Introduction | Table of Contents | Chapter 11

During His ministry to Israel, Jesus warned of their impending judgment. Because Christ and the kingdom are one, rejecting Him is rejecting God's kingdom. Jesus' words leave no room for doubt. "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? Therefore (because of this) I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder" (Matthew 21:42-46, see also Matthew 8:11-12).

The kingdom and priesthood were taken away from the nation of Israel and given to another nation. Again, the word nation here is ethnos and is defined by Thayer as "a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus . . . a tribe, nation, people group." Some believe this nation to be the Gentiles, but this is not exactly the case. This nation is not Jew or Gentile. It is a chosen generation (genos - the aggregate of many individuals of the same nature, kind, sort), "a royal priesthood and a holy nation (race)." The kingdom was taken away from natural Israel and given to this nation, a collective made up of those from all mankind who believe in Christ as the Son of God.

Peter, undoubtedly recounting Christ's words, wrote, "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, You also, as living stones, are built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Therefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious: and he that believes on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore who believe he is precious: but unto them who are disobedient, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them who stumble at the word, being disobedient: to which also they were appointed."

God placed a stumbling stone in the middle of natural Israel and they as a nation failed the test. But who is this new "nation" to whom the kingdom is given? Peter continues, "But you . . .." Yes, "you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. . ." (1Peter 2:4-10 KJ2000 - emphasis added).

The true significance of these words rests in the fact that they are not new words. God spoke them to natural Israel not long after they crossed the Red Sea and entered the wilderness in route to the Promised Land. He said to Israel through Moses, "…you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel" (Exodus 19:6 ESV). Now Peter applies these very words to a new nation and priesthood.

Jesus Is the New Israel

Jesus is the New Israel. His preparation and testing followed along the very lines of Israel's preparation and testing. Being warned by an angel of Herod's plan to kill the Christ-child, Joseph took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt. The Scripture is very clear regarding the Divine purpose behind this journey. "…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, 'Out of Egypt I called my son.'"

Here again we see a sign or pledge of future things. The scripture in reference here is Hosea 11:1. "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." This prophecy refers to natural Israel. How could it be used of Jesus? The fullness or real value and meaning of all spiritual things are in Christ. The law and the prophets were shadows of things to come. Israel was merely a type or prophetic picture that pointed to Christ. The old Israel was the vine brought up out of Egypt and planted in the Promised Land by the Lord Himself (Psalm 80:8 and Jeremiah 2:21). Zechariah prophesied, "And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up in his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD" (Zechariah 6:12 KJ2000).

Jesus said, "I am the true (real) Vine and my father is the husbandman." Again we see that all things are summed up in Christ. The old Israel was the branch (Psalms 80:15). Jesus is the true Branch (Jeremiah 33:15). In Him the history of mankind and the history of Israel begin anew. The old covenant had a temple made with human hands, but in the New Covenant we find a temple made of living stones by Jesus for His Father to abide in. Thus the real meaning of John 15: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5 RSVA). Jesus is not only the Foundation of this house for God, but also the Chief Cornerstone. What a wondrous thing!

The old Israel was set apart as God's firstborn son. In Matthew 1 Jesus is presented as the Firstborn. The old Israel was brought up out of the land of Egypt. The New Israel, while yet a young child, was taken down into Egypt, that the scripture might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt have I called my son." The old Israel was taken through the waters and was baptized first in the Red Sea later in the Jordon River. In Matthew 3, the New Israel, Jesus Christ, is taken through waters of baptism in the Jordon that all righteousness might be fulfilled. Every Jew understood that baptism pointed back to the flood and the beginning of a new world (1 Peter 3:20-21), and also to the crossing of the Red Sea during the exodus.

After old Israel was led into the wilderness to be tested and an unbelieving generation died off, they came out of the wilderness led by Joshua (a type of Christ) in the power of God's Spirit, into the land of promise (the full provision of God). After the New Israel, Jesus, was baptized, "Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness" (Mark 1:12). Matthew tells us why, "…to be tempted" (Matthew 4:1). Both baptism and overcoming temptation are required to fulfill all righteousness. Even the Son of God had to learn obedience by the things that He suffered. Are we to have lives of ease because, "Jesus did it all"? No, He is the Pattern Son, the divine pattern the Father uses to perfect many sons unto His glory. He first had to endure the depravation and temping of the wilderness for forty days (a type of Israel's wilderness journey of forty years) to come up out of the wilderness in the power of God (Luke 4:14). How many who want spiritual power today are willing to go through the trials and testing that Jesus endured? There is a price to be paid to be greatly used in the kingdom of God.

After Jesus' wilderness period He went to the synagogue in His hometown, opened the book of the prophet Isaiah and read these words, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19 RSV). Where the old Israel failed to set its captives free and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, the year of Jubilee, Jesus (the New Israel) fulfilled all righteousness by breaking every yoke and all forms of oppression. "He who is free in Christ is free indeed." By way of the Spirit of God, Jesus came to set the captives free and proclaim that in this New Covenant, we have left condemnation behind and entered the "acceptable year of the Lord."

Paul saw the spiritual body of Christ developing along these very lines and finally coming to the fullness of the stature of Christ. None of this is of us. Only as we stand in Christ's victory can we prevail with God (the meaning of the name Israel). Our Israel has prevailed and we stand in His merit, power and victory. We earn nothing. We inherit everything. We are heirs according to the promise and have unmerited access to the riches of God's grace! We are re-created in Christ Jesus. By this alone are we the Israel of God.

Introduction | Table of Contents | Chapter 11

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