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Does the Bible Teach A Spiritual Israel?

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By Justin Johnson
By Justin Johnson

Many people are taught that anyone who is saved becomes a member of Israel, but not the real Israel. Instead, they are taught, that we become part of a spiritual Israel. But is this Biblical? Is God finished with the Israel of the Old Testament?

The ‘spiritual Israel’ concept is created from a failure to understand the dispensational shift from God’s dealing with Israel to the body of Christ. Many who subscribe to the idea of spiritual Israel, most always teach that Israel was an allegory for the church today, often referred to as the true Israel.

By their own proclamation these teachers do not take the natural reading of the scripture. Instead, the promises, covenants, and even curses for Israel are allegorically applied to the church of this age.

However, the teaching of a separate spiritual Israel is not found in the Bible. To press it into the scripture, we must do three things:

  • Deny the precise fulfillment of prophecy given specifically to Israel;
  • Reject the significance of God’s separation of Israel from the Gentiles; and
  • sIgnore the teaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery

Prophecy Given to Israel

Over ninety percent of the Bible was given to and about the physical nation Israel, God’s chosen people in time past. To teach that we are the allegorical fulfillment of prophecy given to Israel would take nothing less than a gross distortion of plain words.

For example, in Isaiah chapter two the time of the ‘last days’ is described where the ‘LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains’(Isaiah 2:2). This prophecy is specifically speaking about Judah and Jerusalem:

    “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem” – Isaiah 2:1

It is from Jerusalem that the nations will be judged by the Lord, and to ‘the house of the God of Jacob’ in Zion that many people will go (Isaiah 2:3).

To spiritualize this passage along with hundreds of other prophecies becomes unnatural. The natural meaning of entire passages is lost in order to accomodate the spiritualization. Starting with Ezekiel 40 there are 8 chapters detailing the holy city. This is pointless if it will never exist.

Who assigns the spiritual definition to the tribes, or the gates, or the arches, or the borders? Without a Biblical key to explain the spiritualization the real meaning of the words become construed to fit the imaginative contrivances of a thousand scholars.

This kind of spiritualization destroys the authority of the scripture and the meaning God’s prophetic purpose for Israel.

God’s separation of Israel from the Gentiles

Numbers 23:9 says that Israel is not to be reckoned among the nations. Deuteronomy 7 plainly tells Israel why they are different from the other nations:

    “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” – Deuteronomy 7:6

It was to this special people that God would give the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the law, the service of God, and the promises (Romans 9:4). It was through glory of this special people that God would offer salvation to the world.

    “I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.” – Isaiah 46:13

    “He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” – Psalm 98:3

It was the separation of Israel from the nations that God would use in order to bring salvation to those nations. God’s plan was not for every Gentile to become a member of Israel, but instead to receive salvation from the God of Israel.

    “His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.” – Psalm 72:17

It is not only Israel that finally receives salvation it is the world. However, Israel would be ministers and priests of the Lord to that end, administering the law of God (Isaiah 61:6).

To say that the saved become part of Israel denies the purpose for which God separated Israel from among the nations.

The Jesus Christ According to the Revelation of the Mystery

Since what was revealed to Paul ‘was not made known unto the sons of men’, then no prophetic scripture, spiritualized or literal, would refer to the church today.

Contrarily, Paul announces something kept secret which was separate from Israel and separate from the purpose of prophecy, it was the subject of the body of Jesus Christ as the church (Col 1:27, 1 Cor 12:13).

Paul says that there is neither Jew nor Greek today in Christ (Gal 3:28). Since the grace of God is now offered freely on the merits of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is no way for the law to bring righteousness. The righteousness of God comes by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-24).

Instead of becoming part of Israel, Paul announces a new creature, the body of Christ.

    “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace” – Ephesians 2:15

Out of two groups, Jews and Gentiles, Christ made a new man and agency for salvation. This special agency is what we become when we are saved today. We do not know any man after the flesh, whether it is Israel or American or European (2 Cor 5:16).

    “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Cor 5:17

Conclusion

The teaching of spiritual Israel is dangerous to a natural reading of the scripture and prevents sincere students of the word from recognizing important truths for this dispensation.

In order to understand who you are today, know that God did not write the Bible in hidden codes or ambiguous allegories. He uses plain speech, easy to understand if we will simply accept the natural reading of the text.

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Published: August 8, 2006
Last Modified: August 15, 2012