William Andrew Dillard
Much is heard of Israel in their present conflict with a radical segment of Arabic people. Most of the Christian world, and this writer, too, are pro-Israel. The children of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob were the recipients of the Law Covenant from God, and though left desolate in their official rejection of the Messiah, the nation has a future in the work of God. However this should not blind the Bible student to obvious truth regarding the subject, and how that applies to the present people of New Testament Covenant relationship with Him. Please put on your thinking cap!
To be anti-Israel is to be anti-Semitic. But wait, to be anti-Arab would also be anti-Semitic since both descended from Abraham and are by virtue of that Semites. However, Bible students know that God rejected Ishmael, the father of Arabic people as the heir of Abraham, choosing instead the son of Promise: Isaac. To Isaac was born two sons: Esau and Jacob. Covenant lineage is traced through Jacob due to the faithless rejection of Esau of his birthright. Stay with me in this thinking.
“Jacob” (trickster) received a name change from God to that of “Israel” (He who contends with God and prevails) in his wrestling with an angel all night, signifying his hot pursuit of heavenly help in view of what he considered the Imminent, murderous wrath of Esau. Thus does his name have such marvelous and practical meaning. Quite naturally, Jacob’s children then became known as the children of Israel whether their faith and deportment merited the name or not. Happily, much of the time it did.
But in the fullness of time, God sent them the promised Messiah whom they rejected on a wholesale basis officially. While their rejection of Him is more than ample evidence that they were no longer Israel in meaning, a remnant of the faithful received the Messiah, and were by virtue of their faith and obedience to Him the sole nucleus of the New Covenant expression of God on earth, His New Testament Church. They were then the true Israel, and the New Testament Church continues to be so today. Gal. 6:16. What about the political nation that rejected Jesus, the Messiah? Jesus said their house was left to them desolate (devoid and separated from the presence and protection of God as they had known it). This precipitated the massacre and destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 by the Romans. It caused the great diaspora of the last near 2,000 years. It precipitated the holocaust in WWII. It has brought on them the many and continued conflicts with Arab nations presently. The present political nation is mainly the children of Judah; hence, Jews. They have chosen to use the term Israel, but they do not have its meaning. They are in fact Jacobites. But, one day, the nation will become Israelites again. May the Lord hasten that glorious day when they shall look on Him Whom they have pierced, know true repentance, and be brought into New Covenant relationship with Him to once again be “Israel” in the sight of God.
HEAVEN’S OFFER: A LIFE OF ADVANTAGE!
William Andrew Dillard
Enduring and mighty lessons spring from what many may see as strange and perplexing events in the Old Testament. Such is the case of the patriarch Jacob wrestling all night with an angel as recorded in Genesis 32.
In context, Jacob was returning from Padam-aram (modern Iraq) with his wives, children, livestock, and substance to his parental homeland. He was under a death threat from his brother, Esau who sold Jacob his birthright, but was extremely angered when Jacob engaged in trickery to actually obtain it. News had come to Jacob that Esau was coming with hundreds of armed men, so he assumed the worst and implemented a cunning plan of appeasement to preserve life and achieve peace.
Moreover, in the long night before meeting his brother, Jacob is said to have wrestled with an angel until the dawning of day. Refusing to release hold on the angel until he should be blessed, Jacob was given his blessing, and with it a change of name to “Israel.”
“Israel” is a composite of two words: “Sara(h)” “prince(ss), royalty, possessor of power” and “El” “God”; hence, one who has power with God and prevails. This new word became the name of the patriarch from that day forward. Moreover, that name was transferred to the aggregate of his offspring, the Hebrew people who were the Old Testament people of covenant with God, and through Whose power they prevailed often against impossible odds. They had a real advantage (inside track) with God, But it was not after the flesh, but of God’s choosing.
Today, the homeland of the Jewish people is referred to as Israel, but what made that name significant, the presence and power of God, was withdrawn upon their final rejection of their Messiah Who said of them, ”Behold, your house is left unto you desolate…” Luke 13:35.
Jesus had come not only to pay the sin penalty for mankind, which men could not pay, but to bring His covenant people out from under the dispensation of law into the marvelous New Covenant of Grace. A remnant did so follow the Lord, and He also graciously incorporated the nations of all who would believe and follow Him. Hence, the beloved apostle Paul tells us that the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ is “the Israel of God.” Galatians 6:16. So long as the grace of God is extended in this dispensation of time called “today,” men have the blessed privilege of being a part of that Israel, “One who has power with God and prevails, even His people of the New Covenant.” Do you have an obedient and talking relationship with God? It really is an advantage of blessings both in time and in eternity!
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