Traveling to Israel many times has afforded me the opportunity to discuss with Believers the role of modern day Israel and the the Church of Jesus Christ. I might add that such a discussion is not without controversy nor arguments that champion varying points of view. But my intent in this blog is not to defend Israel’s role nor the Church in God’s Master Plan for the end of the ages. But rather, I want to examine the term “Chosen” as it relates to Israel and “Grafted in” as a reference to modern day Believers, because I believe that if we examine both terms in the context of culture and history, we will find that we have a lot more in common than we realize.
The Bible is many books but one story. It is a story of God’s never ending love to redeem mankind through human partners-becoming a light to the nations and making disciples. In a sense, God found Israel in the Negev desert where He spoke to Abram and Sarah and through their obedience, would bring about His Divine Plan consummating in the coming of the Lord Jesus. Abraham and Sarah had a passion for God and His Plan for mankind. Deuteronomy 32:10 tells us that, “He found him in the desert and kept him as the apple of His eye.” And today, He is asking us to be part of this 4,000 year old journey to bring people into a Righteous relationship with Jesus Christ!
Let me begin by examining God’s pledge to Israel. in Exodus 33:13-16, as they were about to leave Mt. Sinai,God promised that His Presence would go with them. Moses quickly responded that unless His Presence did go with them, He would not leave. His reasoning was quite simple-He had seen God do incredible things on Israel’s journey out of Egypt, but now more than miracles, he desired to revel in His Glory, because that Glory distinguished Israel from all the other peoples of the world! It is that same Glory today, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, that sets us apart as the “light of the world” in our increasingly immoral culture.
God had called Israel to Mt. Sinai to give them a mission. Like the church in I. Peter 2, They were to become a “kingdom of priests”-extending the rule of God and putting Him on display for the nations to see His Glory and come to know Him. He gave them the Torah, and they learned about their Patriarch father and how God had used Abram.
It was the role of the Patriarch in Israel’s cultural development that we first begin to realize the role of Israel in God’s Plan. The Patriarch was central to the family structure. All resources flowed to him, and he was in charge of “redeeming” all of those under his charge. The word redeem (Go’el in Hebrew) had a unique meaning. Of course, it has a religious significance, but at it’s very Old Testament root, it was tied to the Patriarch of the family who was in charge of meeting everyone’s needs. If someone was injured or strayed, it was his job to bring him back into the Father’s House (Beth-Ab). Redeem then meant, at a deeper level, to bring back or restore. If you had been alienated from the Father’s House, it became the Patriarch’s job, whatever it took, to bring you back! What a beautiful picture of the church’s role today;instead of settling for “business as usual” within our four church walls, we have been commissioned to redeem the lost-not just for heaven but for playing an active role as a kingdom of priests, bringing back into the Father’s House those who don’t have the Gift of Grace.
God spoke through the prophet Isaiah-” I am Israel’s Redeemer” (chapter 43), In Psalms 135, God declared,” I redeemed you from your enemies,” and in Psalms 107, God told Israel that, ” I have redeemed you from your troubles.” In each Biblical example, God is saying,” I have restored you to the household.”
But what about when the Patriarch would die? Who would assume the Patriarch’s role? At death, the first born oldest son would replace him, and all the family would rejoice because now, that son would be in charge of taking care of them. The resources would go to the first born; likewise, God gave His resources to His first born Israel. Simply-God’s master plan for Israel was- ” Bring the lost children back into the Father’s House.” It was not because Israel was loved more than the others but was ” chosen” as the first born!
God wasn’t playing favorites but because of Israel’s birth right, they were commanded to “redeem”: the nations and bring them back into the Father’s House. But as God’s partners, Israel failed, and so God chose a second “first born” and gave Him all the resources of the Father. And because Jesus was God come in the flesh, He now offers us a way back into the Father’s House-any who would receive Him as Savior (John 14).
We, as Believers, have been grafted into this Great Plan. God has not forgotten His first born Israel. and revival will sweep the Land before the coming of the Lord, but for now the Holy Spirit is saying to the church-“I am entrusting you with all the resources, and your job is to bring a sick and dying world back into the Beth-Ab or the Father’s House!
Our commissioning has not changed from Israels. In Isaiah 43:1 God commanded Israel,” Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine.” As God’s First Born, Israel has been Chosen through birth right and as grafted in branches, those same resources, are flowing through us who have received the “first born original bringer forth of all creation-Jesus Christ! (Colossians 1:15). So, what are we waiting for? As Israel received their commission at Sinai, we have been given the Great Commission by the Lord Jesus Christ. His Presence is with us! The Mission awaits us, His Calling is upon us. I don’t want to miss God-do You??