The True People of Israel by Roy Tov
[there].. is a wide misunderstanding of the true identity of the People of Israel.
When we use Biblical terms, we must take into account the relevant meaning in the historical context; simply, the Book was written along a vast period of time and some terms changed during the process. For example, let's look at two different definitions of "slavery:"
Exodus 1:13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:
1:14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.
Galatians 4:8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
In the Old Testament it refers to "forced labor" while in the New Testament to "idolatry."
Something similar happens with the term "People of Israel," it changes from an almost completely ethnic definition in the Old Testament into a spiritual one in the New Testament.
Let's take a look at the process. Despite the term referring directly to the descendants of Jacob (his name was changed to Israel, see Genesis 32:28), I want to begin the analysis with his grandfather, Abraham.
It is important to realize that he was redeemed (or justified, or found righteous by God) not due to his ethnic background, but due to his Faith:
Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
In that we have a preview of what happened later all along the Bible, the hereditary rights were seldom given by the Mosaic Law or the ethnic group.
In Genesis 16:15-16, we are told about the birth of Abraham first son:
Genesis 16:15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
16:16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
Ishmael was bound to receive Abraham's lands and goods after his death. Surprisingly, that didn't happen.
Genesis 21:1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
21:2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
21:3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.
Isaac was the Son of the Promise, the son given to Abraham by God (he obviously wasn't a natural son, Sarah was too old for that); as such, he got everything despite the law.
Something similar occurred with Isaac's sons:
Genesis 25:25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.
25:26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.
Esau was the first son, he was to get Isaac's blessing, yet:
Genesis 27:1 And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.
27:2 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:
27:3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison;
27:4 And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.
27:5 And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.
27:6 And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying,
27:7 Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death.
27:8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee.
27:9 Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth:
27:10 And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.
27:11 And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:
27:12 My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.
27:13 And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.
27:14 And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved.
27:15 And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son:
27:16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck:
27:17 And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
27:18 And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son?
27:19 And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy first born; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.
27:20 And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the LORD thy God brought it to me.
27:21 And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.
27:22 And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.
27:23 And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands: so he blessed him.
27:24 And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am.
27:25 And he said, Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son's venison, that my soul may bless thee. And he brought it near to him, and he did eat: and he brought him wine and he drank.
27:26 And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son.
27:27 And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed:
27:28 Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:
27:29 Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.
27:30 And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.
27:31 And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me.
27:32 And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau.
27:33 And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed.
27:34 And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.
27:35 And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing.
27:36 And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?
27:37 And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?
27:38 And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.
Again the inheritance wasn't according to the law. Also, not all the sons inherited.
Let's look a bit later, what happened with the Sinai Covenant:
Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
This covenant was conditional - there is an "if" in it. With Moses still atop Mount Sinai, the pact was violated:
Exodus 32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
32:2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
32:3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
32:4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
32:5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.
32:6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
32:7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
32:8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
God's answer is clear, those who sinned were eliminated from the People of Israel:
Exodus 32:31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.
32:32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
32:33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
32:34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.
32:35 And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.
We could say that not all the People of Israel belonged to the People of Israel, meaning that not all the ethnic People of Israel belonged to the spiritual People of Israel. Those who sinned were separated from the rest.
The violations of the Covenant by the people are the main story of the Old Testament. Time and again that happens until a New Covenant is announced.
Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, 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.
31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Isaiah 42:4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
Isaiah 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
53:12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
The last text-Isaiah 53- is such a clear reference to Jesus Christ that it is not taught at the Israeli high schools. The announcement is clear: a New Covenant based on Faith, Love and Pardon is to come to all nations on a personal basis. Simply, comprehensive, ethnic pacts do not work, always somebody within the chosen group of people spoils it.
The central point is Faith:
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
This text appears in various places, including in the Old Testament. This New Covenant may seem somewhat different, but we have already seen:
Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
We can see that from the beginning - from Abraham - until the end - until the present the redemption was by Faith. All along the Old Testament we find these personal covenants, which are not related to the ethnic group but to Faith. That's a topic for another sermon.
Thus, not all the ethnic People of Israel belong to the spiritual People of Israel. Moreover, people not belonging to the ethnic People of Israel were justified by God and recognized as part of the chosen, the redeemed. Even a person like Rehab the Prostitute entered this category.
Apostle Peter said the same as follows:
Acts 3:22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
3:23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
Strong and clear phrasing.
Apostle Paul gives the same message in a variety of ways:
Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
Romans 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
Romans: 9:27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
The true descendants are by spirit, not by flesh, he says to us. The chosen People of Israel are those who are descendant by spirit, by faith, and not by flesh. From the ethnic People of Israel, only a few would accept Jesus and become part of the Spiritual People of Israel.
Let's put things in their correct historical context and treat criminals as criminals, regardless of their ethnic background.