Sunday, May 12, 2013

Did God Divorce Israel?

In just a few days both Christians and Jews will be celebrating the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Shavuot in Hebrew). However, not only will Christians and Jews celebrate on different days, the focus of the celebrations will be different as well. While Christianity will be remembering the giving of the Holy Spirit and the so-called beginning of the church, the Jews will be celebrating the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai to Israel.

These differences really should not exist. Scripturally, Pentecost is connected to Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but traditionally, for Christians, the date of Pentecost is connected to Easter and its connection to the first Sunday after the spring vernal equinox. Also Scripturally, both the Holy Spirit and the Law were given on Pentecost. It seems that the two groups should be much more of one mind, yet, as in history, there appears to be an attempt to separate the two groups, as if they did not spring from the same source, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!

Although Christianity has the date wrong, the concern of today's post is on Christianity's view that Pentecost was the beginning of the church and the replacement of Israel by the church. To determine whether Israel was replaced by the church we need to go back to the first Pentecost.

Exodus 19:5-8 (KJV)
5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.
8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.

In verse 5 God was initiating a covenant with the Jewish people. Notice the conditions, "If you will keep my covenant, then you will be a treasure unto me above all people." Verse 8 records Israel's response, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do."

Unfortunately, the Jewish people were unable to keep their side of the covenant. While they were yet at Mount Sinai, Aaron and the people crafted the golden calf and promptly broke the covenant by failing to keep God's commandments. God again renewed the covenant in chapter 34 of Exodus. This pattern of failure and then return to God continues throughout Israel's history. Finally, during the days of Yeshua, the religious leaders rejected Him as Messiah.

Matthew 21:42-43 (KJV)
42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Was this the end of God's patience toward Israel? Many in Christianity say that after this passage in Mattew, God rejected Israel as her promised people.

There are two points that speak against this. The first is God's eternal identification of Israel as His people.

Jeremiah 7:7 (KJV)
7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.

Jeremiah 31:3-4 (KJV)
3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
4 Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.

The second point is that God's covenant with Israel was more like a marriage covenant than a business covenant.

Jeremiah 31:32 (KJV)
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

Hosea 3:1 (KJV)
1 Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.

Isaiah 62:1-5 (KJV)
1 For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
2 And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
3 Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
4 Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.

If God had taken Israel for her bride and He replaced her with the entity called the church, God would have, for all intents and purposes, divorced Israel. Is this possible?

Malachi 2:16 (NASB)
16 "For I hate divorce," says the LORD, the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with wrong," says the LORD of hosts. "So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."

Considering God's hatred for divorce and His statements of everlasting love for Israel, it is unthinkable that He would have divorced Israel and taken a new wife.

God's righteous character requires that Israel will always be His bride. God's chosen people will always be Israel. However, this statement should not disturb those who are Gentile believers in Yeshua. Salvation comes for all who trust in Yeshua, both Jews and Gentiles. Both become Israel in some sense upon salvation.

Although the Matthew 21 passage points to God's removal of Israel as His chosen people, it was referring only to Israel's temporary loss in God's plan of history where the Gentiles were to become the predominant number entering into Israel. However, one day again, Israel, as a nation will turn back to their Messiah and will be saved.

Romans 11:26 (KJV)
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

Zechariah 12:10 (KJV)
10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

God's promises to Israel are everlasting. The church can never take that away. Why would it want to when it has been grafted in?

Romans 11:19 (KJV)
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in

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