Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1061 MP3 Audio File Video File

Who Is Israel?

Romans 9:6

Delivered 04/25/21

For our study this morning we are going to look at a very important verse in the book of Romans. Romans 9:6 is critical to our understanding on who Israel is. This will be another message that destroys the false doctrine of Israel Only.

Let's start by looking at the context of chapter 9. Romans 9 thru 11 is a theodicy—a vindication, or defense, of God. The word comes from a compound Greek root: Theos (God) and, dikos (just). The goal of a theodicy is to exonerate God from all blame, it is saying that what God is doing is absolutely just and righteous.

Have you ever found yourself defending God? I'm sure you have heard things from people such as, "If God is love, how could He allow that to happen?" Which is an accusation against God's love. The Bible says that God is love, but many question that when things don't go their way. Many people's view of God is far from biblical. We need to know and proclaim the truth of who God is. When we find ourselves defending God, we are giving a "Theodicy."

The emphasis in this chapter is on the sovereignty of God. Romans 9 is difficult for many Christians to handle. For, in this chapter, Paul brings before us some of the toughest questions ever faced by man as he contemplates the actions and workings of God. Men have a problem with the doctrine of God's absolute sovereignty. Many of the statements in this chapter are hard to accept, because there are things said here about the sovereignty of God that fallen man resists. We must allow the Scriptures to be the final authority of all we believe, and not our emotions or traditions.

Here is the problem that Romans 9 deals with: the Hebrew Scriptures, the Tanakh, is filled with promises that God made to Israel. The nation was uniquely chosen by God to be blessed and to be a source of blessing to the whole world:

"For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Deuteronomy 7:6-8 ESV

It was to Israel that Yahweh revealed Himself, it was Israel that received the Messianic promises. They were God's chosen people:

Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Amos 3:1-2 ESV

The NASB translates the Hebrew: "yada," as "chosen" but it is better translated: "known" as it is here.  It indicates an intimate love relationship. God knows every single individual, but He knew Israel in a special way. They had a very privileged position:

They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. Romans 9:4-5 ESV

Now, with privilege comes responsibility. Look at the last part of the verse in Amos 3:2,

"Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." With great privilege comes great responsibility. Israel became proud and missed the true end of all they had; the coming of the Lord Yeshua the Christ to atone for their sins.

In the first couple of verses of Romans 9 Paul is expressing his sorrow for his countrymen and his readiness to suffer for them:

For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. Romans 9:3 ESV

Paul was implying by this that they were no longer the people of God. Paul was saying that Israel was no longer blessed, but they were, in fact, now cursed. He says he wished he could take the curse for them.

If God's chosen people were now cursed, had God gone back on His promises? Has He rejected His chosen people? Was Israel really cursed, or was Paul just bitter because of all the beating he had received from them? Let's look at what Yeshua had to say to the nation of Israel:

In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree withered at once. Matthew 21:18-19 ESV

I believe that the fig tree is used here as a figure for the nation Israel. Throughout Israel's history, God constantly hungered for His people to bring forth fruit. The Gospel writers spoke of the physical hunger of Yeshua as symbolic of God's hunger for fruit from His people. Yeshua pronounces a curse on Israel because of their failure to bear fruit and their ultimate rejection of Him. Many of Yeshua's parables referred to Israel's rejection and thus their destruction:

"Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. Matthew 21:33 ESV

Who is the vineyard?:

Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! Isaiah 5:1-7 ESV

Now it is clear that the vineyard is Israel. Israel is God's vineyard. Now keep that in mind as we go back to Matthew 21:

When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. Matthew 21:34 ESV

What is produce, or fruit, that God was looking for? Well according to Isaiah 5:7, it was justice and righteousness. In biblical usage, righteousness is rooted in covenants and relationships. For biblical authors, righteousness is the fulfillment of the terms of a covenant between God and humanity, or between humans in the full range of human relationships. The one who in faith gives himself to the doing of God's will is righteous:

And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.' And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Matthew 21:35-39 ESV

Yeshua is prophesying what the Jews will do to Him:

When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons." Yeshua said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. Matthew 21:40-43 ESV

Yeshua tells them very clearly that because of their rejection of Him, the kingdom of God will be taken from them. We also see a very similar parable in Matthew 22:1-10. Speaking of Israel, Yeshua says:

The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Matthew 22:7 ESV

These parables are teaching that Israel lost its privileged position. In light of all this, the question is: Has God's plan changed? Is Israel's rejection as a nation a going back on His word? Has God broken His promises to Israel?

There are two possible conclusions to be drawn: either the Gospel that Paul is preaching is false, or else, or if it is true, the promises of God to Israel have failed. The Messiah and blessing to Israel were inseparably connected. The Jews would say, "Either Yeshua is not the true Messiah, He cursed and rejected God's people, or the Word of God has proven false." So, God's justice and righteousness is being called into question.

Believers, this is very relevant to us today, because if God broke His promise to Israel, what assurance do we have that He will keep His promise to us and give eternal life to all who believe in Him?

So, in verse 6, Paul, having finished his introduction, begins his theodicy. Paul is going to show his readers, first century Roman believers and us today, in these verses that Israel's rejection is not inconsistent with the promises of God. To say that the nation is accursed is not to say that God's promises have failed:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, Romans 9:6 ESV

"It is not"—is ouk hoIon de, which means: "but not such as," or "but not in a similar way." In other words, the Word of God has not stumbled in a similar way as Israel when she rejected her Messiah. The Complete Jewish Bible puts it like this:

But the present condition of Isra'el does not mean that the Word of God has failed. For not everyone from Isra'el is truly part of Isra'el; Romans 9:6 CJB

The "word of God" means: "anything which God has spoken." Here, from the connection, it should be understood in a more specific sense. It is the word of promise in the covenants alluded to in verse 4. It refers to the great promises God had made to Abraham, then to Isaac, then to Jacob; conferring blessing upon their seed.

The phrase, "has failed" is from the Greek word ekpipto, which means: "to fall out of, to fall down from, to fail, to be without effect." Paul uses this verb several times in Acts 27 in regard to his voyage. It is used of a sailing vessel getting off the course it was intended to have, and it was used of flowers fading. We could put it this way: "it's not as if the promises of God have gone off course." Verse 6 corresponds to:

What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? Romans 3:3 ESV

This whole problem of whether God is being faithful to His covenant with Israel in the work of Christ is what Paul is now dealing with in Romans 9-11. Israel's lack of faith on the part of some does not mean, then, that God's promises that were entrusted to them have failed.

Alright, if God's promises have not gone off course, then how can Israel be accursed when God made so many promises to them? Paul is going to teach us that God's promises have not failed, they were misunderstood! Can you imagine someone misunderstanding God's promises? I'm sure you can think of a few promises that Yeshua made that are misunderstood today. "Behold I come quickly." Many of His promises have been misunderstood by His people.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, Romans 9:6 ESV

In the last half of this verse Paul explains how they were misunderstood. "For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel." I can't emphasize how important this verse is, we must understand this. This verse is the key to understanding Israel and the promises of God.

The first question we must answer is, Who or what is Israel? What does the term "Israel" mean? Let's first look at the entomology: Israel is a compound of two words: sarah, meaning: "fight," "struggle," or "rule" and el, meaning: "God." Some have taken the name Israel to mean: "He who struggles with God" or "He who rules with God." But in Hebrew names, sometimes God is not the object of the verb, but the subject. Daniel means: "God judges," not "he judges God." So, Israel means: "God rules" or "He who rules with God." The first use of the term Israel in Scripture is found in:

Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." Genesis 32:28 ESV

Notice that the name Israel is not first given to the nation—rather, it is first given to an individual, Jacob. Jacob was a type of Christ—being for a time the head of the covenant, and as an individual with the name Israel, he typifies the Redeemer who was going to be the true Israel.

So, Jacob is called Israel. Jacob marries two sisters, Leah and Rachel. With these two women and their maids came 12 sons, who became the 12 tribes of Israel:

Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, "We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, Ruth 4:11 ESV

So, Jacob's twelve sons are called the "house of Israel," a term that refers to the twelve tribes, the nation Israel. Israel, Jacob's sons, were delivered from Egyptian bondage and became a nation at Sinai when God gave them His Law and entered into covenant with them on Pentecost. They were now called "the house of Israel."

For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys. Exodus 40:38 ESV

After the nation split, the ten northern tribes were called, "the house of Israel," and the southern tribes, Benjamin and Judah, were known as, "Judah." But this is not pertinent to our discussion here.

Alright, so Israel is a term that was first given to Jacob. Then his son's were called "sons of Israel" and later "the house of Israel." So, the term Israel came to be used of the nation that God called out of Egypt. This is no doubt what most Christians think of when they here the term "Israel." This is usually all they think of, national physical Israel. But Paul tells us in our text that there are TWO Israels:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, Romans 9:6 ESV

We know that one of these Israels is national physical Israel, Jacob's sons. There is no disagreement here. But who is the other Israel? This is where the disagreements start. We have here physical Israel, those who descended from Jacob, and then we have true Israel. So, we have physical Israel and true Israel.

Paul is saying that God's promises haven't failed, because God never promised unconditionally to each offspring of Abraham covenant blessings. God never intended that all of the nation Israel would be redeemed. Within national Israel is "True Israel" or "spiritual Israel." So, one could be a physical Israelite without truly being a true Israelite. The promises were to "true Israel," not national Israel.

So, who is true Israel? Is it the Church? Yes, but what is the Church? It is the Body of Christ! And what I want us to understand is that Yeshua is the true Israel! It is in Him, and Him alone, that the promises of God are fulfilled. We could say, "They are not all 'in Christ' who are physical descendants of Jacob."

Let me attempt to prove to you that Yeshua is the True Israel. Israel's prophets clearly anticipated a time when Israel would be restored to its former greatness:

But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, "You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off"  Isaiah 41:8-9 ESV

This is a messianic passage. Yeshua is the "Servant." The same promise is reiterated in the next chapter of Isaiah:

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. Isaiah 42:1 ESV

Again, this is messianic. Messiah, the Servant is portrayed as One Who acts in God's name to bring Him glory and deliver His people and to be a light to the Gentiles:

"I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, Isaiah 42:6 ESV

And again in 49:

he says: "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." Isaiah 49:6 ESV

This shows us that the servant "Israel" will bring true Israel back to God and also extend Yahweh's salvation to the ends of the earth. Notice what the disciples ask Yeshua:

So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" Acts 1:6 ESV

The disciples obviously saw Christ as the Servant, the True Israel.

Dispensationalists, given their so-called "literal hermeneutics," are bound to interpret these passages from the Tanakh literally, and assign the fulfillment of these prophecies of Isaiah to a future earthly millennium in which Israel co-exists with Gentiles under the reign of the Davidic king. But is this how the New Testament interprets these messianic prophecies regarding the servant of the Lord? The Gospel writers interpret these prophecies from Isaiah as fulfilled in the messianic mission of Yeshua:

Yeshua, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. Matthew 12:15-18 ESV

Matthew quotes Isaiah 42:1 and tells us that Yeshua fulfilled what had been spoken in Isaiah the prophet about the Servant. So according to Matthew, the Servant of the Lord is not Israel, but Yeshua. In Acts 3:13 Luke speaks of Yeshua as the Servant of God.

Let's look at another text that clearly refers to Israel:

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. Hosea 11:1 ESV

When we study this text in the context of this entire book, we find that Hosea is referring to the exodus out of Egypt of Jacob's sons. But in Matthew 2:15, Matthew tells us that Hosea's prophecy was fulfilled when Yeshua's parents took Him to Egypt to protect Him from Herod's slaughter of all the male babies:

And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son." Matthew 2:14-15 ESV

Matthew takes a passage from Hosea, which clearly refers to Israel, and tells his reader that this passage is now fulfilled in Yeshua the Christ! He does this to prove to his largely Jewish audience that Yeshua is the Servant of the Lord, foretold throughout the Tanakh, especially Isaiah. Yeshua is the true Israel, he is the true seed of Abraham. This is the point that Paul is making in Galatians:

Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ. Galatians 3:16 ESV

In Isaiah 41:8 the Servant is called, the "Descendant of Abraham,"

But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; Isaiah 41:8 ESV

And Paul tells us that it is not referring to many, but One. Christians are Abraham's offspring, and the heirs to the promises, only because by faith, we are united to him who alone is the true Israel, Abraham's one seed—Yeshua.

so that in Christ Yeshua the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:14 ESV

We inherit all the promises made to Abraham through Christ. Everything we are and have is by virtue of our union with Christ, which only comes by faith. Listen carefully, the Abrahamic Covenant was a promise made to Abraham and to Yeshua, the seed of Abraham; that He would be made great, the father of many nations, and that in Him would all the nations of the earth be blessed. This promise was fulfilled spiritually and ultimately in Christ.

In Exodus Israel is called, "God's son":

Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, Exodus 4:22 ESV

But Paul calls Yeshua, "God's Son":

and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Yeshua the Christ our Lord, Romans 1:4 ESV

By calling Yeshua the Son, Paul now assigns to Yeshua the designation for Israel as God's son. Making Yeshua the True Israel. And since Yeshua is God's true Son, then membership in the people of God depends on being rightly related to Yeshua. Apart from a relationship to Yeshua, you cannot be a true Israelite.

The Psalmist calls Israel, "God's vine":

You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. Psalms 80:8 ESV

Israel is the vine, we already saw this in Isaiah 5. But notice what Yeshua called Himself:

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. John 15:1 ESV

Yeshua is the True Israel and only in Him are the promises of God fulfilled:

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV

Yeshua, as the True Israel, received the promises of God that were passed down from the fathers (i.e. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). He was the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:54), obeying in every place where the first Adam failed to obey, He was as true Israel—obeying where Old Covenant Israel failed to obey. We see this in His temptation in the wilderness. Where national Israel failed, Christ obeyed. In every way that Israel proved to be the unrighteous son, Yeshua proved that He was the righteous Son.

What Paul preached does not speak against the promises of God. Israel is God's people by faith, and all who believe in Christ receive the promises that God made to Israel. The Church, those of us who have trusted Christ, are the Israel of God. Believers, and only believers, are "true Jews."

For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. Galatians 6:15-16 ESV

To understand that God keeps His covenant promises, you MUST understand that not all Israel is really Israel. Later in Romans 9 Paul quotes from Isaiah:

And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, Romans 9:27 ESV
For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. Isaiah 10:22 ESV

The promises are not to all of Israel, but only to a remnant.

If Yeshua is the Tue Israel of God, and if the New Testament writers apply to Yeshua those prophecies from the Tankah referring to Israel as God's son and servant, then what does this understanding do to the Dispensationalists and the Zionists, who believe that the nation of Israel is God's chosen people, the sole inheritors of God's promises; and that to be a part of Israel, one must be of the proper lineage and nationality?

This is one reason this text is so important, because it destroys Zionism. Zionism is a political movement built on the belief that the Jewish people deserve by right to possess the land of Palestine as their own. Christian Zionism is essentially a Christian prophetic support for Zionism; seeing the modern state of Israel as the equivalent of the biblical Israel.

"Never mind what Israel does," say the Christian Zionists, "God wants us to support them." This includes the invasion of Lebanon, which killed or injured an estimated 100,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, most of them civilians; the bombing of sovereign nations such as Iraq; the deliberate, methodical brutalizing of the Palestinians—breaking bones, shooting children, and demolishing homes; and the expulsion of Palestinian Christians and Muslims from a land they have occupied for over 2,000 years.

Dispensational Christian Zionism, which is the dominant form, is pervasive within mainline evangelical, charismatic, and independent mega-churches. Dale Crowley claims they are led by 80,000 Fundamentalist pastors, their views disseminated by 1,000 Christian radio stations as well as 100 Christian TV stations. Over 250 pro-Israeli organizations were founded in the 1980s alone.

Christian Zionists believe that the national Jews deserve by right the land of Palestine as their own. Do they? Modern unbelieving Jews have absolutely no theological, and therefore no historical and legal right to the land of Palestine. Modern day Judaism is a cult, they are covenant breakers, Christ rejecters, and are under the curse of God. Christian Zionism, which much of the Church today holds to, is blasphemy. It is a heresy. Christians have no theological stake whatsoever in the modern state of Israel. Israel is an anti-God, anti-Christ nation:

Who is the liar but he who denies that Yeshua is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:22-23 ESV

Judaism denies the Son and is a cult, and unless the Jews turn to Yeshua, they remain under the curse of God.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, Romans 9:6 ESV

"For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel"—the purpose of this distinction is to show that the covenant promises of God did not have respect to Israel after the flesh, but to true Israel; Yeshua the Christ and all who trust in Him. Therefore, the unbelief and rejection of ethnic Israel as a whole in no way interfered with the fulfilment of God's covenant purpose and promise.

God is faithful, He is Just, He is righteous. If He makes a promise, it is sure, we can count on His Word. But we must make sure we understand the Word and not misinterpret it. God's Word hasn't failed, and it never will. There is great comfort in the immutable Word of God. Cling to His promises, trust Him, He is faithful:

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, Deuteronomy 7:9 ESV

God is vindicated, He keeps His Word. What great comfort we have in the many immutable promises He has made us, the Church. May we rest in His blessed promises to us. He is the covenant keeping God.

This message was preached by David B. Curtis on April 25, 2021. Media #1,061

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