All Scripture quotations are from the American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Many of the Old Testament prophecies are about the nation of Israel. But what must be understood is that there is no minimum number of people required to make up that nation. Indeed, it began with just Abraham. It can be ten million people, or it can be one. Therefore, the view that Christ Himself is Israel, is valid.
Jesus was the perfect Jew, fulfilling the covenant promise that God made with Israel:
(Exodus 19:5-6) — 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be mine own possession from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: 6 and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
(Also Dt 28:1; Jer 7:22-29; Jer 11:1-10)
Fulfilling this covenant of blessing as the people of God is something that national Israel didn’t do. Except for a remnant of true believers, they were a faithless and disobedient people. They broke the covenant that God made with them (Jer 11:10). However, Jesus as the sinless offspring of Abraham, fulfilled the covenant to perfection — something no other individual Israelite ever could have done, let alone an entire nation. Jesus completely met the conditions of this covenant with God. Just as it’s only in Christ that we have our salvation, so it’s only in Christ that this covenant is fulfilled. He is thus, true Israel. True Israel doesn’t exist apart from Christ, as Paul said:
(Romans 9:6-8) — 6 But it is not as though the word of God hath come to nought. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel: 7 neither, because they are Abraham’s seed, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed.
(Galatians 3:16) — 16 Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Jesus Himself said:
(Matthew 5:17) — 17 Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil.
(Luke 24:44) — 44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” ESV
While Jesus came to fulfill the requirements for our salvation, He also came to fulfill the requirements for obtaining the promises to Israel. He is the prophesied natural “seed” of Abraham (Gal 3:16). He alone fulfilled the promises of God for Israel, for only He could. The promises of God always Had Christ in view. However, as believers, we are Abraham’s offspring not via natural descent, but spiritually in Christ:
(Galatians 3:29) — 29 And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.
Christ did what no other Israelite has ever been able to do. That makes Him totally unique and set apart from all other Jews. He alone fulfilled all that was required. He is the perfect Jew. He fulfilled all things Israel. That makes Him alone worthy to receive all the blessings that God promised Israel for their faithfulness. He alone is worthy to be Israel. He is a nation of one. In His humanity, Jesus fulfilled the conditions for receiving the promises as an ethnic Jew. He was faithful all the way to the cross. Therefore, in His humanity, He is the faithful nation of Israel that was prophesied. His offspring, necessarily, has to be spiritual in nature. As individuals, we enter into this nation spiritually, through faith in Him. Therefore, the Church is spiritual Israel in Christ, who is Head of the Church. We are spiritual Jews in Him (Ro 2:28-29). We are a spiritual nation in Him (Ex 19:6; 1 Pe 2:4-10). Dispensationalists chide proponents of Fulfillment Theology for spiritualizing the Bible, but we don’t need to do that when the Bible does that for us.
Accordingly, it’s not plausible that there be a separate plan (outside the Church) for the so-called nation of Israel, because Christ already fulfilled that plan. He is Israel — in every sense of the word. Otherwise, what we’re dealing with are two Israels. If Dispensationalism is true, then what they have in their earthly, millennial kingdom are two Israels. The Bible only prophesied one. This is a major flaw of Dispensationalism.
In truth, with Jesus as the standard, ethnic Israel never could have been faithful enough to receive the promises of future blessings. When God made His covenant with Israel, He had His Son in view as the One who would finally and fully meet the conditions of that covenant. Therefore, Jesus is Himself the faithful Israel that’s prophesied in the Old Testament. We enter into faithful Israel through faith in Him. The Church is, thus, spiritual Israel in Him. The Church is the New Israel of the New Covenant. It couldn’t be any other way.
The only reason why God is able to fulfill His promise of future blessings and restoration of national Israel, is because of the faithfulness of Christ. For He is Israel, as a nation of one. The fact that He fulfilled God’s covenant with Israel as an ethnic Jew – in the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – shows that Israel has to have its fulfillment in Christ. Consequently, His offspring would obviously have to be spiritual offspring. Thus as believers, we are spiritual Jews. We are a spiritual nation. That’s who we are as the Church in Christ.
All things considered, it wouldn’t make any sense that God has a separate plan for Israel outside of Christ and His Church. It’s inconsistent that there would be a future millennial kingdom, with the focus on the ethnic nation of Israel that is in the world today — for that Jewish lineage of relevance ended when Christ fulfilled what they didn’t, and couldn’t. Therefore, the idea that there’s still a future plan for the nation of Israel, is totally out of harmony with the reality of all that Christ accomplished and fulfilled. Indeed, it’s at total odds with it. God’s plan for Israel is fulfilled in His Son and in His Church.
With an unbiased eye, it’s easy to see how God’s dealing with the nation of Israel is a type and shadow of Christ and His Church of the New Covenant.