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Israel In The Scriptures

Israel In The Scriptures

Mystery of Israel Seminar – Session 1



The Bible is a storyline and we must read it as such if we are to understand it rightly. In order to find ourselves in the story, we need to read it as history and prophecy. In the center of the history and prophecy the word Israel is mentioned 2,307 times. In this class we will explore why.



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Israel In The Scriptures



For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, the Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins. (Isaiah 59:20-21 cf. Daniel 9:24, Zechariah 3:8-10) From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you(Gentiles) once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their(Jews) disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, in order that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect….don’t be wise in your own estimation…let love be without hyprocrisy…be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints(Deuteronomy 7:6), practicing hospitality” Romans 11:25-12:2, 3, 9, 10-13

A. Israel is mentioned 2,244 times in the Old Testament, and 73 times in the New Testament. Or 2,307 times in the entire Bible. This means that we read the word Israel almost once for every verse there is in the Bible, (2,376). How we interpret this key word ‘Israel’ is crucial to our interpretation of the Bible. A common way of interpreting ‘who’ or ‘what’ the word ‘Israel or Jew’ are defined by scripture, is to reinterpret the words as allegorical, and with reference to the church. There are three New Testament passages that provide many with an apparent case for reinterpreting Israel to be a ‘spiritualized or allegorized term for the Church’. They are Romans 2:28-29, 9:6-8, and Galatians 6:16. The remaining 70 plus verses in the New Testament are easy to interpret as literal Israel.

B. Israel means: ‘He who rules with God.’  This name is a prophetic declaration of the future destiny of the Jews. Exodus 19:5-6, Romans 3:1-2.

The following paragraph is from Wikipedia:

The patriarch Jacob was given the name Israel (Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל, Yisraʾel, Yiśrāʾēl; “Triumphant with God”) after he wrestled with the angel (Genesis 32:28 and 35:10) The name already occurs in Eblaite and Ugaritic texts as a common name. Commentators differ on the original literal meaning. Some say the name comes from the verb śarar (“to rule, be strong, have authority over”), thereby making the name mean “God rules” or “God judges”. Other possible meanings include “the prince of God” or “Rules with God”.

Within the Bible we see Israel to be: The people of Israel, and the Land of Israel, with  the city of Jerusalem as it’s center of identification. 

C. The TaNaKh was the original order of the Old Testament rearranged into three groupings (as mentioned by Jesus in Luke 24:44), as opposed to the English arrangement of the Old Testament reordered in the third century:

The Torah(Law or instruction) Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy

The Neviim(The early and latter Prophets) Joshua Judges 1 and 2 Samuel 1 and 2 Kings Isaiah Jeremiah Ezekiel (The Twelve):Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

The Ketuvim(The Writings) Psalms Proverbs Job Song of Songs Ruth Lamentations Ecclesiastes Esther Daniel Ezra Nehemiah 1 and 2 Chronicles

D. The last words of the Tanakh: “a house in Jerusalem…let him go up(alijah)!” We read in Psalm 120-134 what are called the Psalms of ascent recited by the priests as they ascended the 15 stairs to the temple.

Over the last near 2000 years 6 different ‘alijahs’ have been endeavored from Russia, Poland, and Germany. We will get into the history of the Jewish people in the last two sessions of this class and thus see the significance of this term ‘alijah’.

The last words of our English Old Testament: “…lest I smite the earth with a curse” Malachi 4:6

This reordering of the Old Testament was no coincidence. Rather, it was very intentionally set to declare that the ultimate fate of the Jewish people was to be cut off from God. It is this very assumption that causes us to read into scripture what it doesn’t say.

A key issue in how we view the present state of Israel and their covenant with God is linked to how we view what happened in 70AD with the destruction of the temple. It is assumed by many that this was God’s final dealing with Israel and thus His final judgment on the nation. Many would say that God indeed has a purpose for Israel upon Jesus return. Others believe that Israel has simply been absorbed into the general church and is not a distinct covenant people any longer. The only hope for a Jew is individual repentance. All of these interpretations seem to be validated from scripture pulled out of its context and are a form of what we call ‘replacement theology’ or ‘supercessionism.’ Yet scripture is to be interpreted by scripture as a whole and when it is we shall validate that indeed God’s covenant with Israel remains and how that affects our approach to scripture. This is exactly what I want us to discuss in the next session.



A. The Scriptures are to be approached with a broad view of history in mind or a big picture mentality, as opposed to a narrow, near-sighted, self-aware, quite frankly: a narcissistic approach to Scripture.

  1. Let us as Gentiles remove our shortsighted lenses in repentance and approach the Scriptures with a new perspective starting with the Old Testament:

a)    In Genesis-Esther we can follow much of the history of the nation of Israel.

b)    The Psalms and Song of Songs are usually approached with personal devotions at the center, rather than an awareness of the centrality of Israel that they are saturated with. The Psalms are divided into 5 books with reference to the five books of Torah. The Song of Songs is an allegory of God’s devotion to corporate Israel, as is consistent with Hosea 2:19.

c)    The Proverbs are generally approached in a pragmatic way rather than the original expositional teaching of the ideal way of Torah revealed to Israel. They don’t always seem to apply unless you live in a rose colored world, because the Law is not yet going forth from Zion!

d)    The Prophets declare the final restoration and salvation of Israel out of the time of great tribulation and the Day of the Lord.

  1. Approaching the New Testament: The Gospels, Acts, The Letters, The book of Revelation.

a)    Matthew and John are addressed specifically to the Jewish people. Matthew is the true interpretation and application of Torah by Jesus to the Jews. John is a call for Jews to hold to faith in Messiah in the midst of the threat of Gnosticism and it’s discounting of Jesus validity.

b)    Mark and Luke are addressed to a Gentile audience. Mark is a fast paced gospel written to a skeptical people in order to convince them of the truth. Luke’s purpose was to lay out clear historical data to make it plain.

c)    Acts is the birthing of the church through Messianic Jews. It is not until chapter 10 that the Gentiles are even in the picture, and that with no little controversy among the Jews. Acts 11:1-3, 13:44-47, 15:1-35, 22:21-22, 28:28-29

d)    Specifically Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and Hebrews are four very important letters, transitional letters, as they describe the move from the Old covenant to the New covenant for the Jew, as well as the inclusion of Gentiles, as prophesied in the Old Testament. Their emphasis is on the weakness of the covenant on Sinai, due to human weakness; while emphasizing the ‘sure mercies’ of David and ‘the everlasting covenant with Abraham”.

e)    Romans and Ephesians directly address Jew and Gentile relationships and their differing roles in the plan of God to witness to the world.

f)      In Romans Jews are called to steward ‘the oracles of God’ Romans 3:2, 9:1-5. Gentiles are called to preach the gospel ‘first to the Jew’ Romans 1:16, and ‘provoke Israel to jealousy’ Romans 11:11-14 by serving them in love, though  ‘from the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies’ Romans 11:28.

g)    In Ephesians we see the unity of these two ethnic groups of Jew and Gentile called to unity in the gospel. Ephesians 2:11-3:13.

h)    Galatians and Hebrews address a similar issue. Galatians is a call for Gentiles not to become Jews, whereas Hebrews is a call for the Jews to see Jesus as their true Messiah and therefore embrace the cross rather than hide in the safety of self-preservation through Judaism  and thus ‘trampling underfoot the Son of God, and regarding as unclean the blood of the (new) covenant’ Hebrews 10:29.

i)      The book of Revelation is the culmination of all the history and    prophecy of Israel in the return of her Messiah. It should be noted that all throughout the book of Revelation verses from the Old Testament, especially the prophets are quoted. The language of Revelation is priesthood language, of which Israel is that royal priesthood and holy nation, as promised way back in Exodus 19:5-6.

  1. In Approaching the Scriptures let us read them in their historical context in accord with God’s covenant with Israel.

a)    Israel is God’s Elect Nation and thus ‘stewards of the oracles of God’ Romans 3:1-2, Exodus 4:22, 19:5-6, Deuteronomy 7:5-6, Deuteronomy 32, Psalm 147:2, 19-20, 148:14, Zechariah 2:8

b)    Jerusalem is the city of the great King where Jesus will reign forever: Psalm 48:2, Zechariah 2:10-13, 8:2-3

c)    Jesus is the Jewish Messiah descendant of Abraham and David: Matthew 1:1, Romans 1:3, Romans 9:5

d)    God’s covenant with Israel is irrevocable (will not be annulled), it will last for all ages: Jeremiah 31:35-37, Romans 11:25-29, 15:7-9a

e)    We as Gentiles are joined to believing Israel, or Messianic Jews who put their faith in Jesus work on the cross. Romans 11:16-18, Ephesians 2:11-22, 3:6.

f)      The Blessing of the entire earth depends upon God’s covenant with Israel. Psalm 48,122

g)    In the end the nations that surround Israel will be judged according to how they treated Her. Joel 3:2, Micah 4:11-13, Matthew 25:31-46

h)    Though Jews have the advantage of being ‘stewards of the oracles of God’ Romans 3:1-2, they are not in this freed from a need for salvation, Romans 3:9, 23. We are ‘saved in the same hope’ Romans 8:24.


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Jeremy Johnson (26 Posts)

Jeremy is a Bible teacher and church planter. Jeremy, his wife Jessica and their five children currently live in Bloomington, MN. As a family unit, the Johnson’s have a passion to see lost sinners turn to the Lord as they see the way of the cross lived out by the church.

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