Millions of America’s politically active Christians believe God Himself is behind modern Israel and that He will finally destroy the enemies of the Jewish State at Armageddon. In the book of Revelation, we read predictions about mount Zion (14:1), the twelve tribes of Israel (7:4-8), Jerusalem (21:10), the temple (11:19), and Armageddon (16:16). It is clear that Revelation uses the terminology and geography of Israel in its prophecies. But are these terms to be taken symbolically or spiritually?
According to the New Testament, there are now two Israels. One is composed of literal Israelites “according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3, 4). The other is “spiritual Israel,” composed of Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus Christ. Paul clearly teaches that, “not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). That is, not all are part of God’s spiritual Israel who are of the literal nation of Israel. And he adds: “They which are the children of the flesh [physical descendants of Abraham], these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (v. 8).
Thus, the children of the flesh are only the natural descendants of Abraham, but the children of the promise are the ones counted as the true seed. Today any—Jew or Gentile—can become part of this spiritual nation of Israel through faith in Jesus Christ.
It is true that God chose the Israelites in the OT to be His chosen people to share His truth with the whole world. But when they as a corporate nation rejected Christ and planned to destroy Him, “Jesus answered and said unto them, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body” (John 2:19-21).
Here, Jesus was not speaking of rebuilding the physical temple. He meant to build a spiritual temple -the church– for all people. And He mournfully added, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:37,38).
And because of the Jews’ disobedience and rejection, Jesus predicted the destruction of the physical temple in Jerusalem saying, “Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:1, 2). Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem came to pass in 70 AD by the Romans. Then God’s promises and covenant to literal Israel were transformed to spiritual Israel or the church.
Bible prophecy teachers that tie end time prophecies to modern Israel, use this verse “And so all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26) to mean that God will ultimately save all literal Jews. But God is not a racist. In the New Testament the saved believers are only those “who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Thus, anyone whether Jew or Gentile that accepts Christ, will be certainly saved (Galatians 3:28, 29).
Thus we see that God’s kingdom is a spiritual one. Therefore, the focus of end time prophecies in the Bible (Mount Zion, Jerusalem, the temple, the Euphrates, Babylon and Armageddon) should not be on the literal state of Israel but on spiritual Israel or the church.
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In His service,
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