[Jesus said,] “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church (Ekklesian), and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
Kind of a shocking title for this blog, wouldn’t you say? Yes, if you aren’t one of the 12 tribes of Israel, you will have no place in the new heaven and earth. Stick with me and you’ll find out what I mean by that…
We, as “The Church,” or Christians, most often consider ourselves separate from Israel. It’s been a “them” versus “us” mentality for hundreds of years and even up to thousands. We see ourselves as a different, new group that was created by Jesus when we put our faith and trust in Him as our Savior, but are we really a different and new group created apart from Israel? Are we the second choice “apple of God’s eye,” shadowing His original favorite, “Israel?” In other words, are we, as “The Church,” God’s second draft pick, or backup plan? Our answer to this question directs how we read the entire Bible. If we feel like we are a new group created by Jesus, then when we read about Israel in the Bible, we consider things applying to Israel only, and do not consider them as applying to us. But, what if we are truly Israel? Doesn’t that change everything and how we read Scripture? If we are Israel, then the entire Bible applies to us fully. It is no longer a “them” versus “us,” but rather, “we.” Contemplate that statement deeply a minute. This mindset change will rock your world. Is there suppose to be a division or are we one and the same? What did the original church members of Acts consider themselves? Did they consider themselves to be Israel or the Church or both?
First, let’s look an Old Testament reference to what happened when the nation of Israel took foreigners to live among them. We see that in Numbers 15 once foreigners (or strangers, or gentiles, or those not of Israel blood) chose to join their group, that they were not to be treated differently. These foreigners were to join in and honor the laws and customs of Israel. And with their willing choice to join Israel, God saw them as Israel and there were no longer any differences between the two. They were to be treated the same.
“15 One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly (Ekklesia) and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord. 16 One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you.’”[a]” Numbers 15:15-16... Basically what this says is that Israel and the foreigner are to be “alike” (as you are) to God. There will be no differences seen or practiced between the two as far as God was concerned. They truly were grafted in as Israel. So, Israel is not just a nation by blood only, but it is anyone who chose to follow the God of the Bible, YHWH. One becomes Israel by choosing to join them.
[For a detailed reading on how you are grafted in to the Israeli family, read my full post GRAFTED IN]
Let’s introduce a Greek word that I’ve referenced above a couple of times…
Ekklesia – Strong’s G1577, a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating, the assembly of the Israelites.
I’ve come across an interesting translation of the Old Testament just recently that I didn’t know existed before. It’s called the “Septuagint,” and it is a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek hundreds of years prior to Jesus coming to the earth. The Septuagint uses the term above, Ekklesia, to describe the unique assembly of the people of Israel. We also see this word repeated many times in the New Testament as it was originally written in Greek. (Keep in mind that the NT was written much later than the Septuagint, and after the death of Christ.) English translators translated “Ekklesia” in the OT to “assembly” but in the NT, they translated it to “church,” but there really shouldn’t have been a division as the word refers to the exact same thing. If we take “church” in the NT and translate it to “assembly” we will see that both are the same thing. The church is Israel in the Old Testament and the church in the NT is the assembly of Israel. With that, we see that there was no difference between the Israel church (assembly) of the Old Testament and the church (assembly) of the New Testament. The Greek translators used the exact same word and it was common knowledge in the first century church that Ekkelisa was a gathering of Isreal. And, oh by the way, everyone in the original NT church was Israel to begin with so they saw themselves as the assembly of Israel right from the beginning.
We see this interesting reference in Acts to the Ekkesia that Moses was a part of…
“37 “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel,[j] ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’ [k] 38 “This is he who was in the congregation (assembly, or Ekklesia) in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, 39 whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt,” Acts 7:37-39 – We see here in Acts, that Moses is referenced as being in the assembly, or Ekklesia, or church.
The New Testament church is truly the continuance of the assembly of Israel in the Old Testament. It is not a new creation from our Messiah, Jesus. There should have been no break down in the connection between the OT and NT. It is, rather, a seamless flow from the church of the OT to the church of the new, both being the nation of Israel. And remember from Numbers that anyone who chooses to join Israel, becomes a part of them, or treated as one in the same. God only has one chosen nation, and this doesn’t change.
I want to challenge you today to break down the barriers of “them” and “us” and start to see the Church today as actually Israel. Yes, you, as the Church, are actually Israel, the original “apple of God’s eye” and what it states about Israel applies to you today. You are not separate from the teachings for Israel, but rather, you have been grafted in as an adopted son or daughter, and are no longer to consider yourself a “gentile” or by definition, anyone in contradiction to the God of the Bible. Rather, you are a rightful heir to all of the promises of God. You are Israel and because of that, the entire Bible is written to you and for you to teach you the ways of righteousness. God adores you, as Israel, and His plans for you are listed in the entire Bible.
“2 You know that[a] you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. ” 1 Corinthians 12:2
“There is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile], there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ” Galatians 3:28
“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Getting back to the title of this blog, “If You Aren’t One of the 12 Tribes, There’s No Place For You.” In the New Jerusalem, you’ll notice that there is no such gate for the gentile church. How so? The gentile church is grafted into the 12 tribes of Israel, and thus becomes Israel. We cannot continue to separate ourselves from the 12 tribes, for if we want to be a separate entity from the 12 tribes, then we cannot be grafted into God’s chosen nation, Israel, and cannot be the bride of the Lamb. It’s a mindset change that we must make.
“9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me[f] and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”[g] 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy[h] Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: ” Revelation 21:9-12
Face it, your identity is no longer a gentile, but you are Israel. Change that mindset.
Father God, Thank you that according to your loving kindness, you have chosen to allow us non-natives to become part of your chosen nation of Israel. We thank you for Israel’s prophecised Messiah, Jesus Christ, who now has become our Savior as well. We are humbled by the fact that you are so gracious to accept us as we are once we come to Him as the payment for our sins. What a day it will be to see the 12 gates prepared for each of us and to know that we have become a pillar in your temple forever and ever, amen. In Jesus Name, by only Him we are saved and grafted in.