God gave Israel various laws (collectively referred to as "the law"). These laws can be classified into three types:-
Moral Law: Laws directly pertaining to right and wrong. These laws are applicable to everyone. For example: "You shall not commit adultery" - Exodus 20:14
Ceremonial Law: Laws pertaining to rituals and feasts that God had established as symbols of spiritual realities. For example, the passover meal was to be had with unleavened bread (Exodus 12:8). The Passover commemorated the deliverance of the Israelis from Egypt. It also was a type (symbol) of the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 5:7). These laws were applicable for as long as Israel was a nation under God. Some Jews continue to keep these laws even today.
Civil Law: Every nation has laws for its citizens. These laws were applicable for as long as Israel was a nation under God. After the Romans destroyed Israel in AD 70, these laws lost their direct relevance. Even though Israel has been re-established as a nation, it has not brought itself under these laws. Example: Adulterers had to be stoned to death.
The Bible clearly distinguishes between Israel and the church. For example, notice the "they" and the "your" in Romans 11:28, the "them" and "you" in Romans 11:22. In 1 Corinthians 10:32, we have three classes of people: the Jews, the Gentiles and the church.
The following are some of them
|Membership based on birth||Membership based on belief and repentance|
|A national repentance (Romans 11:26, Zechariah 12:10)||Each member repents individually|
|Promised dominance over others if obedient||Promised persecution at the hands of others if obedient|
|One nation||A people called out from all nations|
|Fights wars||Members may join the armed forces of their respective countries|
|Anticipated Jesus' death using the ceremonial law||Commemorate Jesus' death with the Lord's Table|
|Civil law given;||Asked to obey civil laws of their respective nations|
|Given power to enforce civil laws||Given limited power to discipline erring members|
|Circumcision as a sign of membership||Baptism as a sign of joining|
|Promised a patch of land||No such promise|
|Started with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob about 2000 BC||Started on the Day of Pentecost, AD 32 (Acts 2)|
|Earthly blessings: children, wealth, power (Deuteronomy 28)||Heavenly blessings (Ephesians 1:3)|
|God will build Israel up just as he destroyed them (Jeremiah 31:28)|| God never destroyed the church!|
Mis-identification between Israel and the Church is perhaps the greatest source of confusion, false doctrine and bad conduct, which in turn has further bad consequences. A few examples:-
As you can see, confounding Israel with the church has created untold harm. Although everyone who is mistaken on this issue is not party to all the wrongs listed above, the perniciousness of this false doctrine should be evident.
As mentioned above, the covenants that God made with Israel include an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:7) and took into account the possibility that Israel would fail spiritually (which she did). This implies that God is not finished with Israel. In fact, after Israel rejected Christ, Paul tells us that all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26) - this restoration has nothing to do with Israel's merit but because of God's own name (Ezekiel 36:22). The following are some things that the Bible mentions about Israel that still await complete fulfillment.
|Prophecy||Reference||Level of fulfillment so far|
|Amidst great tribulation, people will stick close to Jews because they realize that God's protection is on the Jews||Zechariah 8:23||Completely unfulfilled|
|All nations will go to Jerusalem to learn from the "God of Jacob"||Isaiah 2:3, Micah 4:2||Completely unfulfilled|
|Israel will look at the same Jesus who they pierced and accept him as their Messiah - in Jerusalem||Zechariah 12:10-11||Completely unfulfilled|
|The Jews will plant fruit trees extensively in Samaria (West Bank)||Jeremiah 31:5||Completely unfulfilled|
|The Jews will return to Israel||Jeremiah 31:8-9||Partially fulfilled |
|Israel will turn from false gods to the true God ||Zechariah 13:1-2 ||Completely unfulfilled|
|Anti-semites will bow down to Jews || Isaiah 60:14||Completely unfulfilled |
|Israelis will see dreams and visions amidst astronomical upheavals || Joel 2:28-31||Only partly fulfilled in Acts 2|
|Israel will never cease to be a nation before God||Jeremiah 31:36||Ongoing |
|144,000 Jewish servants will serve God||Revelation 7:4-8 ||Completely unfulfilled|
|There will be a new temple and sacrificial system in Jerusalem||Ezekiel 40:1||Completely unfulfilled|
|There will be a new tribal distribution in Israel||Ezekiel 48:1||Completely unfulfilled|
|The Dead Sea will be healed and teem with fish||Ezekiel 47:8||Completely unfulfilled|
God has a plan for the nation in history. Some of it has already been accomplished, and some of it is yet future. It is important for us Christians to understand and appreciate this plan without confusing it with God's plan for the church. God's dealings with Israel are important because:-