Israel and the Church

A friend sent me the following graphic (not sure of the source or if you can read it):

Israel and the Church

The intent of the graphic is to strengthen the position of continuity between the testaments.  I think that some seek to unify the Word of God, while others have less than altruistic motives for posting a graphic like this.  However, I not only see the difference between Israel and the Church, I see as well the difference between Dispensational Theology and Covenant Theology.  And this chart represents a major difference.  Here is a good primer for those who do not understand or know the differences:  Showers, Renald E. There Really Is a Difference!: a Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology. Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc., 1990. Print.

Covenant Theology essentially blurs the distinction between Israel and the Church.  Frankly, I’m not sure it is accurate to say that the CT equates the Church with Israel.  Maybe some do.  I believe the Bible teaches that they are essentially different entities.  Actually, I maintain that Israel, the Church, and the coming Millennial Kingdom are all separate entities.  Chapter 15 of Showers’ book lists seven lines of evidence which show that Israel and the Church are in fact different.

  1. Israel was a nation in the technical sense of that term, but the Church is not a nation in the technical sense of the term.  If the Church is a nation in the same way that Israel was and is currently a nation, what is the national language of the Church?  Who decides?  Actually, the Church consists of many different races and tongues and nations.  She is not bound by geography.  For instance, where is the capital city of the Church if it is a nation?  Who is the earthly political leader?  God established and regulated Israel under the Mosaic Law.  There is no earthly, political government for the Church.  Does the Church have a national army?
  2. Israel as a nation was the people of God through the Mosaic Covenant, but the nation rejected Jesus Christ.  The Church received and is receiving Christ until He receives her as His spotless Bride.
  3. Israel persecuted the Church.
  4. If a Gentile remained a Gentile, he was excluded from the nation of Israel.  He had to become an Israelite through the rite of circumcision and be placed under the Mosaic Law.  Gentiles today are full and equal memebers of the Church.  The Gentile doens’t have to become a part of the nation of Israel to be a member of the Church.
  5. Not all Israelites were beleivers in the OT.  So the nation of Israel consisted of unbelievers and believers alike.  The true Church consists only of regenerate believers.
  6. The Scriptures never refer to saved Jews of the OT nation of Israel as the Church of God.  But the Scriptures do call saved Jews and Gentiles of the NT the Church of God.  1 Corinthians 10.32 strengthens this distinction:  “Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God.”  The fact that the NT applies the phrase “Church of God” to saved NT Jews does not mean that it applied to OT Jews.  Thus there is a very clear distinction between the saved Jews of the NT Church and the saved Jews of OT nation of Israel.  But saved is saved.  It matters not:  OT saint and NT saint alike enjoy the presence of God in Heaven.
  7. Romans 11 teaches that OT Israel was in the place of God’s blessing.  Since OT Israel rejected Jesus Christ through unbelief, God temporarily removed Israel from the place of His blessing.  The Church is now the place of God’s blessing;  Israel is not.  However, God will restore Israel to the place of His blessing when all of Israel receives Christ at His Glorious Appearing at the end of the Great Tribulation.

Israel is out of the place of God’s blessing; the Church is in the place of God’s blessing.  Therefore, Israel and the Church are not the same.  But God has not cast Israel away (Romans 11.1-2).  All Israel will be saved (Romans 11.26).  Israel and the Church may have been founded by God for different reasons and purposes, but God will not abandon either.  He will keep His promises to both.

So, I do see differences.  Frankly, I do not understand how anyone cannot see that Israel is not the Church and the Church is not Israel.  The Lord Jesus will sit upon the earthly throne in Jerusalem to fulfill the covenant made with David (see 2 Samuel 7.12-16).

It must be remembered that the Church is not present in Old Testament teaching.  The Church began at Pentecost and is comprised only of those who are trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ.  The Church’s “citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3.20).  The Church will reign with Jesus Christ in His Millennial Kingdom.  David Olander in his book, The Greatness of the Rapture:  The Pre-Day of the Lord Rapture wrote (emphasis mine):

…[T]he church is biblically based on covenants with Israel. But these covenants cannot be fulfilled by the church in any manner, for the eternal biblical covenants are not made with the church, Gentiles, or any Gentile nation.  Only the Jews, national Israel, have this eternal distinction. In the church age, Gentiles are brought near because of the Jew-Gentile relationship in union with Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:11–13).

1. The church’s program on earth will end with the rapture. The rapture is exclusively part of the program for the church and the church only. While there are areas of comparison between Israel and the church, God has a separate program for the church, and a separate program for Israel. The church, which began the day of Pentecost, will end at the rapture. Scripture is completely clear with this whole matter.

2. Israel’s program on the earth will end at the end of the millennial kingdom. Jesus Christ must rule as David’s Son, the King of Israel, and all things will be subjected unto Him. However, not all things are subjected to the Son of Man during the church age, but they will be in the Messianic kingdom (Heb. 2:8–9). At the end of the kingdom age, Jesus Christ as the King of Israel will then turn the kingdom back to the Father when He has subdued His last enemy (1 Cor. 15:24–25).

There will never be agreement between Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology.  There are underlying presuppositions that drive both.  However, we must be careful to treat one another respectfully and honorably.  The author of this graphic might want to consider that there are reasonable men who do see a difference.

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