These are exciting times we’re living in.  And even if you’re just casually following current events, you can see that things are moving rapidly.  As the prophetic call goes out to return to worship of the Creator God (Revelation 14:7), it is of paramount importance to not only know Him, but to know who we are, and to understand God’s purpose for us in His Master Plan!

The Scriptures present a most wonderful,   a most astounding truth   that is unfolded   consistently through the Old and New Testaments    in such clarity and simplicity   that ordinary folks can grasp its logic and its significance.   Yet, this foundational truth  is all too often      misunderstood,   and is frequently    misapplied.   Matthew 22

Let’s go to a Wedding Feast – Matthew 22:1-10 NEB: 

          The Kingdom of Heaven is like this: There was a king who prepared a feast for his son’s wedding; but when he sent his servants to summon the guests he had invited, they would not come.  He sent others again, telling them to say to the guests, “See now!  I have prepared this feast for you.  I have had my bullocks and fatted beasts slaughtered; everything is ready; come to the wedding at once.”

          But they took no notice.  One went off to his farm, another to his business, and the others seized the servants, attacked them brutally and killed them.

          The king was furious … now, v. 8: Then he said to his servants, “The wedding feast is ready, but the guests I invited did not deserve the honor.”  (KJV: “… were not worthy.”)   “Go out to the main thoroughfares, and invite to the wedding everyone you can find.”

          The servants went out into the streets and collected all they could find, good and bad alike, so the hall was packed with guests.”

Some 2000 years before Christ,   God made a promise to Father Abraham     that Abraham would become the father of   many      nations  (Genesis 17:4).

Then, Genesis 28:14   foretells that all families  of the earth will be blessed … thru Abraham’s      seed.

Here’s the set-up:  Abraham and Sara had two sons.  Ishmael, who was the product of Sara’s devising, to “help” God keep His promise of a son to the geriatric Abraham;  and then, the promised  son, Isaac, delivered long after the expiration of their  child-producing years.  Altho both Ishmael and Isaac were Abraham’s biological sons, it was thru Isaac, the child of the promise, that the bloodline of the Messiah was to pass.

Now, we’ll fast-forward one generation, and follow Isaac: Although Isaac was the biological father of both Jacob and Esau, the Messiah’s bloodline was to follow Jacob, as God had foretold, “The elder    shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23), referring both to the individuals … and the nations of the offspring     of each.  Thus, the Edomites, the descendants of Esau,   were    subservient to the Israelites.

Following Jacob now, years later, Jacob’s night of wrestling with “The Angel of the Lord” on the river bank – a struggle that was rooted in Jacob’s heart-felt repentance, and his earnest desire for God’s, and his brother’s, forgiveness – the Lord changed Jacob’s name to “Israel”.  Why?  Because he prevailed   and He  overcame with God.

This is the very first reference in the Bible to the name “Israel”.  So Israel is a God-given  name;  and it’s the name of a man – the name of a person.  The name “Israel” originally applied to Jacob – and it represented his spiritual overcoming of sin,   thru wrestling in prayer   and genuine repentance     and His claiming God’s power to restore.

So, Jacob,  re-named Israel,  fathered children,   who each produced families,   who in turn generated their own offspring;    and the extended families of each, collectively, comprised the Tribes  of Israel – they were the families  of the man,  Jacob – the Tribes of Israel.

Now, we’ll back up a moment:  Remember, there was conflict among the sons of Jacob.  The older brothers were jealous of the younger Joseph.  Their father seemed to favor Joseph – remember that “coat of many colors”? … and they were disturbed by a couple of dreams God had given Joseph … all of which culminated in their selling Joseph into slavery   to a caravan of Egypt-bound merchants.

And some time later, when there was famine in the land, the elderly Jacob, or “Israel”, and his entire family relocated to Egypt.  And they passed more than 400 years in Egypt    before God dispatched Moses     to leverage what now numbered perhaps a million men, plus their households – now known as “the Nation of Israel”, or collectively, “The Israelites” – out of their oppression;  out of Godlessness.

And still,    to this point in their history,   the Nation of Israel  had not possessed   one pebble   of real estate.

The name “Israel” first applied to a spiritually-victorious man,    a spiritual    overcomer;   and then,  later,    it was applied to his overcoming people.   This is very important.   You’ll want to hold onto this point   with a firm grip.

We’ll fast-forward again:   40 more years would pass in the wilderness    before  Israel actually received possession of their Promised Land.  Israel had been a nation  for nearly 500 years – a nation of people  for nearly 500 years before they were ever entrusted by God with custody of their own geographical territory.

Question: Isn’t it necessary to possess a geographical territory in order to be considered a “nation”?  Well, according to Scripture,  No!

The Scriptures teach that the followers of Jesus Christ are citizens of His Heavenly Kingdom,   although we have not yet received physical possession of the New Jerusalem and the promised New Earth.  Yet God’s Word refers to us     as a “nation”,    as we will soon discover.

Listen as God speaks thru the prophet Hosea,    about 800 BC.    God says, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1).  But, by that time in history, the Nation of Israel had failed to live up to the significance of its name.  However, this verse comes  alive    when we look at the Church of  the New Testament.     Here, again, is the set-up …

Shortly after the birth of Jesus, King Herod felt threatened by rumors of a newborn Child-King, so he sent his soldiers to slay all the children in Bethlehem under the age of two.

At that time, an Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Mary’s husband, Joseph, directing him to flee with the Child and His mother to Egypt, and to stay there until they received word that it was safe to return.   Joseph and his family remained in Egypt until Herod’s death.

Now, quoting the Gospel of Matthew:    “that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken of the Lord     by the prophet,     sayingOut of Egypt have I called my Son.   This is a clear reference to Hosea’s prophecy,     which was originally intended to apply to Israel-of-old,    but was fulfilled in reality by Jeshua,  by Jesus.

Now let’s visit a burning bush:  God is directing Moses to return to Egypt    and lead the Israelites out of captivity.  He instructs Moses to tell Pharaoh, Israel is my son, Israel is my firstborn(Exodus 4:22).  Also, in Jeremiah 31:9: God says, I am a Father to Israel.

Now, fasten your seat belts,   and follow closely, because …

Thru Matthew’s Gospel, it becomes apparent that Jesus is actually repeating the history of ancient Israel, point by point, but where ancient Israel fails, Jesus overcomes and gains victory.  Note all the parallels between the history of  Israel and the path of Jesus:

In the Old Testament, a man named Joseph has dreams and goes to Egypt, where he preserves his family.

In the New Testament, another Joseph, likewise, has dreams and goes to Egypt, where he preserves his family.

When the nation of Israel comes out of Egypt, God calls it “my son“.

When Jesus comes out of Egypt, God says, “Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Matthew 2:15).

God called ancient Israel “my firstborn” in Exodus, and again in Jeremiah.  The Apostle Paul said Jesus is the firstborn of every creature”, in Colossians 1:15, in reference to Christ’s pre-eminence.

Israel passes thru the parted Red Sea, which Paul refers to as their baptism (I Corinthians 10:2), after which they spend 40 years in the wilderness, led by God’s Spirit      in the cloud, by day,    and in the pillar of fire, by night.

Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, He is “led of the Spirit  into the wilderness” for 40 days (Matthew 4:1, 2)   Note the “day-for-a-year” application found in Biblical prophecy.

At the conclusion of Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness, Moses records the events of these years    in the book of Deuteronomy.

At the end of Jesus’ 40 days  in the wilderness, He resists Satan’s temptations by quoting Scripture,     all of which is drawn from those same Deuteronomy writings of Moses.

God refers to Israel as “a vine” that He has brought “out of Egypt” (Psalm 80:8).  But the vine of Israel, and later Judah, failed to produce God’s desired fruit.

However, in John 15:1, Jesus declares, “I am the true vine“.

We discover even more stunningly-good news  when we examine closely the covenant    that God made with     Abraham and “his seed“.

Galatians 3:16 : “Now, to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  God said not, ‘And to seeds’, as of many;  but as of one (singular),    ‘and to thy seed,     which is     Christ‘.”

Look at Isaiah 65:9 – “I will bring a Seed out of Jacob (that would be ‘out of Israel’), and out of Judah an Inheritor of My mountain.”  –  undeniably   referring to Jesus Christ.

The “seed” of Abraham   referred to is singularone seed – one individual, Jesus Christ, not the entirety of Abraham’s generations.   So, are we suggesting that God is bypassing Israel’s natural bloodline here?  No!  Absolutely not!  No way!!  Because, it was God’s purpose     that Israel would receive their Messiah,     would embrace the promised Redeemer,     would serve God as His representatives,    and would reveal Him to the neighboring nations.  And I believe with all my heart    that is still   our Father’s desire!

And this “Seed of Abraham” was to be the means of salvation for ALL PEOPLES … because in the Messiah  –  in Jesus  – was  and  IS –  the fulfillment of ALL of God’s promises      throughout Eternity.

II Corinthians 1:20 says that:  All the promises of God are thru and in Jesus Christ.  So, the only way that both Abraham and his generations, or any individual, for that matter, may have everlasting possession of God’s inheritance is by having everlasting life, which is only in Christ, as we learn in First John 5:11.

So, God’s covenant is not with all the lineage of Father Abraham,  as we’ve seen, nor is it with any earthly nation.  His covenant is in and through a Man it’s through One Man,  specifically, Abraham’s promised Seed, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  And in that Seed, all of humanity  can  find forgiveness and redemption, and the eternal fulfillment of all of God’s promises – all those  who receive the Savior, the Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ, because it is all in and thru Him..

In the same way that the Apostle Paul refers to Jesus as “the Second Adam”,     Jesus, the Seed of God’s covenant, is “the Second Israel.  And this fact can not be ignored   if we are to truly understand our identity  and our role as a part of God’s modern-day Israel.  Jesus is the very essence of Israel, and we are in Him.  Turn now to Matt 21:33

Now, let’s visit a Vineyard – Matthew 21:33-46 NEB –

Jesus is speaking to the priests and elders:

          There was a landowner who planted a vineyard.  He put a wall around it, hewed out a winepress, and built a watchtower; then he let it out to vine-growers and went abroad.  When the vintage season approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect the produce due to him.

          But they took his servants, thrashed one, killed another, and stoned a third.  Again he sent other servants; this time a larger number, and they did the same to them.

          At last he sent to them his son.  “They will respect my son,” he said.  But when they saw the son, the tenants said to one another, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.”  And they took him, flung him out of the vineyard and killed him.

          So Jesus now asks them: When the owner of the vineyard comes, how do you think he will deal with those tenants?

          “He will bring those bad men to a bad end,” they answered, “and hand the vineyard over to other tenants who will let him have his share of the crop when the season comes.”

          And Jesus replies, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the main corner-stone?”  Therefore, I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that yields the proper fruit.

We’ll set up the next scene this way:  Following the death of King Solomon, the Kingdom of Israel divided into two kingdoms.  The ten northern tribes retained the name “Israel”, while the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin became known as the Kingdom of “Judah”.

Israel continued on its downward path of apostasy and, as God had forewarned,   Israel’s inhabitants were eventually    scattered among the nations. Remaining only was the Kingdom of Judah, referred to as “the Jews”, or the “Judaisers”; thus the term, “Judaism”.

May I interject here    that the Old Testament does not teach  Judaism  – any more than    the New Testament teaches   RomanismHad Israel of Old    continued in God’s Word     and not followed man’s teaching    and their own traditions,  they would have recognized   and received their Messiah.  Could it be – contemporary Christianity is making that same mistake – departing from the Word; following the teachings of man?

We have always heard that the Jews were God’s “chosen people”,  and

that is  correct.   Israel  were the chosen of God,    but what was His purpose  in  “choosing” them?  Chosen for what?  What was the plan?

God had raised up Israel to be His agency for the salvation of ALL mankind … They were to serve as His holy representatives, His witnesses, His priests – ordained to share His saving Truth    and to reclaim His lost creation.   All nationsAll families of the earth were to be the beneficiaries of their ministry, of their example, of their message of reconciliation and redemption in the coming Messiah.

But there were conditions associated with Israel’s status as God’s royal priesthood, and with their possession of the Promised Land.  There were countless promises,   and  there were numerous clear warnings,  with solemn consequences to follow, should they prove unfaithful.  The Parable of the Vineyard, which we just read, is the perfect illustration of this.

For indisputable confirmation in vivid detail, you’ll want to read the final addresses to the Children of Israel of both Moses and Joshua.   You’ll find Moses’ in Deuteronomy, chapters 28-31, and Joshua’s in Joshua, chapters 23 & 24.  These two key messages will provide a complete and thorough understanding of the conditions of the covenant God made with Abraham and his Seed.

Today, the name “Israel” may be applied geographically to the present Middle-Eastern state.  It may also be applied ethnically to all those of Hebrew descent;  or it may be applied in the spiritual context,    as the Word of God, as Scripture,  applies it.

But salvation does not come  thru  geography.   The citizenship that is of eternal consequence    is not of this world.    It is of God’s Kingdom,    which is “not of this world”, according to Jesus’ words.

Nor does salvation come thru heredity – it has nothing to do with genetics or DNA  … but it has everything to do with one’s personal relationship with God, in and through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Scriptures confirm this with a clarity that Helen Keller could grasp: Romans 9:6-8 “… for not all descendants of Israel are truly Israel, nor, because they are Abraham’s offspring, are they all his true children … it is not those born in the course of nature    who are the children of God;    it is the children born thru God’s promise    who are reckoned as Abraham’s descendants.”  (NEB)

If you are Christ’s – if you are abiding in Him, and He in you – this passage     is referring to you!  And all of God’s promises are in and through Christ.  (II Corinthians 1:20)

Galatians 3:7-9  tells us that     it is those of faith in Christ    who are Abraham’s seed.

Galatians 3:13-16  further states that Abraham’s blessing is,  thru Jesus Christ,    extended to the Gentiles.

In John 10:16, Jesus says that other sheep, not of the fold, will come in.

Thru the prophet Hosea, God testifies: “I will call them ‘My People’, who were not my people.”  Hosea 2:23

Galatians 3:28-29  “There is no distinction  between Jew and Gentile,  slave and free man,  male and female,  for you are   all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you thus belong to Christ, you are the issue of Abraham    (that is, “you are the children, the offspring” of Abraham),   and as such,   you are the heirs by promise.”

Ephesians 3:6  tells us that    through the Gospel, the Gentiles are joint heirs with the Jews;  they’re part of the same Body, sharers together in the promises made by, and thru, Jesus Christ.

And there are numerous further New Testament references that state     that those who are in Christ are now the Sons of God – the children of God. 1st John, for example, comes to mind. God has no grandchildren!

LET’S RECAP A MOMENT:  The name “Israel” originally referred to a man, to one man,  Jacob, and then later, to God’s Covenant People;    those who accept His redemption thru Christ, the Promised Seed,  Jeshua HaMashiach – Jesus, the Messiah.

Now, watch how this works:  Speaking to Israel of old,  God said, “Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:6)

Then, in Peter’s first Epistle, speaking to the New Testament Christian church, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation.”  There’s the “nation” identification.

Listen closely:  Christianity is  the completion   of Judaism.   Christ is   the fulfillment  of Judaism.  God’s covenant with Abraham is fulfilled in Christ, Who is    his Promised Seed.  And God’s purpose for mankind    is fulfilled, is completed;   it’s finished,      in Jesus Christ, Who is the “Author and Finisher of our faith.”  Heb 12:2

In First John 5:11 we saw that eternal life is found only in Christ.  And, the next verse, verse 12, reveals:  “He who has the Son has life,   and he who has not the Son  has not  life.”  Do you   have the Son? Is He yours?  Are you His?

Abraham’s Covenant Seed?  Galatians 3:16 – Is Jesus!  And if we are “in Christ”, if we are yielded and surrendered to Him, then all that He is,   and all that He has,   and all that He has accomplished are ours   for evermore.  We are His redeemed possession,  and by His grace, we are “joint heirs with Jesus” – we’re Israelites thru the Covenant Seed!  And that’s   awesome  Good News for all   in Christ!

God’s Covenant People,   God’s Biblical Israel,  is a world-wide “nation”   that is,  to this very day, comprised of a spiritual family of Hebrew  and  Gentile  overcomers,   faithful followers of Jeshua,    irrespective of geographical borders   or of genealogy.

Rev 12:11 “… and they overcame   by the blood of the Lamb and by the testimony of their mouth.”   They “Israeled”- they overcame.

That’s as Biblical as your Bible!  You can stand on that with both feet!

Ahh, but wait!  Speaking of the Jewish Nation, just days before His crucifixion, Jesus declared, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,   you who killest the prophets … behold,   your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matthew 23:37)

Question:  is there still hope for today’s Hebrew bloodline, the Jews?

–         Let’s look at the account of the son who refused to go into the vineyard to work for his father,  but then went, anyway  – and was acknowledged as being obedient.  (Matt 21:28)    I believe that answer is Yes!   God has a plan for all of Israel.

–         Now, let’s go back to the parable of the wedding feast.  Could that all inclusive final invitation  that was given,    the one extended to “everyone you can find”,   could that apply to the first group, as well?  Sure,  it could!  And I believe it does!

Now, paraphrasing Paul to the Romans, 9:30 – The Gentiles have obtained salvation thru faith,   while   My people    have not,   because they attempted to    work for it.

And the entire 11th chapter of Romans will provide crystal-clear understanding.

The gist of Romans 11 is that salvation has come to the gentiles

… to  provoke original Israel  to jealousy;   to prompt them to emulation,   to reconsidering   His Wedding Invitation –  to coming to work in the Father’s Vineyard.

Romans 11:26 “all of Israel will be saved”.  Referring to Israel in the Biblical,  the spiritual  context – all of the vast numbers of Hebrew and Gentile overcomers  thru, Christ, Abraham’s Seed.

Revelation 12:11 … and they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the testimony of their mouth.  They “Israeled” –  they “Jacobed”  – they overcame  – through repentance, thru their faith in the Savior’s victory     and through God’s redemptive power and wonderful   grace.

–         Man’s salvation is in and thru the Seed of Abraham, the Lord Yeshua,  Jesus Christ.  He is the only Door  to the sheepfold …    John 10:1

–         Jesus taught: “… no man cometh to the Father but by Me“.    John 14:6

–         And here it is!   > For there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)  And I rest my case here!

The Wedding invitation is  open – and it’s free –  to any and to all   who will receive the Savior    and who will place their faith and trust in His overcoming victory!   “We do not gain the victory – we are united with the Victor!”  – Light Bearers’ James Rafferty.

We need to be sharing this    with those we love    with our families, with our neighbors, our friends and co-workers.   Because it’s such good news – especially, considering  the urgency of these times … folks really could use, right now,   some  Truth they can stand on.

Salvation is not about geography …

Salvation is not about heredity or D.N.A. …

Nor is it about “doing church”   or “bizzy-ness” with religious activity.

And it is     so much      NOT     about  denominational affiliation.

But it has  EVERYTHING  IN  THE  WORLD  to do with our personal relationship with Jesus Christ,   and with our  seeking all of His Truth,      and  our willingness to stand on it    and walk in it   –   to live in all the understanding of His Truth that He has granted us.

If you take but one thing with you this morning,  please let it be this – here it is now:

In the Savior,   in and through your Lord Jesus Christ,   you    are   Abraham’s    Seed.

You are God’s “Israel” – Through Christ,  you are His “Overcomer”.

And all of God’s promises,     as well as       all of His requirements    apply directly to you!

Finally, you   are   an heir to  eternal life in The Earth Made New,  in and through Jesus Christ!   Is He yours?  And are you entirely His?

Rev 09-05-15