© 1999 James A. Fowler

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I. Meaning of the word "Israel"

    A. Hebrew word yisra-el
    B. Derived from two root words
         1. yisra - uncertain meaning
              a. Contextual - "to strive, struggle" - Gen. 32:28
              b. Etymological - most likely meaning - "to rule"
                  (1) Jacob surrendered to God in order to be ruled by God
                  (2) God rules - El is usually the subject in compounds
         2. el - means "god" or "God"

II. Biblical usage of the word "Israel"

    A. Old Testament
         1. Personal name given to Jacob - Gen. 32:24-32; 35:10
         2. Descendants of Jacob
              a. Name used as a collective politico-religious designation
                  (1) Israel - Exod. 34:27; Deut. 27:9; Josh. 7:8
                  (2) people of Israel - Exod. 18:1; Deut. 21:8; 26:15
                  (3) descendants of Israel - II Kings 17:20
                  (4) children of Israel - Deut. 1:3
                  (5) sons of Israel - Gen. 36:31; Exod. 1:13
              b. Name used in connection with things identified with descendants of Jacob
                  (1) king of Israel - I Sam. 23:17
                  (2) land of Israel - I Chron. 22:2; Ezek. 7:2
         3. Divided kingdom
               a. Ten northern tribes retained designation as "Israel"
               b. Two southern tribes used designation of "Judah"
         4. Post-exilic
              a. Again used to refer to entire nation - Ezra 2:2; Neh. 12:47
              b. Used of the "remnant of Israel" - Isa. 46:3; Jere. 6:9
         5. Prophetic reference to Messiah - personified Israel
              a. Holy One of Israel - Isa. 54:5
              b. Servant of Israel - Isa. 49:3
              c. Ruler in Israel - Micah 5:2
              d. King of Israel - Isa. 9:6,7; Zech. 9:9; Zeph. 3:15
              e. Shepherd of Israel - Ezek. 34:15,16; Zech. 13:7
         6. By inter-testamental period the name "Israel" was used as ethnic, racial, national and               religious designation of the Hebrew peoples.
    B. New Testament
         1. Personal name of Jacob - ? Rom. 9:6
         2. Descendants of Jacob - Matt. 8:10; 10:6; Lk. 1:16; 2:32
         3. Palestinian location where descendants of Jacob lived - Matt. 10:23; Lk. 4:27
         4. Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the promises to Israel
              a. King of Israel - Matt. 27:42; Mk. 15:32; Jn. 1:49; 12:13
              b. Hope of Israel - Acts 28:20
         5. Collective designation of Christians - Rom. 9:6; 11:26; Gal. 6:16

III. Typological fulfillment of "Israel" in Christians

    A. Old covenant people of Israel served as prefiguring, type, shadow, illustration, "picture-people"           Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5
         1. Not that the Jewish peoples are abandoned by God - Rom. 11:1
         2. Rather, Christian peoples are fulfillment of the people of Israel
              a. Continuity with Israel of God - preliminary/reality
              b. Discontinuity with external, physical Jewish nation
    B. Designations of old covenant Israel applied to new covenant Christians
         1. Children of God - Jn 1:12; Rom. 8:14; Phil. 2:15; I Jn. 3:1
         2. Children of Abraham - Rom. 4:11,16; Gal. 3:7,29
         3. Heirs of God; People of Inheritance - Gal. 3:29; James 2:5
         4. House of God - Eph. 2:12,19; Heb. 3:6; 10:21; I Pet. 4:17
         5. Kingdom of God - Col. 1:13; 4:11; Rev. 1:6
         6. People of God - Rom. 9:25; Eph. 5:3; Titus 2:14
         7. Priests of God - I Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10
         8. Bride of God - II Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:31,32
         9. Chosen People - Col. 3:12; I Pet. 2:9
        10. Circumcision - Rom. 2:28,29; Phil. 3:3; Col. 2:11
        11. People of Zion, Jerusalem - Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 21:10
        12. Remnant - Rom. 11:5
        13. Israel - Rom. 9:6; Gal.6:16
        14. Jews - Rom. 2:28,29
    C. Christians become such only because Jesus Christ became the personified fulfillment of the          promises of God to Israel
         1. Messiah of Israel's expectation
         2. The "hope of Israel" - Acts 28:20
    D. The Christian's identification as Israel must be viewed Christocentricly
         1. We serve as Israel only as we are dynamically and spiritually united with Jesus Christ; only              as we are "in Him" and He is "in us"
         2. We serve as Israel only as the ontological Being of Christ is functioning in us.
         3. We serve as Israel only as Jesus, as God, rules and reigns in us as Lord!
              a. The meaning of Israel is "God Rules! "
              b. "Israel" is not a static title, designation or title that we lay claim to.
              c. The designation must be spiritual, relational, dynamic, active, living, systemic, organic.
         4. We serve as Israel conditioned by our receptivity of His activity in Faith.

IV. Usage of the term "Israel" in reference to the modern nation called "Israel"

    A. There is no Biblical basis to assert that the modern nation of Israel has anything to do with          Biblical prophecy.
         1. It is a twentieth century geo-political organization.
         2. The name of "Israel" was selected with deliberate intention of conveying connection with               legacy of ancient Israel.
         3. Modern Israel is not the Biblical Israel and has no claim to any promises or rights of               Biblical Israel.
         4. Modern Israel cannot be considered a chosen nation of divine destiny any more than any               other nation.
    B. The demise of the modern nation of Israel would not impinge upon Biblical prophecy.
         1. God's character and faithfulness do not depend upon the changable circumstances of human               politics and warfare.
         2. Nations come and go, but God remains the same.
         3. Only the spiritual nation of Israel is eternal - I Peter. 2:9



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