In a previous blog posting (The Israel of God Part 1) we looked at the Kingdom of God and its relationship to the spiritual Nation of Israel. This blog entry concludes our studies on The Israel of God by examining its formation.
Zech 11:4-14 (KJV) & Rom 11:7-32
As we begin the final leg of our study of “The Israel of God” let’s take a look at Zechariah 11:4-14. Here, we find a prophecy that relates to us what takes place during the appearance of God’s spiritual nation of Israel…
This is a prophecy that takes place during the first coming of Christ to the earth.
Zech 11:4-14 (KJV)
4) Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; 5) Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed [be] the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not. 6) For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour’s hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver [them].
The physical nation of Israel, here, is the “flock of the slaughter”. God the Father is commissioning Christ to come to Israel and feed them the Word of Truth. When the physical Israelites reject the Messiah and His message, God allows the Romans to slaughter them (this happened in 70 AD at the hands of Roman general Titus).
7) And I will feed the flock of slaughter, [even] you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. 8) Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me.
The Lord comes to feed the flock of Israel, especially coming to those who, by faith, accepted Him as their Messiah (“the poor of the flock”). To minister to Israel, the Lord brought with Him two staffs:
- “Beauty” – the Hebrew word here is the word for “Grace” or “Favor” speaking of His grace being shown to Israel as He came to earth as man and died on the cross for the sins of His people. He came to the earth to show grace to the physical nation of Israel
- “Bands” – the Hebrew word here is the word for “Unity” or “Binding Together” speaking of the outward unity that the nation experienced prior to 70 AD. The nation, although filled with believing and unbelieving Jews was looked upon as one nation in the eyes of the world.
The three shepherds may refer to the three great institutions that opposed Christ at His first coming…
- The Jewish Priesthood (High Priest and Other Priests)
- The Jewish Magistracy (Sanhedrin, other councils)
- The Jewish Scholars (Scribes, Pharisees etc)
All three of these institutions were brought to an end following the devastation of 70 AD.
9) Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another. 10) And I took my staff, [even] Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. 11) And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it [was] the word of the LORD.
As a result of rejecting the teachings of the Messiah, and turning their backs on the grace of God, the Lord removed His grace from the unbelieving Jews. This was symbolized by Him breaking the staff of “Grace”.
Those who were true believers in Israel recognized that the 70 AD invasion was the result of physical Israel’s rejection of their Messiah. His grace was still shown to this remnant of believers within Israel. This is proven by them being given spiritual understanding in recognizing God’s wrath and the purpose of the 70 AD invasion.
12) And I said unto them, If ye think good, give [me] my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty [pieces] of silver. 13) And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty [pieces] of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. 14) Then I cut asunder mine other staff, [even] Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
The betrayal of Judas is a perfect representation of the rejection of the Messiah by the unbelieving Jews of His day. They desired to put Him to death… in response, the Lord broke His other staff “Unity”. From this point forward, the unity of physical and spiritual Israel would no longer exist. Now, the physical nation of Israel would be recognized as rejecting Him and now, His spiritual nation would be made up of the remnant of believing Jews and believing Gentiles. This spiritual nation would be known as “the Israel of God” compared to the physical nation of Israel which contains (for the most part) unbelievers who reject the Messiah.
Another passage that is closely related to this Zechariah passage is found in Romans 11:1-32…
(1) I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. (2) God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, (3) Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. (4) But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. (5) Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (6) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Paul was a physical descendent of the Jewish people, as such, he was in a unique position to teach on God’s relation with his nation. Paul, here, is affirming that God had not completely cast off the physical nation of Israel. Much like in Elijah’s day, although a majority of Israelites had rejected the Lord and His Word, there still was a remnant that were followers of Jehovah. Likewise in Paul’s day (and today) there is a remnant of true believers among the physical nation of Israel.
(7) What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (8) (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. (9) And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: (10) Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
Here, we see the Lord taking away His “Grace” from the unbelieving Jews of His day. This was done as the result of their rejection of Him as the Messiah.
In this case, “Israel” is speaking of the true believers in Israel (ie physical Jews who are members of the “Israel of God”) True believers within physical Israel, obtained the promises of the covenant, by accepting Christ as their Messiah.
The other members of physical Israel did not receive the promises of His covenant because they did not accept the truth about His Messiahship. Why did this happen? Following their rejection of the Messiah, He had taken His grace from them causing fall into deeper spiritual blindness.
(11) I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. (12) Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? (13) For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: (14) If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. (15) For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? (16) For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
Did the Lord desire for the physical Israelites to never return to an understanding of spiritual truth and never be a part of His people again? Absolutely not! By the taking away of grace to those who are unbelieving the Lord now is turning to Gentiles opening their eyes to the truth. This in turn, will cause some physical, unbelieving Jews to recognize their loss and turn back to Him.
The Lord desires for the physical Jew to turn back to Him in faith, accepting Him as their Messiah. They can always be accepted back in “The Israel of God” if they turn to Him in repentance and saving faith.
(Note: It is possible, based upon the tone of Romans 11:, that a majority of physical Jews may turn back to Christ before His second coming. If this takes place it would explain why UNBELIEVING Jews have been allowed to return to their homeland… It was not it fulfillment of the OT covenant. It is simply, from a human standpoint, an event God may use to quickly and easily proclaim the gospel to many Jews in a short period of time.
Why is this not probable? If the salvation of a majority of Jews takes place, it would immediately precede His second coming following “the fullness of the Gentiles”. Keep in mind this idea does hinder the principle that Christ could come back at any time! Until we would see this Jewish “revival” we can rest assured Christ will not come back.)
(17) And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; (18) Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. (19) Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. (20) Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: (21) For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
The physical, unbelieving Jews are the branches that He has broken off. This is a picture of removing them from His spiritual nation of Israel that is made up of all believers of all time. The wild olive branches are a picture of the believing gentiles being brought into His spiritual nation of Israel.
Gentiles must never boast and think that they can reject Christ and still receive the benefits of the covenant He has made with Israel…. This cannot be, if God removed unbelieving Jews from the promised blessings of His covenant, so too, He will remove unbelieving Gentiles from the covenantal blessings as well.
(22) Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. (23) And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. (24) For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
The rejecting or accepting of Christ as the Messiah is the greatest decision that can be made by mankind today. For those who reject Christ…. severity will fall. For those who accept Christ, they will experience the goodness of the Lord and citizenship in the Israel of God.
There is hope for unbelieving Jews… if they turn back to Christ, as individuals, they will be grafted back into the spiritual nation of Israel and be the recipients of His covenantal blessings just as their believing forefathers.
(25) For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Luke 21:24) (26) And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (27) For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
Again, we are reminded the reason why some physical Jews have been allowed to reject Christ is so that those Gentiles who are chosen to salvation are brought into the spiritual nation of God. Although, in general, the physical Israelites have rejected Christ, there is a remnant of believers that still exist to this day.
By God saving His entire number of elect (of both Jew and Gentiles) you will then have all of Spiritual Israel brought to salvation. As He says; “And so all Israel shall be saved”. This takes place as the result of Christ coming and saving all those He has chosen to be a part of Spirtual Israel. This saving of the entire Israel of God will be the fulfillment of the covenant that the Lord has made with His Israel.
(28) As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. (29) For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (30) For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: (31) Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. (32) For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
At that point in history, the unbelieving Jews were enemies to the gospel message, desiring for Christ, and His followers to be killed. However, for the physical Jews who have been chosen to salvation by the Lord they are beloved of God and will be recipients of the covenant promises based upon the covenants made with their forefathers.
Once God made the covenant with His spiritual Israelites (spiritual descendants of Abraham) He will keep His promises. He will nto change His mind nor repent.
The salvation of both Jew and Gentile are acts of divine grace. Neither group deserves salvation. He will accept all, by His grace, into the blessings of His covenant relationship as citizens of the Israel of God.
What a blessing it is to know that the Lord has made promises to His nation that He will keep throughout eternity. These promises apply to anyone who has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah, Lord and Savior.
Throughout our study we have been emphasizing the absolute necessity of being a citizen of His spiritual nation. In doing so we have a wonderful eternity in Our Kings presence awaiting us.
Heb 11:13-16 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (14) For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. (15) And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. (16) But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
To God Be The Glory!
If you have any questions concerning the way of salvation please feel free to visit or call a Bible teaching church in your area. They will be happy to speak to you about the Lord Jesus and the salvation He graciously gives.
Or, if you would rather, feel welcome to email me at email@example.com. I’ll be more than happy to answer any question you may have.
Also, if you look at my blog page “How To Have A Relationship With God”. On this page, you will find several blog entries explaining the way of salvation.