Have you ever had anyone teach you or tell you that Israel is the Church? The idea is that God began dealing with the Jews in Israel in the Old Testament, and continued dealing with them until the first coming of Christ. Then, after the crucifixion, the church replaced Israel. So, the whole Bible is one unbroken account of God dealing with Israel as a nation in the Old Testament and with Israel as the church in the New Testament.
There are many who believe that Israel is the church. They use verses like Rom. 2:28-29 to “prove” their point. This convenient bit of Bible bungling allows them to put the church in the tribulation and to postpone the rapture to sometime during or at the end of the tribulation. So, in case you are wondering how so many preachers, teachers and authors are getting fouled up with locating the rapture, you will generally find the problem stems from how they view Israel and the church.
By essentially eliminating Israel, they can “prove” that the church they attend is the “true” church or that the doctrinal belief they hold is the “true” interpretation of scripture. They can also work out a way to put the church under the law and claim the promises given to Israel for the church. Of course, you will find them running frequently to “the Greek” or “the Hebrew” to get their point out of the Bible.
When a person makes this mistake, God says he or she is “ignorant” and conceited (Rom. 11:25-26). Now, let’s look at some scriptures to clear up this ignorance and pride.
1. The Body of Christ. The church is the body of Christ (Colossians 1: 18). Individual Christians make up this body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27) by the Spirit baptism, which takes place at the moment of their salvation. If you check the entire Old Testament, you will find that there was not a soul in the Old Testament, in Israel or otherwise, that was ever put into the body of Christ. That’s because Israel is not the body of Christ, the church is.
2. Covenant Land Grant. God made a covenant with Israel that said “unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance,” (Psalm 105: 8-12). In the millennium, Israel will take possession of that land. The locations of each of the tribes and their respective boundaries are found in Ezekiel 48.
The church has no such physical inheritance in that land. Some of us will have authority over some of the cities in the world (Luke 19: 11-27), but our physical dwelling will be in mansions of glory (Jn. 14: 1-6) in New Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26).
3. The Temple. Israel will have a temple in Jerusalem during the 1000-year reign of Christ, where they will worship and where literal, physical nations of the earth will come to seek the Lord (Ezekiel 48:30-35; Ezekiel 40-43; Isaiah 66: 20-23; and Zechariah 8: 20-23). The church, on the other hand, will be in New Jerusalem (Revelation 21: 9-27) where there is no temple (Revelation 21: 22).
4. The Priesthood. Israel had a priesthood that came from Levi and included only Aaron and the sons of Aaron (Hebrews 7:5; Ezekiel 28: 1; 2 Chronicles 14: 9-10, 26:18, etc.). This same line of priests ministered all through the Old Testament and will minister even in the millennial reign of Christ (Ezekiel 48:11; 1 Chronicles 6:1-15).
However, in the church, there is no such Levitical priesthood. Christ was from the tribe of Judah and his priesthood was after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7). Following Christ’s ascension, we learned that all Christians are priests (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1: 5-6).
5. Enemies of the Gospel. In Rom. 11:28, Israel is an enemy of the gospel. We see evidence of this throughout the book of Acts (Acts 17:5, 13; 18:5-6, etc.). Yet, Christians are saved by the gospel (Colossians 1:22-25). So, if Israel is the church, how can the church be an enemy of the very thing that saved them and that they are to preach? (Mark 16:15). Do you see the mess these guys get into when they mess with the Bible?
In Rom. 11, Israel will not always be an enemy of the gospel. At the second coming of Jesus, all Israel will be saved (Rom. 11: 25-26). Israel can’t be the church because we (the church) are saved right now.
6. Three Classes of People. In 1 Corinthians 10:32, there are only three classes of people on the earth right now: Jews, Gentiles, and the church of God. Therefore, when a Jew or a Gentile gets saved, he loses his national distinction and becomes a part of the church, where there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:12-22). However, in the tribulation, we find God dealing with 12 tribes of Israel again (Rev. 7), because Israel is not the church.
7. New Covenant. When we got saved, we became partakers of the new covenant through Jesus Christ the mediator (Hebrews 12:22-24; 1 Tim. 2:4-6). However, Israel as a nation will not partake of the new covenant until they partake of it with the house of Judah, when their sins and iniquities will be remembered no more (Hebrews 8: 8-13; Jeremiah 31: 31-37). According to these verses, Israel has not ceased from being a nation and God has not saved Israel as a nation yet, under the new covenant (Jeremiah 30:7-11). However, the people in the church are all saved (Acts 2:47).
Now, there are many more examples that we could give. However, we think that you get the point. Don’t be deceived by people who tell you that Israel is the church.
Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder