Is God Always on Israel’s Side? (Part 2)

Earlier, Acts 13:32-39 was quoted, but not in its entirety. When the complete quote is included, we see that the early church Dreidel God Israel Christ Kingdom landproclaimed more than the fact that Christ is the fulfillment of Israel, He is the realization of the Son of God. As such, Christ is also the fulfillment of the kingdom. So, Acts 13:34 offers this prophecy from God about Jesus: “I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.”

Talk of David in the Bible is always significant because David represents the fulfillment of Old Testament Kingdom promises. David is the prototypical king of Israel. This prophecy fulfilled in Acts 13 is an acknowledgement that Jesus has come as the King of the Israel of God.  Thus, our contemporary over-emphasis on the national entity of Israel is a diminishing of the glory of the eternal kingdom which has already begun for God’s people in Jesus Christ.

The issue of emphasis in the New Testament is not national, nor ethnic, and it isn’t even about a parcel of land; the issue is Christ the king and His kingdom people who are “in him” by faith.  There is still a future fulfillment in Christ at the consummation of His kingdom, which brings about the new heavens, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem from above.  So, the Apostle Paul was able to speak of a new reality in Galatians 6:15-16,

“For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”

Clearly, the Apostle Paul makes Christ’s faithful out to be the true Israel of God. The reason is that those born again are “in Christ.” Those in Christ are in the true Israel of God. They are the fulfillment of the kingdom promises of the Old and New Testament.  Thus, the Apostle Peter would say of us who are in Christ,

1 Peter 2:9, But you are a Chosen Race, a Royal Priesthood, A Holy Nation, A People for God’s own Possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God…

The people of God—God’s Holy nation—is not Israel, but us who belong to Christ. The kingdom belongs to Christ and to those to whom He gives it. Jesus died the “King of the Jews,” and when He rose again and ascended into heaven, he guaranteed a new future which inextricably sewed heaven and earth together into a new reality which He will complete on His return.

Star of David Israel Nation Christ KingdomNotice the significance of each point in 1 Peter 2:9. Christians now are the “chosen race,” first mentioned in Isaiah 43:20.  Christians are now the “royal priesthood and holy nation” of Exodus 19:6.  [Yes! Christians are the nation of God’s favor.] Christians are now the “people for God’s own possession,” mentioned first in Exodus 19:5. In short, Christians are the children of God, the chosen for His kingdom.  Thus, no one [including Jews living in the land of Israel]—no one can come to the Father except through His son, Jesus (John 14:6). Christians are those who have thus come to the Father.

The original covenant promise from God came to Abraham. It was through Abraham that Isaac (the child of promise) and Jacob (the father of the 12 tribes of Israel) came about. The faith of Abraham is completed in the coming of Jesus Christ. So, again, Paul the Jew would say, “Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7-8). “So, those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”

From the beginning, Abraham was to serve as a light to the nations, and, in Abraham, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. They were originally blessed through the light of Abraham’s offspring–Israel, which shone (in varying degrees of darkness) until the arrival of the true Israel of God: God’s only begotten Son, Jesus. Now that Christ has come, everything has changed into a glorious reality of his eternal kingdom.

If you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s descendant, an heir according to the promise (Galatians 3:29).  If you are in Christ, “You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…” (Hebrews 12:22).  In short, all the promises of God (including those in the Old Testament) are “yes and amen” in Christ Jesus.

To Be Continued Again? What about the future of national Israel? Stay tuned.

(In the meantime, you may want to read, “Is the Holy Land Really Holy?”)

Is the Holy Land Really Holy?

Is it okay to watch a movie in your church sanctuary? What about the Holy Land, is it really holy? These are but two of the practical questions I sprung on my Sunday school class recently. How would you answer?

Your answer would betray your allegiance to your concept of sacred space.  Do you believe there are places on the

Sacred Space Tremper Longman

Book by Tremper Longman on Sacred Space

earth which God particularly esteems?  Recently, I posted on a chapel dilemma facing Muslims in Denver.  The question of sacred space came up in that post because Muslims were separating into a different room from Christians, presumably for the sake of holiness.  Do we Christians recognize any place on earth as more holy than any other place?  Or, put more bluntly, is the sanctuary the actual house of God?

To answer these questions, simply turn to John 4, the story in which Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman at the well. You might remember the important answer Jesus gives her concerning worship: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

The significance of his answer is seen in the context of the woman’s question. She had asked Jesus about the proper place of worship: Was the proper place of worship in Jerusalem or on Mt. Gerizim? Sacred space was the issue she addressed.  Jesus’s answer was that the Father demanded sacred people, people set apart by the Spirit through the truth of the gospel.

The question of sacred space had taken a decidedly different turn upon the arrival of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was called Immanuel (which means God with us). Jesus was God coming to the earth to dwell among us (John 1:14).  The presence of God was not limited to any place, but, rather, was enshrined in this one man from heaven, Jesus Christ.

Therefore, those longing to be in the presence of God need not make a trip to Jerusalem to the temple.  All they need is to be with Jesus.  Wherever Jesus lives, there is the unique presence of God on the earth.

So, sacred space is anywhere and everywhere the sacred people (saints) happen to be.  The temple of Christ’s body is actually the church (1 Corinthians 6).  He tore down the old temple and raised it up three days later. Christ now dwells in the presence of His people. Thus—because Christ is present with His people—His people make up a new and living temple, one not made by human hands. Each person who is in Christ is a living stone in the temple of God.  Sacred space is anywhere and everywhere you find the church.

Therefore, the building in which Christians gather is not necessarily any more or any less sacred than the building which houses the local coffeehouse. Not coincidentally, many churches meet in coffeehouses and bookstores, clothing shops and even restaurants and bars.  The place is not sacred unless the people are sacred (filled with the Spirit and the truth).  If the people are sacred, then the place will be, too, so long as the people are gathered there in faith.

In other words, God doesn’t meet with His people in the sanctuary because the sanctuary is His house.  God meets with His people in the sanctuary because that happens to be the place where his saints have gathered.

Movies can be watched by the church for the glory of God in the sanctuary, but the concept of a Holy Land is obsolete in Christ whose kingdom extends over all the earth (Matthew 28).

I am curious as to whether this makes sense to you? It can be a little confusing. So, as always, your thoughts are appreciated.