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March 22, 1998

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Q/A Topic:
  • Scriptures to Israel vs. Church

In writings here at VW we often speak of the need to make distinction between Israel and the Church. About how many false doctrines get started because of misunderstanding of this "basic" concept. How prophecies concerning the End-Times are often misunderstood because those specifically "to" Israel are erroneously applied to the Church.

The following question came in recently, and its response provides a convenient way to "briefly" address "how to distinguish" WHICH SCRIPTURES refer to whom.

Q.
How does one determine which scriptures belong to Israel and not to "us"? That seems pretty subjective, and many interpretations could abound. Besides, doesn't 2Tim3:16-17 indicate all scripture is applicable to "us"?

A.
Yes...a very good question...

If you look at those two verses carefully, you notice it says that Scripture "is **PROFITABLE** for doctrine, etc.etc. ...that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped..." It does not say (as you suggest) that all Scripture is "applicable" [refers to, deals with] "us." "profitable" == "advantageous, beneficial." In other words, all Scripture is "for our benefit."

Paul, the "apostle to the Gentiles" writes of "them" (as opposed to "us") that the things Israel went through were "written for our admonition"(1Cor10:11) God gave it to us in the Scriptures, so we could see how "they" (Israel) were unfaithful, as an "example" to NOT follow.(vs6)

Furthermore, in the book of Romans, he makes a distinction between "them" and "us." He's writing to the "Church" and speaks of his "brethren" (by heritage/lineage/ethnicity) "according to the flesh."(Rom9:3) By the manner of writing, it is obvious that he is referring to a "different group" than the one he is addressing.

As he addresses "you Gentiles" (Rom11:13) he speaks of branches which were "broken off"(vs17) so that "you..wild olive tree" could be grafted in. And further the branches which were broken off are called "they" (vs20) ...a different group than he is addressing.

"Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in..."(vs25) But ultimately, Israel will be restored...which is what the primary theme of the O.T. prophets is about..."so all Israel will be saved..."(vs26)(Jer31:33) The covenant is with the "house of Israel." The word "house" here means "family, descendents, etc." Remembering that the nation of Israel is a "family" descending from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A "physical" entity with covenant "land."(Gen 13:15)

But the "Church" is a "spiritual house."(1Pt2:5) Where Israel was based on "I AM"(Ex3:14) Jehovah...the Church is based on "Jesus Christ." "I will built My church"(Mt16:18) ...as they were called "Christians" in Antioch.(Acts11:26) The Church is not in the "flesh" (Israel/circumcision) but in the "Spirit" (Rom8:1,9)

And even in the end there will be a distinction. There are the 144,000 sealed of Israel, and then the multitude which no one could number. (Rev ch7) And you will notice that the 144,000 are "servants of our God"(vs3) and the great multitude were made white in the "blood of the Lamb."(vs14) There is a definite distinction, even though all Saints come "by faith."(Rom1:17) And while Paul explains the "common salvation"(Jude1:3) in Romans he continually says, "for the Jew first and also for the Greek."(Rom1:16,etc.)

When the Wrath of God is poured out, as Israel goes through the time of "Jacob's Trouble"(Jer30:7) it says He will "purify the sons of Levi."(Mal3:3) The word "sons", again, a term of physical descendents. Actual "Israel" by birth, by blood. Again, that's "them" ...not "us."

So, back to your question. All Scriptures "belong" to both them AND us. But some "apply" only to them. Some only to us. And others...to both.

And then on the other hand, some of "them" are part of "us" because they have become "Christians" through faith in Christ...so, just as the Church started out "Jewish" and Gentiles became "part of" Christ along with the Jews (Eph2:14) ...there are today Jews in the Church, which became predominantly "Gentile" in makeup when Israel rejected Christ and the Holy Spirit. (Acts28:28,Mt12:31-32,Rom11).

How does one "determine?" Read it. If Scripture says "Israel" it means Israel. If it talks about "in Christ" (e.g. 2Cor5:17) it is talking about Christ's "entity" the "Church." If it talks about "David's throne"(Is9:7) and ruling "in (physical) Jerusalem"(Zec14:16) ...that's "Israel."

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