Israel

Spiritual Israel

February 15, 2011 by Menashe Dovid מנשה דוד

©by Menashe Dovid ben Avraham

The term “Spiritual Israel” is an expression that cannot be found in either the Jewish Scriptures known as the TaNaCh (Torah[T], Prophets[N] and Writings[C]) or what Christians would call the ‘Old Testament’. “Spiritual Israel” like the expression “Trinity” is not found in the so called ‘New Testament’ or the so called ‘Old Testament’ either. Rather the expressions; “Spiritual Israel” and “Trinity” are based upon a gathering of selected verses used from both Old and New Testaments to establish a theological concept. One part of the theological concept is made by the New Testament with respect to “Spiritual Israel”; is that prior to the cross, Gentiles were excluded from the citizenship of ‘Physical Israel’ and after the cross, both Jew and Gentile, if they believe in Jesus, are part of “Spiritual Israel”. Through the cross and belief in Jesus, both Jew and Gentile are equal because citizenship no longer depends on keeping “commandments and regulations” because they have been “abolished in his (Jesus’) flesh”.

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)- remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. (Eph 2:11-16)

The abandonment of the law and in its place “Jesus and his sacrifice” now for Jews also, is emphasized by Paul in Romans 7, speaking to Jews he says:

Do you not know, brothers[Jews]-for I am speaking to men who know the law[Jews]-that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Rom 7:1-6)

Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed…..Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,….There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:23, 25, 26, 28)

Paul makes a similar argument in Galatians 4. In Galatians 4:24 it is clear that Hagar represents the Old Covenant established at Mt. Sinai which means slavery for its children. “These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.” In v. 28 Paul says that his fellow believers are not children of this Old Covenant yoke of slavery, but are the children of New Covenant freedom. In v. 30 Paul tells Christians to “cast out” Hagar who represents the Old Covenant of slavery. What does this accomplish? “Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman” (v. 31). Christians are free from all the laws of the Old Covenant not just the ceremonial ones. The “yoke of slavery” referred to in 5:1 must be the same yoke of slavery that Paul has been referring to in 4:21-31 and that is the whole Old Covenant. “These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.” Were only the ceremonial commandments from Mount Sinai? No, the Ten Commandments and all the other commandments were from Mount Sinai. Hagar represents the entire Old Covenant and Christians are to cast out that entire covenant in order to become children of freedom.

The bottom line for both Jews and Gentiles who do not have this “new” faith in Jesus is that they are doomed:

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned…..”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life…..”I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (Mark 16:16, John 3:16, John 5:24)

An evangelical paradigm[1] of ‘spiritual Israel’, is that salvation is now much narrower because there is no salvation except for those who accept Jesus as their personal savior. According to the paradigm, Jesus’ coming caused myriads of formerly saved Jews and gentile God-fearers to slip into perdition or least into an eternal jeopardy because the basis of salvation had changed and narrowed with Jesus’ incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, or ascension. The year before Jesus died and rose, faithful Jews and God-fearers needed only seek to live faithful to God, trusting in His faithfulness to Israel and in the provisions he had made through the Temple sacrifices. Under such an arrangement, certainly there must have been tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of Jews whose status with God was assured, in this life and the next. But according to the New Testament, with the coming of Jesus, all that changed! Now, according to the prevailing paradigm, all of these Jews AND non-Jews were fundamentally lost, unless and until they accepted Jesus as their personal Savior. The evangelical paradigm still requires Jews AND non-Jews to accept Jesus as their personal Savior or they are doomed. The evangelical paradigm means that human substitutionary atonement (before atonement using just animals is one part of the religion of Israel), now becomes a sole basis for a whole new religion/ faith for the new “Spiritual Israel”.

Questions for the inquiring mind center around what the Jewish Scriptures actually say. Do the Jewish Scriptures exclude the worship and participation of non-Jews in the Temple for example? If human substitutionary atonement is so vital and important, where is this spelled out in the Torah? Is the New Testament treatment and use of the Jewish Scriptures honest? Is there evidence in the Jewish Scriptures to show that such a radical change in covenant and/ or citizenship is to take place as the New Testament claims? Have the Jewish people been replaced as the people of G-d?

The ‘new’ New Covenant?

The writers of the New Testament (see Hebrews 10) would have us believe that the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31 was fulfilled by Jesus’ incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, or ascension 2000 years ago. The New Covenant of Jeremiah 31 is however, in the future, in a messianic age. During the times of Jesus, there was no House of Israel in existence because Assyria had exiled the Kingdom of Israel more than 700 years earlier (approx. 732 B.C.E.). Moreover, in the first century CE the Jewish people were spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. Thus, even the “House of Judah” was not all in the Promised Land during the times of Jesus. The giving of the New Covenant to the “House of Israel and the House of Judah” (v30) is obviously referring to a future event that clearly indicates that Jeremiah is speaking to a restored and fully ingathered people.

7 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the uttermost parts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together; a great company shall they return hither.

Objections that Jeremiah 31 does not point to a yet future messianic age includes an argument that Jer 31:7 above, was fulfilled by the return of the House of Judah from the Babylonian exile. The argument however, goes against a theme often repeated throughout Jeremiah. The theme describes a future return far superior to the exodus from Egypt (see Jer 16:14; 23:7, 8; 31:32). The inferior nature of the return of the House of Judah from the Babylonian exile with that of the exodus from Egypt being expressed by Nehemiah 9:36 below:

36. Behold, today we are slaves, and the land that You gave our forefathers to eat its fruit and its goodness-behold we are slaves upon it. (Nehemiah 9:36)

Sin, Torah and Human Sacrifice

Romans 8:3(KJV) – For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [See also 1 Tm 3:1-6; 1 Jo 4:2.]

18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 1 Peter 3:18 (New International Version)

Characterizing the death of Jesus on the cross as any kind of sacrifice would render it to be a human sacrifice and a clear violation of Torah. Heathen Semitic worship was cruel, often requiring human victims. In absolute contrast, the Torah forbids human sacrifice:

Leviticus 18:21 – And you shall not give any of your offspring to pass through the fire for Molech, and shall not profane the name of your G-d; I am the L-rd. [See also Deut 18:10, Jer 7:31, Ezek 23:37-39.]

31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God; for every abomination to the LORD, which He hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters do they burn in the fire to their gods. Deut 12

Deuteronomy 24:16 – Fathers shall not be put to death because of children, nor shall children be put to death for fathers; each person shall be put to death for his own sin. [See also Exod 32:31-33; Num 35:33.]

2 Kings 14:6 – And the sons of the assassins he did not execute, as it is written in the book of the Torah of Moses, which the L-rd commanded saying: “Fathers shall not be put to death for sons, nor shall sons be put to death for fathers, but each man shall be put to death for his own sin.” [See also Jer 31:29{30 in Christian Bibles}; Ezek 18:4, 20; Ps 49:7-8.]

Human vicarious atonement is strictly prohibited. Each person is accountable for his or her own sins:

20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father with him, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son with him; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. 21 But if the wicked turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all My statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22 None of his transgressions that he hath committed shall be remembered against him; for his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. 23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD; and not rather that he should return from his ways, and live? 24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? None of his righteous deeds that he hath done shall be remembered; for his trespass that he trespassed, and for his sin that he hath sinned, for them shall he die. Ezek 18:20-24.

Israeli Citizenship

The word Jew is indeed derived from the tribe of Judah which is one of the 12 tribes of the nation of Israel. A read of Nehemiah/ Ezra shows that the term “Jew” later became synonymous with remnant of both the house of Israel (10 tribes) and the house of Judah (which later included Benjamin and Levi). G-d told Abraham that he would make Abraham a great nation not a great religion. The Jews then and now are indeed the remnant of the nation of Israel and are therefore chosen by virtue of Jews being a nation. In the New Testament, Paul knew that Judaism is a nation and he expresses the difficulty of obtaining citizenship in Eph 2. Along with Eph 2, Paul attempts to modify the New Covenant of Jer 31 (which is future because the Houses of Israel / Judah have yet to be gathered) to fit into a new criteria for Israeli citizenship by a new faith in Jesus, by virtue of Jesus being a god/ human sacrifice (See Rom 7 speaking to Jews and Gal 4). Nationhood is something altogether different from a religion and the terms of nationhood are spelled out at Sinai by virtue of Torah laws which have not changed / abrogated as Paul claims. The same Torah laws delivered at Sinai are observed by Jews to this very day. Nowhere will you find such a thing as believing in the god/ human sacrifice as the new terms of citizenship for Israel (for both Jew and Gentile). Gentiles and Jews are both deceived if they think they are Citizens of Israel by being believers of Jesus.

A Theologian Speaks

The question should arise, then, for those Adventists who still hold the suppersessionist view: If the church has replaced Israel, then which church? And if we answer, “the church consisting of the early Christians in Paul’s time,” we should then realize that at that time the church did not yet exist as a separate entity. Christianity was still a Jewish phenomenon taking place in the spiritual confines of Israel. Or if we refer to an invisible “remnant” we should also recognize that this is not a replacement, since there has always existed a remnant. This invisible “new” remnant is at most a continuation of the old. But whatever answer we may give to the question, we are still embarrassed because of the long span of time between those early Christians and the Adventist Church. (Jacques Doukhan – The Mystery of Israel)

In the quote above from Jacques Doukhan’s book “The Mystery of Israel” we have a very honest statement and a very boastful claim. The honest statement is with respect to the embarrassment of an ‘invisible “new” remnant” or an invisible Israel (or Church?). The invisible Israel has been invisible, if we take Samuel Bachiochi’s view that Sabbath changed from Saturday to Sunday circa 135CE in Rome and the Seventh day Adventist Church formed circa 1860CE, for almost one thousand seven hundred and twenty five years! The very boastful claim is that now the invisible Israel is now visible, in the form of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. A liberal use of the New Testament by Jacques Doukhan’s in his book also provides an answer to the invisible Israel or the invisible new remnant. The answer being that the devil has successfully suppressed the invisible Israel or the invisible new remnant for such a long time (1725 years or so) but now no more! The liberal use of the New Testament by Jacques Doukhan is typical of theologian’s selective choice to ignore what the Jewish scriptures say concerning Israel. In particular a continuous very visibly identifiable Israel (as shown admitted even in the most anti-Semitic of world history accounts), right up until and beyond the messianic era is pointed out in Deuteronomy 30:1-10:

Deuteronomy 30:1-10

“1 And it shall be that all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse that I have set down before you, and you will bring it to your heart amongst all the nations that the Lord your God has driven you. 2 And you shall return unto the Lord your God and you shall hearken to His voice according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul. 3 And the Lord your God will return your captivity and He will have compassion upon you, and he will return and gather you from all the nations that the Lord your God has scattered you there. 4 If your outcasts be at the ends of the heaven, from there will the Lord your God gather you and from there will He fetch you. 5 And the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your ancestors inherited and you shall inherit it, and He will do you good and He will multiply you more than your ancestors. 6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your children to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul for the sake of your life. 7 And the Lord your God shall place all these curses upon your enemies and upon those that hate you who have persecuted you. 8 And you will return and hearken to the voice of the Lord and you shall do all His commandments that I command you today. 9 And the Lord your God will make you plenteous in all the work of your hands, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your land, for good, for the Lord will turn to rejoice over you for good just as he rejoiced over your ancestors. 10 When you hearken to the voice of the Lord your God to keep His commandments and statutes which are written in this book of teaching, when you return to the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 30:1-10).

In Deuteronomy 30:1-10, God sets down before His people a passage which gives a clear portrait of the Messianic era. The clear portrait is not one that is ambiguous and murky. Rather, God used sharp and well-defined brush strokes to paint this portrait. From the passage, the return of Israel to her land will be precipitated by her repentance. The passage teaches that repentance means turning back to obedience of God’s law as Moses taught it (i.e. all 613 commandments). The passage also teaches that repentance is effective even when Israel is in exile and when it is not possible to bring a blood offering. Further, the passage shows that God will accept exiled Israel’s repentance even before He circumcises their heart. Finally, from the passage it is learned that the commandments that Moses taught us, will be fully observed in the Messianic era. Theologians presentations of the Jewish arguments are often inaccurate at best. In stark contradistinction, Christianity teaches that Israel’s return to the teachings of Moses, will play no part in the ushering in of the Messianic era (cf Mal 4:4 – 6). Christianity teaches that repentance without a blood offering is not accepted by God. Also, the Church teaches that with the advent of Christianity, the law of Jesus has superseded the Law of Moses. How do theologians answer the Scriptural challenges from the passage, to the doctrines of Christianity?

Theologians claim that after the advent of Jesus, the central issue is; believing in Jesus, obeying Jesus, following Jesus and honoring Jesus. Speaking of the ‘inferiority’ of Israel’s high-priests when compared to the High priesthood of Jesus, Hebrews states, “The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless…”

Theologians often say that there is a divergence of views amongst followers of Jesus. Some Theologians understand that obedience to Torah which the passage speaks of, is a reference to obedience and faith in Jesus. Other theologians say that other followers of Jesus believe that the passage, a Scriptural prophecy, will never be fulfilled because of Israel’s failures. Both of these positions are openly refuted by the text. Moses told the people that they will return to obey God, “according to all that I (Moses) command you (Eternal Israel) today”. These words were spoken by Moses more than 1000 years before Jesus was born. Moses made it clear that he expected the last generation of Jews to look back to him (Moses) as their ultimate teacher, and that he expected them to follow his commandments as they were understood on the day he presented them to Israel. These words of Moses clearly preclude the Christian belief that Jesus is the ultimate teacher, and that the teachings of Jesus are somehow superior to the teachings of Moses. The second position that Theologians attributes to followers of Jesus, is also invalidated by the passage itself. The passage opens with words: “And it shall be that all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse…” The curse that Moses is referring to is the curse that God warned would befall Israel should they fail to obey His voice. How then can one make the claim that on account of Israel’s failure to obey God, the Scriptural prophecy will never be fulfilled? The Scriptural prophecy clearly predicts Israel’s failure to obey and tells how, after Israel’s failure, Israel will ultimately return to God. It is clear that God took Israel’s failures into consideration when He encouraged Israel with these words, and God’s promises are irrevocable. The two Christian explanations that theologians offer readers of the passage are therefore, clearly refuted by the words of the passage itself. Theologians, therefore do not even begin to provide a textual justification for the Christian interpretation of Deuteronomy 30. The real question is: What do the Hebrew Scriptures teach? This passage in Deuteronomy clearly teaches that Israel’s repentance is the precursor of the Messianic age, this passage teaches that repentance is efficacious while Israel is still in exile, and this passage clearly teaches that the Law of Moses, as Moses taught it, is going to be observed in the Messianic era. Each of these issues is central to the debate between Judaism and Christianity.

The nation of Israel pre-dates the Christian religion, a Christians lack of nationality, by the claim of Paul (Eph 2), is procured/ rectified/ established by the sacrifice/ resurrection/ ascension of Jesus as part of a “new” covenant. The “new” covenant as clearly stated by the New Testament now clearly excludes BOTH Jew and Gentile from salvation if they are not a believer of Jesus:

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned…..”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life…..”I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (Mark 16:16, John 3:16, John 5:24)

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Notes

1. The idea of savior in the NT conveys the idea that one is saved from ones sins and so the fusion of messiah (משיח) with savior (משיע)(Jesus / Yeshua) is very deceptive indeed. However, a look up of the word משיע (savior) in the Jewish scriptures shows up over 250 times and consistently carries the idea of being saved from ones enemies and NOT to be saved from sin!

An example in point of how the focus is changed 180 degrees is given by Paul’s twisting of scripture:

26 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; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” Rom 11 NKJV

Now compare where it comes from in the same Christian bible translation:

20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” Says the Lord. Isaiah 59:20 NKJV

See how they are completely opposite? In the twisted version, Paul makes his case for a divine messiah who does it all for you on the basis that a person is incapable of doing anything (cf John 6:44).

The whole idea that man’s salvation focuses soley around one man’s vicarious substitutionary atonement is a NT one. (see See Acts 8:35, Luke 22:37 and Matthew 8:17, Romans 5:18; John 1:29 and 1 John 2:2)

It is however, the Christian’s prior doctrinal commitments projected onto and applied to the Hebrew Bible in general (and Isaiah 53 in particular) which Christians assume is G-d’s message to every sinner and to the Jews especially.

Moreover, such an idea of human atonement is against what the Torah teaches. The major foundational component of atonement that is missing from Christianity is how Teshuvah (repentance) is initiated at least by the death and/ or suffering of someone else or even a nation. Suffering of someone else or a nation to initiate Teshuvah is never vicarious or substitutionary, however! Teshuvah of the Kings of nations, as with case of Isaiah[Isaiah 52:15b-53:3] for example, is elicited by virtue of the Kings witnessing the death and/ or suffering of the servant nation Israel and acknowledging /correcting their ways. Therefore, in God’s plan, Israel’s sufferings have been to the benefit of the other nations at least in part to an acknowledgment by the nations that Israel has been the true servant of God all along!

Animal sacrifice has always been permitted and post Sinai only under extremely limited and controlled circumstances as to time, place[Lev 17:2-5] and intention as detailed by the Torah. Certain sacrifices are brought purely for the purpose of communing with God and becoming closer to Him. Others are brought for the purpose of expressing thanks, love, or gratitude to God. Others are used to cleanse a person of ritual impurity (which does not necessarily have anything to do with sin). And yes, some sacrifices are brought for purposes of atonement. The messianic era does have sacrifices if Jer 33:15-18 is considered.

So what about human sacrifice?

1 Thus says the LORD: The heaven is My Throne, and the earth is My Footstool, where is the house that you may build unto Me? And where is the place that may be My resting-place? 2 For all These things has My hand made, and so all These things Came to be, says the LORD, But on this man will I look, even on Him That is poor and of a Contrite Spirit, and Trembleth at My word. 3 He That Kills an ox is as if he slew a man, he That Sacrifices a lamb, as if he broke a dog’s neck, he That Offers a meal-Offering, as if he Offered swine’s blood, he That makes a memorial-Offering of frankincense, as if he blessed an idol; according as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations;

Isaiah 66 is talking primarily about sacrifices without repentance and chapter 66 resonates with the opening chapter 1 of Isaiah.

You shall no longer bring vain meal-offerings, it is smoke of abomination to Me; New Moons and Sabbaths, calling convocations, I cannot [bear] iniquity with assembly. (Isaiah 1:13)

Without proper and sincere repentance it is as if one has killed a man, offered swine’s blood and blesses an idol (see verse 3) all of which have always have been and always will be unacceptable at any time or place!

Repentance is always available as is a direct connection with G-d. The way too G-d is narrowed by the idolatrous testament of Jesus himself: 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14

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Armageddon of the book of Revelation

a chance to ‘write off’ the Jewish people?

by

מנשה דוד בן אברהם

Menashe Dovid Ben Avraham

Introduction

In a recent article about Israel and Armageddon1, Steve Wohlburg draws his readers to what he believes is a most important question:

Which group-Israel One or Israel Two-is Heaven’s focus in the book of Revelation?

By his own definition:

The New Testament actually describes two Israels, not just one. Paul wrote, “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Rom. 9:6). What does this shocking text mean? Look closely. Those “of Israel” refer to people belonging to the literal Jewish nation. But just because people are “of Israel” (or Jewish) doesn’t necessarily mean they are, indeed, “Israel.” To clarify, Paul said there is an “Israel after the flesh” (1 Cor. 10:18) and an “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16) centered in Jesus Christ. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll call the first group Israel One and the second group, Israel Two.

Expanding Israel One and Israel Two further he writes:

Israel One is composed of “Israelites” “according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3, 4), which refers to literal Jews who can trace their blood line back to Abraham, but who do not as yet believe in Jesus Christ as Messiah. Quite pointedly Paul wrote as follows: “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God” (verse 8). Thus Israel One, although it has a wonderful religious heritage, is made up of people who spiritually “are not the children of God.” In the New Testament sense, “the children of God” applies only to those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord (see John 1:12).

Israel Two, “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), refers to a composite group made up of both Jews and non-Jews who, believing in the Crucified One, have died to self and been born again (see verses 14, 15). This group is called “the Israel of God” because it is God-centered, being made up of people who have a genuine experience with the Lord. Sadly, the majority of Israelis today don’t fit this description.

The only Old Testament verse Steve uses to support his position, albeit in an indirect way, is Isaiah 41:8:

8 But thou, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend; 9 Thou whom I have taken hold of from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the uttermost parts thereof, and said unto thee: ‘Thou art My servant, I have chosen thee and not cast thee away’;

Here in Isaiah 41:8 the servant of Hashem is Israel and as verse 9 shows, ‘My servant’ is a singular term applied to many people.

Analysis and Discussion

So is Steve’s question above the most important question? Is there really such a thing as two Israels as Steve and the New Testament (NT) claim? Seeing that both Jews and Christians would agree that the Jewish Scriptures/ TaNaCh or the ‘Old Testament’ is the word of G-d, can such a position of two Israels be supported by the Jewish Scriptures? Is Steve’s reference to the book of Revelation just a diversion from the real issues of the end times as recorded in the Jewish scriptures? Can the original chosen people, who Steve and the NT claim are deemed as “literal Jews who can trace their blood line back to Abraham” now become an ‘un chosen’ people? Have ALL non-Jews from the beginning of time by default are not chosen and are not a part of Israel as claimed by Paul in Eph 2?

From Aleph (א) to Mem (מ) to Tav (ת)

Truth in Hebrew is emet (אמת), truth covers the entire aleph bet which has 22 letters. The beginning of the aleph bet is aleph (א), the middle 11th letter is mem (מ) and the end letter is tav (ת). Truth ’emet (אמת)’ is balanced and the bases of the letters אמת have two legs allowing truth ’emet (אמת)’ to stand. Falsehood (שקר) ‘sheker’ is not balanced and the bases of the letters have only one point making it impossible for falsehood (שקר) ‘sheker’ to stand! Deuteronomy 30:1-10 is balanced and truthful (אמת) because chronologically it goes from beginning (א), to middle (מ) and to the end (ת):

ONE Israel receives (א) the Torah;

ONE Israel has a history of both keeping and failing to keep the Torah (מ) / returns to Torah prior to the messianic age; and

ONE Israel keeps the Torah (ת) in the messianic age!

Deuteronomy 30:1-10

“1 And it shall be that all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse that I have set down before you, and you will bring it to your heart amongst all the nations that the Lord your God has driven you. 2 And you shall return unto the Lord your God and you shall hearken to His voice according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul. 3 And the Lord your God will return your captivity and He will have compassion upon you, and he will return and gather you from all the nations that the Lord your God has scattered you there. 4 If your outcasts be at the ends of the heaven, from there will the Lord your God gather you and from there will He fetch you. 5 And the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your ancestors inherited and you shall inherit it, and He will do you good and He will multiply you more than your ancestors. 6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your children to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul for the sake of your life. 7 And the Lord your God shall place all these curses upon your enemies and upon those that hate you who have persecuted you. 8 And you will return and hearken to the voice of the Lord and you shall do all His commandments that I command you today. 9 And the Lord your God will make you plenteous in all the work of your hands, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your land, for good, for the Lord will turn to rejoice over you for good just as he rejoiced over your ancestors. 10 When you hearken to the voice of the Lord your God to keep His commandments and statutes which are written in this book of teaching, when you return to the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 30:1-10).

In Deuteronomy 30:1-10, God sets down before His people (א) a passage which gives a clear portrait of the Messianic era (ת). The clear portrait is not one that is ambiguous and murky. Rather, God used sharp and well-defined brush strokes to paint this portrait. From the passage, the return of Israel to her land will be precipitated by her repentance. The passage teaches that repentance means turning back to obedience of God’s law as Moses taught it (i.e. all 613 commandments as shown by verse 10). The passage also teaches that repentance is effective even when Israel is in exile (מ) and when it is not possible to bring a blood offering. Further, the passage shows that God will accept exiled Israel’s repentance even before He circumcises their heart (מ). Finally, from the passage it is learned that the commandments that Moses taught Israel, will be fully observed in the Messianic era (ת). Theologians presentations of the Jewish arguments are often inaccurate at best. In stark contradistinction, Christianity teaches that Israel’s return to the teachings of Moses, will play no part in the ushering in of the Messianic era (ת) (cf Mal 4:4 – 6). Christianity teaches that repentance without a blood offering is not accepted by God. Also, the Church teaches that with the advent of Christianity (מ), the law of Jesus has superseded the Law of Moses. How do theologians answer the Scriptural challenges from the passage, to the doctrines of Christianity?

Theologians claim that after the advent of Jesus, the central issue is; believing in Jesus, obeying Jesus, following Jesus and honoring Jesus. Speaking of the ‘inferiority’ of Israel’s high-priest and priesthood when compared to the High priesthood of Jesus, Hebrews states; “The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless…” Heb 7:18 compared to sacrifices by a Levitical Priesthood in the messianic age (ת) (see Jer 33:15-18). Theologians often say that there is a divergence of views amongst followers of Jesus. Some Theologians understand that obedience to Torah which the passage speaks of, is a reference to obedience and faith in Jesus. Other theologians say that other followers of Jesus believe that the passage, a Scriptural prophecy, will never be fulfilled because of Israel’s failures. Both of these positions are openly refuted by the text. Moses told the people that they will return to obey God, “according to all that I (Moses) command you (Eternal Israel) today”. These words were spoken (א) by Moses more than 1000 years before Jesus was born. Moses made it clear that he expected the last generation of Jews to look back to him (Moses) as their ultimate teacher (ת), and that he expected them to follow his commandments as they were understood on the day he presented them to Israel (א). These words of Moses clearly preclude the Christian belief that Jesus is the ultimate teacher, and that the teachings of Jesus are somehow superior to the teachings of Moses (מ). The second position that Theologians attributes to followers of Jesus, is also invalidated by the passage itself. The passage opens with words: “And it shall be that all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse…” The curse that Moses is referring to is the curse that God warned would befall Israel should they fail to obey His voice. How then can one make the claim that on account of Israel’s failure to obey God (מ), the Scriptural prophecy will never be fulfilled? The Scriptural prophecy clearly predicts Israel’s failure to obey and tells how, after Israel’s failure, Israel will ultimately return to God (ת). It is clear that God took Israel’s failures (מ) into consideration when He encouraged Israel with these words, and God’s promises are irrevocable. The two Christian explanations that theologians offer readers of the passage are therefore, clearly refuted by the words of the passage itself. Theologians, therefore do not even begin to provide a textual justification for the Christian interpretation of Deuteronomy 30. The real question is: What do the Hebrew Scriptures teach? This passage in Deuteronomy clearly teaches that Israel’s repentance is the precursor of the Messianic age (ת), this passage teaches that repentance is efficacious while Israel is still in exile, and this passage clearly teaches that the Law of Moses, as Moses taught it (א), is going to be observed in the Messianic era (ת). Each of these issues is central to the debate between Judaism and Christianity.

The nation of Israel pre-dates the Christian religion, by contrast a non-Israelite’s lack of nationality, by the claim of Paul (Eph 2), is procured/ rectified/ established by the sacrifice/ resurrection/ ascension of Jesus as part of a “new” covenant (Israel 2). The “new” covenant as clearly stated by the New Testament now clearly excludes BOTH Jew and Gentile from salvation / citizenship if they are not a believer of Jesus (Israel 1):

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned…..”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life…..”I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (Mark 16:16, John 3:16, John 5:24)

Here according to the new Testament and above we have another example of an Israel 1 and Israel 2 in the words of Steve Wohlberg:

Israel One is composed of “Israelites” “according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3, 4), which refers to literal Jews who can trace their blood line back to Abraham, but who do not as yet believe in Jesus Christ as Messiah. Quite pointedly Paul wrote as follows: “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God” (verse 8). Thus Israel One, although it has a wonderful religious heritage, is made up of people who spiritually “are not the children of God.” In the New Testament sense, “the children of God” applies only to those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord (see John 1:12).

Israel Two, “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), refers to a composite group made up of both Jews and non-Jews who, believing in the Crucified One, have died to self and been born again (see verses 14, 15). This group is called “the Israel of God” because it is God-centered, being made up of people who have a genuine experience with the Lord. Sadly, the majority of Israelis today don’t fit this description.

Jeremiah 33:15-26

15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this [is the name] wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. 17 For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; 18 Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually. 19 And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, saying, 20 Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; 21 [Then] may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me. 23 Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 24 Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? Thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. 25 Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant [be] not with day and night, [and if] I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; 26 Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, [so] that I will not take [any] of his seed [to be] rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.

Jeremiah 33 above is addressing both the immediate concerns of the people with the impending Babylonian exile / destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and is also speaking of the beginning of the messianic age in (verse 15). The house of Israel has already been taken into captivity (circa 720 BCE) and now the Babylonian exile awaits the House of Judah. The end of the nation of Israel is now the concern of the people in verse 24, even though the length of the Babylonian exile is 70 years followed by a return to the land of Israel (see Jer 29:10). The return to the land of Israel did not include the House of Israel, however! The return of both houses is in the future as told by Jeremiah 31 concerning a new covenant. During the times of Jesus, there was no House of Israel in existence because Assyria had exiled the Kingdom of Israel more than 700 years earlier (approx. 720 B.C.E.). Moreover, in the first century CE the Jewish people were spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. Thus, even the “House of Judah” was not all in the Promised Land during the times of Jesus. The giving of the New Covenant to the “House of Israel and the House of Judah” (v30) is obviously referring to a future event that clearly indicates that Jeremiah is speaking to a restored and fully ingathered people.

7 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the uttermost parts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together; a great company shall they return hither.

Objections that Jeremiah 31 does not point to a yet future messianic age includes an argument that Jer 31:7 above, was fulfilled by the return of the House of Judah from the Babylonian exile. The argument however, goes against a theme often repeated throughout Jeremiah. The theme describes a future return far superior to the exodus from Egypt (see Jer 16:14; 23:7, 8; 31:32). The inferior nature of the return of the House of Judah from the Babylonian exile with that of the exodus from Egypt being expressed by Nehemiah 9:36 below:

36. Behold, today we are slaves, and the land that You gave our forefathers to eat its fruit and its goodness-behold we are slaves upon it. (Nehemiah 9:36)

Without doubt verse 15 of Jeremiah 33 and verses following allude to Messiah with reference to ‘the Branch of righteousness’ which grows ‘up unto David’. David has obviously been dead a long time prior to the this prophecy and obviously the use of the terms ‘Branch of righteousness’ and ‘David’ are referring to a future messianic age. A feature of this messiah and the messianic age is the salvation of Judah and the peaceful status of Jerusalem dwelling in the land of Israel in verse 16. Despite many ideas to the contrary, the nation of Israel endures and is guaranteed by analogy with G-d’s covenant with the day and night v20, 21 & v25, 26) not ceasing. Additionally in this messianic period, the Levitical priesthood is still offering burnt offerings (v18). Opposed to these points in Jeremiah 33, Christianity would have us believe that the Levitical priesthood has ceased and is now and replaced with Jesus’ priesthood. Also sacrifices cease to exist since Jesus’ is the final and ultimate sacrifice.

God’s program for the expiation of Israel’s sin and for the establishment of Israel’s everlasting righteousness requires that Israel undergo a period of suffering. The period of suffering includes the 490 years of Daniel 9:24-272. The period of suffering is to refine Israel so that her sin can be pardoned (Leviticus 26:41, Isaiah 1:25, 40:2, 48:10, Psalm 66:9, Daniel 11:31 – 35).

Dan 11

31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall profane the sanctuary, even the stronghold, and shall take away the continual burnt-offering, and they shall set up the detestable thing that causeth appalment. 32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall be corrupt by blandishments; but the people that know their God shall show strength, and prevail. 33 And they that are wise among the people shall cause the many to understand; yet they shall stumble by the sword and by flame, by captivity and by spoil, many days. 34 Now when they shall stumble, they shall be helped with a little help; but many shall join themselves unto them with blandishments. 35 And some of them that are wise shall stumble, to refine among them, and to purify, and to make white, even to the time of the end; for it is yet for the time appointed. (Dan 11)

The refining process represents God’s program for the ultimate expiation of sin and for the salvation of mankind. The refining process by ‘flame, by captivity and by spoil‘ is for ‘many days‘; (verse 33)and continues ‘even to the time of the end‘ (verse 35). Consideration of Dan 9:24-27 and Dan 11:33-35 indicates that the program will only begin at the close of the 490 years (see also Leviticus 26:41, Isaiah 1:25, 40:2, 48:10, Psalm 66:9). The 490 years were decreed in order to pave the way for the program to be set in motion.

Ultimately Israel will be redeemed from her suffering and her sins will be wiped away (Deuteronomy 32:43, Isaiah 44:22, Jeremiah 31:33, 33:8, 50:20, Ezekiel 36:25, 37:23). At that time Israel will be exalted, the light of God will shine upon her head, and her everlasting righteousness will be revealed to all (Isaiah 24:23, 35:10, 51:11, 52;10, 12, 60:1 – 3, 19 – 21, 61:11 – 62:3, Jeremiah 33:9, Zephaniah 3:20). These prophecies all affirm that the expiation of Israel’s sin and her ultimate exaltation will only take place at the time of her physical redemption and restoration to the land.

1 http://www.whitehorsemedia.com/articles/?d=56

2. Dan 9:24-27 talks of God’s ultimate program for the expiation of sin, the ushering in of everlasting righteousness and the culmination of all prophecy. Jews and Christian differ in their interpretation of this passage in two areas. Christians insist that the program must be completed within the 490 year time-frame mentioned in this passage, while Jews believe that the 490 year time-frame is a preparation period which must precede the implementation of God’s program. The second area of disagreement between the Jewish and Christian interpreters of this passage focuses on the nature of God’s program. Christians accept that the career of Jesus was a fulfillment of God’s program while Jews recognize that the scriptures paint quite a different picture. Dan 9:24-27 is not the only description Daniel gives us of these events. In chapter 11 verse 31, Daniel describes the violation of the sanctuary using the same terminology that he uses in the passage under discussion (9:26, 27). The violation of the sanctuary is to take place at the close of the 490 years, followed by a refining process (Dan 11:33-35).

The above is a work in progress

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