Israel and the Church

God, Israel and the Church are three of the main characters in the Bible’s epic story of redemption. In the Old Testament, Israel and God play the lead role. In the New Testament, the Church and God play the lead role. But how do these two main characters, Israel and the Church, relate to each other? Is Israel the same as the Church with just a name change? Or are they completely separate?

To understand this relationship between Israel and the Church, there is one important question that we must ask that will help us understand the biblical relationship between them: Who fulfills the Old Testament promises about Israel’s salvation? Are these promises fulfilled by Israel or the Church?
For the clearest answer to this question we go to Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapters nine, ten and eleven. I believe that if we let Scripture speak simply and clearly, what we will see is that the Old Testament promises about Israel’s salvation are fulfilled and that salvation happens within the Church not apart from it. 

So far in our study of Romans 9, we have seen that God never promised to save every Jewish person (9:6), only those whom He has chosen to show mercy to, (9:18) those who believe. This week in Romans 9:25-10:4, Paul reveals more about God’s reason to partially harden Israel. We can see that redemptive history took a pretty clear turn after Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Israel has stumbled and is still stumbling over Jesus (Rom. 9:30-32). God's purpose for this partial hardening is so that elect Gentiles (Rom. 8:29) would be included in His plan of redemption. Since the coming of Jesus, Gentiles have been and are still presently flooding into the kingdom of God. This is the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3.

In Romans 9:25-33, Paul takes several Old Testament passages from Hosea and Isaiah where God was working with Israel and applies them to what God is now doing among the Gentiles in the Church. Paul deliberately takes these two prophecies about the future salvation of Israel and applies them to the Church. Paul’s point is that the Church, consisting of both Jews and Gentiles, has become the people of God, the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16). The prophecies of Hosea about Israel are fulfilled in the Christian Church along with believing Gentiles.

Therefore, we can confidently say with Paul, "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:37-39).

See you Sunday, enjoying the riches of God's glory given to us: Steve

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