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24 CONTRASTS BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

HOW CLASSICAL DISPENSATIONALISM VIEWED

THE ISRAEL – CHURCH DISTINCTION

 (Adapted from Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology: Vol. IV; C3)

24 CONTRASTS ISRAEL THE CHURCH
(1) THE EXTENT OF BIBLICAL REVELATION With respect to primary application, Israel occupies nearly four-fifths of the text of the Bible. The Church with respect to primary application, occupies slightly more than one-fifth.
(2) THE DIVINE PURPOSE Every covenant, promise, and provision for Israel is earthly. Every covenant or promise for the Church is for a heavenly reality, and she continues in heavenly citizenship when the heavens are recreated.
(3) THE SEED OF ABRAHAM  In view of the fact that Abraham is not only the progenitor of the nation of promise but is also the pattern of a Christian under, it is significant that there are two figures employed by Jehovah respecting Abraham’s seed—the dust of the earth (Gen. 13:16), and the stars (Gen. 15:5; cf. Heb. 11:12). The extent of this Abrahamic covenant is expressed in Romans 4:16: “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” Aside from Ishmael’s line and the children of Kiturah concerning whom there is no revealed divine purpose, the children of Jacob, or Israel, and without reference to Esau, are counted as the physical seed (cf. Gen. 22:2; Heb. 11:17) of Abraham; for with these God has made covenants respecting their earthly privilege. Contrariwise, the heavenly seed of Abraham are not progenerated by Abraham, but are generated by God on the efficacious principle of faith; and, because of the truth that this faith was exercised specifically by Abraham (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:1-3, 17-24), those of like faith are Abraham’s spiritual seed. It is written, “So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Gal. 3:9). A vital distinction is drawn by the the Apostle between Israel after the flesh and that portion of Israel within Israel who are saved.Those who are saved are styled “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), and the statement that “they are not all all Israel, which are of Israel” ( Rom. 9:6) is a reference to the same distinction. The use of these passages to prove Israel and and the Church to be the same is deplored in the light of the truth which these Scriptures declare.
(4) BIRTH Israelites become what they are by physical birth. They are each one begotten by parents and their inheritance is transmitted by human generation. Christians become what they are by spiritual birth. They are begotten directly by God and are therefore His legitimate offspring. Their inheritance is immediate in that each is a child of God.
(5) HEADSHIP Abraham is the head of the Jewish race, and they are properly designated as “the seed of Abraham.” Though born of Gentile stock, Abraham was set apart by God to the high honor of being the progenitor of the elect earthly people. Over against this it may be said of Christians, though when magnifying the element of faith they are called “Abraham’s seed” (Gal. 3:29), God is their Father and by the Spirit they are joined to Christ and He, the resurrected Lord, is their new federal Head.
(6) COVENANTS God has made unconditional covenants with His earthly people. He will yet make a new covenant with them when they enter their kingdom. That new covenant will govern their conduct and will supersede the Mosaic covenant of the Law (cf. Jer. 31:31-33; Deut. 30:8). This new covenant for Israel will be in four parts. These four features are the present blessings of the Church. This heavenly people are sheltered under a new covenant made in His blood. It is individual in its application and everlasting. It is individual in its application and everlasting. It guarantees every divine grace upon those who believe in Christ in Christ as Savior.
(7) NATIONALITY Israel belongs to the earth and to the world-stem. Though above all nations in Jehovah’s reckoning, they are still in the world as one of its nations. Over against this and forming the strongest contrast is the fact that the Church is composed of all nations, including Israel, and sustains no citizenship here, but instead the believers are strangers and pilgrims.
(8) DIVINE DEALING The fact that, in the present age, Israelites, like Gentiles, are shut up to their individual responsibility respecting claims of the gospel, doubtless misleads those who do not consider the wide range of human history which the Bible covers. They fail to realize that the present divine arrangement is exceptional and that God has in other ages dealt with nations—especially Israel—as a whole. The present arrangement is restricted to the one age in which responsibility is altogether personal.
(9) DISPENSATIONS The earthly people, though their estate may vary, are present in the earth in all ages from the beginning in Abraham on into eternity to come. The Church is restricted to the present dispensation. The dispensation now operative itself is characterized by her presence in the world. It was introduced for her sake; and is therefore unrelated to that which goes before or that which follows.
(10) MINISTRY Israel was appointed to exercise an influence over the nations of the earth (cf. Ps. 67:1-7), and this will yet do perfectly in the coming age; nevertheless there was no missionary undertaking and no gospel proclaimed. Israel maintained her self-centered worship. She faced inward toward the tabernacle or temple and all her benevolence was consumed on her own worship. Immediately upon her formation, the Church is constituted a foreign missionary society. It is her obligation to face outward and to those of her company is given the task of evangelizing the people of the earth in each generation.
(11) THE DEATH OF CHRIST That nation which demanded the death of Christ and who said by their officials, “His blood be on us, and on our children,” is guilty of that death; yet they will be saved as a nation on the ground of that sacrifice. A present and perfect salvation to the praise of God is the portion of the Church through the offering of the Lamb of God.
(12) THE FATHER To Israel God is known by His primary titles, but not as Father of the individual Israelite. In distinction to this, the Christian is actually begotten of God and has every right to address Him as Father.
(13) CHRIST To Israel, Christ is Messiah, Immanuel, and King with all that those appellations imply. To the Church, Christ is Savior, Lord, Bridegroom, and Head.
(14) THE HOLY SPIRIT Only in exceptional instances and for unusual service did the Holy Spirit come upon an Israelite, and the Spirit withdrew as freely as He came, when the purpose was accomplished. The strongest contrast is to be seen here, in that the Christian is indwelt by the Spirit; in truth, he is not saved apart from this relation to the Spirit (Rom. 8:9).
(15) A GOVERNING PRINCIPLE For fifteen centuries the Law was Moses was Israel’s rule of daily life. It is written: But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments” (Ps. 103:17-18). Unlike this, the members of Christ’s Body, being wholly perfected in Him, are under the beseechings and directions which grace provides.
(16) DIVINE ENABLE-MENT The law system provided no enabling power for its achievement. That system is declared to have failed because of the weakness of “the flesh” to which it was evidently addressed (Rom. 8:3). To the Church, however, as certainly as superhuman requirements are laid on her members, so certainly as superman requirements are laid on her members, so certainly supernatural power is provided for every demand. It is on this account the Apostle could say “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” The reason, of course, is that “ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).
(17) TWO FAREWELL DIS-COURSES Several days before His departure from the world, Christ addressed a farewell discourse to the nation of Israel which contemplated her future and that in its relation to His return (Matt. 23:37-25:46). Quite removed from this snd wholly different in all its features, Christ, the night before He was put to death, gave His parting message to the Christians. When these two addresses are contemplated side by side, it is seen that the widest distinction are indicated between Israel and the Church.
(18) THE PROMISE OF JESUS’ RETURN As seen in His words specifically addressed to Israel, Christ returns as her King in power and great glory, at which time she will be gathered from every part of the earth by angelic migration into her own land (Deut. 30:1-8; Jer. 23:7-8; Matt. 23:31). Over against these great events promised to Israel is the return of Christ for His own Bride, when He takes her with Him into heaven’s glory (John 14:1-3). The contrasts between these two situations may be drawn out to great lengths and with equally great profit.
(19) POSITION Isaiah declares, But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (41:8-10). Though individuals in Israel attained to great usefulness, as did the prophets, priests, and kings, yet they never reached a higher distinction than when they were servants of Jehovah. Contrariwise, the individuals who compose the Church are forever in Christ and are members in the family and household of God.
(20) CHRIST’S EARTHLY REIGN Those of the elect nation are appointed to be subjects of the King in His earthly kingdom (Ezek. 37:21-28). Those who comprise the Church are to reign with the King as His Consort in that kingdom (Rev. 20:6).
(21) PRIESTHOOD The nation of Israel had a priesthood. The Church is a priesthood.
(22) MARRIAGE As a nation, Israel is likened by Jehovah to His wife—a wife untrue and yet to be restored (Jer. 3:1, 14, 20; Ezek. 16:1-59; Hos. 2:1-23; Isa. 54:1-17; cf. Gal. 4:27). In marked distinction to this situation respecting Israel, is the revelation that the Church is to Christ as one espoused and to be married in Heaven (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7-9).
(23) JUDGMENTS It is clearly predicted that Israel must come into judgment (Ezek. 20:33-44; Matt. 25:1-13). It is clearly declared that the Church will not come into judgment (John 5:24; Romans 8:1).
(24) POSITION IN ETER-NITY In his enumeration of the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem the writer to the Hebrews asserts that there shall be those present who are identified as “the spirits made perfect.” Such can easily refer to the saints of the OT who, while in this life, were styled just men. This designation occurs upwards of 30 times in the OT and always with reference to those who were in right relation to God. In this same enumeration of the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem there is recognition also of the “church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:22-24).
CONCLUSION In concluding this extended series of contrasts between Israel and the Church, it should be observed that, in certain respects, there are similarities between these two groups of elect people. Each, in turn, has its peculiar relation to God, to righteousness, to sin, to redemption, to salvation, to human responsibility, and human destiny. They are each witnesses to the Word of God; each claim the same Shepherd; they have doctrines in common; the death of Christ avails in its own way for each; they are alike loved with an everlasting love; and each, as determined by God, will be glorified.
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