The New Israel (The Church)

It is plain in the Bible that Jesus did not come to start a new religion. The mission of Jesus Christ was “first for the Jew” (Romans 1:16 and Mark 7:27). His mission was to “bring Jacob back to (God) and gather Israel to himself” (Isa 49:5). Or in the words of Simeon, He came “for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:32). His first mission was to restore Israel to its role as a “light . . . to the Gentiles” (Isa 49:6; Luke 2:32), a “kingdom of priests” (Exod 19:5-6), and a blessing to all the families of the earth (Gen 12:3). As the new Israel, He called twelve disciples (Matt 10:1-4), but He also called seventy (Luke 10:1), the number of nations in the world after the Flood (Genesis 10). From the beginning, His mission was also with an eye to the Gentiles.

But the question that was not settled at the beginning was this: “Would national, institutional Israel; the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees, priests and scribes; embrace the Messiah and His spiritual vision for a restored Israel?” Jesus’ intention to include them is clear in His choice of twelve disciples and in His lament over Jerusalem (Matt 23:37—“How often I have longed to gather your children together. . .”). Even in Paul’s day it was still clear that “God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew” (Rom 11:1-2). But early on in Jesus’ ministry, the leaders of national Israel “rejected God’s purpose for themselves” (Luke 7:30) and instead plotted with the civil authorities how they might destroy Him and His mission (Mark 3:6).

If the leaders of institutional Israel had embraced the Messiah and His spiritual vision for them, they could have been the means through which a restored Israel would become a “light
. . . to the Gentiles” and a “kingdom of priests”, as God had always intended (see also Jeremiah 31:31-34). After all, His re-definition of Israel was not something new, it was a restoration of the original mission of Israel. But the leaders of institutional Israel rejected Jesus and His spiritual mission. From now on, Israel would no longer be defined in relation to its institutional leadership, but in terms of relationship with Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. In rejecting a relationship with Jesus, national Israel rejected a role for itself in His restoration of the original mission of Israel. The disciples of Jesus, as a remnant of original Israel, would now take up the role that national Israel had refused to do (Matt 18:29-30; 21:43).

One thought on “The New Israel (The Church)

  1. James Lee Merrills

    Catching up:
    Blog I — I look forward to how you address the “unfulfilled” prophecies, seeing how critical this is to the dispensationalist.

    Blog (Jesus) – I like your words “now being assisted by Yahweh’s servant”. Ellen White builds on the OT promises, stating that Israel could have stood forever. While that may seem incredible to some, “Being assisted” by the Servant makes her statement all the more understandable.

    Blog (the Church) – Again, I appreciate that you restate that the leaders could have “embraced the Messiah,” but rejected the new “role for itself.” Also appreciate how the “remnant” concept comes in with the 12 disciples.

    Significantly, I appreciate how you zero-in on the choice made by Israel’s leaders. Doukhan has well explained in his writings how the leaders represent the nation, and how EG White’s statements on this topic are to be understood in this manner. In short, that God didn’t reject the Jewish people.
    In a presentation on Israel, I demonstrate from the Adult SS Study Guides how even the SDA church altered its view on Dan 9:24 over the decades, from pointing the finger at the Jews (suggesting they failed to achieve the first three conditions) to a Christ-centered view (He fulfilled all 6 conditions).

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