A Universal Kingdom: Part 2
May 22, 2007
In Ephesians 2 the Apostle Paul discusses the difference between Israel and the foreigners and how they have now been joined into "one new man." First, in verses 11 and 12, Paul notes how "the circumcision" called foreigners "the uncircumcision." Because circumcision was the sign of the (old) covenant, to be uncircumcised meant that such people were not included in a covenant relationship with God and were therefore separate from God and from Israel. Then in verse 12 he writes:
"Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world."
His point is to show that this has now changed under the New Covenant. Verse 13,
"But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."
Who are the ones formerly far off? They are the ethnos, the nations, often translated "gentiles." This group included all of the Israelites who had been cast off and dispersed among the other nations from 745 to 721 B.C. Having been divorced from God (Jer. 3:8), they were no longer in a covenant relationship with God. They now were faced with the same problem as all the other nations--How does one obtain a covenant relationship with God??
Isaiah prophesied about the regathering of the house of Israel in 56:8, saying,
"The Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, 'Yet OTHERS I will gather to them, to those already gathered'."
This verse comes in the context of the foreigners who desire to join themselves to the covenant of God, as we noted previously. These "others" are those foreigners who would join with the dispersed Israelites in the regathering. Actually, this pattern had already been established in the time of Moses, when a great "mixed multitude" (Ex. 12:38) came out of Egypt with Israel to come under the Old Covenant.
So also in the great regathering of dispersed Israel, we would see others joined with them in the New Covenant.
It is important also that we understand the nature and purpose of this regathering. The first purpose is to fulfill the marriage prophecies of Hosea. The second purpose was to fulfill the biblical purpose of marriage--which is to bring forth the sons of God. This is specifically the calling of the Birthright in the Fruitfulness Mandate given to the sons of Joseph, along with the name Israel.
For this reason, Hosea prophesies of the regathering of Israel in terms of the manifestation of the sons of God in Hosea 1:10,
" (10) Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and it will come about that in the place where it is said to them, 'You are not My people,' it will be said to them, 'You are the sons of the living God.'
This was not a Jewish dispersion in the first century, but an Israelitish dispersion over 700 years earlier. If we put together the prophecies of Isaiah and Hosea, we see that this regathering includes people other than just genealogical Israelites. Others are gathered with Israel at the same time, and TOGETHER they are "sons of the living God."
It is about Sonship, for this is the primary manifestation of the regathering of Israel. It is not about an exclusively Jewish state which they call Israel. The regathering is taking place in a different way. Although the genealogical Israelites did find specific territory in which to live, and they formed the modern nations of Europe and other places around the world, the true regathering is ultimately about the manifestation of the sons of God. Thus, we should not be content with a piece of real estate, good as that may be, for even non-believers can own a piece of land. No, the real inheritance is Sonship and the spiritual authority that comes with it.
Hosea 1:11 gives us a clue in the timing of this prophecy's fulfillment:
"And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one Leader, and they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel."
Judah and Israel had split apart after the death of Solomon. Since that day there had been a breach between the Scepter of Judah and the Birthright of Joseph-Israel. Hosea spoke of the repair of the breach here, which is accomplished by the two comings of Christ, first of Judah, and secondly of Joseph with His robe dipped in blood.
The regathering is in terms of both Judah and Israel appointing one Leader, who is Jesus Christ. In Jesus' first appearance, He came as the Heir of David, the holder of the Scepter of Judah. Although His throne was usurped, He went to the Father in Heaven to receive for Himself a Kingdom and to receive the Scepter. The story of David's second coming shows that He will actually re-claim His throne at His second coming.
At the same time, the struggle for the Birthright will be resolved as well. Those who usurped the throne in the first century also usurped the Birthright in 1948 and awarded themselves with the name Israel. The second coming of Christ will thus resolve BOTH issues at the same time.
This will also be the time when Christ is appointed Leader of both Judah and Israel. What does this mean? How is this to be fulfilled?
In my book, Who is a Jew?, I showed how Jesus' disciples, along with the new converts on the day of Pentecost and afterward, were the true nation of Judah. These did not reject the King holding the Scepter--or if they had rejected Him earlier, they came to a place of repentance. The usurpers violated the law of sacrifice (Lev. 17:1-6) by not treating the Sacrifice of Christ properly, and so they were "cut off from among their people." In other words, in the eyes of God, they lost their position as members of the tribe of Judah (or Benjamin or Levi).
So only the believers were left to carry on this greatly-reduced Tribe of Judah. To them were soon added thousands of Greeks, Romans, and ultimately people from all other nations, all of whom legally joined the Tribe of Judah with its King, Jesus Christ. In Antioch, the non-believers began to call them "Christians" (Acts 11:26). To God, they were actually the Tribe of Judah, but the world came to know them as Christians (i.e., "The Church").
To be of the Tribe of Judah, one must be a believer in Jesus Christ. One must be justified by faith. One must fulfill the law of sacrifice and apply His blood to our hearts--the true altar of sacrifice (Heb. 10:22).
In addition to Judah, God has been forming a new House of Israel as well. To be an Israelite, one must become one of the "sons of God." One must go beyond mere justification. One must enter into Sonship. In doing so, we unite Judah and Joseph under one Leader, and the breach is repaired between the Scepter and the Birthright.
This is obviously the path that genealogical Israelites and Judahites should take. But others have equal opportunity to join with them in this. The path is the same for all men. The New Covenant is open to all. Jesus destroyed that wall of partition that the traditions of men had constructed to divide people and keep the "others" at a distance from God. Eph. 2:14 says,
"For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall."
The practical result of this is in the next verse, "that He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace."
Let us not rebuild that dividing wall.
Appended by Thom Mills / Highcalling.
You should be aware of a recording related to this topic is available called "What Does it Mean to be an Israelite?" by Stephen Jones as noted below that complements and expands upon this weblog.
DVD - $25
In order that we may get this recording that wish to get it, we will gladly accept a donation for the DVD. Please go to our website and http://www.highcalling.ca and contact us to make the donation for this recording.
This is the second part of a series titled "A Universal Kingdom." To view all parts, click the link below.