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Saturday, April 11, 2015

True Israelites: Part 1

TRUE ISRAELITES: Jews, Gentiles, or Both
Part 1

It has been said that only those of the New Covenant initiated by the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ are the true Israelites of today.  The New Covenant was specifically prophesied by Jeremiah 31:31; anticipated by several prior to the birth of Jesus; and made reality by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.  Is this statement true?  The following article will give evidence both pro and con to ascertain the nature of this statement.  Israel is the name given to Jacob by God.  If one is an ancestor of Jacob (or one can prove it) then one is an Israelite by genealogy, but is that the actual meaning of Israelite in the prophetic fulfillment of the scriptures? 

Theology and Prophets
Most (if not 99%) contemporary theologians and exegetes have a background of early Bible learning consisting of church teaching, family teaching, seminary school, books and literature read, and other sources that have affected their thought process.  On many occasions the youthful learned concept is subconsciously treated as a given absolute doctrine requiring no further study or verification.  In other words, why would someone research to prove a doctrine they mentally consider to be the given total truth since they have known and accepted that particular doctrine from childhood.  These total inward so-called accepted facts are then used as a springboard or starting point to launch into the exegesis of other Biblical theological axioms.  These new scriptural commentaries invariably use, without alteration, the personal ingrown accepted mental concepts of the exegete as unalterable truth used as basic Biblical structures. 

In my early thirties, I read Tim LaHaye’s book entitled, Revelation: Illustrated and Made Plain.  In the introduction to this book, LaHaye wrote the following under the subtitle, “Special Suggestions for Studying This Book”.

Follow the golden rule of interpretation:  When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate text, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, clearly indicate otherwise.  This rule suggested by Dr. David L. Cooper, provides basic guidelines for properly interpreting the many sings and symbols in the book.

It was quite clear to me, even at a theologically uninformed young age, that Mr. LaHaye did not follow that rule by any stretch of the imagination.  This is not to claim that he was intentionally lying and falsifying his commentary.  It is more possible, he was using his personal ingrown mental doctrines and basing his exegesis around them regardless of the actual meaning of the scripture in its context.  In other instances, if he did not know the answer he appeared to just compose something that had the appearance of a close facsimile.  Mr. LaHaye is apparently a Scofield based, dispensational, pre-tribulation rapture believer of the old school and his commentary envelopes and reveals every part of that description.  Nothing in his commentary belies or denies any item of the above description.  An opinion changing event in his life today would require a recall of all previously published books and an apology to the world (which is doubtful to happen).  NOTE:  Never let the Bible get in the way of a Scofield dispensational pre-tribulation mindset.

Are Jews the Descendants of Jacob?
The Jews are the descendants of Jacob if they are of Israeli genealogy.  The Israelites (or Judeans) have a huge role in the 70th week of Daniel events.  Are they the “apple of God’s eye” as stated in Zechariah 2 (for a possible answer see the Peter Goodgame section below)?  Paul claims all Israel will be saved – the Deliverer (Jesus) will remove ungodliness from Jacob (although neither Paul nor Isaiah gives the definition of Israel).  Does Paul mean every living person calling themselves a Jew or just the repentant ones as specified by Isaiah from which Paul borrows his quote?  Will Jesus resurrect all Israelites at His return and perhaps say:  OK guys; I hardened your heart two thousand years ago but now I’ve changed you back to a normal heart; I know you rejected Me as the Messiah when I was first with you, but as you can see, I am the Son of God, so what do you think now?

And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. (Romans 11:26 NET)

“A protector comes to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their rebellious deeds,” says the LORD.  (Isaiah 59:20 NET)

These are tough questions and most people have an opinion of some type.  Many, but not all, theologians and commentators claim that all Israel (Jews) are God’s special people; the apple of God’s eye; and imply they should never be criticized regardless of their actions and thoughts. How about the leaders of the apartheid nation of Israel; or the Jewish bankers; AIPAC; ACLU; the Jewish Hollywood owners and directors; the Jews who own over 90% of American media.  How about the Jews who lobby for hate laws to be enacted in various countries particularly concerning anti-Semitism.  Just mentioning the above items can cause problems.  Are these actions by the few not to be criticized because they are considered special?  Some people believe that is the case or they are in complete denial.

Although I have very little proof, either for or against, the following activities have been claimed by various internet writers and bloggers as Jewish endeavors:  1) Jews own and run the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and the IRS; 2) they have highly promoted homosexuality, feminism, and the breakup of traditional marriage in order to weaken the white family unit (they appear to already be successful in weakening the black family unit); 3) they are the producers and distributors of the majority of pornography; 4) they are responsible for the majority of the drug trade and distribution to weaken the resolve of citizens and of course for money; 5) they brought the first black slaves to the USA and are now promoting racial strife and dissension; 6) the majority of the USA’s wars are on their behalf including the past WWI,WW2, Korean war, and Vietnam war.

Doug Kreiger
Doug Kreiger of the Tribulation Network, http://www.tribnet.org, whose doctrinal belief statement is posted on their website as “the doctrinal statement of the Dallas Theological Seminary is close to what we believe”, made the following comment in an article on his site:

Indulge me,… in addressing my beloved brethren who aspire to defame the "apple of His eye" by deprecating His choice and intimidating them who would "provoke Israel to jealously" rather than simply provoking them to anger.

…..for they, as Jews, have "upon" them the title:  THE ISRAEL OF GOD. 

No matter how hard you may try, if you are from a Gentile background--YOU CAN NEVER BE THE ISRAEL OF GOD--NEVER!  India is a member of the British Commonwealth--but they are not the British

As can be read above, Mr. Kreiger is opposed to defaming the Jews.  He believes that only Jews can be known as “the Israel of God” and no Gentile (nation) can be the Israel of God.  He never actually states the claim but implies that Jews are the chosen people and whatever they do is not to be defamed.  I may be mistaken, but it is believed this particular attitude will be the proponent of the beginning of the end-times chaos that will give rise to the beast (antichrist).  It is difficult to picture the entire group as the apple of God’s eye while people are put out of business for refusing, as a Christian, to host a gay wedding or be opposed to pornography.  In my opinion, Mr. Kreiger is pro-Jew in every Biblical way and generally considers (at least based on the above article) anyone who departs from a completely dispensational viewpoint is theologically incorrect. He also appears to say the lost ten tribes are not lost but are a part of the current Jews.  As a side note, the only Jews I am familiar with are the ones on the news media or written about on web sites.  There are probably many decent common Jews around the world.

What is the answer to this supposed issue or what is the correct response?  Church people who study the Bible want to believe that Jews (or Judeans or Israelites) are the chosen people and that God has a purpose for them (which He does, but it may not be the purpose we expect).  However the actions of some appear to negate the title of chosen or special.

The Status of the Judeans or the Remnant
So I ask, God has not rejected his people, has he? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew! Do you not know what the scripture says about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left and they are seeking my life!" But what was the divine response to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand people who have not bent the knee to Baal."   (Romans 11:1-4 NET)

Paul asks the question, “Has God rejected His people”?  Then he answers, “Absolutely not” and then produces the evidence that he is an Israelite (a descendant of Jacob).  As evidence of the existence of a remnant, Paul gives the Old Testament example of Elijah exclaiming that he must be the only believing Israelite in the land and the people are seeking to kill him.  God responds that a remaining remnant of 7000 people have not worshipped Baal.

As there was a remnant of believers in the days of Elijah, there is presently a remnant, but they are chosen by grace not by works (11:5).  Not by works does not mean not keeping the commandments of God but rather not participating in the temple sacrificial system which would come to an end in 70 AD.  When the Son of God became the ultimate sacrificial lamb; the veil of the temple was torn in two; and the dead were resurrected in the vicinity of Jerusalem, the temple animal sacrifices came to an end. 

So in the same way at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if it is by grace, it is no longer by works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was diligently seeking, but the elect obtained it. The rest were hardened,   (Romans 11:5-7 NET)

There is a remnant of Jews or Judeans today and there will be a remnant in the 70th week of Daniel.  Yes, it is prophesied that a temple will be rebuilt and daily sacrifices resumed.  However, that will only be for the benefit of the Judeans and possibly the antichrist but it will not be condoned and honored by God and possibly the remnant prophesied to escape when the abomination of desolation is displayed.  The death of the Messiah, Jesus, ended the need for an animal sacrifice to condone for sin.  Paul states that the majority of the Judeans were hardened.  It seems the majority continue today to discredit Jesus as their Messiah.  Therefore some of the Jews (Judeans) anticipate the arrival of the messiah who will appear as the false messiah or antichrist.  To be fair and balanced, there are several exegetes who do not believe the antichrist will appear as the Jewish messiah, but will be a conqueror (possibly the Assyrian or Ashur) who will overrun Israel after the temple is rebuilt and declare himself as “god”.  All the pieces of the Revelation puzzle appear to fit either way.  We shall see, if we live long enough.

God appeared to Jacob when he was fleeing from his brother, Esau.  The Lord told Jacob to go to Bethel and live there.  Jacob did so and commanded his company of people and their families to rid themselves of their idols and foreign gods which were buried.  Jacob built an altar and worshipped God at Bethel.  As an overcomer, God renamed Jacob as Israel and thus the name Israelite was applied to his descendants.  During the divided kingdom, after the death of Solomon, the term Israel was used as the name of the northern kingdom consisting of ten tribes.  The southern kingdom, mostly the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Levites, and several of the other ten tribes desiring to live in the area of the temple was known as the nation of Judah, named after the dominant tribe.  The name, Judah, was later shortened to Jew.  Historically the term Jew denotes a citizen of the nation of Judah although the term was misapplied in the New Testament by the King James interpreters.

The Wife of God
The Lord God considered the people of the undivided nation of Israel as His wife and He as her husband but the divided nations of Israel and Judah played the harlot.  God divorced the nation of Israel and the people were sent away as captives of Assyria.  Later, the nation of Judah was also divorced, conquered by Babylonia, many were killed and others sent as captives to Babylon.

In Deuteronomy is found the commandment of God concerning divorce.  When a wife is divorced, due to her offensiveness, and marries another (as in idolatry) the first husband is not permitted to remarry her because she has become ritually impure.  It is my opinion that God does not intend to remarry Israel (or the Judeans) and honor the temple sacrifices as in the days of old.  They have become ritually impure through the worship of idols.  They later rejected the Person and authority of the Messiah and continued their organized Judaism and ritual sacrifice.  Only through the new covenant and living in the Kingdom of God may one become the future bride of Christ, the Son of God (or One with the Father).  Those of the New Covenant and the Kingdom of God are not ritually impure and qualify as the bride of Christ and future wife of God.

If a man marries a woman and she does not please him because he has found something offensive in her, then he may draw up a divorce document, give it to her, and evict her from his house. When she has left him she may go and become someone else's wife. If the second husband rejects her and then divorces her, gives her the papers, and evicts her from his house, or if the second husband who married her dies, her first husband who divorced her is not permitted to remarry her after she has become ritually impure, for that is offensive to the LORD. You must not bring guilt on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.  (Deuteronomy 24:1-4 NET)

She also saw that I gave wayward Israel her divorce papers and sent her away because of her adulterous worship of other gods. Even after her unfaithful sister Judah had seen this, she still was not afraid, and she too went and gave herself like a prostitute to other gods.  (Jeremiah 3:8 NET)

A quote from Dr. Stephan Jones, of God’s Kingdom Ministries:  The only way to regain the name Israel is through acceptance of Jesus Christ first as the King of Judah and then as the Heir of Joseph’s birthright.

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