What are some contrasts between Israel and the Church? Let’s find out.
- Every covenant, promise, and provision for Israel is earthly, and they continue as a nation with the earth when it is created new (Gen. 17:2-8; Ex. 19:5-6; Deut. 30:5-9).
Every covenant or promise for the Church is for a heavenly reality, and she continues in heavenly citizenship when the heavens are recreated (Phil. 3:20; Col. 1:2, 5; 1 Pet. 1:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:2).
- In view of the fact that Abraham is not only the progenitor of the nation of promise but is also the pattern of a Christian under grace, it is significant that there are two figures employed by Jehovah respecting Abraham’s seed – the dust of the earth (Gen. 13:16), and the stars (Gen. 15:5; Heb. 11:12). The extent of this Abrahamic covenant is expressed in Rom. 4:16, “For this reason it is by faith. that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” Aside from Ishmael’s line and the children of Keturah concerning whom there is no revealed divine purpose, the children of Jacob, or Israel, and without reference to Esau, are counted as the physical seed (Gen. 22:2; Heb. 11:17) of Abraham; for with these God has made covenants respecting their earthly privilege.
Contrariwise, the heavenly seed of Abraham are not progenerated by Abraham, but are generated by God on the efficacious principle of faith; and, because of the truth that this faith was exercised specifically by Abraham (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:1-3, 17-24), those of like faith are Abraham’s spiritual seed. It is written, “So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer (Gal. 3:9). A vital distinction is drawn by the Apostle between Israel after the flesh (humanly born) and that portion of Israel within Israel who are saved. Those who are saved are styled “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), and the statement that “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Rom. 9:6) is a reference to the same distinction. The truth of the Bible deplores the use of the above passages to prove Israel and the Church are the same.
- Israelites become what they are by physical birth. They are each one begotten of human parents and their inheritance is transmitted by human generation (Ex. 32:13; Jn. 8:39, 53).
Christians become what they are by spiritual birth. They are begotten directly by God and are, therefore, His legitimate offspring. Their inheritance is immediate in that each is a child of God (Jn. 1:12; 3:3, 1 Pet. 1:23; Gal. 3:26).
- God has made unconditional covenants with His earthly people, Israel. He will yet make a new covenant with them when they enter their kingdom. That new covenant will govern their conduct and will supersede the Mosaic covenant of the Law (Jer. 31:31-33; Deut. 30:8). This new covenant for Israel will be in four parts, but these four features are the present blessings of the Church.
This heavenly people are sheltered under a new covenant made in His blood. It is individual in its application and everlasting. It guarantees every divine grace upon those who believe in Christ as Savior (Heb. 8:6-13).
- Israel belongs to the earth and to the world system. Though above all nations in Jehovah’s reckoning, they are still in the world as one of its nations (Gen. 17:1-8).
Over against this and forming the strongest contrast is the fact that the Church is composed of all nations, including Israel, and sustains no citizenship here, but instead the believers are strangers and pilgrims (Eph. 2:11-14, Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11; 1 Cor. 12:13; Phil. 3:20).
- The earthly people (Israel), though their estate may vary, are present in the earth in all ages from their beginning in Abraham on into eternity to come (Gen. 17:7-8), while the Church is restricted to the present dispensation.
The dispensation now operative is characterized by the Church’s presence in the world. It was introduced for her sake; and is therefore unrelated to that which goes before or that which follows (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:20; 1 Thes. 4:15-17).
- Israel was appointed to exercise an influence over the nations of the earth (Psa. 67:1-7), and this she will yet do perfectly in the coming age; nevertheless, there was no missionary undertaking and no gospel proclaimed. Israel maintained her self-centered worship. She faced inward toward the tabernacle or temple and all her benevolence was consumed on her own worship.
However, immediately upon the formation of the Church, the Church is constituted a foreign missionary society. It is her obligation to face outward and to those of her company is given the task of evangelizing the people of the earth in each generation (Acts 1:8; 10:42; Matt. 28:19-20).
- To Israel God is known by His primary titles, but not as the Father of the individual Israelite.
In distinction to this, the Christian is actually begotten of God and has every right to address Him as Father (1 Cor. 1:2-3; Rom. 8:15) vs. (Ex. 3:13-15; 34:14).
- That nation which demanded the death of Christ and who said by their officials, “His blood be on us, and on our children,” is guilty of that death, yet they will be saved as a nation on the ground of that sacrifice (Jer. 31:33-34; Rom. 11:26-27).
On the other hand, a present and perfect salvation to the praise of God is the portion of the Church through the offering of the Lamb of God, Jesus (Heb. 10:10, 14; 1 Pet. 2:24).
- Only in exceptional instances and for unusual service did the Holy Spirit come upon an Israelite, and the Spirit withdrew as freely as He came, when the purpose was accomplished (1 Sam. 11:6; 16:14).
The, Christian, however, is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, in truth, he is not saved apart from this relation to the Spirit (Rom. 8:9; Eph. 1:13-14).
- For 1,500 years the Law of Moses was Israel’s rule of daily life. It is written, “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them” (Psa. 103:17-18).
Unlike this, the members of Christ’s Body (the Church), being wholly perfected in Him, are under the beseechings and directions which grace provides (Rom. 7:6).
- The law system provided no enabling power for its achievement. That system is declared to have failed because of the weakness of “the flesh” to which it was evidently addressed (Rom. 8:3).
To the Church, however, as certainly as superhuman requirements are laid on her members, so certainly supernatural power is provided for every demand. It is on this account the Apostle could say, “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” The reason is that “you are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).
- Several days before His departure from the world, Christ addressed a farewell discourse to the nation Israel which contemplated her future and that in its relation to His return (Matt. 23:37-25:46).
Quite removed from this and wholly different in all its features, Christ, the night before He was put to death, gave His parting message to the Christians (Jn. 13-17). When these two addresses are contemplated side by side, it is seen that the widest distinctions are indicated between Israel and the Church.
- As seen in His words specifically addressed to Israel, Christ returns to her as her King in power and great glory, at which time she will be gathered from every part of the earth by angelic ministration and into her own land (Deut. 30:1-8; Jer. 23:7-8; Matt. 24:31).
Over against these great events promised to Israel is the return of Christ for His own Bride, when He takes her with Him into heaven’s glory (Jn. 14:1-3).
- Isaiah declares, “But you, Israel, are my servant” (Isa. 41:8). Though individuals in Israel attained to great usefulness, as did the prophets, priests, and kings, yet they never reached a higher distinction than that they were the servants of Jehovah.
Contrariwise, the individuals who compose the Church are forever in Christ and are members in the family and household of God (Jn. 1:12; Gal. 3:26; 4:5).
- Those of the elect nation are appointed to be subjects of the King in His earthly kingdom (Ezek. 37:21-28), while those who comprise the Church are to reign with the King as His Consort in that kingdom (Rev. 20:6).
- The nation Israel had a priesthood (Ex. 28:1; 29:9). The Church is a priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6).
- It is clearly predicted that Israel must come into judgment (Ezek. 20:33-44; Matt. 25:1-13); but, it is as clearly declared that the Church will not come into judgment (Jn. 5:24; Rom. 8:1).
- As a nation, Israel is likened by Jehovah to His wife – a wife untrue and yet to be restored (Jer. 3:1, 14, 20; Ezek. 16:1-59; Hos. 2:1-23; Isa. 54:1-17; Gal. 4:27).
In marked distinction to this situation respecting Israel, is the revelation that the Church is to Christ as one espoused and to be married in heaven (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7-9).
- In his enumeration of the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem the writer to the Hebrews asserts that there shall be those present who are identified as “the spirits of just men made perfect.” Such can easily refer to the saints of the Old Testament who, while in this life, were styled “just men.” This designation occurs upwards of 30 times in the Old Testament and always with reference to those who were in right relation to God.
In the same enumeration of the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem there is recognition also of the “church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:22-24).
via Campus Christians