(Bible study material by the late Christian Edwardson)
The author of this material was one of our faithful ministers and Bible teachers. On modern Zionism, as well as other prophetic themes, his knowledge and logic often drew Studious worker groups for closer study at camp meetings and workers' meetings. There has been a demand for material on this subject.—l. c. k.
I. "The Israel of God."
1. Not nationality, but faith in Christ, makes one an "Israelite" (Gal. 3:28, 29).
2. Jewish nation not the "Israel of God" (Rom. 2:28, 29; Rev. 2:9; 3:9).
3. There is an "Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16; Eph. 1:5; Rom. 9:4).
4. Abraham had eight sons, but only one of them was an "Israelite" (Gen. 16:15; 21:3; 25:1, 2; Rom. 9:6, 7).
5. Same principle revealed in twins of Isaac (Rom. 9:10).
a. Esau, by ignoring the birthright, became an Edomite (Gen. 25:30-34).
b. Jacob, the "supplanter" (Gen. 27:36), became an "Israelite," an overcomer, through conquering prayer (Gen. 32:9, 24-28; Hosea 12:2-4).
Note.—Thus an "Israelite" is one who overcomes his sins through faith in Christ—not guile (John 1:47). (Compare Rev. 14:1-5; 7:1-4; 12:11; 1 John 5:3, 4.)
6. As Abraham is "the father of all them that believed," without regard to nationality, he becomes "a father of many nations" (Rom. 4:11, 16-18; Gal. 3:7). (Unbelieving Jews, therefore, cannot be "Israel.")
7. Christ and His true followers are Abraham's seed (Gal. 3:16, 29).
II. Jewish Nation Ceased to Be "God's Israel."
1. Christ's parable of the husbandmen illustrated how God tried to make the Jewish nation His true "Israel." But when they rejected Christ, the kingdom was taken from them (Matt. 21:33-43).
2. That this rejection of the Jews as a nation was final, is seen in Jeremiah 19:1-11. This people cannot be gathered again, as a broken vessel "cannot be made whole again."
3. But God did "not cast away his people which he foreknew" would accept Christ. They became "a remnant," as the 7,000 in the davs of Elijah (Rom. 11:1-5).
4. God called "Israel" "a green olive tree" (Jer. 11:16). Those Jews who rejected Christ were cut off as dry branches, and Gentile believers were grafted in among those remaining, thus becoming part of the stock of Israel (Rom. 11:17-22).
5. Unbelieving Jews cannot become a part of "Israel" except as they are "grafted into their own olive tree" (Rom. 11:22-24).
6. "Grafting" implies individual work, not a mass movement!
III. Israel Gathered to Their Land.
1. God promised Abraham that he should inherit the land, and yet he never received a foot of it (Gen. 13:14, 15; Acts 7:5). (If all the Jews in the world moved to Palestine, they would not fulfill God's promise, for Abraham himself must inherit it with them.)
2. God promised Abraham that he should be "heir of the world," not of Palestine only (Rom. 4:13). (Thus, people of all countries are in the land promised to Abraham, as much as those living in Palestine.)
3. While the patriarchs lived in Palestine, they confessed they were pilgrims seeking a better country (Heb. 11:13-16). (Therefore Palestine could not be the Land of Promise.)
4. Abraham looked for a city with "foundations" (Heb. 11:10; Rev. 21:14).
5. This city God has "prepared" (Heb. 11:16; Rev. 21:2).
6. All must enter this city as "Israelites" (over-comers) (Rev. 21:7, 12). No gate is marked "Gentile Christians." Compare Eph. 2:11, 12.
7. Ezekiel was pointed forward to the resurrection as the time when the "whole house of Israel" shall be gathered to their land (Eze. 37:1-14).
8. Israel shall be gathered when the great trumpet is blown (Isa. 27:12, 13; 1 Thess. 4:16; Matt. 24:31).
9. Then "Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation" (Isa. 45:17, 18; Rom. 11: 26).
10. Abraham, and all his seed, will inherit the land forever (Acts 7:5; Gal. 3:16, 29; Eze. 37:11, 12).
11. Thus God's original plan will be carried out (Deut. 32:8).
IV. "Israel," the Light of the World.
(Prophecies concerning the Jewish nation, given on condition.)
1. God's plan at the Exodus:
a. God placed Israel in Palestine (on the highway of traffic) to be a light to all nations (Deut. 28:9, 10; 4:6; Matt. 5:14).
b. As Israel failed to reach God's ideal, His purpose could not be carried out (Heb. 4:8, margin).
2. God's plan at Israel's return from Babylonian captivity:
a. God proposed His cherished plan through Ezekiel (Eze. 40 to 48).
(1) God promised to build them a city (Eze. 40:2).
(2) There would be a glorious temple (Eze. 41:1).
(3) He would place His throne there (Eze. 43:7).
(4) A river of life would flow out of the sanctuary (Eze. 47:1-9).
(5) Trees would bear fruit monthly; their leaves would be for medicine (Eze. 47:12).
(6) Christ would dwell among them forever (Eze. 43:7; Isa. 51:3).
Note: Because of Israel's sins, the foregoing will of necessity have to be fulfilled in the new earth.
b. These promises were on condition of wholehearted repentance and cooperation with God's plan (Eze. 43:9-11; 44:6). (Notice the if.) If they would not repent, details of God's plan not needed (chap. 43:11).
c. Plan required LeviticaJ priesthood and sacrificial system; therefore it cannot be carried out after Christ's death (Eze. 43:18-25; Heb. 7:11-18).
d. These promises cannot refer to the new earth state (Eze. 47:10, 11).
e. Later Zechariah proposed God's plan to Israel (Zech. 14:8-11).
f. This offer cannot refer to the new earth (Zech. 14:1-3, 12-19).
g. Given on condition (Zech. 6:15). (Notice if again.)
3. Christ's last offer to Israel.
a. Foretold by Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-40).
b. Last of seventy weeks devoted to saving Jews (Dan. 9:24-27).
c. Jews spurned last opportunity as a nation
d. Christ mourns over Jews' final refusal (Isa. 49:4, 5).
e. With the "remnant" "preserved of [ancient] Israel," Christ is to unite the saved from the "Gentiles" (Isa. 49:6; Rom. 9:27; Acts 13:46, 47).
V. The Zionist Movement a Mistake.
1. Hebrews' search for blood of atonement:
a. No atonement without shedding blood (Heb. 9:22; Lev. 17:11).
b. Law of Moses forbids Jews offering sacrifices except at "the door of the tabernacle" or Temple* (Lev. 17:3, 4; Deut. 12:11, 13, 14).
2. Disaster awaits Jews in Palestine.
a. Palestine is to become scene of great conflagration (Joel 3:9-16; Rev. 16:12-16).
b. The only hope of Jews lies in accepting atonement through the blood of Christ (Isa. 1:18-20; Eze. 18:31, 32).
VI. Summary and Conclusions
1. "God is no respecter of persons" or of nationalities, but of character (Acts 10:34, 35).
2. "Israel" means an "overcomer" through faith in Christ, not in Hebrew nation (Rom. 9:6, 7; Gen. 32:24, 28; Gal. 3:7, 16, 29).
3. God chose the Jews as His representatives to display the character of true "Israelites" to the world, and to herald His saving truth to all nations (Deut. 28:1, 9, 10; Ps. 67:2).
4. For this reason He placed them in Palestine, the highway between the nations, and proposed to make it a miniature Eden (Eze. 47:9, 12; Isa. 51:3).
5. When the Jews failed in every crisis, and misrepresented God by adopting heathen customs, they were rejected as a nation; but faithful individuals formed a nucleus into which Gentile believers were engrafted, thus forming the "Israel of God" (Matt. 21:43; Rom. 11:17-23).
6. God, who knew the end from the beginning, showed Abraham that the promises would be fulfilled on the new earth (Heb. 11:10, 13-16; Rev. 21:1,2,12).
7. Ezekiel and Paul tried to lead the minds of the Jews to the resurrection as the "hope of Israel"
(Eze. 37:1-14; Acts 28:20; 23:6; 24:15; 26:6-8).
8. God's promise to Israel, then, is not the immigration of all Jews to Palestine, but that "all Israel," the overcomers of all ages (including Abraham), will inherit the earth made new, after the resurrection of the dead.
* Since the destruction of the Temple (a.d. 70) Jews, outside of Christ, are without "the blood of atonement." This fearful reality has driven many an honest Jew to realize that he stands without atonement before God, unless he accepts the atoning blood of Christ. But, if the Temple were restored, its services would satisfy this craving for "the blood of atonement," and thus remove their feeling of need for the atoning blood of Christ.