“…having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”
The above passage describes what I refer to as the counsels of God. This contains all the work of God birthed in His determined will for the purpose of His own glory. The divine glory of God is the end and culmination of all His counsels. Jesus Christ holds the central place in these counsels and by Him God will be glorified and exalted. In the dispensation of the fullness of times God will gather together all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10). This gathering into one has a two-fold fulfillment – all things in heaven, and distinct from this, all things on earth.
The Foundation of All of God’s Counsels
The gathering is in Christ. However, it soon becomes clear that a foundation had to be laid as a basis for all the work that God would do – all the gathering that He would accomplish. This foundational work would be the means by which God could remain true to His own holy and righteous nature, and still bring about the reconciliation of a creation defiled by sin. This foundation is the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. When this work was finished, it provided the basis for the unfolding of all God’s counsels, not only towards man, but towards all of creation.
The understanding of this foundational work as related to the counsels of God is brought out in a remarkable way in the first chapter of the book of Colossians.
“…in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.”
The believer has redemption as a result of His death – through His blood (v. 14). Christ is the firstborn from the dead (v. 18), the beginning of all those that will be resurrected into glory. Therefore He is the Head of the Body for the church. Because He is also before all things, and in Him all things consist, then it stands to reason that in all things He has the preeminence. ‘All things’ is a reference to all of creation. This goes well beyond just a body of believers redeemed, although this is a most blessed truth. To be clear, it is all things in heaven and on earth, all things visible and invisible, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers – all things He had created (v. 20). All this is reconciled by His death.
The Preeminence of Christ is as the Son of Man
Christ’s preeminence over all creation can be viewed through a two-fold understanding. All things were created through Him and for Him (v. 16); therefore He is before all things as the Creator (v. 17). He made everything and has a right to it. However, as we have pointed out previously, He only takes possession of creation after reconciling it through His death (v. 20). He created it as God, but reconciles it back to God as a Man. This is the important understanding to gain here. All things of creation, as well as the body of Christ, have been reconciled to God by the death of the Son of Man.
When the counsels of God gather all things in heaven and on earth into Christ, it is after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead and glorified by God (John 13:31-32). This is easy to see if we go farther in this chapter in Ephesians to a passage that begins with the Son of Man in the grave.
“…and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
Earlier in this book I showed how the title of the Son of Man is inseparably linked to the death of Jesus Christ. If it is the Son of Man in the grave, then it is the Son of Man who is raised up out of the grave (Luke 24:7). And if so, then it is the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God (Mark 14:62). He is the one who reconciled to God all things created. It is the Son of Man’s body that is presently being gathered as the church. The counsels of God unfold in, and are centered upon, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man glorified – all things gathered in heaven and on the earth in Him.342
342 [None of these truths involve a Messiah come in the flesh to Israel. In fact, Paul declares to all Christians that we no longer know Jesus after the flesh (2 Cor. 5:16). We only know Him as the Son of Man raised from the dead and glorified (John 13:31-32, Heb. 2:9). And how could we be made members of this glorified Man’s body (1 Cor. 12:12-13), if we are still in the flesh? But Paul declares that all true Christians are no longer in the flesh, but seen by God as in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you (Rom. 8:9). The Messiah title is all Jewish. It references the son of David, the King of Israel. All these Messianic elements are in the flesh and dependent on physical birth and descent. These are not Christian things. It was incumbent on the Son of Man falling to the ground to die so that He would not be alone (John 12:23-24). Only as raised and glorified could He begin to build the church (Matt. 16:18). It is the church that is His body, His bride, the means by which He is no longer alone. When Jesus came to Israel, He certainly was their Messiah. But if He was accepted and there rose up a Messianic kingdom at that time, He would still have been in the flesh and all alone. The Son of Man had to die in order to then be glorified, in order for Him to build His church and not be alone in His glory, and in order that all created things in heaven and earth, things visible and invisible, would be reconciled back to God (1 Col. 1:20)]
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples in Galilee and said this to them. It connects the counsels of God – the gathering of all things in heaven and on earth – to the foundational work of the resurrected Son of Man. All authority in heaven and earth is given to the Son of Man. This is the basis for God’s gathering of all things into Christ. But it is and always will be Christ as the Son of Man.
The Heavenly Glory of Christ
In this book we have concentrated on the heavenly glory of Christ. It is our proper place and position in this glorified Man that the believer must be taught by the Spirit of God. We are in Christ. We are His body. We will be associated with Him in all He inherits and possesses. All the glory He now enters into beyond the cross, He shares with us, as His brethren. We are the heavenly calling in Jesus Christ.
I speak of these things as our proper place and position, but these must be statements totally devoid of human boasting. There simply cannot be any Arminian thought or philosophy behind this accomplishment. It is the Father who places the believer into this “proper position’ in Christ. We must see that it is the work of the sovereign God. It was His choice, purpose and counsels alone, accomplished by His own sovereign will and good pleasure (Eph. 1:3-12). It was not by my will or my decision. It was not by the will of the flesh or the will of man to we are born of God (John 1:13).
When you think of the counsels of God, you realize He has only one plan and that He must be sovereign in that plan if the details of it are to be accomplished. It cannot be any other way. God cannot become dependent on the will of the creature. His counsels could not and would not be accomplished that way. He must maintain control down to the minutest detail or the whole plan would unravel.
As a believer, I will share Christ’s glory. Also I am a co-heir with Him in all He inherits. I will be made like Him, conformed into His image by God (Rom. 8:29). I have been made a member of His body and of His Bride. Throughout the ages to come the Father will show an exceeding richness of grace to me because He placed me in Christ (Eph. 2:7). I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.
I did not make this stuff up. If I did it would be all pride and arrogance. But it is all found in God’s word, where He reveals His counsels to the believer. It is what God has declared and His word will not return to Him void, because He is sovereign. It will accomplish everything He has sent it to do. It is a false humility for the believer to deny these truths. I embrace them as what my loving Father has provided for me, and I declare that God’s sovereignty is shown by them. I fully realize it is all God’s work – all of it. And this is how we should define the sovereignty of God, and how He has blessed the believer in Christ.
The Earthly Glory of Christ
Now I would like to share, with the Holy Spirit’s help, the understanding of the earthly things in the counsels of God (John 3:12). All of biblical prophecy is about the earth. In the fullness of times, all things on earth will be gathered into Christ (Eph. 1:10). Again, this is for the glory of God. The simple understanding is that all prophecy can only be understood as it relates to Jesus Christ and the earthly things. All the objects and events found in prophecy can only be understood and properly interpreted in their relationship with and to Christ. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 19:10).
The Last Dispensation: The Millennium on Earth
The dispensation of the fullness of times in the above verse is the millennium (Rev. 20:6-7). During that time period, all things on earth will come under the dominion and reign of the Son of Man (Dan. 7:13-14). We can go on and make some general statements of interest concerning this dispensation. It is a time when Satan is bound and out of the way, until the end of the period when He will be set loose for a season to tempt and deceive (Rev. 20:7-9). The character of the millennium while Satan is bound is a reign of righteousness and peace. This is the character of the exercise of the Melchizedek order of priesthood in Christ – a royal and kingly priesthood.
“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.”
The whole story of Melchizedek meeting Abraham is a type prefiguring the millennial glory of Christ. As King of kings and Lord of lords, the Son of Man will reign at this time as the King of righteousness and peace (Matt. 25:31). Melchizedek blessed Abraham after the defeat of all his enemies. Again this prefigures the future Jewish remnant blessed and prospering in the land after the defeat of their enemies. God’s name as Most High always points to the millennial glory, as it does here. In Deut. 32:8-9 the Most High makes Israel the center of the earth for the dividing of all nations. God’s direct government of the earth will once again go forth out of Jerusalem. In Daniel 7, the Most High is related to the earthly kingdom and dominion of the Son of Man. During the millennium the city of God’s government of the earth is called, ‘The Lord Our Righteousness.’ (Jer. 33:16).
The character of the millennium is a King reigning over Israel (Messiah) and over the whole of creation (Son of Man). He is reigning by the exercise of judgments and power. It is a reign of peace and righteousness.
“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah:
‘In those days and at that time
I will cause to grow up to David
A Branch of righteousness;
He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In those days Judah will be saved,
And Jerusalem will dwell safely.
And this is the name by which she will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’
“For thus says the Lord: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.”
This prophecy is Messianic and shows that during the millennial reign of Messiah the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah will be reunited as one people. Worth noting is that the King uses His power to execute judgments in righteousness to bring peace. The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness only when God’s judgments are in the earth (Is. 26:9-10, 5:15-16).
The fullness of times of the millennium is the last counting of time before the eternal state of the new heavens and new earth. The end of the millennium, being the filling-up of time, is also the last fulfilling of prophecy. It is the end of this present earth. The millennium as a dispensation is the last one. The thought of a dispensation is not only the marking of a general period of time, but is related to the present earth. A dispensation is certainly more than this, but I am only establishing a connection – time being counted, the present earth, prophecy, and dispensations are all linked together. What lies beyond in the new heavens and new earth is a whole new world.
The Millennium: Natural bodies, Nationalities, and Genders
Where the millennium is a reign of righteousness by judgments and power, the eternal state will be where righteousness dwells (II Pet. 3:13). The big difference between the millennium and the eternal state is that the sin of Adam still remains in the flesh of all the inhabitants of the earth during the millennium. The saved Jewish remnant, and the remaining Gentile nations not judged as goats (Matt. 25:31-32), enter the millennium with natural bodies, male and female, in order to be fruitful and multiply.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The believers position in Christ in not only where there are no nationalities, but also where there is no male or female. Being in glory with Christ, the body of Christ will not be growing and increasing in numbers. In the heavens there is only one marriage. It is the body of Christ with the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9). Nationalities are for the earth, as are genders. In Christ all believers are sons with the Father, sons of God; not male and female, but as it declares, ‘you are all sons.’ This is part of the believer’s new position, out of the first Adam and into the second Adam. This new creation is the putting on Christ through faith.
“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,”
He who sanctifies is Jesus Christ. Those that are sanctified are one, and as one, with Him who sanctifies (I Cor. 6:17). As the heavenly calling, when the body of Christ is taken from this earth, it will be in this character. However the earthly calling is never like this – they are always Israel in nationality and male and female. Those on the earth that survive the tribulation, and are not judged and condemned, enter the millennium as the dwellers on the earth. They will live and inhabit the earth, as belonging to it and being of it. Israel at that time acknowledged of God in the Jewish remnant, will receive the Promised Land as their inheritance (Ez. 28:24-26, Ez. 47:13-14).
Christ, not of this World
This is quite a distinction between Israel and the body of Christ. Believers are asked to follow Christ (John 1:43). Believers, on the earth and in this world, are described as having a walk (Col. 1:10). Our walk is a sojourn (Heb. 11:8-10, 13-16). When Jesus was raised from the dead in His glorified body, He could not stay here in this world.
“Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
We get the sense that this world would no longer be fit for the resurrected Man to stay in, yet the disciples and believers would be left here. He is no longer in the world, but goes to the Father. These disciples are in the world and He does not ask the Father to take them out of the world. “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world,” – in this the believer is the same with Him. The difference is that Jesus would be in a raised and glorified body, and we would not, at least not yet. As the glorified Man, this sinful world would be nothing but defilement for Him if He were to stay.
The Glorified Body – not of this present World
We do not yet have the end of our salvation – the glorification of our bodies. The counsels of God have always been such that the many sons of the Father would be conformed into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:11, 17, and 29). When this occurs, we will no longer be fit for this world either, and will be taken out of it. If you think about it, all the bodies of every Christian there ever was are still on this earth. This thought alone is reason enough for the future event I speak of – the blessed hope of the church (Rom. 8:23-25). You are not a complete man, as created by God in His image, without your body. When a believer dies, spirit and soul go to be with the Lord (II Cor. 5:8, Phil. 1:23). But without the body we are naked. Our proper hope is not to be unclothed, but further clothed, that our mortal bodies would be swallowed up by life (II Cor. 5: 1-6).
Our bodies of flesh remain in the first man – the sin he gave us, resides in the flesh. Everything else about the believer is of the new creation in Christ – in the second Man. Our mortal bodies are our only remaining connection to Adam and this world. When sin is removed, our bodies will be glorified, and we will follow Christ out of this present evil world. Until then we remain here, and He asks the Father to keep us from the evil in it (John 17:15). We also have a High Priest. As we are on our walk in this evil world, our feet become dirty – we become defiled by the evil around us. Jesus is constantly washing the believer’s feet and removing any defilement accumulated from our walk (John 13:7). When we are in glory, conformed into His very image, He will no longer have need to wash our feet. When we see Him we will be like Him (I John 3:2).
Believers chosen out of this World
Christ is not of this world, and the believer in Christ is not of this world (John 8:23, 15:19, 17:14, 16). We are in the world and on the earth presently, but viewed as being in Christ, we have no connections to it. All of this however is not the position of Israel, or any unbeliever. They are part of this world and have no connection to Christ. They are dwellers of the earth. The whole world is in unbelief. The entire world is condemned by God (John 12:31). Presently, while the mystery of Christ is at the forefront of the counsels of God, and prophecy is set aside, this is all that is taking place:
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
The Holy Spirit gathers Christ’s body as those chosen by Him – chosen out of this world. But here He was speaking of disciples, of believers. When He spoke about His leaving this world to the nation of Israel, it wasn’t at all the same message. Where He went they were not permitted to come. He was going away and they would continue to look for a Messiah, but He tells them they would not be able to find one and they would die in their sin (John 8:21, 7:33-34). The world was judged and condemned by God, but now He would choose some out of it.
Israel’s New Covenant in the Millennium: The Sovereign Work of God
According to the prophecies concerning the end, Israel will be saved as a remnant (Rev. 7: 1-8, 11:26-28). They are the earthly calling and the earthly glory of Christ (Is. 60:1, 3), as well as the center of the government of God over the world (Is. 9:6-7, Ps. 2:8-9). What is remarkable is how this is accomplished – all by sovereign choice and power from God. They are chosen, they are marked, and they are preserved by the power of God in the midst of their enemies. When Jesus comes to them as their Messiah, they will look on Him whom they have pierced (Zech. 12:10). Their faith is a very earthly type of faith – a Thomas type of faith – they do not believe until they actually see (John 20:25). It is a walk by sight, and is characteristic of Judaism. But this is understandable, especially if we look at the new covenant that God makes with them in that day (the beginning of the millennium);
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
This new covenant is also by the sovereign working of God. He writes His law on their hearts and puts it in their minds. This is not a learning process for He declares that no more shall they be taught. It is simply by sovereign power that they walk perfectly in His law. All of Israel will know the Lord and perfectly obey Him. God does this; it is not the work of man. They are still a people in the flesh and in Adam, and it is still the Law of Moses – God’s religion of the earth and of the world. But it is accomplished by the sovereign choice and power of God. The finger of God writes His law on their hearts, the very law that was set aside by God when Jerusalem was destroyed. Now it is a new covenant with Israel, and it will be obeyed and fulfilled.
“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
The law will not pass away until all is fulfilled. It is a law given by God to Israel, and at best, represents the standard of human righteousness before God. By the sovereign power of God, Israel will perfectly obey the law of God, and fulfill these very words of Christ. They will do it during the millennium, before God brings about the new heavens and the new earth. The law will be fulfilled by Israel, every jot and tittle.
This new covenant for Israel is not the new covenant the believer has in Christ. We are in Him, and He in us (John 14:20, 17:26). We are His body, and His bride. We ate His flesh and drank His blood (John 6:53). In Christ we are made sons of God, and seated with Him and in Him in the heavens. We are never tied to the earth. Israel however, is always of the earth and servants in the house of God (John 8:35-36). This covenant is as to servants in the household, not to sons.
Israel’s Two Covenants – One Covenant Given Twice
These two covenants are the only two covenants Israel will ever have. It is the law both times. Truly by the sovereign power of God, before He brings about the new heavens and the new earth, the law is perfectly fulfilled by those that He gave it to originally. The law was given to Israel to be done by Israel. At its first giving, it was a testing of man in responsibility. It was to see if man in Adam – man in the flesh, and man in his own power — could produce righteousness as a fruit before God. But this was not possible. Israel, as the test case for all mankind failed in responsibility.
What the law was and why it was given the first time at Mt. Sinai is important to understand. What it was – it was a testing of man in responsibility. Why it was given – it was given for death and condemnation. As a new covenant made with Israel – written on their hearts at the beginning of the millennium, and performed by the sovereign power of God in them (Ez. 36:24-28) – the what, and why is all for the glory of God. It is the earthly glory of Christ. God will be glorified in the earth by the exalting of Israel above all the nations.
Israel perfectly obeys the Law – Israel is Exalted, and Jehovah’s Name Hallowed
“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.”
When God originally gave the law to Israel, this was His promise to them. If the nation would perfectly obey the law of God, then He would make them the greatest nation on the face of the earth. In the end, when they are gathered back to the land, these very words will be fulfilled. Of course, God’s word never returns back to Him void.
“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.”
Israel is the mountain of the Lord’s house on the earth. The other mountains and hills are the remaining Gentile nations. In the millennium, as the earthly glory of Christ, Israel will be exalted above all, and the Gentile nations will be gathered to them for blessing. But we must remember this is all by God’s sovereign plan and power, not by Israel doing anything to deserve it. Jehovah’s name will be hallowed in Israel as well, by what He works in them and through them. God will glorify His name by all this, and His glory will fill the earth.
“Therefore you shall keep My commandments, and perform them: I am the Lord. You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord.”
The law given to Israel in Leviticus would not be done. It was not possible for man, already a sinner, to keep His commandments and obey them. The keeping and performing of the law by Israel would have meant their separation (sanctification) in the world and on the earth. If the law was perfectly done by Israel, God’s holy name would have been hallowed in the earth. This is an example of how God is glorified by man. However, allow me to caution you to think correctly about this very point – it was impossible for Israel to do. As long as the basis of the performance of the law remained in the responsibility of man in Adam, there would be nothing but failure. Now contrast the above passage with a prophecy concerning Israel’s history leading to their restoration in the land.
16 “Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 17 “Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds; to Me their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity. 18 Therefore I poured out My fury on them for the blood they had shed on the land, and for their idols with which they had defiled it. 19 So I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries; I judged them according to their ways and their deeds. 20 When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name—when they said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they have gone out of His land.’ 21 But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went.”
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. 23 And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. 24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. 29 I will deliver you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. 30 And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!”
33 “‘Thus says the Lord God: “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. 35 So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ 36 Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken it, and I will do it.”
37 “‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them: I will increase their men like a flock. 38 Like a flock offered as holy sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem on its feast days, so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.”’
This passage shows Israel’s failure in their history when they were tested in responsibility. The result was defilement of the land by their ways and deeds (v. 17). God scatters them (v.19), and His name is profaned in the earth among the Gentiles, because of this (v. 20-21). Israel is among the nations because God judged their failures in responsibility. They are there not as His people, and as not a separated nation for His glory.
In time, God will glorify His name on the earth. We see how God will do this. He will not be dependent on man, but He will sovereignly do a work. Jehovah’s name is hallowed in all the earth because of what He works on His own. He does not do it for their sake, but for His own glory (v. 22-23). He alone is responsible for hallowing His own name. When the Gentiles see what God works in Israel – a gathered and separated nation in their own land, and perfectly obeying His law (v.26-27) – then Jehovah is glorified in all the earth because Israel is exalted above all the nations. This is easily seen in the remainder of the passage.
Human Righteousness vs. the Righteousness of God
There is one more point I want to make concerning Israel’s covenant – the Law of Moses. If you keep in mind all that has been said previously in this book concerning the law and Judaism, this should be easier to see. The Law of God, given to Israel, only represents human righteousness. The performance of the law – whether you are doing it, or someone is doing it for you in your place – only results in a human type of righteousness. It is not the righteousness of God.
This can be seen on two different fronts. First, the law was made and given by God, while the righteousness of God is an attribute depicting the nature of God. God is holy and righteous. This is who God is, what He is, in his nature. God never makes a law, principle, or ordinance, that He is subject to or dependent on. This is impossible. Whenever He works and acts, He does so as being true to His own nature, true to Himself. God is never acting or working in obedience to some exterior law, even a law of His own making. How could this be, and God remain God? How could anything be above God, if He is transcendent in His nature? How could God make anything that He then becomes subject to?
Therefore the righteousness of God can never be viewed as obeying an exterior law. When we think about the righteousness of God, I would think we would be considering the nature of God Himself. If I could perfectly obey the Law of Moses, I would have produced a righteousness of the law, a righteousness of my own, and not that of God (Phil. 3:9-10). It would be a human righteousness associated with the earth and Judaism. When Israel perfectly obeys the law in the millennium, this is what it will be – the measure of what a man in Adam should be before a holy and righteous God.
Now let me clearly state what I’ve implied from the last three paragraphs. Jesus did not come to this earth to do the law for you and me under some thought of substitution. God never had this thought, and Jesus never had this intention. Jesus didn’t fulfill the law, neither did He try to. When He is speaking of the law being fulfilled down to every jot and tittle, He is not speaking of Himself doing it. When you read the gospels of the walk of Christ on this earth, do you honestly get the impression that He was going out of His way to fulfill the Law of Moses? Quite frankly, it appears that many times He was going out of His way to make waves with the leaders of Israel concerning their law (John 15:24-25, 5:18).
As we explained above, the doing of the law does not represent the righteousness of God, even if it were Jesus as the one doing it. There could only be a human righteousness found in the law.
“Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.”
There was never a law given which could give life. Was there ever a possibility that the righteousness of God could come by the law – even someone doing it for us by substitution? Then the scriptures would say that Jesus did the law for us, and so, truly the righteousness of God came to us by the law being done. But there is a big ‘if’ in the above passage – if there had been a law given which could – but there never was a law given which could.
2 Corinthians 5:21
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
This is the only way that the righteousness of God comes to the believer. It is by God making Christ to be sin for us. The believer becoming the righteousness of God is solely dependent on this truth – Christ made to be sin, and God judged and condemned Him on our behalf.
The Spotless Sacrifice – The Second Adam
Certainly, He knew no sin of His own, but this is so He could be the spotless sacrifice offered up. When the Passover was instituted the sacrifice was a lamb without blemish of the first year (Ex. 12:5). The choice of the lambs as fit for the sacrifice was based upon their birth – without blemish. It was not based upon how the lambs lived their first year of life. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit, the power of the Highest overshadowing Mary. What was born to her was the Holy One, the Son of God. This was not man being born in the first Adam. This is what made Jesus a fit sacrifice.
Jesus never walked on this earth as a man born in Adam. This understanding makes all the difference in the doctrines of redemption the church was to teach through the centuries. He came to Israel as the Son of God in human flesh, and His assignment as the Son was to obediently reveal the Father. This is how He walked in the flesh. When He walked on the water in the midst of the storm to the disciples in the boat half way across the sea, it was as the Son of God. And the same was true in raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:4). All the works He did and all the words He spoke were as the Son obedient to the Father, who was always with Him and in Him (John 15:21-24, 14:6-11). Only God could reveal God, and the Son revealed the Father as He walked on this earth.
Could the Son of God commit sin and be guilty of sin? Not any more than the Father or the Holy Spirit could commit sin. It was impossible. Did the Son have His own will apart from the Father? Absolutely He did. However, the Son sets aside His own will, to be obedient to do the will of the Father alone, and therefore reveal the Father only. This is a similar understanding of what we are to have concerning the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
The Holy Spirit is God. The believer’s body is the temple of God because the Spirit of God dwells in us. But the Holy Spirit does not speak on His own authority – He does not do His own will. He takes of what is Christ’s, and declares it to us. The point is we tend to misunderstand the Son being sent, taking on humanity, and walking in the midst of Israel. We also misunderstand the title of Christ as the Son of Man, and what that distinctly points to – it is not simply His humanity, but His death. His walk was always with the Father (John 16:32) as the Son of God. His death was as forsaken by the Father, or rather forsaken by God (Matt. 27:46). There is a big difference in how you should view the obedience He shows in each.
The Law of Moses is always associated with man in Adam
The Law of Moses was given to Israel. They represented mankind in the first Adam. The law always remains the testing of responsibility of man in the first Adam. It stays there. Christ was not born in the first Adam. He was the second Adam, the last Adam. He did not come to do the law for us. Even if in your thinking He did, His performance would only represent human righteousness. What would be the reason for Jesus to come and accomplish human righteousness? Man needed God’s righteousness in order to enter the presence of God. The doing of the law does not touch the righteousness of God.
This is another example of man’s thoughts opposed to God’s thoughts. Israel thought the law made them righteous and gave them life, but it was the opposite. So also, man thinks Jesus came to do the law for us and to give us the righteousness of God. But God’s righteousness is that He made Christ to be sin and Christ carried sins, and God judged and condemned Him on the cross – quite an opposite thought from Christ perfectly performing the law.
The Law of Moses was only ever given to Israel. As a covenant it is specifically identified with Israel only. They are to do it. In the millennium they will fulfill the law completely as a nation and a people still in the first Adam. Again, this will be done by the sovereign power of God and before the heavens and the earth pass away. But the conclusion is this – the Law of Moses is for man in Adam.
As a believer and a son of God, are you in Adam? No, you are in Christ, the second Adam, the Son of Man. The believer is the new creation of God (II Cor. 5:17). The believer is the work of the sovereign God – created in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10). This is a new position. This is beyond the death of the man in Adam, concerning the believer. Our old man was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6). For the believer, the spiritual truth and understanding is that you, in Adam, died on the cross. This was substitution, for He suffered death for us – but it has to be our death. This is how the believer comes out of the first Adam and is placed in a new position in Christ. It is a new creation, because there was a death first, and we stopped existing in Adam. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Gal. 2:20). It is a Christ in resurrected life. It is the Son of Man raised from the dead that we find ourselves in as a new creation.
The Contemporary Teaching on Faith
An example that may give us a similar understanding is what is sometimes taught as doctrine by some of the so called ‘faith teachers.’ At times faith is depicted as a law or force or power that even God must obey. However, as previously stated, there will never be a law that God is subject to. Also, faith is not a power or force that God uses to do anything. God has all power and does as He pleases with His power, because He is sovereign. If God wants to bring something to pass, He speaks, and it is so immediately. If His timing is involved in His plans, He speaks, and it comes to pass when He wants it to, according to His infinite wisdom and knowledge. It is never a matter of God exercising faith. He does not work in obedience to a principle of faith.
Often these same teachers point to the unbelieving world as exercising the creative power of faith, with the results of being blessed and prospering. It is explained as either a separate power of faith operating in the universe or as God having to obey His own laws of faith on their behalf, even when He may be hesitant to bless evil. This is simply contemporary human philosophy entering the Christian world. It is another example of how we mistakenly look at the circumstances of life around us and create doctrines to explain what we see. If we are looking for different circumstances, they are coming in the millennium, when God’s direct government of the earth is established. Then evil is judged and directly punished during a reign of righteousness. The world will be changed by God at that time. However, these are not the principles of this present age.
Faith is a human thing. Truly in humans, faith requires an object that should be far beyond and above us – this object is God. That is why Jesus taught us to have faith in God (Mark 11: 22, John 12:44), and in Him, as the Son of God (John 6:40, 3:15-16, 11:26, and 14:1). It is the same lesson we learn from Abraham (Rom. 4:17, 21), and when we are encouraged in faith by the examples in Hebrews 11, it is the same – faith in God.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Faith is a human thing, and for the believer, it must always have its proper object – God. It is that He exists, and that He will reward. Now if it is true that Biblical faith must have an object beyond the one having faith, then how is God to exercise faith? Who is God to have faith in? What is beyond God? That would also be impossible.
Faith is also of the earth, for it is associated with the believer’s walk down here – a walk of faith (II Cor. 5:7). Why the earth? It is while still here that we do not see any of the things hoped for (II Cor. 4:16 – 5:9). It is here on the earth for the believer that faith is the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). And let us stop twisting the meaning of these passages – as long as the believer remains on the earth we do not have the things hoped for, nor do we have the things not seen. All the things hoped for by the believer are in glory with Christ. The things not seen are all there as well. If the believer is hoping for anything different your faith is misguided and misplaced.
When a ‘grace’ ministry teaches the believer that God wants you, through the abundance of grace, to reign in life down here on this earth (Rom. 5:17), it is one of two possibilities. Either they do not understand the meaning of these scriptures, or they purposely build a business for their own profit. Both the ‘faith teachers’ and ‘grace teachers’ that fit into this mold have ministries that concentrate on the believer’s life down here. Modern Christianity has discovered a profitable consumer industry from the world, and has brought it into the church with open arms. It is the industry of ‘self.’ How can I help you improve your life, get you the things you desire and want, and make life more comfortable and pleasurable for you?
How the Law of Moses Falls Short
The idea of ‘self’ brings us back to a certain understanding of the Law of Moses. When Jesus summed up the entire law, He said this;
“Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
As said previously, the measure of the law is human righteousness. It requires what you should be in the two relationships man has in life – with God, and with his fellow man. But noticeably missing from the law is any revelation of what God is for man. What is not shown at all is God’s love. The revelation of the love of God is the cross, not the law (John 1:17, Rom. 5:5-8). This is why the adulteress brought before Jesus did not receive her just judgment according to the law (John 8:3-11). Instead, God was there, and His love and forgiveness goes well beyond the confines of the law. Besides, the very law they were using against her, and testing Jesus with, condemned each one of them of sin, from the oldest to the youngest.
The measure in the Law of Moses for human love is ‘self’ – love your neighbor as yourself. This falls short of Christian love. This is not the believer’s commandment (John 13:34, 15:12-13, Eph. 5:2). You will always be hard pressed to find any self-sacrifice in the law. But this is how we are to love fellow believers, just as Jesus loved us and gave Himself for us. But my original thought was this – how can we look at the Law of Moses, and anyone perfectly fulfilling it, as the measure of what the righteousness of God is?
Prophecy – the Earth, Israel, and Messiah
The prophecies are about the earth and the earthly calling that is this nation, Israel. They will be restored in the land. They will have God’s religion of the earth and of the flesh restored to them. They will still be a people in the flesh with natural bodies. Israel and Judah will be united as one nation, and will be exalted over all the other nations. They will grow in numbers and be the most prosperous nation on the face of the earth (Ez. 36:10, 36:37-38). There will be one King over them, their Messiah of the house and lineage of David. The following passage from Ezekiel sums up these thoughts well.
“Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. 23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.”
24 “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. 25 Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.27 My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.28 The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”’
Why Israel is Special
Support of Israel is a biblical principle. America, as a nation, should always remain allied and in support of Israel simply because God commands it in His Word. It remains a matter of obedience to God for all Gentile nations on the earth. In the end, after Christ returns, the beast, the Antichrist, and the nations that are with them will be judged and condemned to eternal punishment. This is because they make war against Jesus Christ and the earthly Jerusalem (Rev. 17:13-14). Jesus returns at his second advent and destroys them in direct judgment and use of His power (Rev. 19:15-21, Matt 24:28). The nations that remain on the earth will be judged by Christ at that time, based on how they have treated the Israeli remnant (Matt. 25:31-46).
Israel, the Center of the Earth
We see that Jesus Christ is the center of fulfillment of all prophecy, which serves to bring out the divine glory of God in the exaltation of Christ. However Israel and the Promised Land itself, in relation to God’s dealings in prophecy with the world, becomes a center point of the earth. The major objects and agents in prophetic scripture, in the end, are focused there, in the Promised Land and around Jerusalem. Judgment for their actions will be based on this principle – the character of their relationship with Israel. Therefore Israel is special, in a sense, as being the center of the earth.
Israel, separated in the world
Another way in which Israel is special is the simple understanding that they are called and separated by God from the rest of the nations of the world. God raised up a wall of separation around them in the earth. God gave Israel the law, the ordinances, the customs, the eating of foods, and circumcision in the flesh. He gave them worship in the tabernacle and the temple – all these are part of this wall of separation from the Gentiles. So the thought of Israel being special becomes this – as a people, they were chosen by God on the earth and in the world, and simply separated from the Gentiles.
Jesus is not of the world, and His body is not of it as well (John 15:19). The Jews are of the world and connected to the earth. This present world is made up of two entities: the Jews and the Gentile nations – this is a Biblical truth. The church alone is not of this world (John 17:14, 16). When Jesus told the Jews that they were of their father the devil, it is because they were of the world and of the earth, and Satan is the god of the world (John 8:23, 44).
Two Principles of God’s Workings in Israel – God’s Government and God’s Calling
A separate scene concerning Israel’s failure in responsibility is found at the time of Ezekiel. But to fully understand this failure we must first understand the two principles of God’s plans and workings in the earth that were involved with Israel as a nation. These two principles are the government of God and the calling of God.
The principle of government started when Noah stepped out of the ark and God placed the authority of the sword in man’s hands to limit and restrict evil (Gen. 9:5-6). The principle of the calling of God started with Abraham. God separated him out of his country, kindred, and father’s house (Gen. 12:1). These principles were united together in Israel, from the time of Mt. Sinai through Solomon’s temple. God had called Israel as a people unto Himself, and His government of the earth would be by His presence and glory abiding in the midst of this nation. This arrangement existed as long as Israel remained somewhat responsible. God would use His prophets to be His voice and judge the nations from His throne in the tabernacle or temple. They were used of God to call His people back to the law He had given them.
The presence of God in His glory behind the veil, and dwelling on His throne between the cherubim, was for His direct government of the earth (Num. 7:89, Ps. 99:1). Israel eventually sank into apostasy and idolatry. Their failure in responsibility resulted in the separation of the two principles. Jehovah removes His glory out of Israel and off the earth (Ez. 10, 11), and brings judgment on Jerusalem by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. The city and the temple are destroyed, and the Ark of the Covenant – the throne of God — is lost forever. The label ‘Lo-Ammi’ is attached to Israel at that time – “…you are not My people, and I will not be your God,” (Hosea 1:9). When Israel is spoken of by God this way, the Gentile world dominates them until the very end. The existence of the civil world power of the four Gentile beasts (Dan. 7) comes about directly consequent to Israel’s failure in responsibility. Israel is not recognized by God concerning two specific things: God’s glory and presence is removed from among them, and God’s throne of government is no longer on the earth. The obvious results – there was no presence and glory of God beyond this event, in the rebuilt temple of Nehemiah, and even during the coming of Messiah to Israel. The times of the Gentiles began. Gentile dominion in the earth marches on today, and will continue until the future millennium.
The separation of the principle of God’s government from the principle of God’s calling is easily seen when Judah went into captivity in Babylon. Daniel acknowledges civil governmental authority in Nebuchadnezzar, and he even works for his kingdom. Yet he never recognizes any religious authority in him. Nebuchadnezzar attempts to unite religion with government in Daniel 4, but is taught a lesson by God in judgment – he crawls and eats like a beast for seven years.
The two principles were together in Israel from Mt. Sinai through the entire time of Solomon’s temple. The principles united depended on Israel’s responsibility. Failure was the outcome and the two principles were separated. These principles will again be united together in a restored Israel during the millennium under the reign of Messiah. However, at this future time they will not be dependent on responsibility in man, but instead on the sovereign power of God. In between these two scenes when the two principles are together is a period of time called the ‘times of the Gentiles.’ The entire time the Gentiles are given civil power the two principles are to be separated. [This is another example of the need for the Bible student to understand general Biblical principles depicting the ways of God in His dealings with man. It is in understanding the general principles first that allows a clearer grasp of the detail of Scripture.]
It is important to recognize what God is working and why He works it. The presence and glory of Jehovah in Israel is for His government of the world. It was then, and it will be again in the millennium. In between these two are ‘the times of the Gentiles,’ where God sets up the Gentiles in civil government and world rule. This is part of prophecy, involves the earth, and the succession of Gentile dynasties that rule over the Jews. If you want to understand this period of time, you must put together the vision of the four beasts in Daniel 7 with the dream of the statue in Daniel 2. The prophetic books of Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelations speak of these ‘times of the Gentiles’ with their results and effects.
Some further points can be made about ‘the times of the Gentiles.’ The two presentations of Messiah to Israel happen during this period. When Messiah came the first time, three of the four beasts had already come and gone on the face of the earth. In the time of Christ, the fourth beast of Daniel, the Roman Empire, had been ruling the prophetic world for some time. Between the two presentations of Messiah to Israel there is a parenthesis of time, prophecy, and God’s dealings with the earth, as the Jews are morally set aside by God. This parenthetical period is called the mystery of Christ – not of prophecy or the earth, but rather hidden from the prophets and pointing to the heavens. It is not Judaism of the earthly calling, but Christianity of the heavenly calling. The parenthesis must be completed entirely, before time starts ticking again, and prophecy can be fulfilled.
The Calling of God — Israel set aside Morally
As for the principle of the calling of God in Israel, at this present time, it has been set aside. The Jews are not acknowledged by God as His people. Morally they were set aside when Messiah was rejected by what was left of the nation. Previous to this, Israel had the law of God for hundreds of years, yet could not please God. Besides, God never desired, nor had pleasure in any of the sacrifices offered by the law that He had given them (Heb. 10:1-7). God’s sending Messiah to Israel was the last testing of responsibility of man in the flesh. God brought an end to the practice of Judaism when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 AD (Dan. 9:26). At that time what remained of the nation was scattered into the world of the Gentiles – God having His hand in this dispersion (Ez. 36:19). Scattered, unrecognized by God, and without their earthly temple, they live as the Gentiles.
Earlier in this book we taught how the title and promises of Messiah have been set aside by God. This also was consequent to Israel’s rejection of Messiah, they did this as a people and a nation (John 19:15, Matt. 27:22-25). When this understanding of God’s determinate counsels is accepted (Acts 2:23, 4:27-28), it is easier for the believer to see how prophecy, Israel, Judaism, the earth, and time being counted, has all been set aside by God as well (Dan. 9:25-26). The earthly calling by God of Israel is set aside for this present age. It is not that God has totally cast away His earthly people (Rom. 11:1). The gifts and callings of God are without repentance (Rom. 11:29). But during this present age, the calling of Israel has been set aside by God (Rom. 11:25), with all the above discussed spiritual truths and consequences.
The Present Question of Messiah
This raises important questions if Messiah and all the prophetic promises associated with Him are presently set aside in God’s counsels. God is working something entirely different in revealing His mystery by the Spirit. Is it possible for Jesus Christ today to be found as Messiah? This is an easy answer for all Gentiles. It was never a possibility for them. Messiah was always a prophetic promise to Israel alone. But can Jesus Christ be found as Messiah today by a Jew? I answer this with another question. How would this be possible if Messiah is set aside by God and He does not recognize them as a people? It isn’t possible. These two thoughts in the counsels of God presently cannot be circumvented. Messiah cannot be found today by Israel or even the individual Jew.
These are two truths of great importance for understanding Scripture. This is God’s plan and counsel as found in His Word, but it was graphically displayed by His judgment of Israel in 70 AD. God uses the Romans as a rod of judgment against Israel, destroying Jerusalem and the temple. This was Israel’s house being made desolate by the hidden hand of God (Matt. 23:37-24:2). As I’ve said previously, what God effectively does is set aside the Law of Moses and brings a halt to the practice of the earthly religion, Judaism. Messiah and all associated with Him are set aside, including the house of Israel.
The promise of Messiah, as we see in Scripture, is limited to Israel. What we also need to understand is that this promise will only be fulfilled to Israel on the earth and in the flesh. His second coming to Israel will be a physical presence in Zion for a very physical deliverance from their enemies (Rom. 11:26-27). It will not be all of Israel delivered, but a remnant saved (Rom. 9:27-29, Matt. 24:21-22). They will be sealed with a physical earthly seal (Rev. 7:3), and preserved in the counsels of God through the 3½ years of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7, Rev. 12:6, 14). This is how the earthly calling of Israel is fulfilled by God. It will not be until the end. Only then will He recognize them again as His people and He as their God. Until the end, there is no Messiah, there are no Messianic promises, there are no Messianic Jews, and there is no earthly calling of Israel. All has been set aside in the counsels of God. And this will be for the entire time of this present age, the entire time of God’s mystery, and the entire time that the Body of Christ remains on the earth.
However, as we previously remarked, all the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (Rom. 11:29). This will certainly be true concerning Israel. God will be faithful to fulfill all He has promised. In the end God again acknowledges the elect remnant of Israel (the remnant in the end are the only real Messianic Jews). In the prophetic scriptures that speak of the millennium we see this acknowledgement by God. When Israel is delivered and restored in the land, God refers again to Israel as His people and He as their God (Ez. 36:23-28, 28:25-26, Jer. 30:18-22, Joel 2:26-27). We must understand it will be according to His counsels, and not in variance to how He has chosen. As I’ve said from the beginning of the book, we’ve been invited by God, as His sons, to know His counsels, even those that concern the earthly calling. He gave us the Spirit of truth so we may understand these things.
Christians are a New Creation, and Members of the Body
What then can we say about the individual Jew who is drawn by God to faith in Jesus Christ? There are many things that are said in the church world, some that are scriptural and some that are not. The Scriptures seem to indicate that God always keeps a remnant of sorts. As there was a remnant from Israel into the Body of Christ at the beginning of the church in Paul’s time (Rom. 11:5-7), so too, I believe there is always a remnant. What is also clear in this same passage is that Israel, as a whole, has been hardened (Rom. 11:7-10). Israel, as a nation, had rejected the Son of Man, nailed Him to the cross, and also then rejected the testimony of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven (Acts 7:51, John 15:26-27, Heb.2:3-4). However, this stumbling and fall of the nation does mean riches for the Gentiles (Rom. 11:11-14). The Body of Christ has always been a Gentile mass with an Israeli remnant, however small that remnant may be.
But this is not Jesus Christ as Messiah. This is not the promise of Messiah to Israel. To reiterate, as far as the counsels of God presently, Messiah, the promises, and Israel as a people are not acknowledged by God. The individual drawn to faith in Christ becomes a believer, a saint, and a Christian. When one gains entrance into the Body of Christ and the kingdom of God through justification by faith, it is by a new creation (II Cor. 5:17). What God does is entirely new. It is not a make-over or a sprucing-up. This new creation is of God (II Cor. 5:18). It is not connected to the old creation at all, the first Adam, or the world. It is a new creation in Christ, and not of this world, and certainly no longer belonging to the nation of Israel.
This new creation has no earthly attachments. The believer is also a member of a heavenly body, the Body of Christ, members one of another, but members of one body. The new creation and the Body of Christ have no nationalities. If it was connected to the earth and this world it would have these things. But it isn’t in any way.
“…and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.”
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The new man is the new creation after the image of God, who alone could and does create it. There are no nationalities, none of these earthly labels exist in Christ. As for the Body of Christ the same applies (Eph. 2:14-16). According to the teaching of Scripture then, there are no Jews or Gentiles.
Christians Conformed into the Image of the Son
When the Body of Christ is removed from the earth to the heavens, it will be as follows. The dead in Christ in the graves, being corrupted, will put on incorruption, while those alive in Christ at the time, being mortal, will put on immortality. Every believer will either be raised or changed (I Cor. 15:48-54). What this event accomplishes is the removal of the Body of Christ from the earth. What this event accomplishes is the glorification of every believer’s physical body. What this event accomplishes is every believer conformed by the Father into the image of His Son.
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
What I clearly recognize from these scriptures and all we have been saying is that this certainly is the determined counsels and plan of God. The Father foreknew and the Father predestined this specified conforming of believers to the very image of His Son. This was His plan before time began (II Tim. 1:9-10). Moreover the Father called the believer, justified the believer, and glorified the believer. All this is in the past tense as already accomplished in His counsels. Now I’ve come in this direction to show the reader one of the purposes why the believer’s body must be glorified. When the body of Christ is taken, Jesus brings us to the Father’s house, as sons of the Father (John 14:1-3). We enter into the glory of the Father, into His presence (not falling short of the glory of God any longer, Rom. 3:23). I think it is easy to see that we can only enter into God’s presence, in a glorified body, sin removed from our flesh by resurrection.
Further, it becomes clear with a little study of the scriptures that Israel restored in the Promised Land will prosper, increase, and bring blessing to the Gentile nations. Yet they are there with earthly natural bodies still, only prolonged in days by the Lord. They are in these natural bodies, as male and female, as are all the remaining Gentile nations. The curse on the earth and creation will be lifted, as will the female pain and sorrow in childbearing (Gen. 3:16-19).
Christians and Christianity – not Messianic Jews, Israel, and Judaism
Again we ask what can be said about the individual Jew who is drawn to faith in Christ? All the above was the scriptural part of the answer. They are in Christ as Christians. They are new creations of God, not part of the old creation, nor of the first Adam, and not of Israel any longer. They are a part of the heavenly calling in Christ. They are part and equal members of the one body, the body of the glorified Man, Jesus Christ. Paul speaks of some of the truths involved in the forming of the Body of Christ in Ephesians.
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”
The middle wall of separation is the law of commandments of Moses, the religion of the Jews. It effectively separated Jews from Gentiles in this world and on this earth. In the Body of Christ the religion of the Jew has been abolished. It was abolished in His flesh, that is, by His death. In Col. 2:14, the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross, completely removed out of the way. The individual Jew drawn to faith in Christ is reconciled to God in the one body, right along with the Gentiles in faith. The individual Jew in Christ is no longer a Jew, but now a Christian.
Now, consider the unscriptural part of what is said, and in doing so, we take up the term, ‘Messianic Jew.’ I’m very hesitant to comment on this designation because of the apparent human emotions. Yet I feel I must be true to God’s word. If Messiah and all the promises concerning Him are put aside in the counsels of God for this present age, how can an individual be Messianic? If the individual is in Christ by faith as a new creation, how can they claim a nationality? Both of these, ‘Messianic’ and ‘Jew’, as this relates to the believer’s position in Christ, are an impossibility in this age. It is a man-made thought and term that has no scriptural basis and is not acknowledged by God. Further, as we have understood, in Christ there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile (Rom. 10:12). This makes the counsels of God simple and clear.
Judaism, the Confidence of the Flesh
We see in Paul’s testimony found in Phil. 3:3-10, that he leaves his former religion of Judaism behind. He counts it as rubbish, and absolutely not something to be held on to, but loss, in his pursuit for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord. He calls his accomplishments in Judaism his confidences in the flesh (Phil. 3:4). But he is careful to preface this boasting with the spiritual truth and reality of the believer.
“For we are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,”
For all believers everywhere, there are no confidences whatsoever in the flesh. Our confidence and boasting is solely in Christ. This is true concerning the believer’s justification as well as his subsequent walk on this earth. If we boast in the condition of the flesh, it is not in anything we have done, but rather in our infirmities, persecutions, distresses, etc. In this we learn that His grace is always sufficient to meet the need (II Cor. 12:9-10). And Christ is magnified; not ourselves, and not our flesh.
The Threat of Judaizing the Christian Faith
But seeing these spiritual truths raises another question. Did Paul feel that a believer could mix Judaism with Christianity? Not in any conceivable way. In Gal. 5:1-6, he refers directly to Judaism as a yoke of bondage not to be entangled with. He says that, as believers, if you become entangled in it, Christ will profit you nothing. The term, ‘Messianic Jew’ and all that is associated with it, has a Judaizing influence. It mixes Judaism with the Christian faith. It brings the believer back down to the earth and to this world, establishing connections here. It is only confidences in the flesh because Judaism is God’s religion of the flesh and this world. It is the taking up of that which Christ, our Savior, has abolished in His body. It is an adding to Jesus Christ as if He is not enough. Adding anything to Christ is denying the perfection of the work of Christ in redemption, and denying the sufficiency of His death. God has shown that He accepts nothing else but the death of Christ in that He raised Christ up from among the dead. The spiritually minded believer must come to see that Jesus Christ is more than enough, certainly for justification, but also for our walk here on this earth. Nothing else is needed.
Allow me to give you some food for thought. I believe that all the provisions and consequences of the one-time redemptive work of the Son of Man also include the new heavens and a new earth. Certainly then, there is more than enough provision in that work for me to walk at this present time on this earth as a believer, until He returns to take me to His Father’s and my Father’s house. There is absolutely no reason for the believer to ever add anything to the provision that is Christ.
Much of the heartache for Paul in his ministry to the Gentiles was combating the influence of the Judaizers in his time. They had a great corrupting influence on Gentile Christians. In Galatia, believers were being taught to be circumcised in the flesh (Gal. 5:2-4) and to observe days (Gal. 4:9-11) according to the Law of Moses, the religion of the weak and beggarly elements of the world. It is of the flesh and of the earth.
“Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”
The believer taking up Judaism in any measure is trying to sanctify his walk on earth by fleshly means. Believers are not in the flesh as the Jews (Rom. 8:8-9). Your justification was not in the flesh. Your walk on this earth as a believer is not a perfection of the flesh as well. We know Christ no longer according to the flesh (II Cor. 5:16). However, if you entangle yourself in these earthly things, Christ will profit you nothing (Gal. 5:1-2).
How God Views Israel Set Aside in Unbelief
So now let us look at some other scriptures concerning Israel, and God’s view of them. We should keep in mind John 6:29, where Jesus says, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”In John 15:20-25, “…they will also persecute you…because they do not know Him who sent Me…but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also…but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.” The ‘they’ Jesus is talking about is Israel. Again in John 16:2-3,…yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service…they have not known the Father nor Me.” Luke 10:10-16…he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” This is not very complimentary. What is Jesus saying concerning Israel’s relationship with God? He recognizes that they rejected both the Father and the Son. They crucified the Son of Man and He does not count them as among His brethren (John 20:17). There is no relationship. Israel really had not known God.
“Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word.”
They say that He is their God and He is who they worship, but they have not known Him. In Matt.21:18-19 the cursing of the fig tree was a picture of how God viewed the state of Israel as a test case for all mankind in the first Adam. The parable of the landowner and vineyard in verses 33-41 is a description of Israel’s testing in responsibility by God (the landowner). This particular parable (Matt. 21:33-41) is so descriptive of God’s view of the history of Israel, as a nation, that it is hard to see it any other possible way. In verses 42-46 Jesus spells out God’s viewpoint of Israel clearly, and what God would do about it, saying, “the kingdom of God will be taken from you…” When Jesus speaks of the guilt associated with all the righteous blood shed on the earth in Matt. 23:34-35, here again, Israel as a whole, stands guilty. In Matt. 23:37-39, Israel’s house is left by God desolate…that is abandoned by God, and set aside by God as a nation. In Matt. 27:6 the leaders of Israel discuss what to do with the money returned by Judas, as the price of blood…this was the blood of their Messiah. In Matt. 27:25 the people cried out, “His blood be on us and on our children.” It is still to this day in the eyes of God.
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
“When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.”
These are Stephen’s last words spoken to the Jews in Acts 7:51-53. This man, full of the Holy Ghost, brings a searing indictment against the Jews. And also, by the Spirit of God, Paul finishes his ministry in Rome by speaking to the Jews there (Acts 28:23-28), saying, “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” In Rom. 10:21, God says concerning Israel, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
Israel’s History – a Failure in Responsibility
Let us view some of Israel’s history from God’s perspective. From the time of Israel before God at Mt. Sinai, through King David and Solomon, the presence and glory of God remained in Israel, either in the tabernacle or the temple in Jerusalem. Even when Israel rebelled and sinned in many ways, God’s presence remained on the earth, the glory behind the veil. This was not a presence that brought spiritual relationship and communion with Jehovah and the people of Israel. It was a presence by which God governed the earth from Israel. By and by, Israel’s rebellion and apostasy was too much for God to still honor by His presence. In Ez.10:18, the glory of the Lord, departs the temple, departs Jerusalem and the earth. God then, in His providence, brings Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and the temple. The ark of God is gone forever from Jerusalem, and God turns over civil government to the Gentiles. When the presence of God is removed from the earth ‘the Times of the Gentiles’ began.
We understand what is said in Hosea 1:9,” …Lo-Ammi…you are not My people, and I will not be your God.” We see this in the book of Daniel, where God says always to Daniel,” your people.” From that time forward, from Nebuchadnezzar and the captivity of Judah, and the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, the presence of God was no longer in Judah. The Jews were no longer considered God’s people by God. It remains so to this day. Nothing has changed God’s view of Israel since that time, especially the rejection of Messiah. From the time of Israel’s captivity in Babylon, God had set aside Israel concerning His glory and government of the earth. With the rejection of Messiah, God set aside Israel morally, and turned to the Gentiles.
The Counsels of God for Israel – the Jewish Remnant
There is a future time, when God will take up Israel again, calling them ‘His people.’ The gifts and callings of God are without repentance (Rom. 11:28-29), even concerning this disobedient and contrary people (Rom. 10:21). What we need to fully realize is that God’s purposes in Israel center on a future remnant. The term ‘Messianic Jew’ is a label that has only one Biblical application. It is an apt description of the 144,000 Israeli remnant in the last 3 ½ years before Christ’s return to this earth. They will be looking for the true Messiah and will not be fooled by a false one (Matt. 24:24). However, the rest of Israel will receive a false Messiah in the Antichrist (John 5:43). When Jesus returns He is Messiah for this remnant. They alone, of all Israel, are truly Messianic. And they alone, in Israel, will be acknowledged by God (they have the earthly seal of Jehovah). They alone are the real Jews. [Compare Rom. 9:6-8 with Rom. 2:28-29 and Luke 3:8.]
A remnant in the end is the counsels of God for Israel. It is to the remnant alone God will fulfill all the true Messianic promises and prophecies. In Rev. 12 God’s counsels concerning Israel are depicted for the believer to know through the vision given to John. The following is a small portion of a bible study on prophecy that addressed a part of this chapter. I include it here to show the future Jewish remnant in God’s counsels.
A woman (Israel, a vessel without strength) seen in the heavens (that is, agreeable to the thoughts and counsels of God), clothed in the glory of the sun (having the spiritual authority of God). She rides with the moon under her feet (all legal ordinances under her, subordinate authority of Mosaic Law) and crowned with twelve stars (complete subordinate administrative authority of man on the earth/or the twelve patriarchs). The woman should be viewed as the divine purpose of God in His people Israel, not simply Israel as a nation (because the woman is seen in the heavens, in the divine thoughts of God, and in the perfection of His purposes). The woman is with child, a male Child (Christ, and the church, His body in Him, in Christ), who is the object of all the counsels of God and the vessel of His power on earth (Rev. 12:5, Rev. 2:26-27). The Man-Child does not act in His might yet, but is caught up to the throne of God, hidden (Col 3:1-3, hidden in God, and the church hidden there as well).Satan is seen as a great red dragon in the form of the imperial Roman Empire, the seven heads being the perfection of evil, opposed to the coming forth of the Male-Child. The Empire is not seen historically here, but rather as the power of Satan. The woman flees into the world, her house in desolation, but finds a place of protection and sustenance from God (here she is the sealed and sovereignly protected remnant of Israel during the last 3½ years of Jacob’s trouble).
It is beautiful to me to see how the character of prophecy is maintained in the vision, and this is done in a number of ways. For starters, the mystery of God, the body of Christ, is kept as hidden from the prophecy itself, as it is in all prophetic scriptures. Then Rev. 12:6 identifies the location as the earth, again prophecy concerning God’s dealings with the earth. The woman is specifically seen in God’s counsels and purposes as the remnant of Israel preserved on the earth and protected by God in the world for a certain period of time. Here the character of prophecy is the counting of time on the earth concerning the remnant (Rev. 12:6, 14).
This is the earthly glory of Jesus Christ, the remnant of Israel restored in the Promised Land. The remnant is the woman of Rev. 12, seen in the divine counsels of God concerning Israel. She is truly the only one, who can properly say,
“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
She alone will in the end cry out, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”