Who is Israel?
Biblical Israel is NOT people descended from Abraham, Isaac or Jacob by natural descent, but the people of the Covenant, the people of faith. From the beginning those who WERE NOT direct descendants of Abraham were INCLUDED in the covenant and could intermarry with those within the covenant and so be absorbed into the covenant community. This is how it HAS ALWAYS BEEN, even since the time of Abraham.
The Beginning of the Covenant – Abraham
“…every male child among you shall be circumcised…he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” Genesis 17:10-13
The Law of Moses
“And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.” Exodus 12:48-49
And if a stranger dwells among you, and would keep the LORD’S Passover, he must do so according to the rite of the Passover and according to its ceremony; you shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger and the native of the land.’” Numbers 9:14
“All of you stand today before the LORD your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones and your wives–also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water– that you may enter into covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath, which the LORD your God makes with you today, that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 29:10-13
“Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law…” Deuteronomy 31:12
“Thus you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. It shall be that you will divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers who dwell among you and who bear children among you. They shall be to you as native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall be that in whatever tribe the stranger dwells, there you shall give him his inheritance, says the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 47:21-23
Isa 56:3-7 — “Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD Speak, saying, “The LORD has utterly separated me from His people”; nor let the eunuch say, “Here I am, a dry tree.” For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, Even to them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. “Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants– Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant– Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
The New Testament
To Jews, John the Baptist said, “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 3:9-10
“They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.” John 8:39
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2:28-29
“But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” Romans 9:6-8
“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh–who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands– that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation” Ephesians 2:11-14
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Eph 2:19-22
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” Galatians 6:15-16
Today the Church is Israel, those baptized in the Triune Name.
See my articles on these subjects on this page.
I commend to you the excellent book on this subject by O. Palmer Robertson titled The Israel of God.
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God’s grace to you,
Dr. Eugene Clingman