A friend recently sent me this question:
“For some reason the subject of Israel keeps coming up from people I know. I see it on FB a lot. In the past I have not really bothered to study it… Does it really matter much? What are your thoughts on whether Israel is still God’s chosen?”
My reply follows.
Israel? It’s a Mystery!
Paul talks over and over and over and… …and over about something he keeps calling the “mystery.”
And for some reason, hardly anybody seems to ever know that. Many Bibles’ bottom-of-page annotations rarely ever have a note on all those “mystery” verses that Paul keeps harping on.
Why does it seem that hardly anyone cares what Paul says? I sure care. If he only mentioned something like that just a little, then okay, but if he keeps stressing something over and over and… …and over, shouldn’t we at least take a moment to learn what this “mystery” is?
Paul mentions the “mystery” a total of 20 times in the books he wrote. And he doesn’t just use the word, he writes a lot around most mentions of “mystery” to tell us about it. In other words, he writes a lot of supporting material related to this “mystery” at those 20 places.
(This does answer your Israel question by the way.)
What the Mystery Is
If you ask 9,999 out of 10,000 Christians this question: “What is this ‘mystery’ that Paul keeps talking about?” then those 9,999 out of 10,000 Christians won’t have a clue.
- “Well, who knows, it’s a mystery!”
- “We’re not supposed to know since it’s a mystery!”
- “I had no idea Paul ever used the word…”
If only Paul would tell us what it meant!!!!
Wait, oh yeah, he does. Several times.
Ephesians 3 is not only a place he mentions “the mystery” once again, but he defines it there also. He defines it elsewhere too but Ephesians 3 is a key section of his epistles about “the mystery.” There Paul explains that in the Body of Christ – which is the period we are now in – there is NO distinction between Jew and Gentile. We both are equal heirs to Heaven as long as we partake of the promise of Jesus Christ.
The Mystery is NOT Found Elsewhere in Scripture!
Plus, Paul says other places that it’s a “mystery” for the very reason that it was never before revealed until Jesus gave him, Paul, the “revelation of the mystery.”
This means what it says.
It means there were no signs of Gentiles having any part of Heaven before God raised up Paul to be the minister of the Gentiles. This means, as it did the entire Old Testament and the four Gospels and much of Acts that if we wanted to live eternally with God, we had to become Jews, through a process known as proselytizing. That was the only way to God. Jesus made it abundantly clear when He was on earth that he came for the Jews only. (Believing Jews of course.)
Yes, God loves everybody. But to be saved you had to keep the Law, etc., through the process of proselytizing to being a Jew. (Being a Jew was not blood lineage exclusively.)
Jews and Gentiles Today
This was not always the case. God worked exclusively with the Jews in all the O.T., the Gospels, and much of Acts.
Does God ever use Israel in the future as His chosen people whom He puts ahead of all others, including Gentiles? That is important to know. Are the Jews finished now that Gentiles and Jews are fellow heirs to Heaven?
Hint: IF God does go back to His original plan for Israel anywhere in the future, then isn’t it mocking God to not have a special place in our hearts for Israel since God does if He plans to return to the plan He was originally on before He raised up Paul in Acts 9?
The Order of Bible Books
When they canonized the Bible, they must have had divine help from God. Because even the order of books is astounding.
Consider what happens the moment Paul’s final book ends: The program for Israel goes right back into place! Beginning with the book right after Paul’s final book: the law is required, salvation can be lost, sacrifices are required, clean and unclean foods are back on the dietary laws, … everything! God goes right back to work with His Chosen People. Now they do have a new requirement… They must accept Jesus as their Savior given what He did on the cross. But that by itself isn’t enough, they must demonstrate their faith through the Law.
Paul’s writings are sort of a parenthetical point in time that had a strict beginning – Acts 9 when Paul was saved – and a strict and obvious end, at Philemon, Paul’s last book.
Isn’t it interesting that the very next book of the Bible after Paul’s final epistle is named HEBREWS???
Hint: Hebrews is NOT written to the Gentiles!
Isn’t it sad that such an obvious statement about Hebrews has to be made? Christians are so lacking in the use of brain cells that they don’t realize Hebrews was written to believing… Hebrews. They see the full title of the book in many translations, The Letter to the Hebrews and they think, “that must mean it’s not to believing Israel but to Gentile Christians.”
Many cross truths exist for both Jews and Gentiles throughout all of Scripture. All of Scripture is profitable for reproof, for correction, and so on. ALL of the Bible is written for us but not all of the Bible is written to us.
People who believe in the heresy called “replacement theology” always deny it. Hank Hanegraaff for example. This is the heresy that says we – Gentiles – replace Jews in all of Scripture. Heaven forbid, what an absurd and unGodly belief. It is actually jealousy that makes people do this. They are jealous of Israel being “God’s chosen people” which they are in 85% of Scripture.
What they do not know, because they despise most of what Paul wrote, is that God raised up Paul and gave Paul the revelation of the mystery to make ISRAEL JEALOUS! But so many Christians today in their hatred of Israel and the Jews, do the opposite of what God wants: it is they who are jealous of Israel. People who hate Israel and are jealous of them, such as Hank Hanegraaff, despise what Paul wrote in Romans 11:11:
… salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them [Israel] jealous.
When does the Body of Christ period end and the plan for Israel continue? That is an excellent question. This is where eschatology comes in. And I’m not a biggie on it as many people are. I care that we’re currently still in the Body of Christ and that is what matters to me, not the future where things will then change.
Where Do You Want to End Up: Heaven or Kingdom?
Have you ever thought about living in the Kingdom? Are you planning to? Do you even really know what Jesus keeps talking about when He keeps talking about the Kingdom? (If not, don’t feel bad, most Christians haven’t a clue. They just throw out the term loosely.)
(To confuse things a little, Paul uses the word kingdom a few times. He is using it as a corporate place of the entirety of believers and God. Paul is not talking about the specific Kingdom reign that Jesus keeps talking specifically about. This is obvious from context.)
God tells us in His book that in the future Kingdom reign, there will be a “new earth” which He also calls the “New Jerusalem.” In Revelation, we learn that on this new earth, He tells us that Jesus will rule over the Kingdom but that the 12 tribal leaders of Israel and the 12 apostles will be over that Kingdom. The Kingdom called the “New Jerusalem.” The Kingdom on the “New earth.”
So do you want to be in the Kingdom or not?
I don’t want to be in the Kingdom, that’s for sure!
Yeah, I want to go to Heaven!
When I die, I will instantly be in Heaven. So will you if you are saved. “To be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord.”
Christians don’t know how to divide the Word of God. They can’t handle using brain cells so they hear about a “Kingdom” and think they’ll be there and then different books they hear about Heaven and they think they’ll be there and not once, especially the Replacement Theologians, never once realize that Heaven is Heaven and the New Jerusalem where the Kingdom is on the “new earth” is NOT Heaven!
The Kingdom is where the Jewish believers who make it through the trials and tribulations described so well in Revelation will end up. There they will not just be a Kingdom of people, oh no, they get a much better deal. John tells us in Revelation that they will be “A Kingdom of priests”! This is a big deal to Israel. Which is why God gives those believers that reward.
We don’t get that reward, but that’s fine, we’ll be in Heaven, so no complaints will be heard from us!
My Bottom Line Answer to Your Question
(Remember, this post is the result of a friend asking me questions about how Israel fits in with today’s Christians and whether or not I think that Israel comprises “God’s chosen people” any longer.)
I like to say this, although it’s not 100% theologically accurate given today’s equal inheritance: “I know from Scripture, 85% or more of Scripture, including future-looking Scripture in the books of Hebrews through Revelation, that Israel is STILL #1 on God’s list. The Jews have a very special place in His heart. There are only two slots in God’s heart, slot #1 and slot #2. We are #2. Not technically currently while in the Body of Christ “equal heirs” days, but overall, we’re #2. And I think being #2 in God’s heart is A MARVELOUS PLACE TO BE. “
And I will never show Israel anything but respect because of it.