Sunday, September 10, 2006

Israel - Part 3

Israel Part 3

We continue in ‘End Time Delusions’:

The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. –Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

Approximately 800 years had passed since the time of Hosea the prophet. Finally, Heaven’s prophetic clock struck twelve. “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king” (Matthew 2:1). Because King Herod felt threatened by this newly born potential rival to his throne, he sent soldiers who cruelly “put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem” (Matthew 2:16). Yet God warned Joseph in advance of the slaughter. “Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word” (verse 13). So the family arose and “departed for Egypt” (verse 14).

The next sentence after Matthew 2:14 is almost unbelievable in its prophetic implications. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Matthew wrote that Joseph, Mary and Jesus remained in Egypt “until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt have I called my son’” (verse 15).

Do you realize what you just read? Matthew is quoting Hosea 1:11 which, in its historical context, referred to the nation of Israel being called out of Egypt in the time of Moses. Yet here the very first Gospel writer picks up this text and declares it “fulfilled” in Jesus Christ! Here Matthew is beginning to reveal a principle he develops throughout his book. Paul also taught the same principle, as we shall see.

Remember, the first time the name “Israel” is used in the Bible, it was a spiritual name given to one man, to Jacob (see Genesis 32:28). That name had to do with Jacob’s spiritual victory. It meant, “Prince with God”. Even so, in the beginning of the New Testament that same name is beginning to be applied to one Man, to the Victorious One, to Jesus Christ, the Prince of God.

There are amazing parallels between the history of Israel and the history of Jesus Christ. In Hebrew history, a young man named Joseph had dreams and went to Egypt (see Genesis 37, 39). In the New Testament we find another Joseph who had dreams and went to Egypt (see Matthew 2). In Hebrew history, when God called Israel out of Egypt, He called that new nation “My son” (Exodus 4:22). When Jesus came out of Egypt, God said, “Out of Egypt I called My Son” (Matthew 2:15). When Israel left Egypt, the people went through the Red Sea. They were “baptized…in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2). In the third chapter of Matthew, we read that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan “to fulfill all righteousness” (verse 15). Then God called Jesus, His “beloved Son” (verse 17).

After the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, they spent 40 years in the wilderness. Immediately after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, He was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness” for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-2). At the end of those 40 days, Jesus resisted the devil’s tricky temptations by quoting three key Scriptures. All were from Deuteronomy, the very book God gave Israel during her 40 year sojourn in the wilderness! What does this mean? It means that in Matthew’s book, Jesus was repeating the history of Israel, point by point, and was overcoming where they had failed. In other words, Christ was showing Himself to be the primary Israel, the Prince of God, the Victorious One who overcomes all sin.

After healing large numbers of people, Jesus “warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘Behold! My Servant, whom I have chosen, My beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, until He sends forth justice to victory’” (Matthew 12:16-20).

Here Matthew is doing the same thing he did with Hosea 11:1. He is quoting Isaiah 42:1-3, which, in its original context, referred to God’s “servant”, which was “Israel….My Servant” (Isaiah 41:8). Once again, under inspiration from the Holy spirit, the first writer of the New Testament said that Isaiah 42:1-3 was being “fulfilled” by God’s “Servant”, Jesus Christ.

What about those other seemingly dry little phrases about the nation of Israel? It’s time to water them too. They must now grow into trees that reach Heaven. In Psalm 80:8, Israel was called a “vine”. Yet Jesus Christ declared, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1). God referred to the nation of Israel as “My son, My firstborn” (Exodus 4:22). Yet Paul later called our Messiah “the first-born over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). The prophet Isaiah clearly called Israel, “the seed of Abraham” (Isaiah 41:8). Yet Paul wrote, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made”. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ” (Galatians 3:16).

That last text is the clearest and the most explosive of them all! In the Old Testament, God definitely called “Israel…the seed of Abraham” (Isaiah 41:8). In Galatians 3:16, Paul plainly wrote that Abraham’s seed does not refer to “many”, but to “one…..who is Christ.” What does this mean? It means that when Paul looked back – just like Matthew did – at Old Testament statements about “Israel”, he saw them as inherently foreshadowing the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. To Paul, the Messiah is the “Seed”. Jesus Christ is the perfect Israel!

Yet there’s more. In Genesis and Exodus, the name “Israel” not only referred to one victorious man, to Jacob, but also to his descendants, who became Israel. The same principle is revealed in the New Testament. Right after calling Jesus the “Seed”, Paul told his Gentile converts, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed” (Galatians 3:29). Thus in the New Testament, the name Israel not only applies to the one Victorious Man, the true Seed, Jesus Christ, but also to those who belong to Christ. Believers in Jesus are infused into the “Seed”. In other words, true Christians are part of God’s spiritual Israel.

These fundamental New Testament facts will soon take on explosive significance when we examine what the Book of Revelation really teaches about Israel, Babylon the Great and Armageddon.

May I suggest you put your seatbelts on?

Amazing isn’t it? We continue to learn the truth of God’s prophetic Word and we’re also learning how most of the Christian world has allowed itself to be deceived about what Jesus and the New Testament teaches us about Israel.

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