We continue to look at the book "Who is a Jew" by Stephen E. Jones. (Part 2)
Let's look at the author's next argument.
God had every right to disinherit even full-blooded Israelites regardless of their genealogy. In fact, He had already claimed this right many years earlier by disinheriting Reuben and giving the dominion mandate to Judah.In laying out this leg of the argument, Dr. Jones speaks of the two sets of figs (two fig trees) pictured in the prophecy of Jeremiah 24. As we noted in our previous study (and in an earlier study concerning the dichotomies of scripture), there are two paths; the path of faith and the path of rejection. We see the two seeds, those of God and those of Satan. We note, again, that apart from faith it is impossible to please God. This has never been a question. This has been truth since Adam.
This condition functions in all ages. The Lord warns "the sons of the kingdom" (Israel which has the promise of inheritance) that one can lose his place in that inheritance (Matt 8). Faith is that which moved the Lord to perform miracles in his earthly ministry (Matt 13; Mark 6; not that he couldn't perform them, he did perform "some" miracles where there was little faith, but God responds to faith, it is his condition). We noted las time that the Lord was "sent to none, but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel" (Matt 15) and that he came to "fulfill the promises made to the fathers" (Rom 15).
While the faith requirement is a universal truth, it does not take a member in one dispensation and place him in another. We cannot enter into the promises of Israel in this age. During the Acts Age, in order to make Israel jealous, in order to fulfill scripture concerning the blessing of Gentiles through Abraham, Gentiles we grafted in to the root of Israel because of their unbelief.
But with that understood, the Jew never lost his place. Circumcision still had an advantage "much in every way" (Rom 3). The Gentile was still under the threat of losing his place in Israel's promises while unbelieving Jews could take a superior place via faith. This is the argument of Romans 11 which we looked at last time.
Paul, in Galatians, warns Gentiles not to be circumcised. In Acts 21 he was still telling Jews they needed to be circumcised and he had Timothy circumscribed (but not Titus). Was Paul confused? When he wrote "every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law," what did that mean? Would it not apply to Timothy whom Paul had circumcised?
We saw this distinction in Acts 15 in Jerusalem (note the Apostles were still there). This is long after Cornelius had received the Holy Spirit and gifts. In that council, the Apostles (with the approval of the Holy Spirit) make a distinction between Jewish believers and Gentile believers. Would we dare do that in this age? And do we still have the four "necessary things" requirements for Gentile believers in this age?
In this Post Acts Age, there is no Israel to be grafted into. The middle wall of partition is down (Eph). The Law has been removed (Gentiles having never been under the law). There is "one new man" and all are essentially Gentiles. If we miss these distinctions, we are liable to believe we Gentiles have supplanted true Jews and have found ourselves with a claim to their promises in full.
It is clear from this that only those who abide in Christ will bear the type of fruit that God is seeking. If one claims to be in Christ, but does not produce these fruits of the Kingdom, he is cut off. And “if anyone does not abide in Me,” Jesus says, “he is thrown away as a branch and dries up.”
We have no issue here. But what does Dr. Jones believe about being "cut off?" Cut off from what? The gift of Life? That is impossible as Life is a free gift by faith alone. It is a work of grace wholly absent of any works or "obedience."
The early Church, founded on Jesus Christ and the apostles, was the true Judah “tree” that produced the good figs in the first century application of Jeremiah 24. However, Jesus’ followers were a tiny minority and were not in control of the temple in Jerusalem. When the bad figs rejected Jesus as Messiah, the believers were persecuted and finally expelled from the land. They were excommunicated from Judaism.
The good figs lost their identity as “Jews.” That is, the bad figs retained the identification with the tribe or nation of Judah, while the good figs became known in the world as “Christians” (Acts 11:26). But God knew them as true Judah—the followers of the King of Judah, Jesus Christ. They were the good figs that God had expelled from the old land for their good.
The evil figs, however, remained in the old land in their state of rebellion until the nation was destroyed in 70-73 A.D. God gave them forty years in which to repent, but they refused. Finally, God sent His Roman armies to carry out His sentence of judgment, even as Jesus said in His parable in Matthew 22:7,
Much of this is sound. True Israel and those who were part of the plan of God for Israel, necessarily, had to be believers. God closed the revelation of the Acts Age around AD 64. At that time, the mostly Jewish-Christian church began to leave Israel. Paul then revealed the change in God's plan in the Book of Ephesians (which we looked at last time). To put a final period on the Acts Age, the temple was destroyed and we entered into the prophetic "two days" of Hosea.
Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. -Hosea 6:1-3Hosea is picture of God relationship with Israel. God commands Hosea to marry a harlot. She bears him children of whom God says:
Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. -Hosea 1:9-10Israel would enter an age when they would be "Loammi" or "not my people." But this would be a limited period. As the story unfolds, we see Hosea providing for his adulterous wife from a distance until he finally purchases her out of the slave market (Hosea 3). This picture is followed by God laying out the future of Israel (including the "two days" of chapter 6).
I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.This will result in God's New Covenant with Israel. It is a covenant with Believing and Repentant Israel, but it is surely with Israel. No Gentile can lay claim to it. Israel will be returned to her land in belief.
His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.Let us quickly look at the conditions of the New Covenant (in part) and understand it has no place in the current age which deals with a gentile people who have no hope on the earth. As we have noted, our hope and blessings are in the "far above the heavens" (Eph) and not on the earth.
Please see Hebrews 8 and Jeremiah 31
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people ("Ammi" Hosea). None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.At the time of the writing of Hebrews, the Old Covenant had not yet vanished. The New Covenant had not yet come in. Are these the conditions of this Age? Do we have no need to teach our neighbors about God? Is knowledge of Him everywhere? Are his laws written on our hearts?
In Jeremiah 31 (whence most of our passage in Hebrews is taken), we have this detail:
The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:We see the restoration of the Kingdom in Israel under a New Covenant in many other places (especially in Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Zechariah) .
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt,
O virgin of Israel!
You shall again be adorned with your tambourines,
And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.
You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of Samaria;
The planters shall plant and eat them as ordinary food.
As we continue through our topic at hand, we must recognize what scripture says of these things, independent of man's traditions. Grace is not a covenant. Gentiles are not Jews. even in the grafting in of the Acts Age, Gentiles and Jews remained distinct in regard to blessing.
If a "real Jew" is any believer, surely we would have Paul applying that term to "all believers" at some point. Not only have we no examples of this (certainly the Apostles to the Circumcision never did: Peter, James, John, Jude), we actually have the opposite. After Paul reveals the Post Acts Age plan of God, the word "Jew" essentially disappears from his writings, save twice.
In Colossians, Paul states "there is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile)" and in Titus, it it used as part of the adjective "Jewish fables." While the name "Abraham" appears 70 times from Matthew through the Revelation, it appears zero times in Paul's Post Acts Epistles. "Israelites" (plural) only appears twice in all the books of the New Testament, yet never in Paul's Post Acts Epistles. In context, it is applied to physical decedents of Abraham, according to the flesh.
We need to note the age and audience of the epistles.
In 2 Corinthians (an Acts Age epistle), Paul speaks of fellow believers, yet he still makes a physical distinction.
Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.This would be palpable nonsense if "Israelite" was suddenly applied to all believers.
While there is a distinction among Jews (as we see in Romans 2) between believing Jews and non-believing Jews, they are all still "Jews." They are all still Paul's brethren "according to the flesh." We mus keep these distinctions in mind when rightly dividing the two verses in Romans 2 in regard to the "inward" Jew.
For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh... -Romans 9:3The Lord himself is the seed of David and the seed of Abraham "according to the flesh" (Romans 1:3). This physical distinction is absolutely necessary for His claim to the throne. He must be from the tribe of Judah. If a Gentile becomes an "inward Jew," what tribe does he adopt? We have no idea, yet these tribal distinctions are important when it comes to the land and in future prophecy.
Furthermore, the Apostles to the Circumcision clearly distinguish believers by physical decendancy from the twelve tribes. They write to believing Jews. There is no hint that all believers are now "Jews." Peter and James write specifically to the dispersion (who still met in synagogues, James 2:2). There were no "lost tribes," there were Jews who either did not return from captivity or were scattered due to persecution. They were not writing to Gentiles.
Next time we will touch on the most serious and dangerous error in the book: the idea that the New Covenant is the free gift of life and that Gentiles must become Jews. How anyone could read the New Covenant and the prophets and conclude that is somehow in action today and somehow given to "gentile Jews" is nothing less than Satanic.
See: Part 3