Two: Who Is Israel?
Abraham and his descendents were originally referred to as “Hebrews” (Genesis 14:13). His grandson, Jacob, was renamed Israel by God in Genesis 32:28. The term Israel grew to mean much more than just referring to Jacob himself. Throughout the Old Testament, it is used over 2000 times. It can refer to 1) the twelve sons of Jacob, 2) the mixed multitude who escaped Egypt during the Exodus, 3) the Promised Land of Israel in the Middle East, and 4) ten of the tribes when the united house of Israel split into the two houses of Israel and Judah. The term “Jew” is derived from the name Judah (one of Jacob’s sons), and properly refers only to descendants of Judah, not to every descendant of Jacob or Abraham.
Studies outside the scope of this article have searched through history to show that these ten tribes migrated north and west, and the majority of people in Britain and America are descended from these northern tribes. Most of the residents of the land of Israel descended from the tribe of Judah.
In the New Testament, the word Israel appears over 60 times. In the Greek, it is Strong’s Concordance #2474, defined as “the adopted name of Jacob, including his descendents (literally or figuratively).” This confirms that in the New Testament, Israel is used figuratively – not only referring to the genetic bloodline of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
God promised Abraham in Genesis 12:2 that he would be a “great nation”. The Hebrew word translated as “nation” is Strong’s 1471 “goya”, which is defined in Strong’s as “a foreign nation; hence a Gentile.” This same word appears in the Old Testament hundreds of times, sometimes translated as Gentiles and as heathen, but most often as nation or nations. When God promised to make Abraham a “great nation”, notice he didn’t say he would give him “many descendants” which would have only meant his physical offspring. Instead, God was including anyone who would claim the promise as Abraham’s seed, and thus heirs to the covenant that God entered into with Abraham.
Galatians 3:29 confirms this, when we are told that if we are Christ’s, we are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 4:28 says that “we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise”. Both of these were directed to the Galatians, who were Gentiles, not descendents of Abraham. The only covenant that God made was with the house of Israel (Hebrews 8:10). He made no covenant/promise outside of Israel. So if we are not part of Israel, we are not heirs to the covenant of Abraham, thus we are not heirs to any covenant at all. God made no other covenant for the Gentiles.
Revelation 21:12 tells us that the New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, has twelve gates, and upon each gate is written one of the “names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.” These are the only entrances to the city, and although we may not know now under which tribe God will count us, surely the Holy Spirit will guide us to which gate to walk through when the time comes. But we must indeed be identified as belonging to one of the tribes of the children of Israel and walk through one of those twelve gates to enter in the city.
When Bible prophecy speaks of “Israel”, instead of assuming it refers to a small plot of land in the Middle East populated with descendants of the tribe of Judah, you should consider that it actually can mean either those Gentiles who are grafted in, or the actual “lost tribes of Israel” whose descendants became most of the people of “Britain and America”. In other words, either way, YOU are Israel!
To study this topic further, here are some links you can visit: http://sightedmoon.com/the-ten-lost-tribes-audio-series/ ; http://www.stevenmcollins.com/html/books.html; www.cbcg.org/franklin/Judahs_Sceptre_Josephs_Birthright.pdf; http://www.ucg.org/vertical-thought/tracking-the-tribes-through-migrations-and-maps
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