefore,” meaning that what Paul says next is based on what he has just said earlier. So here’s a quick summary of the first half of the chapter: Paul reminds the believers in Ephesus that they were once dead in their sins (verses 1-3), but that God in His mercy and love had made them alive in Christ (verses 4-5). They are now seated with God in Christ in heavenly places (verses 6-7). It was not by any works of their own that they were saved, but only by grace through faith. Their salvation was a gift from God, and they were created anew for the purpose of walking in good works (verses 8-10). With this as context, here’s what Paul says in verses 11-22:

11Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once werefar off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For He himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18Forthrough Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

It would certainly be profitable to break this passage down verse-by-verse, and there are so many rich truths here, but I’d like to mainly zero in on verse 12 which is highlighted above. First, we should note that Paul is specifically addressing Gentile believers (verse 11), that is, non-Jewish followers of Christ. One of his reminders to them is that they were once “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.” By speaking this way, Paul clearly indicates that they are now part of “the commonwealth of Israel.”

There is simply no getting around the idea that Gentile (non-Jewish) believers are part of God’s people, Israel, here in Ephesians 2:12. And make no mistake about it, Jewish believers are part of this same covenant people of God, but no more so and no less so: “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him” (Romans 10:12); “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). There are no spiritual blessings which are available for males but not for females, nor are there any spiritual blessings which are available for Jews but not for non-Jews. Does Scripture leave us any room to believe that a future age will come along and change this reality? No, it does not.

In Ephesians 2:12 Paul also reminds His believing Gentile audience that they were once “strangers to the covenants of promise.” Again, by speaking this way, Paul clearly indicates that they are now recipients ofthe covenants of promise” which were made to Israel. In the next chapter, Paul explicitly defines the mystery of Christ (which had been kept hidden in generations past) as the joining together of Jewish and non-Jewish believers in the partaking of the promise in Christ through the gospel: “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6). In Galatians 3 Paul likewise declares that all the promises were made to Abraham and his offspring. He then defines Abraham’s “offspring,” contrary to what many might expect, as singularly Christ (Gal. 3:16). He finally adds that those who belong to Christ—with zero regard for ethnicity, gender, or status (Gal. 3:28)—are heirs of those promises (Gal. 3:29). So Paul says here in Ephesians 2 exactly what he also says in Galatians 3.

With these things established, can it be possible that any Old Testament covenants or promises are yet to be fulfilled for ethnic Jews only? Can Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:26-27 (which promised a coming New Covenant) be awaiting a fulfillment which Gentile believers will have no part in? No. Such an idea does great violence to all that Paul argues in Galatians, Ephesians, and elsewhere. Those who are still looking for such a covenant to arrive are about 2000 years too late, and far too narrow in their view of to whom this covenant belongs. The New Covenant is already here, and the heavenly Jerusalem is already a reality for God’s people (Hebrews 12:22-24).

I also highlighted Ephesians 2:19 because Paul refers to the Church as “the household of God,” very similar to the way he calls the Church “the household of faith” in Galatians 6:10. It would seem that these phrases are a New Testament equivalent to the oft-used expression in the Old Testament, “the household of Israel,” used by both Jeremiah and Ezekiel as we have seen. As mentioned near the beginning of this post, it seems that Dispensationalists and Christian Zionists tend to trip up over the Old Testament phrase, “the household of Israel,” because they are somehow convinced that the promises made to ancient Israel must only be fulfilled among their physical descendants.

However, we must let Scripture interpret Scripture. First, how often did Jesus and the apostles make the point that being able to physically trace one’s self to Abraham means nothing? Observe what Jesus said in John 8 to the Jews of His day who appealed to Abraham as their father, and observe whom Jesus said was their father instead. Observe what Paul says in Romans 9:6-8, “…For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring… This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” Here Paul equates being a part of Israel with being a child of God. In this New Covenant age, then, can you be a child of God and not be a part of Israel? (Of course, I’m not referring to that nation in the Middle East which happens to bear this same name. By “Israel,” I mean God’s covenant people.) In Romans 2:28-29, Paul further says that “no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly…a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart…” In Galatians 6:15-16, Paul declares that only a new creation counts for anything, and then pronounces peace and mercy upon “the Israel of God.” If, despite the evidence above, you are one of the many who believe that Paul’s use of this phrase, “the Israel of God,” must refer only to Jewish believers, please examine this very well-written and informative article by Michael Marlowe.

Secondly, an honest appraisal of the New Testament will show that the inspired writers of the NT clearly apply many specific promises once made to ancient Israel to the Church, the body of Christ. Shall we rebuke them for promoting the allegedly false teachings of “replacement theology”? As we have seen above, the NT authors also declare that the Church is no longer alienated from ANY of the promises and covenants, because they are recipients of ALL of them. They are all found in Christ, but they are not to be found outside of Christ. Again, Jews are not left out, for a remnant from among them would call out to the Lord and be saved (they have done so throughout the last 2000 years). Paul makes this clear (see Romans 11:1-6, where he uses himself as an example).

Let’s look again at what Ephesians 2:12 says: “[R]emember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise.” What is “the commonwealth of Israel”? What is it not? As we consider how we are not alienated from this entity, if we try to replace this phrase with “national Israel” or “ethnic Jews,” we’ll see that this doesn’t work. If you are a non-Jew (ethnically speaking), can you say that because of Christ you are now fully integrated into the political nation of Israel? Or can you say that you are very much a part of the worldwide ethnic Jewish community? No, but I believe you’ll find that this explanation given by Albert Barnes in 1834 makes sense:

Being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel – …This means more than that they were not Jews. It means that they were strangers to that ‘polity’ …or arrangement by which the worship of the true God had been kept up in the world, and of course were strangers to the true religion. The arrangements for the public worship of Yahweh were made among the Jews. They had his law, his temple, his sabbaths, and the ordinances of his religion; see the notes at Romans 3:2… The word rendered here as ‘commonwealth’ – πολιτεία politeia – means properly ‘citizenship,’ or ‘the right of citizenship,’ and then ‘a community,’ or ‘state.’ It means here ‘that arrangement or organization by which the worship of the true God was maintained.’”

Indeed, Paul says this of his own “kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3),

They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 9:4-5).

Paul, who agonized over his own people so much that he could have wished himself “accursed and cut off from Christ” (verse 3) for their sake, yet affirms to the Gentile believers in Ephesus that they were present heirs of all the promises and covenants which were articulated to the commonwealth of Israel in times past. All alienation had ceased. It hasn’t resumed since then, it hasn’t resumed in our day, and it won’t resume in the future. It’s gone because of the work of the cross, and that alienation is gone forever. Please don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you are a follower of Christ, it doesn’t matter what your ethnic background is. You are a full-fledged member of the commonwealth of Israel, and all of God’s promises are yours through Jesus Christ.

The Synagogue of Satan Revealed (Good Teaching)


The Synagogue of Satan Revealed (Good Teaching)

By Adam Maarschalk (October 16, 2010)

Earlier today I came across some excellent teaching at Cathy’s Peacemakers Blog (http://giannina.wordpress.com/) which I’d like to share here. It’s in the form of a 14-minute video put together by Bill White, her husband, whose own website (http://soulrefuge.org/) I have found to be most excellent. Here’s the source for the teaching I’d like to point to. Following this video, I’d like to highlight some of Bill’s excellent points:

0:10 mark – The term “synagogue of Satan” is used twice in the book of Revelation (2:9 and 3:9), both times spoken by Jesus Himself “to describe a group of people who claim to be Jews but they were not.” [If interested, we covered both of these passages in our study of Revelation, here and here, expressing the opinion that these were references to unbelieving Jews who were the chief persecutors of the Church prior to 70 AD.]

2:45 – Today the Lord is also very well aware of who in any church congregation are genuine believers and who are fake.

3:00 – Jesus came to His own (the Jewish people), but they did not receive Him (John 1:11). Yet all who receive Him and believe on His name are given the power to become the sons of God (John 1:12). Most Jews, like most Gentiles, reject Christ.

3:52 – The modern and popular teaching that the Church is God’s second choice, that the Kingdom is postponed, and that the Church is a mere parenthesis in God’s plan is hogwash and dispensational heresy. The majority of the Jewish people who claim to know God have no blood atonement. There’s no temple, no tabernacle, no blood sacrifices, and therefore they are missing the blood atonement which is necessary for sins to be forgiven. The exception, of course, are those Jews who do believe in Jesus and His finished work on the cross.

4:32 – Don’t buy the teaching that ethnic Israel is God’s chosen people. “The term ‘chosen’ is never used to describe the Jewish people outside of Christ in the New Covenant… The term is only used in relation to those who believe in Jesus Christ.”

5:10 – John the Baptist told the Jews of his day that they could not automatically make any claim that Abraham was their father (Matthew 3:9), for God could even raise up children for Abraham from stones. The Abrahamic covenant is indeed everlasting, but it’s only everlasting in Jesus Christ. No one, not even Jews, can say they are a part of the Abrahamic covenant in any way if they reject Christ. To reject Christ is to reject “the whole package.”

6:05 – The “synagogue of Satan” was Jewish by nature, but God’s Word was not abiding in them. John was not impressed with their Jewish heritage, as many are today in the Church world.

7:15 – The Old Testament Scriptures testify of Jesus (e.g. John 5:39-40), but the majority of the Jewish people, according to Jesus, would not come to Him in order to have life.

9:15 – Jesus told the unbelieving Jews of His day that they were of their father the devil (John 8:44). Elsewhere, He referred to them as vipers/snakes, just as John the Baptist had done.

10:08 – The apostle Paul declared that Jews are not those who are Jews outwardly, or through circumcision, but those who are Jews inwardly through the circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:28-29).

11:02 – Abraham was promised to be the heir of the world. This was not limited to physical Israel (Romans 4:13). Christ is the promised Seed of Abraham, and “only true believers in Jesus Christ [are] counted as the true seed (descendants) of Abraham (Galatians 3:29).” In contradiction to these truths, John Hagee has taught that “Jewish people have a relationship with God through the Law of God…as given through Moses.” In other words, says Hagee, as long as they live in light of the Torah, they are in covenant with God. Yet the Bible makes it clear that all unbelievers, Jew or Gentile, have a covenant with death and the wrath of God abides on them (e.g. Mark 16:15-16, John 3:18, John 3:36, John 8:24).

13:00 – By extension, the synagogue of Satan today is “a humongous ‘spiritual unseen synagogue’ …made up of people who claim to know God, but they do not know Him… Beware the synagogue of Satan.”

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All posts on the subject of Christian Zionism can be found here.

Stephen Sizer: Why Zionists Are Ticked Off About the Film ‘With God on Our Side’


Stephen Sizer: Why Zionists Are Ticked Off About the Film “With God on Our Side”

by Adam Maarschalk (October 16, 2010)

Back in late April I wrote a favorable review for the film documentary entitled, “With God on Our Side.” This film takes a critical look at the movement known as Christian Zionism, which by and large gives uncritical support for the policies of the Israeli government and shows great partiality to the Jewish people at the expense of Palestinians and other non-Jews. The Bible, on the other hand, holds that Jews and non-Jews are equally lost without Christ, and that all who are in Christ have the same access to God’s blessings and promises regardless of ethnicity. The review I wrote on this film can be seen here.

Then in July I wrote a critique of Jan Markell’s strong denunciation of this film. This critique can be seen here. One of the film’s participants was Stephen Sizer, a pastor in England who is also an author, theologian, and an international speaker specializing in topics relating to the land of Israel. Jan unfairly said of Sizer that he “cannot stand the stench of Israel,” a point which I know from reading his materials is not the least bit true. Beneath that post one person also left a comment which simply included three links attempting to associate Sizer with Dale Crowley, a Washington journalist known for denying the Holocaust. As far as I could tell, after examining those links, Sizer had merely cited a statistic from Crowley in order to answer a question asked of him in a video interview with Alan Hart. He also, in that same interview, cited a statistic from John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel. No sound-minded person would suggest that Sizer, by doing so, endorsed the views of John Hagee.

The film, “With God on Our Side,” has not surprisingly stirred up a significant amount of opposition from supporters of Christian Zionism. However, I have yet to see any critiques of this film which deal with the actual content of the film in a fair way. Perhaps someone else knows of one?

A new critique has now come out, which Stephen Sizer wrote about on his blog last Sunday, October 10th. This critique is in the form of a booklet, which I have not had a chance to read, and was written by Eliyahu Ben-Haim, a Jewish believer in Christ who ministers as a pastor in Israel. The booklet is being sold by Intercessors for Israel, with this description:

The original motivation to write this paper was to provide a response to the video “With God on our Side,” produced by Porter Speakman Jr. in 2010. The video is a direct attack upon Israel and upon “Christian Zionists,” that part of the Church that is standing with God’s plan for the restoration and salvation of Israel. The question of Israel’s legitimacy as a nation in the family of nations is an issue that is being raised more frequently every day even in the Church. In many circles, present day Israel as a fulfillment of God’s prophetic word is denied as a false interpretation of Scripture. This is a battle that is not going away but on the contrary will increase in intensity. In many ways the delegitimization of Israel is an attack on God’s character, His Word, His sovereignty and His covenants. It really brings into question the truth of Scripture and God’s promises to us through His Son Jesus. Most of you will never see this video and I don’t recommend it to anyone. However the questions it raises, the accusations it makes, need answers. I have tried to provide responses historically, legally and Scripturally.

While it’s unfortunate that readers of this booklet are discouraged from viewing the documentary, it would seem to be a good thing that Eliyahu has attempted to interact with the questions raised in the film. How effectively or fairly he did so, I do not know, but the statement that With God on Our Side is “a direct attack upon Israel” already raises my level of skepticism. The following is Stephen Sizer’s assessment of Eliyahu’s critique:

Intercessors for Israel have ill-advisedly rushed into print a rebuttal of the hugely popular new film With God on our Side. Entitled, Setting the Record Straight, the booklet wrongly claims our film is “a direct attack upon Israel”. It most certainly is not, either in intent or delivery.

With God on our Side is a direct challenge to the foolish idea that Christian Zionism has any biblical or moral foundation. It is an oxymoron, as absurd as to suggest that biblical Christianity and apartheid are in any way compatible. The Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa tried and failed and eventually repented. Would that Christian Zionists did the same.

It is utterly reprehensible that so called Christians would try and justify on theological grounds the theft of land, the demolition of homes, the destruction of property, the creation of ghettos and the denial of fundamental human rights, in order to create what is increasingly becoming a racist state.

It is not an understatement to say that what is at stake is our understanding of the gospel, the centrality of the cross, the role of the church, and the nature of our missionary mandate, not least, to the beloved Jewish people. If we don’t see Jesus at the heart of the Hebrew scriptures, and the continuity between his Old Testament and New Testament saints in the one inclusive Church, we’re not reading them correctly. The key question is this: “Was the coming of Jesus and the birth of the Church the fulfilment or the postponement of the promises God made to Abraham?”

Christian Zionists see the promises of identity, land and destiny as part of an ongoing covenant God has with the Jewish people. In Zion’s Christian Soldiers I unpack this question and show that Christian Zionism is a recent manifestation of a heresy conclusively refuted by the New Testament.

For a clear and comprehensive refutation of Christian Zionism see Zion’s Christian Soldiers: The Bible, Israel and the Church.

I so appreciate Sizer’s point that Jesus is at the heart of the Hebrew Scriptures, and that there is great continuity rather than a disconnect between the people of God before and after Christ’s first coming.

How would you answer Sizer’s key question: “Was the coming of Jesus and the birth of the Church [a] the fulfillment or [b] the postponement of the promises God made to Abraham?” My answer is that this was the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham, and that all of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ and that none remain to be fulfilled outside of Christ. What’s your answer?

Sizer also said this regarding Christian Zionism, and all the implications of following this movement and accepting its claims: “It is not an understatement to say that what is at stake is our understanding of the gospel, the centrality of the cross, the role of the church, and the nature of our missionary mandate, not least, to the beloved Jewish people.” That’s quite a statement. How do you find this to be, or perhaps not to be, true?

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All posts on the subject of Christian Zionism can be found here.

Who Are God’s Chosen People and Why Are They Chosen?


Who Are God’s Chosen People and Why Are They Chosen?

by Adam Maarschalk (September 22, 2010)

What follows is an actual discussion which took place on my Facebook page during the month of August 2010, concerning the very pivotal theological question of who God’s chosen people are. I was pleased that the discussion drew out the common ideas which are normally expressed on this topic. Lord willing, this won’t be the only post at this site dealing with this question, but I believe that the reader will find the following conversation to be educational and profitable. Anyone is more than welcome to add further thoughts, as well as to express agreement or disagreement with any of the thoughts expressed in this discussion. All of the 29 comments have been numbered for easy referencing, and they are also color-coded to indicate which participant wrote them (Adam, Dan, Mike, Manuel, Nadia, David). Last names have been removed for the sake of privacy. Here are the questions posed, and the comments which followed:

ORIGINAL POST: Important Christian theology question: According to the Bible, who are God’s chosen people at this present time? For what purpose are they chosen? How many chosen peoples does God have? One? Two?

COMMENT #1 (by Dan):  Ah, your favorite subject. God can choose different people for different things simultaneously. He doesn’t have to cancel out one choice for one purpose before he makes another choice for another purpose. He can have more than one plan in operation at one time. God chose us, the church, for eternal life. He didn’t choose Israel for eternal life, He chose them for other things, like for preserving His words and for being a means of revealing the true God to this world, etc. So, 2 peoples chosen for 2 different purposes. There’s no conflict here.

COMMENT #2 (by Adam): Hi Dan. Thanks for your comment. I’ll share my own viewpoint later today after I see what feedback comes in. In the meantime, I have a few questions for clarification, in particular regarding the second group you named (Israel):

[1] Do you believe that all who live in Israel today are presently chosen to preserve God’s words, reveal Him to this world, etc? In other words, does this include Palestinians and foreigners who are working/studying there? Does this exclude Jews who happen to live outside of Israel?

[2] Do you believe that God had only one chosen people (the Church) from 70 AD – 1948 when there was no established nation of Israel, and that ever since 1948 He has had two chosen peoples?

[3] What, if any, New Testament Scriptures speak of a present calling for the political nation of Israel (or for ethnic Jews, if this is what you mean instead)?

COMMENT #3 (by Mike): My question would be… EVERYONE in Israel? Just the Jews? Or Christians? What about Israeli Muslims? Is it a question of religion or ethnicity? Also kind of along the same lines, who are the 144,000 in Revelations? I used to think that was a big number, then I grew up.

COMMENT #4 (by Manuel): 1) Those who have trusted in Christ for salvation. 2) They are saved and therefore are the “chosen” to spread the good news of God’s redemption through Christ. 3) God only has one chosen people which are the spiritual seed of Abraham. In other words, the believers in Jesus Christ (people of faith in Christ). This is also known as spiritual Israel (not the nation of Israel). In my opinion.

COMMENT #5 (by Adam): Manuel, you have articulated my position on this matter, and I very much agree with what you have written. God has only ever had one chosen people, and no one (regardless of race) is part of God’s chosen people if they are outside of Christ. God’s chosen people in Old Testament times were chosen for the same purpose as God’s chosen people at this time. Compare what was spoken by Moses to “the people of Israel” (Exodus 19:3) to what has been spoken to the Church through Peter. The parallel language is unmistakable, and I have letter-coded the parallels (A, B, and C):

[1] To ancient national Israel: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be [A] MY TREASURED POSSESSION among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to Me [B] A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS and a [C] HOLY NATION…” (Exodus 19:5-6).

[2] To the Church: “But you are a chosen race, [B] A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a [C] HOLY NATION, a people [A] FOR HIS OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people…” (I Peter 2:9-10).

Can there be any question that the Church is chosen for the same purpose that the nation of Israel was once chosen? In fact, Dan, I forgot in my previous reply to ask about your statement that ancient Israel was not chosen for eternal life. I believe the people of Israel were indeed chosen for this, and that the faithful among them have this inheritance as much as we do. Otherwise, should we expect that Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and many other faithful servants from Israel fell short of inheriting eternal life? Will we be separated from them for eternity? The people of Israel were to make known the path to eternal life (faith in the coming Messiah) to the nations surrounding them, but this often did not happen. The kingdom was eventually taken away from faithless Israel, as Jesus prophesied (Matthew 21:43, cf. Matt. 22:1-14), and given to “a people producing its fruits” (clearly the Church, those who belong to Christ and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who enables us to produce spiritual fruit). This “people” (some translations say “nation”), of course, is made up of both Jews and Gentiles (i.e. those who trust in Christ).

As Manuel said/implied, Israel has never ceased to exist. The body of Christ today IS Israel in every true sense (see, for example, Romans 9:6-8 and Galatians 6:16). Outside of Christ there is no Israel (as God’s people), despite the fact that a secular, political nation in the Middle East happens to bear that name today. Romans 9:6-8 is most profound on this point (parenthetical notes are mine): “…For not all who are descended from [natural] Israel belong to [spiritual] Israel, and not all are [spiritual] children of Abraham because they are his [physical] offspring…it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” See this article for an excellent explanation of Galatians 6:16’s use of the phrase “the Israel of God” to refer to the Church: http://www.bible-researcher.com/gal6-16.html. Furthermore, we who are in Christ are spiritual Jews, so to speak: “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter…” (Romans 2:28-29; see also Philippians 3:3).

Galatians 3:16 further points out that all the promises were made to Abraham and his offspring, “referring to One, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.” In the same chapter, Paul says, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29). Does Paul leave any room for those who are outside of Christ to be heirs of the promises? No, he doesn’t, not even for unbelieving Jews. Nor did Jesus (see, for example, John 8:31-47), nor does the New Testament in any place.

Today many teach that the Jews (meaning all ethnic Jews) are God’s chosen people. I believe this is classic false teaching. I Peter 2:9-10, already quoted here, makes it explicitly clear why God’s chosen people, the body of Christ (believing Jews and Gentiles), are chosen. His people have been called out of darkness and now have the privilege of proclaiming His excellencies to those who are still in darkness. Unbelieving Jews remain in darkness, and cannot possibly carry out any such calling. For those who teach that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people, the question remains: What are they (allegedly) chosen for at this present time?

Another implication of this teaching (that all Jews are God’s chosen people) is that it makes Jewish believers superior to non-Jewish believers, something that the New Testament declares cannot be the case (e.g. Romans 10:12-13; Galatians 3:16, 28-29; Gal. 5:6, Gal. 6:15-16). The reason this superiority is implied is that Jewish believers would then be heirs of two sets of spiritual promises/blessings. One set of promises would be theirs simply because they are ethnically Jewish, and the other set would be theirs because they belong to Christ. Gentile believers could only partake of the second set of promises, and could never partake of the first set. The New Testament doesn’t allow for this, and in fact combats this idea, saying, for example: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him” (Romans 10:12).

God never rejected the entire race of Jewish people, but continues to have a remnant from among them (Romans 9:27, 11:1-5). Any Jew who trusts in Christ for salvation is part of God’s one and only chosen people, the Church. In Christ there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, no partiality, no superiority for one group over the other, and no special plan that applies to one group and not the other. Any Jew who does not trust in Christ is just as much lost and in darkness as any non-Jew who does not belong to Christ. They are chosen, along with lost Gentiles, only for condemnation (John 3:18).

COMMENT #6 (by Adam): An excellent, though lengthy, treatment of this subject of God’s chosen people can be seen here in this article by Stephen Sizer:

http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/zcs2.pdf

COMMENT #7 (by Adam): Hi Mike. I appreciated your thoughtful questions above. And I liked your line about the 144,000 (“I used to think that was a big number, then I grew up”). I can identify with that. 🙂 Regarding the 144,000, I personally believe they were first-century AD believers (all Jewish, or mostly Jewish) who fled from Jerusalem to Pella (in modern day Jordan) before that city was invaded by the Romans. They did this in response to a very specific warning given by Jesus (see Matthew 24:15-20 and Luke 21:20-23). I believe their virginity (Revelation 14:4) was not necessarily physical, but rather spiritual (this is language commonly used in the Old Testament for faithfulness versus faithlessness). If interested, feel free to check out the studies on my blog on Revelation 7 and 14 (where the 144,000 are mentioned):

[1] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/09/27/revelation-7-study/
[2] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/revelation-chapter-14/

COMMENT #8 (by Nadia): Adam, I see you have your own theological forum. Nice work:)

COMMENT #9 (by Adam): Thanks, Nadia. Do you have any thoughts you’d like to add to what’s already been stated here?

COMMENT #10 (by David): The beginning of the Mission to the Gentiles is very strong evidence that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah. It was God’s purpose all along that the blessings promised to Abraham and his seed should go out to all the nations of the world. It is this that we see unfolding in the book of Acts.

COMMENT #11 (by David): We should learn to read the whole of the Bible missiologically, rather than see world evangelism as being based merely on the texts traditionally known as The Great Commission. That’s the grand narrative expounded in Christopher J H Wright’s book, “The Mission of God”.

COMMENT #12 (by David): Don’t you hate it when people who oppose Adam’s position accuse us of teaching “replacement theology”? If ever there was a bad description of consistent Biblical theology, surely that is one.

COMMENT #13 (by David): Often overlooked when Christians are debating this theological topic: The suffering of Palestinian Christians. Brethren – pray for them.

COMMENT #14 (by Adam): David, thank you for your comments. Yes, world evangelization was a Biblical goal long before Jesus delivered what is known as the Great Commission. I also understand what you’re saying about the common accusation of teaching “replacement theology.” This phrase seems to be used quite often as a cop-out or a conversation stopper. Ironically, those who use it as a weapon often assign promises made to the Church to either the modern nation of Israel or to the Jewish people as a race, the majority of whom are completely separated from Christ, in whom all promises are fulfilled. In effect, then, it’s the Church that becomes (at least in part) “replaced.”

I also agree with you about the plight of Palestinian Christians. Their suffering is not only far too often overlooked, but is even perpetuated by hardline Zionist policies which are rabidly supported by many American professing Christians. But that’s perhaps a subject for another time and place. Indeed, let’s pray for them.

COMMENT #15 (by Nadia): Unfortunately, I don’t have any thoughts to add. This was our last week’s assignment and I am behind 😦 Maybe later I will put my two cents 🙂

COMMENT #16 (by Dan): ‎? I guess I needed to be more specific. I didn’t use the word ‘Israel’ to mean the current political entity in the Holy Land. That seems to be the assumption behind the questions. God called the descendants of Jacob, “Israel’, regardless of whether they were living in the promised land or not. For example, the prophet Ezekiel was among the captives of Judah in Babylon, long after the northern tribes were taken captive by Assyria. He used the word “Israel’ almost 200 times. It looks like most of those times were the words of God talking to Israel and calling them ‘Israel’ even though they weren’t in their land. That’s the meaning I intended.

All Israel (all ethnic Jews) haven’t been saved (received eternal life). All the Church has been saved, or they wouldn’t be the Church. So, I meant Israel, as a whole, isn’t guaranteed eternal life. This doesn’t exclude Abraham, Moses, David, etc. from attaining it. The problem with contrasting Israel and the Church is that there is a lot of overlap between the two, as well as the contrasts. The Church wasn’t something completely separate from Israel. God gave the New Covenant to Israel, but called Gentiles to be a part, also, as wild olive branches grafted into the natural olive tree (Romans 11). God didn’t create a whole new tree, He grafted us into the old one. That’s why the parallel passages from Moses and Peter make perfect sense. At the same time, God does have covenants with ethnic Israel that are irrevocable (also Romans 11). Caboose…

COMMENT #17 (by Adam): Dan, thank you for following up on your previous comment, and for addressing some of my (and Mike’s) questions. OK, so I think we’re clear now that you believe that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people, and that this chosen people is distinct from God’s other chosen people, the Church. You and I have talked briefly about dispensationalism in the past, but I know that it’s this system (invented by John Nelson Darby in the 1830’s) which holds that Israel and the Church are distinct, with each entity having separate (although some overlapping) promises.

To me, the parallel language used by Moses (Exodus 19) and Peter (I Peter 2) only makes sense if the Church now IS Israel, and if outside of the Church there is no Israel (regardless of the fact that a political entity bears that name today).

You said that God grafted Gentile believers into God’s natural olive tree. However, was/is the olive tree natural or spiritual? I believe it’s spiritual, and that it’s the natural branches (the Jews) who, because they didn’t believe in Christ, were cut off from the tree (Romans 11:17-24) but can be grafted in on an individual basis if they believe on Christ (verse 23). The grafting in of Gentiles is likewise on an individual basis, only for those who believe. You also said that the New Covenant was given to Israel, which you have defined as referring to ethnic Jews. Surely we agree, though, that unbelieving Jews have nothing to do with the New Covenant, right? The New Covenant was established through Christ’s work on the cross. Also, in response to what you said, what exactly are the covenants that God maintains with ethnic Israel to this day, and how do we reconcile this idea with New Testament teaching (see previous comments) that all spiritual blessings belong to the Church and that all promises are fulfilled in Christ (and therefore none are fulfilled outside of Christ)?

In any case, the words of Moses and Peter simply cannot be true of ethnic Jews as a whole or for anyone who does not belong to Christ. So the question remains: If ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people at this present time, where does the New Testament express the purpose for which they are chosen? On the other hand, here is what the New Testament has to say about God’s chosen people and why they are chosen (I did a quick Bible Concordance search for NT passages speaking of God’s chosen ones in a corporate sense):

[1] “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14; see verses 1-13 for context).

[2] “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you” (John 15:16).

[3] “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19).

[4] “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him…” (Ephesians 1:3-4; see also verses 5-14 for an even fuller description of what belongs to God’s chosen people).

[5] See also Ephesians 2:11-22 [The word “chosen” is not used, but this passage speaks of God bringing those who were far off (Gentiles) “near by the blood of Christ,” creating “one new man”, “one body,” and breaking down the wall of hostility that separated them (us) from the “the commonwealth of Israel” and “the covenants of promise.”]

[6] “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…” (Colossians 3:11-12).

[7] “As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:4-10).

Clearly God’s chosen people, according to these passages, are strictly those who belong to Christ. It’s all about bearing spiritual fruit, not being of this world, having every single spiritual blessing, being holy and blameless, being God’s own special possession, proclaiming His excellencies to those who are in darkness, receiving mercy, etc. None of these things can be true for unbelieving Jews, or for the Jewish race as a whole. So where is the evidence in the New Testament that all ethnic Jews are chosen for any unique purpose at all? What are they presently chosen for?

COMMENT #18 (by Dan): I guess John Nelson Darby organized ideas in the 1830’s about Bible dispensations to a greater degree than previously, but he didn’t invent it. Writings about various ‘dispensations’ (also called ‘economies’) in the Bible goes back to Justin Martyr (110-165 A.D.), Irenaeus (130-200 A.D.), Clement of Alexandria, who specified 4 dispensations (150-220 A.D.), and Augustine (354-530 A.D.). Some of them were even premillenialists, believing that Jerusalem and the Temple had to be rebuilt because of prophecies about the Antichrist. Nearer to Darby, Pierre Poiret (1646-1719) wrote a 6-volume systematic theology that included 7 dispensations. John Edwards (1637-1716) wrote a 2-volume systematic theology titled “A Complete History or Survey of All the Dispensations”. Isaac Watts (1674-1748) wrote about 6 dispensations. Even the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians refers to a future dispensation: “… the dispensation of the fullness of times…” (Eph. 1:10). That would be the last dispensation, sometimes called ‘the eternal state’.

Actually, I’ve never warmed up to the term, ‘Dispensationalism”. It’s never made sense to me to focus so much on dispensations. If someone says that I’m a dispensationalist, I think, “OK, whatever.” I also don’t think much about ‘Covenantalism’, the antithesis of Dispensationalism. I can’t get into the debate about whether to focus on dispensations or covenants. I see them both in the Bible, and I don’t understand this whole thing about drawing a line in the sand and lining up on one side or the other. I think it’s much more important to focus on whether to take the words of the Bible literally or to take them symbolically. And I realize that some of the differences between Dispensationalism and Covenantalism DO involve this. Dispensationalists tend to take the Bible literally and Covenantalists tend to allegorize the Bible. I read recently that any kind of ‘ism’ in systematic theology has problem scriptures. I suppose that’s true. Some dispensationalists are realizing the necessity to fine-tune some of their doctrine. They’re called Progressive Dispensationalists. Mostly, they’re realizing that Classic Dispensationalism makes too much distinction between Israel and the Church and that they shouldn’t keep them distinct forever. Some Covenantalists are also realizing the necessity to fine-tune some of their doctrine. They’re called Progressive Covenantalists, and they realize that they can’t just allegorize the wealth of specific details in all the prophecies about Israel’s future, including their national restoration in their land. I’ve also read that anyone’s beliefs about Israel indicate whether they’re a Dispensationalist of a Covenantalist. That’s actually not true. After reading some of Stephen Sizers articles on his website, I read a couple books by his friend, David Pawson, defending Christian Zionism. I was really suprised to find out that David Pawson, even though he is a Christian Zionist, is NOT a dispensationalist, and very much against dispensationalism. So, I find this whole ‘ism’ thing in systematic theology not very helpful in understanding things. Caboose time again (that pesky Post Office)…

COMMENT #19 (by Adam): Dan, I also don’t have a problem with seeing a few different ages or dispensations in history. I understand that some in the past have seen three dispensations: law (up until Christ), grace (this present age), and kingdom/eternal state. Others have seen four: patriarchal, Mosaic, Church age, Zionic and/or kingdom age. Darby, however, is credited even by Classic Dispensationalists as having developed the modern system of dispensationalism. You’re correct that some now favor Progressive Dispensationalism (which I’m not really sure how to define), and that some Christian Zionists are not classic dispensationalists.

Beyond the breaking up of history into ages (dispensations), the key component of dispensationalism seems to be the distinction between national Israel and the Church, as well as the assertion that God’s promises to national Israel have never been fulfilled but will be in the future. Another key component is the idea that this present Church age is an unforeseen parenthesis (interruption) in God’s program with national Israel, which He will allegedly fully resume during a future 7-year Tribulation period after the Church is taken away (raptured). According to classic dispensationalism, the “Tribulation saints” will somehow be saved without the work of the Holy Spirit (the restrainer of II Thess. 2), who will have been removed from the earth together with the Church. John Nelson Darby also championed the idea that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people, even if they reject Christ. It’s these ideas that I personally reject more so than the breaking up of history into different ages (although I also don’t believe that there will be a future earthly kingdom based out of Jerusalem–premillennialism, nor do I believe that the Great Tribulation is future or that it was ever said to be 7 years in length).

Anyway, as much as I’m happy to discuss dispensationalism, I hope this topic doesn’t become a rabbit trail leading away from the specific topic at hand:

“Who are God’s chosen people? Does He have one chosen people or two, and for what purpose are they chosen?”

Dispensationalism is related in a way, though, since Darby (and C.I. Scofield after him) did so much to promote the idea that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people. So feel free to respond to what I’ve written here about dispensationalism, but if at all possible I’d like to hear from you (and anyone else who shares your viewpoint) why you believe that even unbelieving Jews remain among God’s chosen people. That is, for what purpose are they presently chosen? In particular, I’d like to know which New Testament texts express this idea. Feel free to invite anyone else here to tackle this question.

COMMENT #20 (by Dan): I agree with much of what you said here. I’ve also heard that the Church age is an unforeseen parenthesis, and that God will someday ‘resume’ His program with Israel. Completely untrue. Even back at the beginning, when God first called Abraham, He promised him that all the families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham’s one, specific seed/descendent – which we know is Jesus. “All the families of the earth” reaches way out beyond the promised land to include the whole planet, and reaches way out beyond one particular line of the sons of Shem to include all men. The church would only be ‘unforeseen’ to someone ignorant of the Bible. And God’s dealings with ethnic Israel doesn’t have to ‘resume’ because it was never put on hold to begin with. God’s dealings with ethnic Israel during their diaspora/dispersion were fully explained by Moses in Leviticus 26 and elsewhere, so rather than being on hold, the program of God for Israel has been ongoing in just the way the Bible said it would.

You’re also correct that the Great Tribulation was never said to be 7 years in length. We’ve heard the phrase “seven-year Tribulation” so often that many think it comes from the Bible. It doesn’t. It comes from people thinking that the entire 70th week of Daniel is the Tribulation, but there’s no Biblical reason to think that. And you brought up the teaching that the ‘Tribulation saints’ will be saved without the work of the Holy Spirit. Right – saved without the Holy Spirit. Where do people come up with this stuff? It’d be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Christians should know better.

“Who are God’s chosen people? Does He have one chosen people or two?” Answering that with either a simple “one” or “two” could be misunderstood and misleading and wouldn’t communicate effectively or satisfactorily. The answer has to have more information with it than just one word. It has to also include some explanation. So, the best answer I can think of right now is to say that God has one chosen group and one group of chosen individuals. This is a very important distinction! We’re not comparing apples with apples here, or even apples with oranges – we’re comparing apples with trees. Again, God has one chosen group and one group of chosen individuals – and the chosen group is chosen for different purposes than the chosen individuals are chosen for. I think the distinction is profound. There’s no reason to think that God has to unchoose the group before He starts choosing the individuals. As I said before, God can have more than one plan in operation at one time. He’s God.

Israel was chosen as a nation, not as individuals – chosen as a group, irregardless of what any specific individuals within the group did or didn’t do; or what they believed or didn’t believe. God chose to bring about certain results/purposes through this chosen nation-group as a whole. He blessed them as a whole and judged them as a whole. It was primarily the whole – ‘the big picture’.

The church, however, is chosen one at a time, individually, and not as a group, a nation, or a people. They’re randomly scattered and completely unrelated. Like Peter said, “once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people“. 1Pt.2:10

Why did God choose ethnic Israel?
And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them;…” Deut. 4:37
The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples;
“but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers
,…” Deut. 7:7,8
The LORD delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day.” Deut. 10:15

What about now?
“…they are still the beloved (dear to Him) for the sake of their forefathers.
“For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call
.] Rom. 11:28,29 Amplified.

After Jesus came, was there still a legitimate expectation that God would still restore national Israel according to the words of the prophets? The disciples asked Him about this in Acts 1:6, “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus didn’t tell them that God wasn’t dealing with the nation of Israel anymore. He said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” In other words, God has decided when the restoration of Israel will happen, but is keeping that timetable to himself right now.

Caboose.

COMMENT #21 (by Manuel): To say that God loves the Jewish people more than any other is a racist statement. God chose Abraham as an example of the faith people and his seed or people of faith (in Jesus specifically for our time). Jesus himself wept over Israel’s decision not to follow Him. that He came unto his own but His own did not receive him. So what did Jesus do – He chose those who would believe in Him. Remember when Jesus’ 1/2 brothers and sisters came looking for Him. Jesus said to the onlookers – “But he answered and said unto him tahat told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Mat 12:48-50
So Jesus did not respect a blood line. He only sees a spiritual line to believers.

There is another principle we have to consider: God is not a respector of persons. And by the same token of nations, or creeds, or whatever.
God the Father is no respecter of persons, and He will not be showing any type of partiality or favoritism to any man or woman He has ever created.
Acts 10:34, Gal 2:6, Deut 10:17, 1 Peter 1:17

Now let’s look at the Jewish response to Jesus according to Jesus himself:

Matt 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”  Verse 38 “Behold your house is left desolate.”
Verse 39 “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

On verse 39 – Jesus is saying that He will not be seen by the Jewish people until they individually can see Him as the Savior. In other words, until they become his spiritual children, not his physical ethnic group. Please remember that God does not save nations, He only saves individuals from nations. God will not wait for the whole nation to change its mind. If I have already decided to follow him now, I am accepted when I say yes to Him. When I say yes, then I am included into His spiritual family and become a child of God. Now I can rightly say that I am his brethren as noted in Mat 12:50.

I can’t make this more clear than using the Lord’s own words from the word of God.

I think that we as believers should concentrate more on the lost than to wait around for the Jewish nation to repent and see Jesus for who He really is – messiah. There should be an outreach to the Jewish nation as other nations that do not know who the savior is. God loves all people and has children in many nations. We clearly see that God is not showing any favoritism to Israel. We can choose Jesus as savior, or eternal judgement, regardless of our ethnic background. Period.

COMMENT #22 (by Dan): ‎”To say that God loves the Jewish people more than any other is a racist statement”. I agree – who said that?

COMMENT #23 (by Adam): Dan, I’ve been meaning for some time now to reply to your response from over a week ago, but here it is finally. I appreciate your openness regarding the claims of dispensationalism, and where you stand on some of these things. It all makes for very interesting discussion, and helps in getting to know you better. At some point in the future I’d be interested in knowing how you view the 70th week of Daniel (e.g. who makes—or made—the covenant with many, who the “many” are, how the sacrifices and offerings of Daniel 9:27 are to be viewed, etc.). That’s such a pivotal prophecy.

I agree with you that no program of God’s has been postponed or put on hold, including His program with Israel. The difference we have in this regard seems to be in how we identify Israel. In the viewpoint that you’ve articulated, Israel is made up of ethnic Jews. On the other hand, I see Scripture teaching that Israel is the Church, and that outside of the Church there is no true Israel. In other words, there is only continuity, and God has never ceased to have one special and chosen people for Himself, Israel. Some passages to examine on this point are those already quoted above: Romans 2:28-29, Romans 9:6-8, and Galatians 6:15-16.

Prior to Christ’s first coming, Israel as a nation was chosen, as you have said. Still, God always had a faithful remnant, just as He has now. Even at that time, provision was made for those who were unfaithful to be cut off from among God’s people. For example:

And God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations… Every male among you shall be circumcised… So shall My covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant” (Genesis 17:9-14).

Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel” (Exodus 12:15; see also verse 19).

“…but the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the Lord’s peace offerings while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people…” (Leviticus 8:20-21).

Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the Lord… For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places” (Leviticus 23:27-31).

The ultimate cutting off from God’s people was to come upon those who reject(ed) Christ:

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to Him in whatever He tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up His servant, sent Him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness” (Acts 3:22-26).

Under the Old Covenant, God’s people weren’t as plentiful as it might seem that they were, for there were many who descended physically from Abraham but were not counted as being among God’s people, Israel, because of their unfaithfulness. God’s people were those Israelites who served Him faithfully, as well as those from other nations who joined them in this service. When John the Baptist (Matthew 3:7-12) and Jesus (e.g. John 8:37-47) refused to allow their Jewish audience to claim to be among God’s people because of their physical descent from Abraham, they really weren’t saying anything different than what Moses and the Old Testament prophets had said.

Prior to the cross, the majority of those who were counted as God’s people were ethnic Jews. God’s people today are those who belong to Christ, whether Jew or Gentile. There has been an expansion, a very intentional opening up of the gospel to the Gentiles, and today the majority of those who are counted as God’s people are Gentiles. Aside from this difference, there is also much continuity. God had a faithful remnant prior to the cross, and the same is true today.

I have to confess that I don’t understand the distinction you tried to make between God having one chosen group and one group of chosen individuals. I have pondered what you said, but I just don’t see it. You said that the chosen group (and by this, I understand that you mean ethnic Jews) is chosen for different purposes than the group of chosen individuals (the body of Christ) is chosen. But how is this true? As already shown in previous comments, “the people of Israel” (Exodus 19:3-6) were chosen for the very same purposes that the body of Christ is presently chosen (I Peter 2:9-10). You also said that the nation of Israel was chosen as a group, regardless of what individuals did/believed or didn’t do/didn’t believe. However, as shown above, provision was made to cut off faithless individuals from among that group known as Israel, so that only a faithful remnant remained (from God’s vantage point) to make up God’s people. You also said that a distinctive of the Church is that we are chosen “individually, and not as a group, a nation, or a people.” We are saved individually, yes, but our calling/purpose/choosing is certainly corporate, and we are declared by Scripture to be a people and a holy nation (e.g. Matthew 21:43, II Corinthians 6:16-17, Ephesians 2:11-22, I Peter 2:4-10).

Regarding Romans 11:28-29, the Jewish people are spoken of as “beloved for the sake of their forefathers.” This speaks of the historical significance of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, and to me it also fits with what Peter said (quoted earlier): “God, having raised up His servant, sent Him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness” (Acts 3:26). Jesus lived and ministered among the Jews, and the gospel was first made available to them, before being proclaimed throughout the nations. At the same time, “God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all” (Rom. 11:32). In other words, Jews are just as lost as anyone else without Christ (and on this I know we agree). However, the Jews are not utterly cast off, for any Jew who would turn from disobedience, drawn to Jesus by the Father (John 6:44), would receive mercy (just as any Gentile would). At that point, and at that point only, could they possibly take their place in fulfilling the purposes for which God’s people are chosen (both in ancient times and also now): to be a holy people, a nation of priests, a people for His own possession, and a light to the nations.

My response concerning Acts 1:6 will follow in the next comment…

COMMENT #24 (by Adam): Regarding Acts 1:6, you’re right that Jesus didn’t explicitly rebuke the disciples for asking a nationalistic question. Their question was similar in nature to the statement made by the two men on the way to Emmaus: “But we had hoped that He was the One to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). Jesus was patient in His reply to these two men, just as He was with the question asked by the apostles as recorded in Acts 1:6 (“Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”). In addition to His statement regarding times and seasons, part of His reply was to again prophesy of the Day of Pentecost, the giving of the Holy Spirit with power, and the mandate to be His witnesses even to the end of the earth. It’s interesting, and I would say very revealing, that after Pentecost came the apostles never again spoke of the kingdom of God in nationalistic terms. I appreciate the explanation that Stephen Sizer gives regarding Acts 1:6.

“It is interesting that in this question, the Apostles at least, see ‘Israel’ as having a separate existence as a people without sovereignty in the land. In his commentary, John Calvin writes, ‘There are as many mistakes in this question as there are words.’ John Stott, in his commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, succinctly appraises errors made:

‘The mistake they made was to misunderstand both the nature of the kingdom and the relation between the kingdom and the Spirit. Their question must have filled Jesus with dismay. Were they still so lacking in perception?… The verb, the noun and the adverb of their sentence all betray doctrinal confusion about the kingdom. For the verb restore shows they were expecting a political and territorial kingdom; the noun Israel that they were expecting a national kingdom; and the adverbial clause at this time that they were expecting its immediate establishment. In his reply (7-8) Jesus corrected their mistaken notions of the kingdom’s nature, extent and arrival.’

Since the Holy Spirit had not been given, the disciples may be forgiven for still holding to an Old Covenant understanding of the Kingdom with the reestablishment of the monarchy and liberation from the brutal colonialism of Rome. Had they been present at Jesus’ trial they might have understood things differently. Jesus explained, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place’ (John 18:36).

Jesus repudiated the notion of an earthly and nationalistic kingdom on more than one occasion (see John 6:15). This is why, in reply to the disciples, Jesus says that he has another agenda for the Apostles:

It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

The kingdom which Jesus inaugurated would, in contrast to their narrow expectations, be spiritual in character, international in membership and gradual in expansion. And the expansion of this kingdom throughout the world would specifically require their exile from the land. They must turn their backs on Jerusalem and their hopes of ruling there with Jesus in order to fulfill their new role as ambassadors of his kingdom (Matthew 20:20-28; 2 Corinthians 5:20-21). The Acts of the Apostles suggests that they needed something of a kick-start to get going. It is only when the Christians in Jerusalem experience persecution following the death of Stephen and are scattered that they begin to proclaim the gospel to others (see Acts 8:1-4). The Church was sent out into the world to make disciples of all nations but never told to return. Instead Jesus promises to be with them where ever they are in the world (Matthew 28:18-20).”

Source: http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/zcs3.pdf (pages 14-15)

COMMENT #25 (by Adam): Manuel, thank you very much for your latest response as well. I most appreciated your opening up of Matthew 23:39. This is my understanding as well, that Christ was speaking of an individual response, not a corporate one, and that both Jews and Gentiles (us included) have been responding in this way during the last 2000 years. May we continue to labor in the vineyard so that even more will do so.

COMMENT #26 (by Nadia): Adam, I think it’s time to publish a book based on these insights 🙂 looks like you have enough material!

COMMENT #27 (by Manuel ): I have to agree with Nadia on this Adam. That way we can reference from that resource.

COMMENT #28 (by Dan): Adam, I’m getting the distinct impression that we don’t completely agree on some of these things. 😉

Actually, I know that any difference of opinion in these things is just a temporary situation. Ultimately, we will see and know and understand these things in exactly the same way. Now, we know in part, but then we shall know as we are known. Imagine Stephen Sizer, Hal Lindsay, and John Hagee all being in complete agreement about Israel and the Church (OMGosh). It will happen. That’s the power of God.

It’s been awhile since I looked at anything connected with Daniel’s 70th week, so I remember generalities, but I’m a little hazy on specifics. I’ll have to look at it again, and then I’ll get back to you about it.

COMMENT #29 (by Adam): Now, Dan, what gave you that impression? 🙂 Yes, that day you’re speaking of, when we will know fully even as we have been fully known (I Cor. 13:13), is definitely something to look forward to. Very good reminder. I have to admit that the image of Sizer, Lindsay, and Hagee being in complete agreement is a startling one.

I would very much look forward to a discussion of Daniel 9:24-27, if we’re able to do so. When that time comes, it would be good to start a new discussion thread, rather than host it here in this thread. I do continue to appreciate your willingness to dig deeper on some of these things, to challenge and be challenged, etc. It’s very good exercise for the mind and spirit.

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This wraps up the discussion as it took place on Facebook. What viewpoint do you, the reader, have on this subject of the identity and purpose(s) of God’s chosen people? Are God’s chosen people the physical descendants of Abraham (ethnic Jews)? Are they the spiritual descendants of Abraham (all who belong to Christ through faith)? Do both of these groups make up God’s chosen people? In any response that you may have, please—if you are able to—make an effort to interact with the question of why God’s chosen people are presently chosen. Thank you.

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All posts on the subject of Christian Zionism can be found here.