“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:” (Romans 2:28)
“But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Romans 2:29)
Who are the People of God? What does it mean to be a ‘Jew’? Today’s text passage from the Book of Romans explicitly tells us that a true “Jew” is one inwardly, and that the true circumcision is “of the heart.” Here we have in view the nature of physical things typing-out spiritual truths. Chiefly, physical circumcision, which identified one with the Covenant Community, was only a picture of the spiritual circumcision whereby God Himself places one into that Body (Colossians 2:12).
Our title for this devotional message: “The Israel of God,” is taken from Galatians 6:16, which gives the distinction that the Israel of God is a “new creature” that is “in Christ” (Galatians 6:15). This is a most-important distinction, because there is much confusion among Christian groups over the true identity of God’s People. The natural (and unfortunate) results of this confusion are seen in the misappropriation of blessings for God’s true People, and an undue (and ungodly) reverence for a nation of unbelievers.
The Psalmist tells us to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…” (Psalms 122:6). Many evangelicals have used this verse to say that the Lord has commanded that we pray and seek the blessing of national Israel. But the same thing may be said in regards to any (and every) other human government “…that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
We are told that Israel is God’s chosen nation; the apple of His eye – a term applied to ‘Zion,’ the restored People of God (Zechariah 2:6-11). But is this Zion the same as physical Israel? The language used to describe ‘Zion’ and the ‘Israel of God’ is explained in Hebrews 12:22-24 to refer to the Church, which is also referred to as the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).
But some would say that God chose national Israel as His People when He delivered them from Egypt. We see that God did in fact do this; but there was “a mixed multitude” that came out of Egypt (Exodus 12:38). And so, “…they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). We see that the Israel of God are not those that followed along with God’s People just because they wanted to enjoy the blessing of God’s People. It was not the multitude that came out of Egypt that were saved, but the Remnant (Romans 9:27), or the Elect, that were saved.
Where did the teaching of God’s choosing national Israel as His People come from? Twice in the Book of Revelation Jesus addresses those who say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogues of Satan (Revelation 2:9; 3:9). Yes, Satan is the father of every lie (John 8:44), and he has perverted the true worship of God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23; Philippians 3:3). We must understand that Judaism is a man-made religion of works (Romans 9:32) and that the Jewish people are a nation of hard-hearted, disobedient unbelievers, who have rejected Christ as their Messiah, Lord, and Saviour.
As Christians, we can rejoice in the promises of God to His Covenant People, because we have received the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15). God has chosen the Church as His very own. Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for IT – not for the nation of Israel, who continues on in unbelief (Ephesians 5:25). That’s right: Christ died to save the Church (which is made up of Elect Jew and Elect Gentile; Galatians 3:27-28); no one outside that Body can be saved.
Jesus plainly declared that He is THE Way, and that NO man can come to the Father but by Him (John 14:6). Let us praise the Lord our God for His Goodness to us as His chosen People, and pray for an opening of eyes for the unbelieving nation of Israel so that they too will see Christ as their only Hope (Romans 11:23).