Israel & The Body of ChristVolume 2, Number 4
Created Date: February 20, 2005
Posted Date: February 20, 2005
Vol 2 - No 4, February 20, 2005
Israel and the Body of Christ:
Here we digress from the study of Moses' faith and examine an aspect of God's dealing with the Nation of Israel and lessons learned there from. InGod tells Moses: "And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, thy firstborn." Clearly stated; God viewed the Children of Israel as one body and refers to them in the singular, as one, as His own son. By way of illustration the Children of Israel can be viewed as similar to a large corporation today, which consists of thousands of people but never the less is considered by law as a single body and to be dealt with as such.
Many individual Israelites will be found in both the Old and New Testaments who by faith were obedient to God"s Word but many others were unfaithful and disobedient. As when a corporation today suffers because an individual member thereof violates the law so the nation of Israel as a whole suffered because of the improper action/s of one or a few individuals therein. An example of when the entire Nation suffered because of the disobedience of one man is found in Joshua 7 when Achan took property from the defeated enemy, which God had forbidden. By keeping in mind Israel's identity as God's son, a body of one, we can better understand His dealings with that nation. This understanding will also provide some insight into our relationship with God today as members of the Body of Christ.
God's promise of blessing to Israel was first given to Abraham, then to Isaac and then to Jacob who was renamed Israel. The Children of Israel were saved from starvation by Joseph in Egypt and at first lived there in comfort and with plenty. However, after the death of Joseph and the Pharaoh under whom he severed the Hebrews became slaves and suffered greatly. Some time later God appointed Moses the leader by which He saved Israel from death and bondage in Egypt. In this role Moses was a type of Christ and as such his actions foreshadowed and pictured what the Lord Jesus Christ ultimately will complete in fact. Later on under King David Israel won many victories over their enemies and David, although far from being perfect, was a type of and pictured the Lord Jesus Christ as the king under whom all of Israel's enemies will someday indeed be defeated. However, in spite of the deliverance from death and bondage as well as victory over enemies that God gave through Moses, David and other leaders, Israel repeatedly lost faith in God's Word and disobeyed His law, which brought captivity, slavery and suffering to them time after time.
After Moses and David it is clear that Israel looked forward to a Messiah, an anointed one, who would finally and in fact deliver them from death and bondage and sit on the throne of David. Seefor one reference to the promised Messiah in the Old Testament. During the earthly ministry of Jesus it was clear to some in Israel that He was indeed the promised Messiah: "One of the two which heard John (the Baptist) speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ." - . "The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he." . Thus Jesus Himself revealed He was Israel's "I am" and as such their promised Messiah.
In spite of the fact that some individual Jews believed and accepted Jesus as their Messiah, the corporate body of Israel never the less rejected Him. Israel's leaders went about to kill Him a number of times and finally, but only at God's appointed time, they were successful and turned Him over to the government of Rome for crucifixion. However, He arose from the dead and by God's grace was offered to Israel again as their Messiah, the account of which is recorded in the first part of the book of Acts. Again, a group of individual Jews believed in their Messiah but alas Israel as a corporate body rejected Him yet again. This time, Israel signaled their rejection by stoning Stephen to death, he being then one of Messiah's principal spokesmen. Subsequently, God saved one of His principal antagonists, Saul of Tarsus who He renamed Paul and then set aside His exclusive dealings with Israel as a nation for a season.
It was to the Apostle Paul that God revealed a secret which had not been known to man before. For, whereas it had been well known from prophesy that Israel was to be blessed by God, it had never been revealed that the Gentiles, who were outside the promises made to Israel would be made part of one body in Christ and would be blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Nor had it been known that by His death on the cross Christ would make believers in Him, whether Jew and Gentile, one new man; and make of the two a temple in which the Lord dwells through the Spirit - Seeand 3:1 - 12.
As the Nation of Israel was dealt with as God's son up until they were set aside for a time, so all who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ since then are part of one corporate body, the Body of Christ. The Apostle Paul writes: "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." -. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ." - I Corinthians 12:12. "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." - I Corinthians 12:27. And, whereas God was not always pleased with His son Israel, He is well pleased with His son Jesus Christ. - Matthew 3:17 & 17:5; and .
(The Body of Christ is not Israel and did not replace Israel as a nation. Although it has been almost 2000 years since God set Israel aside and began the Body of Christ, He will not forget His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to bless Israel as a nation. In Romans 9 - 11 the Apostle Paul explains how Israel was, and still is, set aside as God's chosen nation only for a season but that all the promises He made to that Nation will someday be fulfilled literally and completely. The yet future accomplishment of Israel's restoration is prophesied by the Apostle John as recorded in the book of Revelation.)
As members of the Body of Christ today we have much for which to be thankful. Whereas the Nation of Israel prospered only when all were obedient but suffered because of the lack of faith and disobedience of a few, our corporate identity is in Christ and we depend not on the faith and obedience of each and every member of the body, but on Christ's own perfection. We as members of the Body of Christ do have a responsibility to live in a manor consistent with our standing therein but each of us can say with the Apostle Paul: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." - Galations 2:20. In order to become members of the Body of Christ we must believe and place our faith in Him. But our ongoing relationship as such is not dependant on the sometimes faltering strength of our own faith, as was Israel's, because we live by the faith of the Son of God who loved and gave Himself for us.