They are not all Israel

By C. Eldon McNabb

Israel: born “Jacob,” son of Isaac, and grandson of Abraham; chosen of God, instead of his older brother Esau, to receive the covenants and the promises which had been given to Abram.  Jacob, who purchased the birthright from Esau, and, with subtlety, obtained the “Blessing of the firstborn.”  Jacob, to whom God said, “I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.  And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”

It is my hope to say something in this article which will help to open your spiritual eyes and cause you to understand how God views the descendants of Jacob/Israel, and how that, now, concerning redemption, there is no difference between the descendants of Israel and the Gentiles, who have accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:26-38).  It is very important that we understand the prophetic roles which each shall play at this end of the Grace Age; who are “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph. 2:14-19).

God called Abram out from among his people, and from his country, and by him began a lineage of descent which would continue unbroken unto the coming of “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20).  For about 2,000 years, a person could share in the promises and covenants which God gave to Abraham only if he was born into that family, or became a proselyte, by a stringent ritual.

During His ministry, Jesus insisted that His disciples refrain from offering, to the Gentiles, access to the benefits of the new message of the Gospel.  Every Jewish person who accepted that gospel, was “born again” when Jesus breathed on His disciples, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”  However the exclusion of the Gentiles from that blessing continued until something more than seven years after the “resurrection,” when the Jewish Church had reached perfection.  During the forty days between His resurrection and His ascension, Jesus commanded His disciples to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”  However, that work had to be done in its proper order, as Jesus also said, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Rom. 1:8).

Speaking of the grafting in again of Israel, Paul told us that the Jews would not be grafted in again until “The fullness of the Gentiles be come in.”  Now, the same Paul told us, in Romans 2:6-11, “God will render to every man according to his deeds, – glory, honor, and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God.”  Just as surely as the Jews cannot be grafted in before the Gentile Church has been perfected, neither were the Gentiles grafted into the Jewish Church until “the fullness of the Jews was come in.”

There were several prophesies concerning the nation of Israel which had to be fulfilled before the exclusion of all but the descendants of Jacob could be lifted, but let it suffice for me to say that, you must have the “spiritual olive tree,” among the Jews, before you can graft into it.  By the same measure, the grafting in again of the Jews requires that first there be the restoration of that “spiritual olive tree” among the Gentiles.

In respect to covenants and the promises, the natural descent of God’s people ceased to apply when men began to be born again.  It is, as Paul said, “Not as though the word of God has taken none effect, for they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children: but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called.  That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Romans 9:6-8).

When Paul was in Corinth, “Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.  Then spoke the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:8-11).  Those people were Gentiles, neither were they born again, but the attitude of their hearts had come up before God, and He had already acknowledged them as “His people” (Gal. 3:6-14).

In Galatians 3:22-28 the Apostle Paul said that, “The scripture hath concluded all (Jews and Gentiles) under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.  But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

There are still notable differences between these three comparisons, but Paul was referring to the fact that “Every (person) shall give account of himself to God,” and submit to the “Circumcision of the heart.”  He made special comments concerning the fact that God has special works in His plan which require the choosing of Jewish converts, and other works which must be done by Gentile converts.  Outside of the historic and ethnic differences, it is “the election” which emphasized the differences between us (Acts 21:18-26; Romans 11:11-32).

In God’s infinite wisdom, He has ordained that there should be a principal group of Christian Jews built up, and brought to perfection, and then another lesser group of Gentile Christians built up, and grafted into that Jewish Church.  That combined group was revealed as set apart from the rest of Christianity by Jesus, when He said, “Fear not little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).  The large flock is the vast, worldwide, numberless people who have been born again.  Following the glorious manifestation of God’s power in them, the martyrdom of that early, Jewish “Flock of slaughter” (Zech. 11:4-7) brought that era to a close, and for about 1,800 years, the “Church” lay desolate (Isaiah 52:1-2).  Then, in the 20th century, God raised up the Church of God to fulfill many prophecies, and to bring forth the “Man of God” who shall prepare the Bride for the coming of the Bridegroom.

God has ordained, and the time has now come in which God shall choose a group of Gentiles to make up “The Bride, The Lamb’s wife:” (The Olive Tree), and then He shall choose a group of Jewish men and women whom He shall graft into that “olive tree;” by the work of Paul’s counterpart, from among the Gentiles (Romans 9-11).  The first century Jewish Church, with the lesser Gentile Church which was grafted into it, together with the Gentile Church which is now being built, and the lesser Jewish Church which shall be grafted into it, are the direct fulfillment of Jacob’s four wives (Genesis 37:2).  Leah portrayed the Jewish “House of God,” and her concubine, Zilpah portrayed the Gentiles which were grafted into that.

Paul used a term concerning those Gentile graftees which cannot be taken to mean “born again,” saying to that group of Gentiles, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2).   Rachel, then, portrayed the Gentile “House of God,” and her concubine portrayed the “House of Israel” which shall be grafted into the Gentile Church just prior to the coming of our King (Ezekiel 43:10-12).

Paul was chosen of God, by Jesus Christ, to transfer the work of the gospel from the Jews to the Gentiles, partly because all but a few of natural Israel had become as salt that has lost its savor.  They had become, in the words of Jesus, “good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”  Yet, God intends to extend His mercy to a remnant of them once again, and very soon.

The Jews had the law, which was their teacher to prepare them for the coming of the seed of promise.  They should have easily recognized Him when He came, but their false doctrines and bad attitudes hid the truth from them.  God sent His son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and, in so doing, hid Him from them (Hebrews 10:20).  It was difficult enough for those who did believe in Him, to see Jesus for what He really was. 

The Gentiles had no such “Schoolmaster.”  Therefore, it was necessary for God to choose a man from among those who believed; train him, and teach him how to translate the truth of His word from its legal application to its application in the Grace Age, and to do it in such a way that the Gentiles could understand it.  Paul’s approach to the Gentiles was effective, and in due time the Jewish dominated era of Christianity came to an end, as God intended, and today the roles are reversed.

We have an exceptionally insightful comment by The Apostle to the Gentiles, in the third chapter of 2 Corinthians.  He seems to be speaking primarily about natural Israel, but one must readily see how it also relates to Gentile Christianity today.

Paul said, “God hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.  But if the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?

“Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: and not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: but their minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ.  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.  Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away (2 Cor. 3:6-18).

That veil was not upon the hearts of those mighty Apostles and Prophets which Jesus sent forth into the world; carrying the glorious gospel which our Lord and Savior had delivered unto them.  They carried copies of the Old Testament with them, presenting the gospel of redemption, and the revelation of the Church to their listeners by explaining to them the prophecies in the writings of Moses, and Samuel, and David, and Isaiah, and all of the others who, by the Spirit of God, did prophesy of this wonderful Grace Age in which we so thankfully rejoice.

It is very easy to misunderstand Paul’s statement, “When it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.”  In fact, it can be understood only when it is directly coupled with the prophecy, in Isaiah 25:6-7, to which it refers:

Isaiah said, “In this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.  And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.”  When that Gentile “mountain” (nation) is fully formed, an anointed prophet of God, a deliverer, shall come out of that spiritual “Mount Zion,” “And shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11:25-32).

It is not Jacob/Israel only who are blinded to the wonderful things which have been revealed, and are yet to be revealed to God’s children, but they are not all Christians who are of Christianity.  In Ephesians 3:1-11, Paul said that the message which God gave to him would “Make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery” of Christ and the Church.  All men everywhere who accept the blessing of following the leadership of God’s Church: “the Mountain of the Lord’s House” will get to enjoy the wonderful feast of the knowledge and understanding of the Holy Scriptures which God has revealed in “It.”

That is the moment in prophetic history of which Ezekiel spoke, saying, “Thou son of man, show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern.  And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.  This is the law of the house; upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.

That moment in prophetic history will occur in the next four years.  Find “the mountain.”  It is time to begin to ask, and find your way to Zion, and watch that mountain, and learn, and your eyes and your heart shall behold that great event.

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