I received the above chart from a friend of mine. As you can see it equates Israel with the Church based upon various similarities. Obviously, some of the similarities are legitimate. However, similarity does not equal identity. In other words, just because two things have many characteristics in common doesn’t mean that they are the same entity. Israel and the Church is a case in point.
I want to begin by simply pointing out the ill-advised hermeneutic that has been employed in at least one of the similarities. Number sixteen states that Christ is married to them (speaking of the nation Israel) and Christ is married to the Church also. Notice that Christ being married to Israel is in italics. That is because the Old Testament doesn’t teach that Christ is married to Israel but that Yahweh is. Hosea 2:19 is not Messiah speaking but is Yahweh speaking to Old Testament Israel: “I will betroth you to Me forever.” (NASB) However, this is just one issue. Let’s get to the meat of the subject.
There are sixteen similarities in this chart, fifteen if you discount number sixteen. Years ago Lewis Sperry Chafer illustrated twenty-four contrasts between Israel and the Church. Perhaps they will help to make my point, which is that Israel and the Church are two separate entities created by God for His purposes. Note: All of these are found in Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1948), IV:47-53. Additional explanation and variation is found in Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Israelology (San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press, 1989). Granted not all of these are direct statements of Scripture but are easily seen in Scriptural revelation by simply examining the information Scripture provides. The interesting thing about these observations is that they are all derived simply by a man and his Bible and a normal reading of Scripture. To put it another way, just as the doctrine of the Trinity is not overtly stated in one verse and must be deduced from the totality of Scripture’s teaching, these distinctions or contrasts between Israel and the Church must be discovered in the same manner.
It is my intention to discuss these twenty-four contrasts over our next two blog posts. Enjoy.
1.) The extent of biblical revelation – Scripture is occupied with the subject of Israel in almost four-fifths of its pages whereas the Church is found in about one-fifth.
2.) The divine purpose – Every covenant promise for Israel deals with a land, a people, a future kingdom and a future king with future spiritual promises. The focus is earthly. The Church has heavenly promises, heavenly blessings and spiritual provisions. As Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum points out, Israel’s primary purpose is not exclusively earthly since they are also destined to be in “the heavenly Jerusalem in the Eternal State” (Israelology, 47). It is also seen in Scripture that the Church will have a major role on earth during the Millennium (Ibid).
3.) The seed of Abraham – the physical seed of Abraham is by natural generation. The spiritual or heavenly seed of Abraham is entered into by the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit upon exercising faith in Christ. Further, within the natural seed of Abraham is also a subset of the spiritual seed meaning that among those who are by physical birth the children of Abraham there are those who have placed their faith in Messiah and are identified as “the Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16. They are those who are circumcised in their hearts not merely their flesh (Rom. 2:28).
4.) Birth – Physical Israelites are so through physical birth. “Christians become what they are by spiritual birth” (48).
5.) Headship – “Abraham is the head of the Jewish race, and they are properly designated as ‘the seed of Abraham.’ . . .Over against this it may be said of Christians, though when magnifying the element of faith they are called ‘Abraham’s seed (Gal. 3:29), God is their Father and by the Spirit they are joined to Christ and he, the resurrected Lord, is their new federal Head” (Ibid.).
6.) Covenants (Theology, 49) – “God ‘made unconditional covenants with His earthly people’ already and will in the future ‘make a new covenant with them when they enter their kingdom'” (Israelology, 424). On the other hand the Church is now experiencing spiritual blessings based on the basis of Paul’s pronunciation that Christians are “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).
7.) Nationality – Israel belongs to the earth and to the world-system…Over against this…is the fact that the Church is composed of all nations, including Israel, and sustains no citizenship here, but instead the believers are strangers and pilgrims” (Theology, 49).
8.) Divine Dealing – In the past God dealt with nations as a whole, as He did with Israel, but in the present dispensation God’s dealings with humanity are on a strictly individual level. This fact is unique to this dispensation. As Fruchtenbaum summarizes, “…God dealt with Israel as a nation, but with the Church as individuals.” (Israelology, 424)
9.) Dispensations – Fruchtenbaum’s summary and clarification is excellent: “Israel is present in every dispensation since Abraham, including this one. In contrast, according to Chafer, the Church is limited to the present dispensation. However, most Dispensationalists today would add the next dispensation of the kingdom as also being a time when the Church will be present.” (Ibid., 425)
10.) Ministry – Israel was appointed to exercise an influence over the nations of the earth (cf. Ps. 67:1-7), and this she will yet do perfectly in the coming age; nevertheless there was no missionary undertaking and no gospel proclaimed. . . . She faced inward toward the tabernacle or temple . . . However, immediately upon her formation, the Church is constituted a foreign missionary society. It is her obligation to face outward and to those of her company is given the task of evangelizing the people of the earth in each generation.” (Theology, 50)
11.) Relationship to the Death of Christ (Israelology, 50) – Israel, though sharing great responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ calling down the blood of Christ upon them and their children (Matt. 27:25) will yet be saved as a nation by means of that very sacrifice. “On the other hand, a present and perfect salvation to the praise of God is the portion of the Church through the offering of the Lamb of God.” (Theology, 50)
12.) God the Father (Israelology, 50) – In the Old Testament God is identified as the Father of the nation of Israel, but never so identified in relation to each individual. In the present dispensation God is identified as the Father of each individual believer in Christ (Rom. 8:14-15).
These are the first twelve of the twenty-four contrasts between Israel and the Church. Those who have never had these distinctions pointed out to them, if you are one reading, there should be some light being shed upon the subject of the fact that Israel and
, purposes that may overlap and share similarities, but which are still separate and distinct.
We will look at the next twelve contrasts in my next post, unless something else comes up between now and then.
I pray this helps.