Does God still have a plan for the nation of Israel?
Many Christians believe so, because that is the way they’ve been taught. They believe that the people of Israel are still the chosen people of God. But what about the Church? What’s the connection between Israel and the Church? Are there two peoples of God? What’s the difference between Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles? What role does Israel have in end time prophecy? What role does the Church have in end time prophecy? If this has always been a confusing subject for you, that’s because Dispensational Theology has made it confusing.
Dispensationalists make a distinction between Israel and the Church. They believe that God still has a plan for that nation yet to be fulfilled. They view Israel mostly through the eyes of the Old Testament (OT), rather than through the eyes of the New Testament (NT), which unlocks our understanding of the OT. By viewing Israel and the Church as two totally distinct entities, Dispensationalism shatters the harmony of the Testaments. Dispensationalism is so embedded in the OT teaching about Israel, that it blinds itself to the light of the NT that reveals the true nature of Israel in the New Covenant.
Fulfilled-Israel: The confusion regarding Israel and the Church is removed when we realize that God’s plan for Israel has already been fulfilled in Christ. Indeed, Christ Himself is Fulfilled-Israel — the true and perfect Israel of God. This is known as Fulfillment Theology, which is a central teaching of Covenant Theology, Baptist Covenant Theology and New Covenant Theology. This is the New Testament interpretation that Israel has its fulfillment and continuation in Christ and His Church, that Jesus is true Israel.
By way of illustration, Fulfillment Theology views Israel and the Church as two sides of the same coin, while Dispensationalism views them as two different coins.
(Galatians 3:16,19) — 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. ESV
(Also Gal 3:7-9,14,26-29)
Fulfills: Genesis 12:1-3; 17:4-7; 22:18
Both the physical and spiritual “offspring” of the covenant promises are fulfilled in Christ. Jesus Himself is that “offspring” or “Seed.”Jesus is perfect Israel, a nation of One. He lived a perfect, sinless life. He completely and perfectly fulfilled the will of God. He completely and perfectly fulfilled the covenant promises and prophecies relating to Israel (Ga 3:16,19), as the prophesied “offspring” of Abraham. It was to Christ Himself that the promises to Israel were actually made, who is the fulfillment of Israel, as Fulfilled-Israel. He accomplished what the sinful people of Israel could not. He lived as the perfect Jew and died as the perfect Jew and rose from the grave as the perfect Jew. He alone had the right to be called Israel, to be Israel. He alone held the honor of that title. He was literally a nation of One. Ethnic Israel ended with the perfect and sinless ethnic Israelite, who came through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus was the goal. He was the total end of that promise. He’s the end of the line as it relates to Israel. There’s no one after Him. Therefore, if Christ is the total fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham, how then can there possibly be a plan yet to be fulfilled for the ethnic nation of Israel? The question answers itself.
When Christ ascended, He left behind Him – in His place – the spiritual version of Israel, which is the Church (in Christ) — the New Israel of the New Covenant (1 Pe 2:4-10). Again, for all practical and theological purposes, the ethnic nation of Israel ended with Christ. God’s purpose for that nation was and is fulfilled in Him. The nation of Israel today, and the Jews in the world today – since the time of Christ – remain as the imperfect version of Israel. They find their completion and perfection in the perfect Christ, who is the perfect Israel.
Christian Jews today refer to themselves as “completed Jews,” and that is exactly what they are. They are complete in Christ. In their union with Him they are now citizens of spiritual Israel, which is the Church. Furthermore, everyone (both Jew and Gentile) who place their faith in Christ become citizens or members of spiritual Israel. We are all one in Christ. All ethnic distinctions are done away with in Christ. Together, we are a new creation in Christ, a whole new entity, a whole new people (Gal 3:28: Eph 2:13-16). When we place our faith in Christ, we become not only children of God (Ro 9:8; Ga 3:26) – as members of His family – but also spiritual offspring of Abraham (Ro 9:6-8; Ga 3:7,29), as spiritual Israel (both corporately and individually).
What we must understand is that there is a difference between Christ as Fulfilled-Israel, and spiritual Israel (the Church) in Him. Jesus was the perfect and true ethnic Israel, a nation of One. He is, thus, Israel-fulfilled. However, in our union with Him, through faith in Him, we are spiritual Israel — both corporately and individually. Although all ethnic distinctions of this world are done away with in Christ, all of us as citizens (members) of spiritual Israel, can be rightly called spiritual Jews (Ro 2:28-29).
Recognizing the distinction between Christ as true ethnic Israel (Fulfilled-Israel) and we as spiritual Israel in Him, is a significant key to understanding God’s plan for Israel in the New Covenant — which is, that God’s plan for Israel has to be – and is – finished. Christ – and His Church in Him – is the end of all things Israel.
This is also why we know that there will not be and cannot be an earthly millennial kingdom, as Premillennialism teaches. Since Israel has its fulfillment and continuation in Christ as a spiritual nation, the Kingdom of Christ also has to be spiritual. This is exactly what Paul taught:
(Colossians 1:13) — 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
Christ’s kingdom is both spiritual and is now, in the form of His Church, which continues into the Eternal Kingdom of the “new heaven and new earth” (Rev 21:1-2).
Does God still have a plan for the nation of Israel? No! That plan has already been fulfilled in Christ and His Church. Is ethnic Israel the chosen people of God? Not anymore! They were the chosen people of God. God chose them as the vehicle to bring Christ into the world – who is the true chosen of God – who would bring salvation to the world, who would unite all believers in Himself as spiritual Israel, which is the Church. There is only one people of God, and that is those who are in Christ. While God’s plan for the nation of Israel is finished, God still has a plan for individual Jews. That plan is to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior, and be united to the New Israel of the New Covenant — which is Christ’s Church.
The confusion about Israel and the Church is eliminated in Christ. God’s plan for His people has always been the same, to have their fulfillment in His Son and in His Church as one people in Him as a spiritual nation (1 Pe 2:5,9), (1 Pe 2:4-10).
Don’t let the mysteries of the Old Testament confuse you. The mysteries of the OT are solved by the light of the New Testament. A proper understanding of the OT begins with a proper understanding of the NT.