I apologize for a lengthy period of no posting. I know a number of you were looking forward to the conclusion of the series on LaRondelle, Israel and the Church. Distracted with many other things. With this posting, the series is now complete.
Old Testament Israel was made up of the literal descendants of Jacob in their twelve tribes settled in the promised land that was centered on the city of Jerusalem. So Israel in the Old Testament was identified in literal and local terms. Gentiles consisted of everyone outside Israel’s national and geographical boundaries. Those wishing to worship the God of Israel, therefore, would find Him at the temple in Jerusalem. But when the temple was destroyed and the descendants of Jacob were scattered to Babylon, God used those circumstances to open up the possibility of a broader definition of Israel.
According to the New Testament, a new Israel was established in the person of Jesus Christ. He came out of Egypt, passed through the waters, spent 40 days in the wilderness and called twelve disciples to form the “twelve tribes” of a new, spiritual Israel. He was Israel as Israel was intended to be. Just as His life, death and resurrection were modeled on the history and experience of Israel, so the experience of His disciples was to be modeled on Him and through Him on Old Testament Israel. So when the New Testament talks about the church it often does so in the language of Israel. The church, in the book of Revelation and throughout the New Testament, is modeled on the experience of Old Testament Israel. But this is not true in a direct sense. They are modeled on Israel because they are in relationship with the One who embraced the whole history and experience of Israel in Himself.
In contrast to Old Testament Israel, which was literal and local in nature, the new Israel (the church) is spiritual and worldwide, because it is grounded in relationship with Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. This Israel is made up of people from every nation, tribe, and language. They are found in every geographical corner of the world. And through the Holy Spirit, they have no need to go to Jerusalem, God is equally accessible from anywhere on earth. Likewise, opposition to Jesus and the church is spiritual and worldwide when it appears in Revelation. If one truly grasps the significance of this New Testament re-definition of Jew and Gentile, Israel and the nations, one’s reading of the Bible will never be the same.