Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
In my latest series, “Inclusion: Israel, Abraham, and the Church”, II, III, IV, I’ve labored to try and demonstrate that the Gentile Church is, in the apostolic writings of the New Testament, included in Israel. Our problem generally is the limited concept we have of Israel. We still think of Israel as a physical nation state located in the middle east, rather than what it is now, which is, an international empire with citizens in every nation upon the earth. That is the Israel of God. We are, if we are believers in Christ, a Holy nation and a royal priesthood. A nation not limited to a plot of ground and a priesthood not located within the tribe of Levi. This is a difficult truth for some to hear, but nevertheless, it is the truth all the same.
Back up for just a second and ask your self a couple of questions. First, “Was the nation of Israel a nation?” Well, that’s a stupid question, of course it was a nation, I mean you used the term nation within the question. The second question then is “Was the nation of Israel also a church?” We of course n ………. Wait, let’s think about that for just a second. Did they have any ecclesiastical officers? Yes they did, they were priests. What did priests do? They led the congregation in sacrifice, which is how believers in the Old Testament came to worship God. In fact, the only reason that WE, Jews and Gentiles, claim to no longer have to offer sacrifices to God is because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us all. Did they have covenant seals? Yes, they had circumcision and the Passover Feast. Both of the New Testament seals have their origination in the Old Testament seals given to the nation of Israel. Jesus is eating the Passover when He institutes the Lord’s Supper. They also had a central meeting place dedicated to their ceremonial activity, the Temple. Again and again we discover within Israel both a civil and an ecclesiastical sphere.
Now is Jesus the King of the Gentile Church? Yes……. But I only thought nations had kings. Is Jesus our Great High Priest? Yes, but only churches or ecclesiastical entities that offer worship to God need priests. Is Jesus King of the Jews? Yep, it was written right over the top of His head as He hung on the Cross. Is Jesus the High Priest of the Jews? Of course. So now am I to believe that Jesus is King over two separate and distinct nations, one Jewish and one Gentile? What about His High Priesthood, am I to believe Jesus is the head of two separate ecclesiastical entities, two different churches? Let it never be so!
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
Frankly, and I’m not trying to be rude, but that’s just silly. I do not understand how that notion has survived theological scrutiny for as long as it has. There is one Israel, the Israel of God, and it is, and always has been simultaneously a Church and a Nation, and it is made up of all those “who put there trust in Christ and do not trust in genealogy or any other human device.
For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—
What is it then that Hosea saw in Hosea 1:10, when God pulled back the curtain of time for just a second, and he catches that glimpse of hope regarding the future of Israel? What was it that he saw? My contention is, is that he saw the Israel of God. The international, indeed, the inter-dimensional empire of the Lord Jesus Christ, gathered in all her glory, as His bride. He saw the totality of the Father’s living spiritual children, bound into one body that is both a royal nation, and a royal church. Thus when we read
“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”
We should think not about 12 tribes and the like, we should think about the Gospel and the expansion of the covenant promises to include every tribe, nation, and tongue. What Hosea saw, was an Old Testament version of what John saw in Revelation 7:9,10
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
What Hosea saw, was the Church gathered. The Israel of God, through the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promises in Christ Jesus, being established upon the Earth.