by Greg on May 1, 2012
It was foretold in the writing of Daniel that the Middle East nation of Israel would lose its distinction of being the chosen of God shortly after the death of Jesus. The prophecy has been fulfilled.
In chap. 9: 24-27, the angel Gabriel explained the prophecy to Daniel. The angel told him that 70 weeks were allotted for Daniel’s people – the Jews – to clean up and make atonement for their sinful behavior.
Using the prophetic day for a year principle, as most Bible scholars do, we know that 70 weeks contain 490 days (7 days x 70 weeks=490 days). Therefore, the prophecy’s length of probation for the Jews to get their act together was 490 years.
Gabriel said the 70 weeks would begin at the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. That took place when Persian King Artaxerxes issued the written order in the fall of 457 BC (Ezra 7: 11-13). Adding 490 years from that point, the prophecy would end in AD 34.
(Seven years prior, at the end of 69 weeks or the 483rd year, Gabriel said would be the time of the Messiah. And sure enough, right on time in the fall of AD 27, the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, Jesus’ anointed ministry began when He was baptized by John.)
The most significant recorded Bible event that took place in AD 34, the end of the 490 year prophecy, was the stoning death of Stephen who had infuriated the stoners by charging them with the death of the Messiah. Probation ended with the Jews not having accepted Jesus and God’s plan. It wasn’t long after that the Pharisee Saul, an instigator and witness of Stephen’s death, was converted to Christianity and God directed him and others to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
A New Nation
The Jewish nation, charged with holding the oracles of God and being the light that would present the Messiah to the world, failed. So God raised another nation, as is seen in Peter addressing Christians—“You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation.’ (1 Peter 2: 9). Those were the words God had Moses express to Israel in Ex. 19: 6.
There is further evidence that the New Testament testifies that literal Israel is no longer God’s chosen vehicle; that a spiritual transition has taken place. The Apostle Paul says, “They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel, nor are they all [God’s] children because they are Abraham’s descendants (Rom. 9: 6, 7). The children of God, he continues, are not those of the flesh, but are those of the promise (Rom. 9: 8). He goes on to say in Gal. 3: 7 that it is those of faith who, in so many words, will be the inheritors of God’s promises to Abraham.
Gal. 3:16 and 29 prove this to be true. In those verses it is made clear that the promises are made to Abraham’s seed—the seed being singular—the seed being Christ Jesus; and that if one’s faith is in Jesus, that person is incorporated into Jesus. That then would make the person a spiritual seed and heir of Abraham by virtue of being in Christ.
Further illustrating that “spiritual” has replaced the “literal,” Paul says that one isn’t considered a Jew by outward appearances, but is considered one by circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit (Rom. 2: 28,29).
Then there is James, the brother of Jesus and the leader of the first Christian church. In Chap. 1, his letter is stated to be written to the 12 tribes dispersed abroad. Clearly he wasn’t speaking of the 12 literal tribes because 10 of the tribes had been taken into foreign captivity long before Christianity came on the scene. As a result, they lost their identities through intermarriage with other races in the conquering nations. A perfect example was the Samaritans who later occupied the conquered northern kingdom of Israel. They were called impure, half Jews.
James was speaking in the spiritual sense. He was addressing Christians, wherever they might be, as the body of Christ. To him they were spiritual Israel; a new nation; the kingdom of God composed of Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus.
Jesus is Israel
As mentioned, Jesus is the seed of Abraham, and the seed has always been thought of as Israel. The name Israel itself has to do with victorious striving with God and striving with men (Gen. 32:28).
Obviously, this writing presents two Israels, the literal and the spiritual. Prophecy has many times been applied to the two, being dual in purpose. For example, the Lord told King David that his son Solomon would build the Lord’s house and courts (1 Chron. 28:6), which he did. However, the New Testament record cites Jesus as the true Son of David who would build an everlasting temple—His body, His church.
That Jesus is spiritual Israel can be seen in the following bullet reprint from AmazingFacts.com. It shows how Jesus’ life paralleled that of literal Israel.