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True Israel of God
Part Seven and Eight
The True Israel of God
by L. R. Shelton
It was revealed unto the apostle Paul by the Holy Spirit that God's purpose from
eternity was to have a chosen people upon this earth at all times until the
Lord's return, and that this would be both Jews and Gentiles brought into one
body, the church, of which Christ was the head: "Having made known unto us the
mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in
himself that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather
together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on
earth, even in him" (Eph 1:9-10). He continues to show that the middle wall of
partition had been broken down between Jew and Gentile, the enmity between them
abolished and that they had, by the grace of God through the atoning work of
Christ, been made one in Him, and thereby make up the true Israel of God
(2:14-15). He adds that God's purpose "that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs,
and of the same body, partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel"
(3:5,6,10) the same as the Jews, thus making the true Israel of God those who
had been made new creatures in Christ Jesus by the new birth and who were now
Now turning to the fourth chapter of Galatians, verses 21-31 bring before us
Abraham's two sons. The one was by the bondwoman, Hagar, born after the flesh;
the other by a free woman, Sarah, born by promise. The story shows in an
allegory the difference between unbelieving "Israel after the flesh," and those
of all nations who know Christ, have yielded to His claims, and thereby been
made free. The apostle shows that the son of the bondwoman pictures the children
of "Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children," while the son
of the free woman pictures the church: "Jerusalem which is above," which is free
and "is the mother of us all."
Thus Paul teaches that believers, as Isaac was, are the children of promise; but
with respect to the unbelieving children of the flesh, the Scriptures say: "Cast
out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir
with the son of the freewoman" (Gal 4:30). In other words, as far as God's
eternal purpose is concerned, cast out, remove from consideration the physical,
political nation of Israel and her unsaved citizens; for the inheritance belongs
to spiritual Israel and not to natural Israel. Paul closes that 4th chapter with
these gracious words: "So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman,"
for the flesh profiteth nothing, "but of the free," because Christ has made us
free in Him.
So we see then that now and forever it is only of believers that it can be said:
"As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom 8:14),
and "the Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children
of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ"
(Rom 8:16-17). "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor
uncircumcision, but a new creature. As many as walk according to this rule,
peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God" (Gal 6:15-16). To be a
child of God, and of the true Israel of God, we can be so only by being a new
creation in Christ.
After Paul spent one whole letter showing that Israel after the flesh is
nothing, that only new creations in Christ avail, that these Judaizers profit
nothing, that God now deals with His true Israel, the spiritual seed of Abraham
~then he says: "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the
marks of the Lord Jesus" (6:17). He is saying: I bear in my heart the mark of
circumcision by the Spirit, and in my body the marks of the sufferings for the
cause of Christ, as I have been persecuted by the Jews, the children of Abraham
born after the flesh; so never speak to me again that Israel after the flesh is
God's chosen people, for they are not.
Now in the Book of Hebrews we see this same truth illustrated over and over
again: the truth that God has done away with the types and the shadows, also the
physical things of Israel, which stood for a time, but have now given way to the
spiritual realities as found in Christ. Since this has been accomplished by God
in Christ, then to go back to an earthly temple, an earthly altar, an earthly
priesthood, an earthly tabernacle, earthly animal sacrifices, an earthly
covenant, an earthly throne and an earthly king in a so-called 1000 years of
Jewish prosperity with Christ sitting upon an earthly throne in present
Jerusalem would be "to turn again to the weak and beggarly elements" (Gal 4:9).
It would mean to put to naught this great Book of Hebrews and all its teaching
that God in His eternal purpose has a better country, a heavenly, awaiting His
people; in fact, better things than all the physical things of this life.
The book of Hebrews, perhaps more than any of the books of the Bible, stands as
a source of frustration and embarrassment to those who teach that God plans to
return one day to the natural trappings of the old Jewish economy, to the
natural land and city, the natural law and ordinances, the natural kingdom and
throne, and the natural temple and sacrifices.
The Holy Spirit through the writer of Hebrews shows the over-whelming
superiority of the new and better age that dawned at Calvary. He shows that
after Calvary the natural types and figures had served their purpose and were
vanishing away, having been replaced forever by the eternal and spiritual
realities (Heb 8:13).
Note the word "better" as used in Hebrews. Did the Israelites' fathers hear the
voice of the prophets? We, the true, spiritual Israel hear the "better" voice of
God's Son (1:1,2). Did the Israelites have a high priest after the Levitical
order? We have a"better" One after the "better" and undying order of Melchisedec
(6:20-7:28). Did they seek, unsuccessfully, for perfection through the law? We
have a "better" hope through the grace of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (7:19).
Did they have an earthly sanctuary with a candlestick, table and shewbread, and
a tabernacle with the golden censer, the ark, and the mercyseat (9:1-5)? We have
Christ: "a greater and more perfect tabernacle" (9:11). Did they have the blood
of bulls and goats that could not take away sins (10:4)? We have the
incomparably "better" "blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered
Himself without spot to God" (9:14). Did the Israelites receive an earthly land?
We have "a better country, that is, an heavenly" (11:16). Did they come to a
mount that could be touched (12:18)? We have come to the "better" Mount Zion
(12:22). Did they have the natural city of Jerusalem? We have the incomparably
"better" "city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (12:22). To go
further, we as spiritual Israel have a "better" covenant, the New Covenant, that
was foretold by the Prophets, and since Calvary, has forever replaced the old
and faulty covenant (8:1) that existed between God and Israel. The New Covenant
is the covenant of which Jeremiah prophesied, and that was fulfilled once for
all, for both Jews and Gentiles, at the first coming of Christ. The New Covenant
that God has made with the new Israel is "not according to the covenant" that he
made with natural Israel, which "covenant they broke" (Jer 31:32). "But this
shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel ... I will put
my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their
God, and they shall be my people ... they shall all know me, from the least of
them unto the greatest" (vv 33,34).
The prophet Ezekiel expressed it in these words: "I will make a covenant of
peace with them: it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place
them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for
evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: Yea, I will be their God, and
they shall be my people" Ezek 37:26-27).
In two places in Hebrews (8:6-13; 10:16-17 these prophesies are quoted as
referring to the new spiritual Israel, the true Israel of God. These verses show
this "better" covenant was already established in the first century, and that
the old one even then was decaying and getting old, and was ready to vanish
away. Not long after the writing of Hebrews, the temple rituals and sacrifices,
the proudest features of the old covenant relationship, vanished completely as
the city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans.
In II Corinthians, the old covenant made with the Jews, which they did not keep,
is called: "The ministration of death, written and engraven in stones ... the
ministration of condemnation" (3:7,9); but the new covenant is: "The
ministration of the spirit" (3:6). The glory of the old covenant, as once
reflected in the face of Moses "was to be done away" (3:7) and was to be
replaced by the new covenant that will "exceed in glory" (3:9). We draw this
conclusion: the New Covenant had forever replaced the old covenant in these
words: "For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which
remaineth is glorious" (3:11).
Since Calvary, and forever, the new covenant is God's only covenant with man,
and it is based upon the "better" promises of the crucified, buried, risen,
exalted Lord Jesus Christ. Its inauguration was announced by Christ on the night
in which He was betrayed when, "he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to
them saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament
[covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Mat 26:27-28).
This covenant relationship with God, through the blood of Christ, is offered to
as many as receive Him (John 1:1-2) prior to His second coming. There will be no
opportunity after His coming; for then comes the White Throne Judgment of Rev
This covenant is the covenant of grace and therefore is based upon the operation
of our Triune God by His Spirit working in the hearts of both Jew and Gentile,
to call out a bride for Christ who is the Head of the spiritual race called the
true Israel of God.
One other thought on the book of Hebrews: it was written to show that Christ our
Lord, God manifested in the flesh, is far greater and "better" than all
creatures and things. In chapter one He is spoken of as being "better, than the
angels; in chapter two He is shown to be greater and "better" than man; in
chapter three He is spoken of as "better" and greater than Moses; in chapter
four, "better" and greater than Joshua; in chapters 5, 6, & 7, He is shown as
the Great High Priest, "better" than the priesthood of Aaron; in chapter 8, He
is as the One who "obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is
the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises."
In chapter 9, our Lord Jesus is shown to be greater than all the sacrifices,
greater than the tabernacle and its ministry, and that He is the one great
offering made for His people, the true Israel of God.
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and
more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this
building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he
entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling
the unclean sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the
blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to
God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb
9:11-14). We see then that Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant is "better"
and far greater than all, and therefore He has a name which is above every name.
Also His work is complete: "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them
that are sanctified ... We are sanctified through the offering of the body of
Christ once for all" (10: 10,14).
This shows us that in Christ Jesus, the true Israel of God, made up of
believers, born again by His Spirit, need no future earthy altar, temple,
sacrifice or throne because we are forever complete in Christ by His "once for
all" salvation which He finished at Calvary.