Every now and then we come across an article or report that is just too good to let go without spreading it around. Such is the case with the following article written by a brother, Erik Bell. As we are well aware , there are many unconditional promises made to the “house of Israel” and so it becomes necessary to understand “who” are these people today? What does the term “Spiritual Israel” mean today? May you be blessed.
“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. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew… What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” – Romans 11: 1, 2, 7.
The Lord, through the apostle Paul, makes clear in this scripture that He “hath not cast away His people” (the Jews). However, a distinction is made in these Scriptures between the literal, identifiable Jews who accepted Jesus as Messiah and those who did not. The literal Jews who accepted Jesus as Messiah are referred to as the “election” or the “remnant” (see vs. 5), whereas the literal Jews who did not accept Jesus are designated as “the rest [that] were blinded.” Note very carefully that both classes are of the bloodline of Jacob.
Later in the chapter, the same two classes are distinguished in figurative terms. The Christian Jews as “the root” and the “olive tree”, and the non-Christian Jews as “the natural branches.” The Gentiles are also introduced into the imagery, being symbolized as branches from a “wild olive tree.” Paul maintains this distinction throughout the entire chapter, and it is precisely at this point where the spiritual eyes of the ministry begin to go dim as a result of preconceived notions regarding the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures.
All would agree that the “root,” or “olive tree” of Romans 11 constitutes “spiritual Israel.” Our only challenge is to now identify precisely who they are, for it is to them that “all the covenant promises made by Jehovah to His ancient people” (Prophets and Kings p. 714) will be fulfilled. The conclusive answer comes to us from the Spirit of Prophecy,
“Notwithstanding Israel’s failure as a nation, there remained among them a goodly remnant of such as should be saved. At the time of the Saviour’s advent there were faithful men and women who had received with gladness the message of John the Baptist, and had thus been led to study anew the prophecies concerning the Messiah.
When the early Christian church was founded, it was composed of these faithful Jews who recognized Jesus of Nazarethas the one for whose advent they had been longing. It is to this remnant that Paul refers to when he writes, ‘if the first fruit is holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so also are the branches.”’
“Paul likens the remnant in Israel to a noble olive tree, some of whose branches have been broken off. He compares the Gentiles to branches from a wild olive tree, grafted into the parent stock.” – Acts of the Apostles pp. 376, 377.
Therefore, spiritual Israel, in the context of Romans 11, does not consist of Gentiles, but is clearly identified as the literal Christian Jews. These Jews formed the foundation of the Christian church. The reason that they are called “spiritual Israel” is simply because they are the portion of the Jewish nation who chose to be “born of the Spirit” (John 3:5). Ultimately, they lost their racial identity as they spread the gospel throughout the nations and intermarried with Gentile believers. Again, says the Spirit of Prophecy,
“Through unbelief and the rejection of Heaven’s purpose for her, Israel as a nation had lost her connection with God. But the branches that had been separated from the parent stock God was able to reunite with the true stock of Israel – the remnant who had remained true to the God of their fathers.” – Acts of the Apostles pp. 377, 378.
Ironically, even the ministry acknowledges the truth of the above in their desperate endeavor to combat it.
“Literal Jews may still find salvation by being grafted into spiritual Israel, in precisely the same way that Gentiles are to be grafted in” (vs. 23, 24). –S.D.A. Bible Commentary Vol. 4, pp. 36.
Thus, it is acknowledged that there are three distinct groups in Romans 11; the literal Jews, “spiritual Israel”, and the Gentiles. This being the case, we are left without excuse. We can clearly see why Romans 11 in its full context has been a particular “thorn in the flesh” of Seventh-day Adventists.
Paul echoes the teaching of the prophet Hosea regarding the rejection of the Jewish nation, and the reacceptance of the “faithful Jews” as Christians.
“Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” – Hos. 1: 9, 10.
In spite of the fact that the Jewish nation failed in its heavenly mission, the number of its descendants would multiply until they became so numerous that they could not possibly be counted. This could not possibly apply to the identifiable Jews of today, for they can easily be counted and are “a drop in the bucket” when compared with “the sand of the sea.”
This dispersion of the bloodline of Jacob partially occurred with the intermingling of the early Christian Jews with the Gentile believers, as well as the dispersion of thousands of Jews in 70 A.D. Being submerged into the sea of nations, they lost their racial identity and continued to multiply until today. These facts demonstrate that the vast majority of the descendants of Jacob today are unidentifiable, though they may reckon themselves as Gentiles.
Though the purpose of God to have a holy nation with a central homeland was postponed for nearly two thousand years because of ancient Israel’s unfaithfulness, the perfect plan of God shall still come to its intended fulfillment in this world with the unidentifiable descendants of the Christian Jews, as Paul eloquently explains, “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.
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 fullness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 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?” – Rom. 11: 11-16.
“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.” – Rom. 11: 25.
The above Scripture definitely informs us that the postponement of the fulfillment of the national promises is not indefinite, but only “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” That is to say, until the dispersion of the Christian Jews is completely accomplished and has produced a multitude of Gentile converts. Afterward, there shall be a great harvest of “natural branches” (identifiable Jews) to the church of God as well. Once this has taken place, “then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” – Hos. 1: 11.
After the great dispersion, multiplication and reacceptance of God’s people as Christians, the Lord then primarily re-gathers the willing and informed of the unidentifiable descendants of the twelve tribes into one great kingdom and fulfills “all the covenant promises made by [Him] to His ancient people.” (Prophets and Kings p. 714).
The racial lineage of an individual does not determine one’s eligibility for salvation. Romans 11 makes clear that anyone can be saved regardless of nationality. However, to fulfill the promises of the possession of the Promised Land, and the administration and leadership of the Kingdom of God on earth, the individuals under consideration must be born-again descendants of Jacob, though not necessarily of the present identifiable stock.
This is the fiat and decree of God to Abraham numerous times in the Old Testament Scriptures. The Lord goes as far as to state that the progenitor of the ultimate possessors of the land of promise would come from “his bowels.” (Gen. 15: 4). And the prophet Hosea further explains that which is despised in Seventh-day Adventist circles,
“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.” – Hos. 3:4, 5.
In view of the clear teaching of Scripture regarding this truth, why do we insist on disseminating poisonous error on this concept to the world and the church? The answer is simple: this truth is completely incompatible with our erroneous notions of how we believe that the gospel work will be finished, and rather than yield our opinions, as we would expect everyone else to do for our ideas, we would rather play the fool.
We would not even entertain the slightest consideration of the thought that God would fulfill the promises as He has written with a different set of Jews. This is inexcusable, especially since the Spirit of Prophecy warned us long ago that God had tremendous surprises for Seventh-day Adventists and our ideas of how the work would be completed.
“When light goes forth to lighten the earth, instead of coming up to the help of the Lord, they will want to bind about His work to meet their narrow ideas. Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning…The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.” – Testimonies to Ministers p. 300.
“We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and Heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed.” – Testimonies to Ministers p. 30.
The tragedy of it all is that while paying extensive lip service to the necessity to “unlearn”, when that time actually arrives Seventh-day Adventists are either vehemently protesting it or are nowhere to be found.
To view brother Bell’s present truth website, click here http://www.thenightcometh.org/ We suggest the enlightening audio studies.
Next week we will be bringing a two-part post concerning “Thy Kingdom Come” so because of the many Scriptures pointing out that “Israel” will soon receive His many promises, we needed to clear up the fact of who is Israel today. Once we understand this we can then know who benefits from these promises. Let us keep the solid warning in mind, that we must “overcome” in order to become a part of His last day Israel(Review and Herald, Nov. 19, 1908). All the talk of these promises won’t mean a thing to us if we haven’t overcome our cherished sins. May the Lord strengthen us in being victorious over sin.