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Jews and the Future - Part 3

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:9, Matthew 23:38, Romans 9:6-9
The Jews were chosen by God to carry His great message to the nations. But the promises of prosperity were conditional. When the nation of Israel turned from God, the promise and blessings continued and the Lord's church went on when the Gentiles were grafted to the olive branch of the Jews. Spiritual Israel will receive the blessings of salvation. All may be children of Abraham by faith.
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Today we want to conclude our fascinating series of broadcasts on the Jews and the future. For two days we have traced the Bible history of the children of Israel and God's purposes for them. As the descendants of faithful Abraham, the Jews were chosen to carry his great message of truth to the nations. Gentiles and strangers were to be joined to the true church represented by Israel and worship the true Creator, God. The same law was to govern the stranger as well as the home-born Hebrew.

Many fantastic promises were made to Israel concerning the glorious future God had in store for them as the leaders of the world. The plan was for Israel to always be the head and not the tail. She was to demonstrate the values and benefits of a people who allowed God's laws to control their nation and their individual lives. What a beautiful, rosy picture the prophets of the Old Testament painted as they described the ideal world of the future under the Israel theocracy.

But one thing is often overlooked by those who read those Bible descriptions of Jewish prosperity and blessing. Every one of those promises was conditional! The condition was that Israel obey God's laws and faithfully carry out the provisions of the covenant He made with them. Isaiah, Jeremiah and others eloquently described the kind of world which would result from Jewish faithfulness. But the Israelites broke their promises, and not only failed to meet the conditions, but they rejected the Messiah when He came.

The great body of the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah, and they failed to obey God's law; instead of advancing in the truth, they became the greatest opponents to the promulgation of the truth as Christ and His apostles endeavored to enlighten men in an understanding of the truth for that time. Instead of faithfully witnessing to the great salvation as revealed to them, they built up a wall of partition between themselves and the Gentiles. It became necessary for God to finally separate them as a nation from being His chosen people; nevertheless, the Lord found a remnant among them that were faithful and this remnant continued to be God's church. We read in Romans 11 where God likened Israel to an olive tree. Here we learn that many of the branches were broken off because of unbelief and disobedience, but the Israel tree still remains. God says that the Gentiles were a wild olive tree and those who would turn to Him and be saved were to be grafted in as a part of Israel, the natural tree. The apostles and Jesus were Jews and the three thousand people who were converted on the day of Pentecost were Jews. So God found a remnant from Israel who still continued to be His chosen people, and the Gentiles have been grafted into that tree ever since.

The promises that could have been fulfilled to Israel after the flesh must now be fulfilled to Israel after the Spirit. There is absolutely no more basis for claiming any special place for the physical descendants of Abraham. Even before they claimed to have no king but Caesar, Jesus had said to them, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." Matthew 21:43. That nation is referred to by the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:9 when he said God's people would be "a holy nation, a peculiar people." In other words, the Christian Church, made up of all nationalities, would now constitute the true Israel of God.

Jesus sadly reminded the leaders of Israel, "Behold your house is left unto you desolate." Matthew 23:38. Paul and Barnabas said in Acts 13:46, "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles."

Paul further explained the rejection of fleshly Israel in these words, "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel, neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children ... they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. Romans 9:6-9.

Now friends, how plain that is that some are going to be counted the seed of Abraham who are not his seed according to the flesh. How can anyone believe that the literal, physical Jews have any special claim on the blessings or the promises of God today? They can be saved as individuals only by personal faith in a Saviour. But there is not one single text which indicates that they will ever again as a nation turn to serve the Lord. Paul said, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for we are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:28, 29.

So there it is. Today the church is God's spiritual Israel. The task of world evangelism is no longer assigned to the Jews, it is assigned to the Church. The blessings of Abraham will be realized by those who have the faith of Abraham and who become his spiritual seed.

By His plain statements and parables Jesus repeatedly warned the Jews of their approaching rejection and doom. In Matthew 23:29-32 He said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers (which went into Babylonian captivity), we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers." By pursuing such a course, they were about to "finish the transgression" preparatory to their judgment and rejection.

In one of His parables Jesus phrased the situation in a way that caused the chief priests and the elders of the people to pass judgment on themselves. "There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, ... . Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. ... And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them." Matthew 21:33-45. Thus it was that Paul said, "Lo, we turn to the Gentiles."

Later, describing how the Jews had filled their cup of iniquity, Paul addressed the Thessalonian church: "For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen even as they have of the Jews: who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath of God is come upon them to the uttermost." 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16. In all this, being "stiffnecked ... in heart and ears," in "alway" resisting the Holy Ghost, in becoming the "betrayers" and "murderers" of Jesus, in stopping "their ears" to Stephen's voice and murdering him, they did fill up their sins and were rejected as God's people.

Jesus acknowledged their being the physical descendants of Abraham but charged them with doing the works of their father, the devil. He made it very clear that the children of Abraham are those who have the faith of Abraham and do the works of Abraham. They would be able to share in the promises made long ago to that great father of the faithful. The Bible says Abraham was "heir of the world" which makes him the wealthiest man who ever lived. But the world he receives will be the earth made new.

Abraham looked forward to the time when he could have a home in a city which God has gone to prepare. "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed: and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise, for he looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God." Hebrews 11: 8-13.

Not only did Abraham expect to enter into the city of God, but also all the faithful saints of God enjoyed this same blessed hope. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." "But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." Hebrews 11:13,15.

We, too, are striving for a home in that city. This city is called the New Jerusalem. "I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Revelation 21:1,2.

There are twelve gates into this city, and over these gates are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. "And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel." Revelation 21:12.

To enter through these gates we must keep God's commandment. "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:14.

Thus we see that God is making up a spiritual Israel that will inhabit the new earth, and the New Jerusalem will be the capital. Jesus was a Jew, and by being born again through Christ we become a part of Abraham's seed. We are thereby grafted in as a part of the Israel tree. We are required to keep the same law and the same holy Sabbath as were the Jews of the Old Testament.

God has the same plan of salvation in the Old and New Testament. And when we enter into the New Jerusalem, we must pass in as a part of Israel, because over each of the twelve gates is written the name of the tribes of Israel.

What a privilege it will be to have a place in the home God is preparing. There "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:4. Jesus has made provision to keep God's law in us and thus prepare us for a place in that home if we will let Him. The Apostle Paul has written, "What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us." Romans 8:3,4.

Dear friend, won't you yield your heart in obedience to God and let Him fit you and prepare you for a place in His eternal kingdom?

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