Jews and the Future - Part 2

Scripture: Acts 7:37, Romans 9:3-4, Isaiah 56:2-7
God's first church were the Jews who are called God's "church in the wilderness." Committed to them were God's provisions of salvation. God promised to bless them if they obeyed, but if not then curses would come. Paul in Romans 11 speaks of what has happened to the Jews.
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In our last broadcast we introduced a special series of studies on Bible prophecy and the Jewish people. We discovered the amazing fact that God actually called the Israelites of the Old Testament a church. Through the inspired words of Stephen in Acts 7:37 we learn that the children of Israel were designated as "the church in the wilderness." God has always had a true church which served as the guardians of the truth. In every age God has operated through a church, or through a people who were willing to stand up for the present truth, whether it happened to be popular or unpopular.

Because Israel was God's church, to them were committed all the provisions of salvation. Notice what the apostle Paul says was given to them. "For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises." Romans 9: 3,4. Sometimes you hear people say that the ten commandments and the seventh-day Sabbath were given to the Jews, but my friends, every provision of salvation was given to the Jewish people as they became the chosen church of God. The plan of salvation, the law of God, the Sabbath, etc. were in existence centuries before God called Israel to be His people, but when they became His church, God entrusted the whole scheme of man's redemption to the Israelites.

When Jesus was talking at the well with the woman from Samaria, He said to her, "Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews." John 4:22. Well then, the Jews had the plan of salvation, they had something more than the Sabbath; they had the whole provision by which men were to be saved.

The Gentiles who turned to the Lord in Old Testament times were required to keep the same laws and to be saved in the same way as were the Jews. "One law shall be to him that is home born, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you." Exodus 12:49. We read further in Isaiah, "Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar: for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people." Isaiah 56:2-7.

God's house was to be a house of prayer for all people. The church of God was to be the light of the world, and all who would turn to the Lord were invited to become a part of God's church. The Gentile stranger was to observe the Sabbath. Everyone was to keep the Sabbath from polluting it. The Jewish Church, chosen to be God's people, were simply the guardians of God's truth. The prophet Isaiah said to Israel, "And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." Isaiah 60:3. The church in the Old Testament days had the same divine responsibility as the church has today. To them was given God's truth and they were to make it known to the world.

The Lord told Israel that if they fully obeyed Him and faithfully discharged their responsibility, they would be blessed by Him: but that if they disobeyed, then the curses of God would come upon them and that a nation would come against them and they would be scattered into all parts of the world. "It shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God." "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee." "The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand." "The Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from one end of the earth even unto the other." Deuteronomy 28: 1, 2, 15, 49, 64.

We know that the Jews have been scattered among all nations. They failed in many ways to fulfill their divine commission. They slew many of the prophets which God sent to them to reveal to them their sins. Jesus said, "0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." Matthew 23:37, 38.

As a people they rejected Jesus as the Saviour of the world. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." John 1:11. They failed to keep His law, "Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it." Acts 7:53. How could they keep the law when they rejected the Saviour, the one who enables man to keep the law? We cannot keep the law with our carnal nature. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Romans 8:7. We must become new creatures in Christ Jesus, and then we shall love to obey God's law.

The Jews failed to be the light to the world which they should have been. They built up a wall of partition between themselves and the Gentiles. When Peter came to the home of Cornelius, he said, "Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation: but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." Acts 10:28.

Let us consider God's plan for the Jews as outlined in the New Testament. Jesus ordained twelve disciples, and when He sent them out, He instructed them, "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." Matthew 10:1-6. The first work was to be done with the lost sheep of Israel.

Pentecost first came upon the Jewish people. The divine record says, "When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven." Acts 2:1-5. There were devout Jews gathered from every nation under heaven. The result of this Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit is that about three thousand Jews accepted the Christ in one day. A remnant was gathered of the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

The Apostle Paul has written concerning the Jews as follows: "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 which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the Scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." Romans 11:1-5.

Elijah lived in a day when there was a great apostasy in Israel. Nearly all had turned to the worship of Baal, the heathen sun-god. The departure from the faith was so general that Elijah felt that he was the only one who had remained faithful to the Lord. God then told him that there were seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed to Baal. The Apostle Paul draws a lesson for his day from that experience. He says, "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." Although nearly all the Jews had rejected Christ, yet there was a remnant whom God was calling out, just as there was a remnant in Elijah's day. The three thousand Jews converted at Pentecost were part of the remnant. The disciples were all Jews. Jesus was a Jew.

The Apostle Paul compares the Jews to a natural olive tree, and he speaks of the Gentiles as a wild olive tree. He says God found it necessary to cut off some of the branches from the native olive tree, but He did not cut down the tree. Rather, the Gentiles, who were of the wild olive tree when converted to God, were grafted into the tree of Israel. Let us read the story as given to us by the Apostle Paul: "I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are of my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruits be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee." Romans 11:13-21.

We see, then, that when Jesus came to earth He did not inaugurate a new plan of salvation or a New Testament Church. No, Israel continued to be God's church. A remnant of faithful ones were gathered out, and the tree which God started when He called Israel to be His church continued, and the Gentiles were grafted into this tree of Israel. We have already seen that God's planning from the beginning was that there should be conversions from the Gentiles and that these should be a part of the Israel church.

The Apostle Paul says when the Gentiles are grafted into the Israel tree, or the natural olive tree, they are to partake "of the root and fatness of the olive tree." Romans 11:17. What is the root and fatness of the olive tree? What were the divine provisions given to Israel that were to be their source of nourishment and their strength? Let us read again Romans 9:3, 4: "I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises."

The adoption is the means by which we poor, lost sinners become children of God. "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Romans 8:15. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not." 1 John 3:1. The adoption was given to Israel, the natural olive tree, and the Gentiles enter into this provision by being grafted into the tree of Israel.

"The glory" is a symbol of God's favor. 1 Samuel 4:21, 22. The covenants were given to Israel. Not only was the old covenant given to Israel, but the new covenant was also given to them. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people." Hebrews 8:8-10. The new covenant was made with the children of them with whom the old covenant was made. Both covenants were made with the Jews.

God's law was given to the Jews when they became His people. However, the law existed before then. Abraham kept the law. "Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Genesis 26:5.

The promises of God were given to the Jews, and we become partakers of these promises by becoming grafted in through Christ as a part of Israel. "If ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:29. We are to become a part of the Israel tree, and then we draw our nourishment from the same provision as that which supplies the entire tree. In other words, God's plan of salvation is the same for both Jew and Gentile, and if we are to enter into the promises, the adoption, and the new covenant provisions given to Israel, then we must also keep the law and the holy seventh-day Sabbath given to Israel.

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