Social media has been ablaze over the last couple of days regarding Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress. I’m not going to address the content of his speech. To be honest, I didn’t listen to it or read the transcripts. I’ve glanced through a few articles, but even those I didn’t read with an eye of criticism. I was just taking in information. I’ll let political pundits fight over whether we are too hawkish or too dovish towards Iran. I have an opinion, but I’ll save it for another day. I want to address something that concerns me much more than momentary arguments over foreign policy. I would like to address Christians, specifically from the Bible, on two separate, but inter-connected questions. The first question I would like to attempt to answer is whether or not the current nation state known as Israel today is “the Israel of God”. In other words, is the current geographic nation-state that was established in the early 1950’s the same entity as the Biblical Israel?
The children of Israel, the descendants of the seed of Abraham, were first formed into a nation under Moses. They were given a 3 pronged law. A moral law to govern their behavior, which we call, “The Ten Commandments”. A ceremonial law to instruct them in religious worship. And a civil law to instruct them in crime, punishment, and civil organization. They, as a people, were bound together in a single covenant with God. He was their God, and they were His people, the sheep of His pasture.** This covenant was preceded by the covenant and promises of Abraham (as referenced above), and Noah. It preceded a further development with David, and finally the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ appearance is the apex of God’s covenant dealings with men, and it fulfilled every aspect of all His covenant promises, so that Paul could affirm to the Church at Corinth that, “all the promises of God find their yes in Him.” (2 Corinthians 1:20) While in the Old Testament, God’s people were tied to physical ceremony, land, and heritage. The New Testament drastically improves and expands the borders of God’s Israel. Jesus comes and proclaims peace to all men, first, to the Jews, but then to the rest of the world as well. And all that believe on Jesus Christ are brought into a better covenant, with better promises. This is an important point. Not a different covenant with different promises, but a better covenant with better promises. Jesus improved upon the Old Covenant, he abolished the national and ethnic distinction that set his Old Covenant people apart as separate and distinct, and expanded the Israel of God to include Gentiles. Israel, according to Scripture is no longer a small geographic state in the middle east, but is now an international empire that will one day rule the entire globe. There are two passages in the New Testament that I would like to point to as evidence that the way I am interpreting the Gospel’s effect on our understanding of Israel is correct. The first has to do with the way Paul interprets the promise given to Abraham concerning the “land”. The second will be Paul discussing the inclusion of Gentiles into the Commonwealth of Israel.
 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.  For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.  For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.  That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,  as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.  In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
This is a wonderful passage with more than one use for our purposes. First we see the great Gospel promise of inclusion. How would Abraham become a blessing to the whole world? How would the promised hope of salvation be brought to the world of men? Abraham would have a son, not Isaac, a greater than Isaac, Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:16) But more importantly for our discussion is how Paul interprets the promise of the land. Verse 13 says, “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” Wait. When did God promise Abraham that he would inherit the entire earth? He didn’t. Paul rightly sees that the covenant promise of “the promised land” has been expanded because it was too small to fit with giant nature of the person of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and Lord of all Lords. In giving His people the world, that tiny little dot in North Africa between two rivers is also included. So God is not breaking His promise to His people, He is giving them more. They are heirs to the world. This shows an expanded view of territory known as Israel, of which Jesus is King.
Now for the big discussion. One that may be difficult for you to receive at first, but I ask you to read the next passage very carefully. The Israel of God is made up now of both ethnic Jews and ethnic Gentiles… there is no distinction.
 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility  by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,  and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
This passage is written to a Gentile Church. Paul wants them to clearly understand their place before God in the New Covenant. He starts out by telling them that in the past, or, “at one time” “they had been separated from Christ”. That they had been “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel”. Note that phrase, “the commonwealth of Israel”. It refers to a specific political economy. And that they had been “strangers to the covenants of promise”. But now their relationship with the Father had changed. And not just with the Father, but with the Father’s people too. The Jews, the commonwealth, covenant people of God, had regulations that separated them from everyone else. But Jesus “himself is our peace, who made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in himself one new man in the place of two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” Jesus abolishes the civil and ceremonial law aspects of the Old Covenant removing all distinctions between Jew and Gentile. He writes the moral law on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), which is the promise of the New Covenant, symbolizing the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the changing of the hearts of men. All men, Jew and Gentile alike. In verse 19 we have the clearest declaration in the New Testament that Gentile believers have been included in the Israel of God. There is no way to mistake Paul’s assertion unless we are just being willfully blind.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”
He uses the exact same language that he used in verse 11 to make the connection.
“remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel (citizenship) and strangers to the covenants of promise”
So we see that the New Testament very clearly teaches us that, God’s promises have been expanded and improved upon. That God’s people will inherit the land that He promised them. But they will receive it when He gives them the world as their inheritance. Secondly, we see in a very clear and unambiguous way as well, that the New Testament teaches that the Gentiles are now included in the Common Wealth of Israel. They have been granted citizenship. All the covenant promises that God has made to His people are now theirs as well. On these two points the Bible is clear. The Church and Israel are the same entity, not because the Church replaced Israel, but because the Gentiles have been included within her. The Church is a part of Israel. She is catholic, which means she is not confined to a single nation, like the Truth was until Jesus came. She is apostolic, which means she was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the Jewish apostolic figures, Jesus Christ himself being that chief cornerstone.
I’m writing this because of the misguided opinion of some believers that to not defend modern national Israel is in some way to be disobedient to God. This is to ascribe to modern Israel a divine sanction that is improper. I’m not saying we should not be allies with Israel, I’m just saying it should have nothing to do with her being the Israel of God, because, as I just demonstrated, she is not. She, at the current time, is a socialist, atheist, state that does not even practice the minimum requirements of Old Testament religious life. She is a civil organization of people just like every other modern state. Better than some, worse than others, ordinary, and man-made in every way. U.S. foreign policy shouldn’t be based on a bad theological position.
But, let’s say I’m wrong about everything I have written here. For the sake of argument, let’s assume I am. Should we give Israel money and arms? Should we claim to be her defender and say that without us she will perish? If you believe the modern nation of Israel is the Israel of God, then you should be very opposed to us engaging in that type of relationship. Why? Because God forbids Israel to engage in covenants of defense and not trust in Him alone for their defense.
 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD!  And yet he is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.  The Egyptians are man, and not God, and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together.  For thus the LORD said to me, “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey, and when a band of shepherds is called out against him he is not terrified by their shouting or daunted at their noise, so the LORD of hosts will come down to fight on Mount Zion and on its hill.  Like birds hovering, so the LORD of hosts will protect Jerusalem; he will protect and deliver it; he will spare and rescue it.”
I love the Israeli people, and pray that God brings them to see His love for them in the face of Christ Jesus. To them the prophets came, of them the Messiah was born. But that is where their advantage ends. God loves all men, and we should wisely follow His example, seeking peace and pursuing it. This does not mean we cannot justly defend ourselves, or offer defense to the defenseless. But it does mean we would be wise to not ascribe divine attributes to modern Israel. Or, on the other hand, if we do believe Israel to be the divine nation of God, that we not provide money and arms for her defense, tempting her to deny her God, and become the cause of her judgment. Interestingly, both positions should lead us to the same foreign policy philosophy, non-intervention.
The Evangelical Libertarian