Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Israel and the Church are one. Part two.

Contrary to Modern dispensational claims, the Church was very much a part of God's plan from the beginning. Romans 9:22-26 (which cites Hosea 1) states that the children of Israel, both Jews and Gentiles, will be as the sand of the sea, too numerous to measure or number. Hosea 1:10-11 "Yet the number of the children of Israel Shall be as the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There it shall be said to them, 'You are sons of the living God.'

That the Gentiles would be included among God's people was God's plan even before the cross (see Amos 9:11 "On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name," Says the LORD who does this thing.

And in Acts 15:16-17. 'After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD who does all these things.

The Bible uses the same terms to describe both Israel and the Church, those of the household of faith. Here are a number of metaphors for the ekklesia. Both are called the beloved of God, the children of God, the field of God, the flock of God, the house of God, the people of God, the wife of God, the children of Abraham, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, the chosen people, This presents a dilemma for those who say the church is God’s Plan B. Does Scripture say God has two sets of these chosen people? Of course not.

Did Paul the Jewish Rabbi reject or abandon his Jewish lifestyle after his conversion on the Damascus Road? By no means, as the following events during his ministry clearly indicates: He observed the Jewish customs and traditions.

Although Paul knew and taught everywhere that the Law of Moses ended for those who died with Christ, Romans 6 and that no one was justified and obligated to keep its commands for salvation, Paul used the law that he might gain them that are under the law. When Jewish customs which would not compromise his Christian principles could be kept he did them.

From Paul's own writing, we read, "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law" (1 Corinthians 9:20-21).

Paul identified himself as a Jew, and Israelite even to his dying day. In Acts 23:6 he confessed, But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!" In Act 21:39 Paul said, "I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people."

He even declared that concerning the observance of the Torah he was "blameless," which indicates that he observed a Jewish lifestyle to the very end (Philippians. 3:6). Paul testified that he kept the Torah throughout his life (Acts 25:7-8, see also Acts 28:17).

In fact, Paul never taught the Jews not to circumcise their children in respect of their heritage. Paul might win some, of the Jews by the Jewish heritage of circumcision, he had the half-Jewish Timothy circumcised. (Acts 16:1-3)

Nevertheless, Paul refused to have Titus circumcised because the Judaizers were trying to bind circumcision upon him and others as being necessary to salvation. To clearly show this to be false teaching Paul rejected the pressure to have Titus circumcised.

Paul had a deep respect for God's Law issued by Moses. And he had a love for his own people, national Israel, and honored his heritage as a Jew. He states that the "law is holy, and the commandments holy and just and good" (Romans 7: 12). He described himself as having been a strict observer of the law, "a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee.

Paul regularly attended synagogue. "He came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures" (Acts 17:1-2).

Paul went to Jerusalem for the "feast" (most likely Passover) at the end of his second journey (Acts 18:21-22; see also 1 Cor. 5:7).

Paul took the Nazarite vow (Acts 18:18; see also Num. 6:2-6,13-18).
Paul sailed away from Philippi "after the days of Unleavened Bread" (Acts 20:6), indicating that he observed Passover and the days of unleavened bread (chag hamatzot) with the Church at Philippi (1 Cor. 5:7).

After leaving Philipi he sailed along the coast of Asia Minor, stopping at a few places along the way, but skipped Ephesus because he wanted to be in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 20:16). This was at the end of his third missionary journey.

Paul lived "in observance of the Torah" (Acts 21:23-24) and offered sacrifices in the Jewish Temple (Acts 21:26).

Paul observed that the prison ship (on which he was sailing to Rome) was going too slowly and "the fast was now already past" (Acts 27:9).

The "fast" was universally regarded to refer to Yom Kippur.Did Paul abandon his Jewish roots and Israel heritage? Of course not. Paul used his Jewish heritage to show everyone that salvation is of the Jews.

So the Church is not God’s Plan B but God’s plan right on time. The Church is "the Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16) and is composed of those Jews and Gentiles who are regenerated by means of their faith in Jesus (Matt. 3:9, Luke 3:8, Gal. 3:6, 9)

The word *Church* as used by our Lord and King in Mat 16:18 is one of the most dynamic evidences that the Church is the Israel of God. The word *Church* in this text is the Greek word *ecclesia* and is also taken to identify an*assembly or congregation*. And the assembly or congregation is a collective group that shares a single identity as the Israel of God. The Septuagint Greek Version of the Scriptures made about 280BC and used by Jesus and the Apostles, uses the Greek *ecclesia* in several places to describe *holy* Israel assembled as a congregation before the Lord (Lev 8:14; Num 20:8; Deu 18:16; Jud 20:2, 21:8; 1Sam 17:47; 2Chron 30:23; Psa 107:32).

When Jesus used the word *ecclesia* in the text of Matthew 16:18, he was saying Israel in theological and Scriptural terms. The *assembly or congregation* was the appointed meeting place between God and man. When Jesus said he would *build his Church, or his assembly or congregation* of Israel, he was at the same time establishing that his Church would be the meeting place of God and man. God will no longer meet in the temple where his people were separated from him. The marks and identifies the group Jesus called *HIS* church his Israel.