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God promised Israel deliverance from their enemies
In God’s covenant with the nation of Israel, He promised national deliverance from their enemies saying, “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways” (Deuteronomy 28:7). And the Lord fulfilled His promise in delivering them from their national enemies, such as Egypt, Midian, Philistia, Assyria, and Babylon.
But this promise was conditional on the nation’s obedience to Him. He said, “if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth…But… if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God… all these curses will come upon you…” (Deuteronomy 28:1,15). As long as the nation of Israel was obedient to God, He was faithful to His promise.
And the Scriptures stress that the Savior would appear, “to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Israel was not only a nation in need of deliverance from sin (Luke 1:68, 77), it was also a nation, a “chosen people” in need of freedom from their enemies (v. 71). So, the prevalent idea of the Messiah as a political savior was not wrong.
Deliverance from sin precedes deliverance from the enemies
But in God’s design, freedom from sin was to go before freedom from the enemies. Sadly, the Israelites failed to maintain their allegiance to God. Instead of being faithful to Him, they backslid and apostatized from Him. National pride led them to think of salvation almost solely in terms of deliverance from enemies. They were engrossed on the benefits of salvation without paying attention to the conditions of God’s covenant.
Israel rejected Christ as a nation
When the religious leaders of Israel rejected Jesus Christ, the Lord told them that their rejection of Him would seal their own rejection as the sons of the covenant. “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9). Jesus mourned, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:37,38). This meant that the literal nation of Israel lost the privilege of being God’s special people.
Three days later the rent veil between the the holy and most holy place in God’s Temple was a visible sign that God no longer accepted the nation’s meaningless religious ceremonies (Matthew 27:51). And 40 years later, the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed by the Romans just as Christ precisely predicted (Matthew 24:2). If Israel had accepted Christ as a nation, He would have granted them sure deliverance from the Romans as He originally promised.
The “kingdom of God” was taken from them and was “given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). However, as individuals they may be saved by accepting Christ (Romans 11:23, 24).
The Old Testament covenant is transferred from Israel to the New Testament church
In the New Testament, both Jews and Gentiles are brought into the family of God through submission to Christ. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26, 29).
Every one regardless of race can be saved through faith in Christ. “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4 also John 1:12, 13; 3:3). God’s grace makes the believers “sons of God” (1 John 3:1), and so “joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17), and receivers of grace and of all the family privileges (Galatians 4:6, 7).
God’s plan for the salvation of the world no longer relies on the Jewish nation. Today, the true Israelite consists of anyone that accepts the Savior, whether Jews or Gentiles. The New Testament views the believer not seen as a literal Israelite but as a spiritual Israelite. “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit” (Romans 2:28,29).
In His service,
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