“Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.”
Living on the very edge of a vast panorama of unfulfilled prophecy concerning Israel, it is very important that we do not confuse the New Testament Church—the Bride of Christ—with Israel. It is very easy to get caught up with the latest eschatological fad (from “88 Reasons in ’88” to “Countdown to Y2K”) and lose our grip on the foundational truth of the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. And one of the greatest mistakes we could ever make is to fail to rightly divide the Word of Truth relative to discerning between God’s plan for Israel and His plan for the Church.
Make no mistake about it—the Church does not replace Israel in Bible prophecy. No teaching could be less faithful to the Scripture! Rather, Israel is the chosen (elect) seed of Abraham in the flesh, while the Church is the chosen seed of Abraham in the Spirit—through faith in Jesus Christ. And just as Israel in the flesh was used to produce “God manifest in the flesh” for the redemption of lost mankind, so too will they be used to bring about His Second Coming when He will judge lost mankind. Israel as a nation is the seed of Abraham represented by the sand (natural or earthly people); the Church is the seed of Abraham represented by the stars (spiritual or heavenly people).
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Romans, makes it very clear that the nation of Israel will figure prominently in God’s plan of salvation for the world in the end-time. If the casting away of Israel (the natural branch) brought redemption and reconciliation to the world, what will their restoration bring but life from the dead?! (Rom. 11:15) Because of the partial blindness spoken of in our text, the veil is still on Israel’s hearts when Moses is read. But when it (Israel) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. (II Cor. 3:15-16) Remember the words of the Apostle to the Romans when he told them that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs. (Rom. 15:8) And again, the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. (Rom. 11:29; see also Rom. 9:3-8.)
We, the Church, far too often make the same mistake Israel made in the days of Jesus. We are so preoccupied with the present and God’s plan for us in this age that we fail to properly apply the Scriptures relative to the ages to come. Israel was so enamored with Moses and the Law, that when Grace and Truth came they crucified the One who brought it. Our text would be reduced to an absurdity if indeed the Church has now replaced Israel in God’s present economy: blindness in part has happened to the Church? In another place, the Apostle says “all Israel shall be saved.” If the Church has replaced Israel such a statement would be rendered “all the Church shall be saved”—which goes without saying!
If we are not careful, we will reduce the Sacred Writings to a meaningless jumble of disconnected words—and everyone can twist them as they please to make them fit their own pet theory or pseudo-theology. Should this happen, we will have effectively destroyed ourselves. Beware lest any man spoil (completely ruin) you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Col. 2:8)
Rev. Tim D. Cormier
Reprinted from the April, 1999 issue of the Apostolic Standard.