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ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

Amillennials and some Historical Premillennialist believe the church has replaced Israel and we are now living in the thousand year reign of Christ and the tribulation. Other views, such as Dispensational Premillennialist believe that the thousand year reign of Christ is a physical reign that will occur in the near future, after the tribulation period. Which is correct? Are we now in the thousand year reign and God has permanently rejected Israel and given all promises to Israel to the church?

The word "ekklesia" used of the New Testament church is used of the entire body of those who have been redeemed during the present Dispensation of Grace. This includes all of the redeemed from Pentecost, at the descent of the Holy Spirit, to the descent of the Lord into the air, Acts 2:47; 1 Thessalonians 4 16-17. The church was born at Pentecost and Israel had already existed for many centuries. Jesus said in, Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church” indicating that it was yet future. The church that was born at Pentecost is called the “Body of Christ”, Colossians 1:18, and one gets into the body of Christ via baptism by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13.

Additionally, we are all baptized into one body by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. This body is not an organization but it is an organism similar to the human body. Believers are placed into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit and placed where God wants them, not where a believer wants, 1 Corinthians 12:18, 24. All members of the body are necessary and even the weakest is necessary, 1 Corinthians 12:22, to the Head of the body and to all other members of the body, 1 Corinthians 12:21. Each member of the body is in union with the Head (Jesus Christ) and if one member suffers, all other members suffer with it, 1 Corinthians 12:26.

Christ said he would build His church in the future, He was not building it at that time, He said I “will” build, Matthew 16:18. If there was a church before the death of Christ it would have been an unredeemed church, and a church before the resurrection of Christ would have been a church that did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit and therefore the members could not be baptized into the body of Christ, John 20:22, and a church before Christ ascended would have been a church without a head. For the body to be complete Christ must first be exalted to the right hand of the Father, and all things put under His feet, Ephesians 1:20, 21. Then it would be given to Christ to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, Ephesians 1:23.

Some say the church is the kingdom of God, which is an error. The church is a part of, or in the kingdom of God, but it is not the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God includes all moral beings of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and those saved during the tribulation, all those who willingly subject to divine authority, Hewbrews 12:22-23. The church consists only of those that are redeemed during the dispensation of grace so it cannot be the kingdom of God.

John the Baptist came preaching that the kingdom of Heaven was at hand, Matthew 3:1-2. Jesus also preached the gospel of the kingdom, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand, Matthew 4:17, and sent His disciples to the Jews to preach that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand, Matthew 10:7. The Jews rejected the kingdom and it was postponed, not done away with.

The church is compared to:

  • a house, 1 Timothy 3:15
  • a body, 1 Corinthians 12:27, 12:1; Ephesians 1:22-23.
  • a temple, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

However, the church is never compared to a kingdom. Although Christ is the Head of the church, Ephesians 1:22, 4:15; Colossians 1:18, He is never mentioned as the King of the church. The Church's relation to Christ is that of a bride, Ephesians 5:23-25; Revelation 21:2. The church is not a continuation of the Jewish religion. Jesus indicated that the dispensation of the Law was until John, Matthew 11:13, and the dispensation of grace, salvation by faith is another.

The kingdom of God is taught throughout the Old Testament and was not a mystery to the Old Testament believers. A mystery in the Bible is a truth that was hidden and not revealed until the New Testament, Ephesians 3:3-5, 9; Colossians 1:26-27. In Ephesians 3:1-12 the one body of Christ is that the Jewish and Gentile believers were united into this one body and was designated a mystery. Another mystery was the Holy Spirit indwelling every believer, Colossians 1:24-27. In Ephesians 5:22-23 we have the church as the Bride of Christ being called a mystery. Even the rapture of the Church is called a mystery in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. These mysteries separate the church and Israel.

Jesus indicated that there would be something called the church between the cross and the crown but did not say when it would appear nor what it would be like, Matthew 16:13-15. The mystery mentioned in the New Testament was that which was to come in between the sufferings and the glory of Christ, which was the church, 1 Peter 1:9-11. This mystery of the church was first revealed to Paul, Ephesians 3:1-6, in which he mentions the dispensation of the grace of God. Paul said that in other ages it was not made known to men but that it is now revealed to the apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit. Also that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and of the same bodies and partakers of His promise in Christ. So it is clear that the church was unknown to the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets and that the Gentiles were to be saved, Romans 9:24-26. This new thing, the church, would be composed of both Jews and Gentiles.

One of the purposes of this dispensation of Grace is the gathering out of the church, Acts 15:14. While the church is a called out body, it is not a national body but consists of people from every kindred, people, tribe and nation. Israel is a called out body but it is a “National Body” composed only of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, known as the Jews, Israelites, Hebrews, etc.. Remember also that Israel was chosen in Abraham from the foundation of the world, Matthew 25:34 while the church was chosen in Jesus sbefore the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4-6.

Israel is not the body of Christ but the church is, Ephesians 1:22-23. Christ could not be the Head of the body until He had been raised from the dead and was seated at the right hand of the Father, 1 Peter 3:22. It can also be seen from 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 how the body is formed. It is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that places a believer into the body of Christ so there could not be a church until the day of Pentecost, Acts 1:4-5, 2:1-3. It is also seen that the church will be caught out with the dead in Christ rising first and then those believers that are left alive on earth will follow, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Then Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet, 1 Corinthians 15:22-28. What happens to those believers that were caught up? They are changed and put on immortality and will receive an incorruptible body, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.

One can see the difference in Israel and the church in Galatians 6:16. This reference does not support the false claims of those who teach replacement theology, that the church has replaced Israel. The Israel of God here is the believing Jews in contrast to unbelieving Jews which are called Israel after the flesh, 1 Corinthians 10:18. Paul teaches in Ephesians 2 that there is a remnant of Israel that is mixed with the Gentiles during this dispensation of grace to make up what is called the church. It is also noted that in the book of Acts Israel, mentioned twenty times, and the church, mentioned 19 times, are always kept seperate so there is not basis for replacement theology claiming the church has replaced Israel.

If Israel and the church are combined into a single group, such as the church, then the promises for Israel in the Old Testament can never be fulfilled but the replacement theologians say they are spiritually fulfilled by the church. This combining of Israel with the church removes the need for the future restoration of Gods people, Israel, in order to fulfill His promise that they would one day be the head and not the tail, Deuteronomy 28:13. In addition, God promised the “nation” of Israel that they would inherit the land forever, Genesis 17:8, and this is yet to happen.

Daniel's prophecy in the Old Testament of the “Seventy Weeks” mentioned in, Daniel 9:24, proves that Israel and the Church are different. Notice that these seventy weeks of years mentioned by Daniel are entirely in reference to Israel and her relation to Gentile powers and the rejection of Israel's Messiah. Daniel 9:24 tells us that “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, . . .” This is in answer to Daniel's prayer petitioning God about the Jews and Jerusalem. Therefore “thy people” would clearly indicate Abraham's physical descendants. The seventy weeks of years show a clear distinction between Israel and the church. The program of the present age, the calling out of a people from every nation to form the church, is no where in view in this prophecy, contrary to the teaching of replacement, or suppersessionist, theologians, who claim the church has now replaced Israel. Israel's rejection of their Messiah postponed the kingdom, but that doesn't mean the promises to national Israel where cancelled.

Some of the differences in the Church and Israel:

THE CHURCH

ISRAEL

Was born at Pentecost, Acts 2
Israel began in approximately 1911 B.C.
The church benefits from the covenants with Israel
God gave the covenants directly to Israel, Jeremiah 31:31-32.
The church is not a nation. It is composed of believers from all nations, Romans 10:19; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:11-22, 3:6, 15
Israel is a nation composed of direct descendants of the Jewish peoples, Psalms 147:20
Is entered by a spiritual birth, 1 Peter 1:23
Entered by a physical birth, Genesis 17:6-8; Romans 9:3
Under grace, Romans 6:14
Under Law, Exodus 20
Jesus is head of the church, Ephesians 1:20-23, 4:15, 5:23
Jesus is Israel's Messiah, John 1:41, 4:22-25
Christ gave birth to the church, Matthew 16:18
Israel gave birth to Christ, Revelation 12:1-5
Is the Bride of Christ, Ephesians 5:22-23
Is the wife of Jehovah, Isaiah 54
Will be rescued by Christ at the rapture, John 14:1-3
Will be rescued by Christ at the end of the tribulation, Matthew 23:37-39
Christ is the Head of the church, Ephesians 5:22-23d
Christ is the King of the Jews, Isaiah 33:22
Engaged in spiritual warfare, Ephesians 6:10-20
Engaged in physical warfare
Believers are priests, 1 peter 2:5, 9
Priests came from tribe of Levi and the line of Aaron
Is to be built up, 1 Corinthians 14:5, 12, 26 Ephesians 4:12, 16
The Kingdom is to be set up, 2 Samuel 7:12-16
Citizenship is in heaven, Philippians 3:20-21
Citizenship is on earth, Matthew 6:10
Relates to the day of Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:16; Philippians 1:6, 10, 2:16
Relates to the day of the Lord, Joel 2; Zephaniah 2; Zechariah 12-14
Sacrifice of Christ on the cross, Hebrews 10:10-14 1 Peter 3:18
Animal sacrifices, Leviticus 1-7; hebrews 10:11
Receive resurrected bodies at the rapture, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58
Resurrected at the beginning of the millennial kingdom, Daniel 12:2; John 11:23-24; Revelation 20:4-5
Judged at the judgment seat of Christ after the rapture, Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10
Judged at the end of the tribulation period, Ezekiel 20:33-44
Membership is by spiritual birth, John 3:1-9; Titus 3:5
Membership is by physical birth.
Presently grafted in, Romans 11:17-25
Set aside temporarily, Romans 11:1-16
Promised no land, 1 Peter 2:9-11
Promised a land, Genesis 15:18-21
Has only believers in true church, 1 Corinthians 1:2
A mixed multitude of believers and unbelievers, Romans 9:6
The New Testament is about the church while all scripture is for the church, 2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 15:4
Governed by the Mosaic Law, Psalms 147:19-20
Holy Spirit indwells all church age believers, 1 Corinthians 12:13, permanently, John 14:16.
Filled Old Testament believers selectively, Joel 2:28, and temporarily, 1 Samuel 16:14; Psalms 51:11
Received Christ, Acts 2:41, 10:43-48, 16:30-33
Rejected Christ, John 1:11, 11:47-53; Acts 2:22-36
Looking for the rapture, Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Looking for the revelation of Christ, Joel 2; Zachariah 12-14
Will escape the Tribulation, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Will go through the Tribulation, Matthew 24
Circumcision without hands, Colossians 2:11
Circumcision Genesis 17:9-27; Romans 4:9-12; Ephesians 2:11-12
Farewell address to the church, John 16:12-13, in the Upper Room Discourse, John 13-17
Farewell to Israel, Matthew 24:15, 20, in the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24-25
Some are saved
None are saved
Only Gentiles are involved
Jews and Gentiles are involved
Farewell address to the church, John 16:12-13, in the Upper Room Discourse, John 13-17
Farewell to Israel, Matthew 24:15, 20, in the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24-25
No distinction of Jew and Gentile, Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:13-16
Distinguishes Jew and Gentile, Matthew 10:5; Romans 15:8-9
Has heavenly promises, John 14:1-3; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 1:5; 1 Peter 3:18
Has earthly promises, Matthew 5:3-9
Farewell address to the church, John 16:12-13, in the Upper Room Discourse, John 13-17
Farewell to Israel, Matthew 24:15, 20, in the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24-25
It's temple is a heavenly temple, 1 Corinthians 3:16
Earthly temple, 2 Samuel 7:13
Death of Christ is a foundation stone, 1 Corinthians 3:11; 1 Peter 2:5-8
Death of Christ is a stumbling stone, 1 Corinthians 1:23; Romans 9:30-33



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