God’s plan for Israel and the Church
The Bible is the inspired revelation of the one true and living God. His redemptive plan includes both Jews, the descendents of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, and Gentiles, all others. God chose a Gentile named Abram and made special promises to him. The Abrahamic covenant (a covenant is a contract between God and a person or a group of people) included a promise to make Abram into a great nation, to bless him and make his name great and to give him a land for an everlasting possession, Gen. 17:8. God told him that he would be a blessing to others and He promised divine protection for him and his children. God declared that it would be through Abraham that all the nations (goyim in Hebrew meaning Gentiles) of the world would be blessed, Gen. 12:1-3.
In the third restatement of the Abrahamic Covenant, Gen. 17:1-14, God changes Abram’s name (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many). He includes the promise that many nations will come from Abraham. It is during this restatement of the Abrahamic covenant that God institutes circumcision as an outward sign of the covenant. Circumcision in the flesh foreshadows what God would promise in the New Covenant. To those who enter into the New Covenant by grace through faith, Eph. 2:8-9, He promises a new heart, a circumcised heart that God gives us in place of the wicked and deceitful heart, Jer. 17:9, we were born with:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them, Ez. 36:26-27.
God is no respecter of persons; He is an equal opportunity Savior, Acts 10:34-35. God promised to accomplish our salvation and His atoning sacrifice provides a solution to our sin problem, e.g. the Gospel of God’s grace, Acts 20:24. God makes it clear through His prophetic Word that the leadership of Israel was not going to recognize their Messiah. Isaiah was so disturbed by this prophetic truth that he exclaimed:
Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? Isaiah 53:1
Isaiah goes on to tell us that there is nothing special about the way the Messiah was going to look. A truth confirmed by the fact that Judas had to kiss Jesus on the cheek to identify Him on the evening of His arrest, Matt. 26:47-48. It was not His outward appearance that drew people to Him; it was because He was full of grace and truth, John 1:14. It was His unconditional love, His inherent goodness and the words of life He spoke that drew people to Him. Still, it was clearly foretold that He would be hated and rejected by the majority of the lost sheep of the House of Israel:
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him, Isaiah 53:2-3.
His sacrifice was made, even though the religious leaders thought He was a false messiah. They believed His death as a criminal was God’s way of punishing Him:
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But God’s ways are not our ways. The truth is the opposite of what these religious leaders thought. God sent His Son to seek and save that which was lost. It was always the plan of God that His chosen people would at first reject their own Messiah:
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all, Isaiah 53:1-6.
The church is the body of Christ. It contains Jews and Gentiles who have entered into the New Covenant, Jer. 31:31-7, been born again, John 3:3, and been made one in Messiah. Just as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are one God (compound unity in Hebrew or echad, Deut. 6:4) so the body of believers are made one in Christ. We are both grafted into the same Vine, Messiah Jesus, John 15:1-5. The Apostle Paul described how God would redeem both Jews and Gentiles, causing them to become one family, a royal priesthood and a holy nation, I Peter 2:9, in Christ:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father, Eph. 2:14-18.
When we understand God’s magnificent plan of redemption, we see how His glorious grace offers salvation to all, Matt. 11:28. Then we can then praise him along with the Apostle Paul:
For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead. ...Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! Rom. 11:13-5, 28-33.