Many Christians have a vague idea that it is only in the Old Testament that we read of a Chosen Race and Nation; that the New Testament speaks only of the Church. Is this true? Has God substituted the Christian Church for His servant people and nation Israel?
Apparently St. Paul found this idea prevalent in his day among the Christians at Rome, for he writes at some length to warn them against such an assumption. (Romans 11) Note his question and his emphatic statement: “I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people.”
He then warns these Gentile Christians against becoming conceited and boasting that they have replaced Israel, for he says the Israel people are to be restored when they turn from their unbelief. He refers to this unbelief as a blindness which has come upon Israel, and says: “I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved.”
This whole chapter is an explanation of the true place of Gentile Christians in relation to Israel, and in it St. Paul most emphatically states that God has NOT cast away Israel. True, because of unbelief, the Israel people had become blind to their identity and responsibility, but St. Paul says this blindness is only temporary and will be removed.
Let us now note a statement made by our Lord, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel,” (St. Matt, 15:24) In connection with this statement we should also note His directions to His disciples concerning the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom. “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.”
If Israel had ceased to be; if God had cast off the people He had chosen; if Jesus came to organize a Church as a substitute for Israel, then WHY did He say that He was sent TO Israel, and WHY did He send His disciples TO Israel with the good news of His Kingdom?
He could not have been referring to the Judah Jews, for these Jews certainly were not lost, and in addition they were of the House of Judah, NOT Israel.
These statements are proof that the Israel people were still in existence in our Lord’s Day, and that they still had a part to play in God’s Plan of restoring His Kingdom on the earth, for He sent the Gospel of the Kingdom TO them and to them ONLY.
Then there is our Lord’s statement to the Jews concerning the Kingdom: “The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (St. Matt. 21:43) From this it is certain that our Lord’s Kingdom is to be set up in a nation, NOT a church. What nation could this be then, but Israel, the lost sheep of the House of Israel to whom He had sent the Gospel of the Kingdom?
Before concluding that the Israel people and nation have no further place in God’s Plan, one should give some study to the 21st and 22nd chapters of the Book of Revelation, in which is given a picture of the restoration of the Kingdom of God on the earth, in the symbolism of a city coming to the earth from Heaven.
This city is built in the form of a SQUARE, having 12 gates, 3 on each of the FOUR sides, Each of these gates bears one of the names of the 12 tribes of the Children of Israel. In the center of the city is the Throne of God and facing it are FOUR beasts (living beings) who bear the likenesses of a LION, a CALF, a MAN, and an EAGLE (Rev. 4:7)
This is the exact plan on which God organized His Kingdom in Israel of old, as pictured in the 2nd chapter of Numbers, Here the 12 tribes of the Children of Israel are encamped in the form of a SQUARE, with 3 tribes on each of the FOUR sides, In the center of the camp was the Ark of the Covenant over Which hovered the Shekinah, the visible manifestation of God’s Presence in His Kingdom. Facing this, His earthly Throne, on the four sides of the square, were the FOUR camps or brigades of’ the Israel people, each of which was identified by a flag. The emblems on these flags were a LION, an OX, a MAN and an EAGLE,
These two pictures are identical, indicating that when the Kingdom of God is restored on the earth, it will be established as of old, in the midst of the people and nation Israel.
Finally, there is the Promise to Mary concerning Jesus: “The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David; And He shall reign over the House of Jacob for ever.” (Luke 1:32-33) This is proof that Israel and the Throne of David were still in existence in our Lord’s Day, and that God still planned to restore His Kingdom over Israel. How can God keep this Promise if the Church has been substituted for Israel?
Is it true then that God has cast away His people? All those who BELIEVE God’s Word, will join with St. Paul in a mighty chorus:
“God forbid. For I also am an Israelite… God hath not cast away His people.”