Culture is the accepted norms, practices, and beliefs that which a certain group or society holds. For example, if an individual is speaking or teaching, it’s accepted for someone to have a cup of coffee or maybe even a donut or cookie while listening. Yet, if that individual is sitting down to a four course meal, well that’s a different story.
Culture is developed and changes over time. As one is brought up in a culture, the norms of that culture are ingrained into them. Ways of thinking or ways of doing can simply become tradition because of our culture and background. So, the questions beg to be asked, “What’s the culture of the church today? What’s accepted simply for the sake of tradition? What is truth?”
With this in mind, is the New Testament the first time the Lord provided for the Gentiles to be grafted into Israel? Many would say that this is the case. But, is this because of tradition or because of truth? Does the church understand that it IS Israel, or believe that it’s a separate entity? It doesn’t take much digging to find out the truth on this matter.
The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you.
So, the Law wasn’t just for natural born Israel. The Lord allowed the alien (from the nations/or Gentiles) to be grafted into Israel and to be counted the same as Israel with the same law, no differences.
Consider also the book of Numbers.
The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD:
Let’s read that one more time.
“You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD:” Can you think of a New Testament verse that sounds similar?
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
This was not a new concept. It was one that had been around for a very long time. As the Father stated, “You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD.” So then, what’s being taught in the New Testament is the same what was taught in the Old Testament. Christ confronted and rebuked the culture of the day when he came. What WAS the culture? It was the teachings and traditions of men. That which was taught by the Pharisees and teachers of the law. You can read Mark 7 for that confrontation. Yet as the ministry of the disciples begins in the book of Acts, we find the traditions of those teachers still around causing problems. Compare the words of Peter in Acts 10.
And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.”
Nowhere will you find, in the Law of God, that they were NOT to associate with a foreigner, especially a God-fearing foreigner that has left the Gentiles (the nations) to become an Israelite. In fact, we find throughout the Scriptures that non-Hebrew people joined in and became a part of Israel. Ruth was from Moab (a Gentile), yet we see that she became a part of Israel.
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”
Ruth together with Rahab, the prostitute from Jericho who aided the 12 spies, not ONLY became a part of Israel but is listed in the lineage of Yeshua in Matthew chapter 1.
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse…
These women were grafted in to Israel long before Romans 11 was ever written. God has always provided for anyone who chooses Him. The same blessings that are for natural Israel, in being obedient to God’s law, is also afforded to those who were once Gentiles. Yet, what establishes people as God’s children? Is it being in the lineage of Abraham? No. The Pharisees in John chapter 8, who were of the lineage of Abraham, claimed God as their father, and yet Yeshua declared them as children of the Devil. Big difference! Romans 9 even says:
…For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
Meaning, that just because you are of the physical seed of Abraham does not mean you are of his spiritual seed. It’s always been this way. We actually find that it’s those who live in the faith and obedience of Abraham. Remember that it’s not faith alone.
James 2:21-24 21
Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
So then, it is faith AND obedience, because obedience (to God’s law – and not man’s) is the certain result and proof of our faith. It always has been. The Word is the seed. Faith in God (the Word) is the root. Obedience to His law is the fruit.
Consider this from Deuteronomy.
Deut 29:12-13 12
that you may enter into the covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath which the LORD your God is making with you today, 13 in order that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God, just as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
This verse tells us that those who walk in His covenant are those who are established as HIS people. It’s not because you may be from the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but rather that you live the way they lived – in their faith, in their obedience. So those who walk in His covenant are the ones He calls His children. Compare a little later in this text.
Deut 29:14-15 14
Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, 15 but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God and with those who are not with us here today:
Christ said He did not come to abolish the law. Why – Because it’s for us as well, for Israel. Technically, God’s law is NOT for the nations or Gentiles; however, when we leave the nations and become part of Israel, the ONE body, the ONE holy nation, then the ONE law for ALL is to be how we live our lives. Let me explain, in the faith we are NO LONGER Gentiles. Gentiles by natural birth, yes, but no longer a Gentile in the eyes of God. That’s why we are to follow Christ’s example in obedience to the law. We are established as His children in our faith, and it is through our obedience of faith that we prove we are His children. Again, we are established as His children in our faith, and it is through our obedience of that faith that we prove we are His children.
We are to have faith in the Word of God. If the seed of the Word is truly in us, it can ONLY produce the same fruit that was produced in Christ – obedience to the law.
As we are taught from the beginning, like kind produces like kind. The same seed (the Word) that was in Christ is the same seed (the Word) that is to be in us by our faith. The proof of that seed being in us is in the fruit that we produce. It’s never been about lineage. It’s always been about the faith and walk that CAME from that lineage.
Understand, then, that those who BELIEVE are children of Abraham.
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) 12 but remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Then a few verses down…
18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household;
Thus making us a part of Israel exactly like Ruth and Rahab. Many struggle in a correct scriptural understanding on this particular matter, so perhaps we should read it again. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens (Gentiles), but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, (Israel). (Eph 2:19)
As Peter also says…
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
In Scripture, “Gentiles” simply means “nations.” It always has. We are called to come out of the nations (Gentiles) and into His holy (set apart) nation. It’s truly that simple.
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
We are a holy “nation” – singular; not “nations” or “Gentiles.” Consider how this parallels.
You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
Nothing has changed. The New Testament is only giving us what was established in the Old Testament. As we read in Ephesians 2, we once were Gentiles, but now we are citizens of Israel – just like Ruth and Rahab. It’s just like the “mixed multitude” of the Egyptians (alien/foreigner) and “natural born” Hebrews that left Egypt and collectively referred to themselves as “Israel,” the holy nation.
A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock.
We are all ONE nation, ONE body.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. …
So, what body is this referring?
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
There is only ONE body. So, there is no such thing as the church and Israel in the sense of being separate. Believing Israel IS the church, and Gentiles are grafted in. This is what ALL the Scripture teaches. As the scriptures clearly say…
Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely separate me from His people.”
It wasn’t called the “church” in the Old Testament. It was called “qahal,” and it means “assembly.” In fact, the word interpreted as “church” in the Greek is “ekklesia.” It actually means “congregation or assembly.” This parallels perfectly with that of the Old Testament.
We know that the apostles considered Israel in the Old Testament as “the Church.” Many dispensationalists have said, “Israel is not ‘the Church’ and ‘the Church’ is not Israel.” A lot of doctrines and eschatology are built upon this premise. Yet, when one examines scripture itself, they will be surprised to discover that Israel in the Old Testament is called the “Church.” Stephen speaks this fact in Acts 7 when he defends himself to false accusations to not teaching or practicing the Law of Moses. Listen to what Steven says in referring to Moses.
This is he, that was in “the Church” (ekklesia) in the wilderness with the angel which spoke to him in the Mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
Stephen clearly refers to Israel in the wilderness as “the Church” (ekklesia). Stephen was a Jewish believer (meaning from the tribe of Judah). He understood the Greek customs in calling Israel the “church” (ekklesia) because of using the Septuagint (LXX). This was simply the Greek version of the Scriptures. This Greek version of the Old Testament regularly uses “ekklesia” to refer to Israel. There were believers in those years who relied on the Septuagint, and the New Testament is filled with quotations from it. By way of the Septuagint, those in the first century were well acquainted with the fact that true Israel was the “Church” in Old Testament times, and this concept never changed in the writings of the New Testament. It would be hundreds of years later that the theological interpretive framework of dividing the church and Israel would be invented and taught. Even though it is contrary to the teaching of the Scripture, it spread and became known as dispensationalism.
If believers today would grasp hold of this and see that there is no difference between the Old Testament and New Testament terminology, then we would truly understand that we are Israel – maybe not by way of blood lineage but definitely by way of being grafted in. It must be noted that there is a distinction between physical Israel and spiritual Israel. Paul himself shows the distinction in Romans 11.
And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. So, some of Israel has been cut off because of unbelief. Are they then still Israel? Yes, but not the spiritual Israel as intended from the beginning. It’s just as in the days of the first generation under Moses.
Compare this in Hebrews.
14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
Take note here that lack of faith was the reason.
1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did;
What was the gospel they heard? It was that ANYONE can come to the Father in faith and obedience. So, what happened to them? The verse continues. but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Faith was required by the Father EVEN THEN, just as it is today. The Father is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His standards remain the same. This same principle applies for Gentiles. Though you may have been physically born as part of the nations, or Gentiles, if you have been born again, you are now an Israelite and no longer a part of the Gentiles (nations). You are a spiritual Israelite in the eyes of Yahweh. You are grafted into the cultivated olive tree. You are now a citizen of the true nation of Israel. Regardless of what the culture you are in may be saying or teaching, if you are born again, you’re an Israelite and no longer of the Gentiles (nations).
For so long we have been taught because of tradition that we are not given the same instruction as the Israelites because we are foreign Gentiles. Have you been taught this? If so, can we really continue to believe this? The real practical question is this. Now that we know that we are no longer Gentiles in the eyes of God but instead Israel, His children, and the holy nation – should we not do what Israel is commanded to practice and obey in the Word of God? This is the very FOUNDATION of who we are and NEEDS to be understood. Remember…
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
How many of us have been taught that the Jews rejected the Messiah and now the Lord is building His church through the Gentiles? Not only this, but that the Lord did away with the Law and now it is only by faith? Now those who want to come into the Kingdom do so by joining the Gentiles. But, as we can see, FAITH has ALWAYS been the foundation. It has always been faith that establishes one in the LORD, then obedience to His Word would follow.
1 Pet 1:23
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.
The imperishable seed is not that of the lineage of Abraham but rather of the Word. Israel has always been those who walked in His covenant IN faith. So remember, we ARE Israel, and the Father tells us that we are His treasured possession if we keep His covenant.
Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.
Take note that it doesn’t say they are His treasured possession by being of the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob but rather by keeping His covenant. So let’s read that again.
Ex 19:5-6 5
“‘Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
I once heard a pastor say that the Lord gave the law to the Israelites to prove to them that they didn’t have the capacity to obey. His actual words were, “And what we discovered under this God-ordained covenant of Levitical law (is that) mankind does not have what it takes to pull off God’s desired results.” NOTHING could be farther from the truth. Let us read the words found in Deuteronomy 30.
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.
Think about it. How could the Father have judged His people in the Old Testament for not keeping His covenant IF they never had the ability to keep it in the first place? Is that a loving God? Consider the words found just two chapters later.
Deut 32:45-47 45
When Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. 47 They are not just idle words for you — they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”
THEY ARE NOT JUST IDLE WORDS! Yet, they have become idle words in the eyes of the Church today. They are no longer the LIFE of the church (ekklesia) today. The church believer today has tossed them aside EVEN THOUGH they were the very life of CHRIST himself. He is our example – not our excuse. He has grafted us in to follow His perfect example and to walk as a citizen of Heaven – not of the nations.
It is my prayer that you realize if you have given your life to Christ that you understand YOU ARE AN ISRAELITE, and He is calling us today to walk in the ways of His Son – to walk in the eternal covenant. Walking in the law is not your salvation. It’s the fruit of your salvation.