The Israel of God

Who or what is Israel, according to Scripture? Well, depending on context it can mean different things.

Most commonly, it’s a reference to the Jewish people (Ro 9:31-33), the descendants of Abraham through Jacob, who’s name was changed to Israel. (Ge 32:28) These are God’s chosen people from an earthly perspective. (De 7:6)

But there are times when God uses the term to refer to the elect (1Pe 1:1-2), those whom He has chosen from eternity past to be His eternal, heavenly people. (1Pe 2:9-10) For example, when Paul says, “they are not all Israel which are of Israel” (Ro 9:6), he evidently means just because someone is a descendent of Abraham doesn’t imply they’re a child of God. (7-8) In other words, one definition for Israel is the children of God. (Ga 6:16)

So, when we read, “all Israel shall be saved” (Ro 11:26), we shouldn’t understand that every Jew will go to Heaven, but that all of God’s eternally chosen people will. God counts believing non-Jews as His own (Ga 3:28), belonging to Israel (Ep 2:14), members His earthly chosen people (1Co 10:1), and applies the same principles to us all. In other words, earthly, physical Israel is a type of God’s elect, and what He’s written about His interactions with them is for all His people in every age. (11)

So, as we consider God’s dealings with Israel in the Old Testament (5), we should take note and recognize God is showing us how He treats His chosen people. (6-10) God doesn’t have two different standards for or ways of interacting with His people. (He 10:28-30) God has written the Old Testament for our learning and comfort (Ro 15:4); its principles are meant for us now, today. (1Co 9:9-10)

In other words, anything God has written which we’re able to observe and obey today is written to teach us how to walk with God. (Ps 119:105) As we hear the Word, we ought to be doers of it. (Ja 1:22-25)

articles  ♦  blog