Finding Israelite Identity in the New Covenant

©Harper Collins Christian Publishing. Used by permission.  © Harper Collins Christian Publishing.  Used by permission.

Language is a perilous thing.  It can unite us, but quite often it does the opposite.  That, by the way, was God’s intent.  We know that from the story of how He created the different languages of the earth as presented in Genesis 11:

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.  It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.  They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.”  And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.  They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”  The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.  The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language.  And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”  So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.  Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.  (Genesis 11:1-9 NASB, emphasis added)

Ever since then that curse of language has been with us.  And, by the way, so has the curse of nations.

Curse of nations?  Yes, it does seem to be a curse.  It would seem that the Lord did not intend for humanity to be scattered and separated across the face of the planet in competing factions.  Nevertheless, nations were His idea.  The story of the Tower of Babel explains why.  You’ll notice that mankind also had an idea of uniting themselves as one people, but their idea was not the same as the Almighty’s.  They wanted to be a single, unified power that could challenge YHVH for sovereignty over this planet.  Since these people lived in the generations immediately after the Great Flood, we can suppose that some of them harbored a little resentment at God’s destruction of the pre-Flood civilization.  Maybe they thought they could do things better than their ancestors, perhaps by building a strong defense that could ward off any further Divine intervention in human affairs.  Now since our God does not change (Numbers 23:19; I Samuel 15:29; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8), and since the eternal governing principles of the universe which He established do not change (Psalm 119:44; II Kings 17:37; Matthew 5:18, 24:34-35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33), He had to do something about this blatant rebellion.  There can only be one God, after all. 

The problem with sin is that it seeks to create many gods – in fact, as many as there are human beings on the earth.  That is at the heart of Satan’s insidious deception spoken to our mother Eve:  “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  (Genesis 3:5 NASB)  Tragically, the way our Creator dealt with the deception before the Flood was to destroy humanity.  I would surmise He had little choice in the matter since all of humanity apparently was united as a single people, most likely under satanic leadership (not unlike the world we are anticipating at the end of this age when Messiah returns).  To make sure He did not have to make a complete end of the human race this time around, the Lord God created nations and then scattered them across the earth.  If they were divided in language, they would soon be divided in every other imaginable way, and the resultant wars and rumors of wars would ensure that a united human empire would not arise to defy the Living God until the end of days.  In the meantime the Living God could go about the process of cultivating His redemptive work in human hearts while they remained in the nations.

Moses Forbids the People to Follow Him James Tissot
Moses Forbids the People to Follow Him
James Tissot

That is not the end of the story, of course.  Since the nations refused to bow to the Lord God, and refused even to come into His Presence, He decided to go after them.  That is why in Genesis 12, the chapter immediately following that story of the Tower of Babel, we read about the man named Abram.  We know him as the great Patriarch whom God called out of the nations to establish yet another nation in the Land He, the Creator, had designated.  We also know that the nation the Lord established through Abraham and his seed (meaning his descendants) is the nation God Himself called Israel (Genesis 32:28, 35:10).  No other nation on earth has that distinction.  Why did He do it?  We learn that from Moses:

Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel:  ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.  Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’  These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”  (Exodus 19:3-6 NASB, emphasis added)

We should be able to grasp the meaning of “holy nation”.  Very simply it means the people God Himself chose and set apart from all the other nations (Numbers 23:8-9; Deuteronomy 32:8, 33:28).  That is why Israel is special in just about every sense of the word.  But what is this “kingdom of priests”?  What does that mean?  It means that this special, holy nation performs a priestly function of interceding for the other nations of the earth.  Is that not what priests do?  They are the mediators between God and mankind.  The ultimate mediator is our new High Priest from the Order of Melchizedek, Yeshua Son of David, the Messiah (Psalm 110:1-7; Hebrews 5:1-6).  All the other priests in this priestly order serve the function the Lord defined long ago and which He explains through the prophet Ezekiel:

Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.  In a dispute they shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to My ordinances. They shall also keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed feasts and sanctify My sabbaths.  (Ezekiel 44:23-24 NASB)

Ezekiel is writing about the function of the Levitical priests in Messiah’s Millennial Kingdom, when the Temple is restored and the sacrificial worship is again taking place on a daily basis.  It is instructive to learn what that means and why Yeshua our Messiah, as the High Priest, will be presiding over those daily sacrifices (Ezekiel 45:13-46:15).  I do not have time to discuss it now, but it is one of many things which we find in the Bible which clash with our received understanding of what the Lord God is doing in this time which some have called the Church Age.  What is also instructive is what happened to the Levitical priesthood in earlier times.  Ezekiel can help us with that:  they failed in their mission of teaching the people the difference between the holy and the profane, and they led the way in disregarding the Lord’s commandments.

There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst like a roaring lion tearing the prey.  They have devoured lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in the midst of her.  Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.  Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and destroying lives in order to get dishonest gain.  (Ezekiel 22:25-27 NASB, emphasis added)

Now what does this have to do with us as New Covenant believers?  If we are to believe the Apostle Peter, it has everything to do with us.  Listen to his words:

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.  And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For this is contained in Scripture:  “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”  This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,” and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.  Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.  (I Peter 2:1-12 NASB, emphasis added)

Notice that Peter is quoting from Moses and applying that to believers in Yeshua.  When I say “Yeshua”, I am referring to Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the only Son of God, Who has come in the flesh for the purpose of redeeming mankind from the curse of sin and death.  This is yet another aspect of language that can divide us.  What I have just said is something that divides us from our Jewish brethren.  They are, as Paul tells us in Romans 11, blinded to Messiah’s identity.  After all, as Yeshua Himself said, knowing His identity is a matter of revelation.  Listen to His words:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church [assembly]; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”  (Matthew 16:13-18 NASB, emphasis added)

In truth, God’s people suffer from a double blindness.  Our Jewish brethren are blind to the identity of Messiah, even though they are expecting Messiah to do the very same things we believers in Yeshua expect.  One day the revelation of His identity will come to them just as it has come to us, but until then they are believing in the promises of God for redemption on faith, just as Abraham, their father and our father, believed.  That is why the apostles Paul, Peter, and James can assert with confidence the record of Moses that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:1-6; Romans 4:3, 20-22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23).  For that reason I am excited to work with my Jewish brethren, and even to call them brethren.  Their faith is the same as my faith, for we both expect the same God to do the same redemptive work in humanity for the glory of His Name.  The difference is, by the grace of God I now know the Object of my faith, and I know His Name is Jesus/Yeshua.

Give Me A Place Where I May Dwell is a meticulously researched book that makes a compelling biblical and contemporary case for building a global consciousness among Hebrew Roots believers—and eventually finding a homeland for these Ephraimites in Israel.

But by the same token, I was blind for a long time to something else:  my Israelite identity.  I am not saying that I am Jewish.  I am not, nor do I desire to be.  Nor am I saying that I am completely certain that my ancestors were members of one of Israel’s lost tribes.  In my book I make the assertion that I am of the tribe of Ephraim.  That is a statement made in faith in the expectation that the Lord will organize us into tribes one day.  If I am wrong He will correct me in time.  The reason I make that statement is because I am carrying to the logical conclusion the reasoning that Paul lays out in His passages on the commonwealth of Israel, the One New Man, and the grafting of non-Jews into Israel’s olive tree (Jeremiah 11:15-17).  You can find those passages in Ephesians 2, Galatians 3, and Romans 9, 10, and 11.  Read them at your leisure, but please read them – and do so with the question of how Gentiles and Jews can be united in Christ.  Do the Jews become Christians?  Do the Christians become Jews?  Or is there something else in there that we have missed?

I submit that there is something we have missed.  This is where we get to the other part of the blindness that has come upon Israel.  I cannot adequately cover the reasons why YHVH decided to split His nation of Israel into two parts, but I assure you He did.  The southern part of the nation is called Judah, and from that kingdom come the Jewish people and Messiah Yeshua, the Son of David.  The northern part of the nation is called Israel.  It is also called by the name of Joseph and of Ephraim.  Joseph is the one who received the birthright blessing from our father Jacob, and it was Joseph’s son Ephraim who was commissioned to carry on the family name (I Chronicles 5:1-2; Genesis 48:1-22, 49:8-12, 21-26).  That is why we who are not Jews, but who understand our Israelite identity, called ourselves Ephraimites, or B’Ney Yosef (Children of Joseph).  How do we know we are Israelites?  Because of the eternal promises of our God in keeping the covenant He made with our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

This is where we get to the New Covenant.  Christians can rightly be called “New Covenant believers”.  It is the New Covenant, sealed with the Blood of Messiah Yeshua, that makes it possible for us to come into fellowship with our Creator (Luke 22:20; I Corinthians 11:25).  But what exactly is that New Covenant?  You will not find it explained in the Gospels.  It is fulfilled there, but the explanation appears elsewhere, in the book of Hebrews.  Let us read it in its entirety:

For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, When I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord.  “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts.  And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  “And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all will know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.  (Hebrews 8:8-11 NASB)

That is the New Covenant.  The first question we should have is, “With whom is God finding fault?”  When you read Hebrews 8 in context, you will see that it is our ancestors of Israel, and specifically the Levitical priesthood, the ones who failed to teach the people the difference between the holy and the profane and how to live righteously according to God’s standards.  Interestingly enough, this is the longest quote from the Old Testament that appears in the New Testament.  The author of Hebrews lifts his text from Jeremiah 31.  Let us read the original:

Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.  “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”  (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NASB)

You will notice a few differences in the wording between the text in Hebrews and this one in Jeremiah.  Do not let that confuse you.  The text from Jeremiah is a direct translation from the original Hebrew into English.  The text in the book of Hebrews comes not directly from Hebrew, but from the Greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint (abbreviated by the Roman numeral 70, LXX).  A century and a half before Yeshua’s birth, 70 Jewish scholars translated the scriptures into Greek for the benefit of Jews who were scattered throughout the Greek-speaking world.  The author of the book of Hebrews was likely part of that Jewish community in the nations, and therefore used the Septuagint as his primary source of biblical knowledge.  That is why the words are not exactly the same, but the essential meaning is still there.

Notice something else about this New Covenant.  Who are the parties to that covenant?  Is it Jews and Gentiles?  Is it Israel and the United States?  True, it is two groups of people, but it is not what you would expect.  The text says, “a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah”.  Who are they?

This brings us to a fundamental principle that we did not understand in our church upbringing.  It was simply not on the radar screen, even though like so many mysteries of God it has always been right there in plain sight.  This New Covenant speaks to the two parts of the nation of Israel:  the Jewish part, being the House of Judah, and the non-Jewish part, being the House of Israel.  Somehow this New Covenant has something to do with bringing those two halves of the nation back together again. 

So how does one get to be part of this New Covenant?  That is where my Christian training is of such great value.  We enter by faith in Messiah Yeshua, by the grace of YHVH His Father.  It is not by works or by any act designed to attain my own righteousness, but by appropriating the free gift of God which Christians call salvation, and which Jews call redemption.  Once I have attached myself to the King of Israel – and, after all, Yeshua the Son of David is heir to David’s throne – then I become His subject.  That means I am now an Israelite, regardless of my ancestry.

Texas and New York are distinct parts of the United States of America. All New Yorkers and all Texans are Americans, but Texans are not New Yorkers, and New Yorkers are not Texans. It is incorrect to assume that all Americans are New Yorkers simply because all New Yorkers are Americans. In the same way, it is correct to say that all Jews are Israelites, but incorrect to assume that that all Israelites are Jews.
Texas and New York are distinct parts of the United States of America. All New Yorkers and all Texans are Americans, but Texans are not New Yorkers, and New Yorkers are not Texans. It is incorrect to assume that all Americans are New Yorkers simply because all New Yorkers are Americans. In the same way, it is correct to say that all Jews are Israelites, but incorrect to assume that that all Israelites are Jews.

Bear with be a moment; this can be confusing if you have never considered it before.  I did not say I have become Jewish.  I said I have become Israelite.  There is a distinction.  By way of illustration, consider my identity as an American who lives in Texas.  I am an American who happens to be a Texan, but I am not a New Yorker.  I have never lived in New York and could not by any definition be called a New Yorker.  If I were to travel to Europe and be asked if I were a New Yorker, I would have to say no.  Suppose, however, that the person who asked me then said, “But you are an American.  Aren’t all Americans also New Yorkers?”  I would have to answer, “No.  All New Yorkers are Americans, but not all Americans are New Yorkers.”  In the same way, all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews.

What the world has known up to now is a division between Jews and everyone else.  The “everyone else” are Gentiles, meaning the people of the nations other than the Jewish nation.  What the Lord is clarifying in our understanding today is that the division is not between Jews and Gentiles, but between Israelites and Gentiles.  Jews are now and always will be Israelites.  They are the visible sign to the world that God is God and that He will keep His promises.  They perform that function simply by remaining in existence.  Of course, the Jewish people do much more than that, having been entrusted not only with the oracles of God, but also being the people of our Messiah (Romans 3:1-2; John 4:22).  However, they are not all there is to the nation of Israel.  The Word of God says that the rest of the nation must be restored one day, joining with the House of Judah to complete the Kingdom of Messiah (Ezekiel 37:15-28).  This is where we come in:  whether we are physical descendants of the tribes of the northern Kingdom or not, because we have trusted in our Messiah-King, we become part of that northern Kingdom.

Please understand something else:  this is not Replacement Theology.  We Ephraimites, or Hebraic believers, or B’Ney Yosef, or however we will eventually be called, do not replace the Jewish people as Israel.  Neither do we become Jews.  Rather, we join with Jews to contribute our part to this completed nation.

Let me take this one step further:  if we deny the truth of our Israelite identity, then we are indeed practicing Replacement Theology, but it is a reverse Replacement Theology.  We are saying that no one except Jews can be Israel, and therefore are denying the heritage of millions, even billions, whom the Scripture says are children of Abraham because they, like our father Abraham, believe the promises of God and therefore through faith obtain His righteousness.

How can I be so certain of all this?  Because the Word of God says so.  We could go to many places for confirmation, but let us remain in Jeremiah 31.  Perhaps you have never read this chapter in its entirety.  Let us do so now and allow the Scripture speak for itself.  Listen and you will hear some things you never anticipated had anything to do with the New Covenant:

“At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.”  Thus says the Lord, “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness—Israel, when it went to find its rest.”  The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.  Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel!  Again you will take up your tambourines, and go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.  Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the planters will plant and will enjoy them.  For there will be a day when watchmen on the hills of Ephraim call out, ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’”  For thus says the Lord, “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise and say, ‘O Lord, save Your people, the remnant of Israel.’  Behold, I am bringing them from the north country, and I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together; a great company, they will return here.  With weeping they will come, and by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, on a straight path in which they will not stumble; for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn.” 

Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, And declare in the coastlands afar off, And say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.”  For the Lord has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he.  “They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion, and they will be radiant over the bounty of the Lord—over the grain and the new wine and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; and their life will be like a watered garden, and they will never languish again.  Then the virgin will rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old, together, for I will turn their mourning into joy and will comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow.  I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people will be satisfied with My goodness,” declares the Lord. 

Thus says the Lord, “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.  Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”  Thus says the Lord, “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears; for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord, “And they will return from the land of the enemy.  There is hope for your future,” declares the Lord, “And your children will return to their own territory.  I have surely heard Ephraim grieving, ‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like an untrained calf; bring me back that I may be restored, for You are the Lord my God.  For after I turned back, I repented; and after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh; I was ashamed and also humiliated because I bore the reproach of my youth.’  Is Ephraim My dear son?  Is he a delightful child?  Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him, I certainly still remember him; therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the Lord. 

“Set up for yourself roadmarks, place for yourself guideposts; direct your mind to the highway, the way by which you went.  Return, O virgin of Israel, return to these your cities.  How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter?  For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth—a woman will encompass a man.”

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Once again they will speak this word in the land of Judah and in its cities when I restore their fortunes, ‘The Lord bless you, O abode of righteousness, O holy hill!’  Judah and all its cities will dwell together in it, the farmer and they who go about with flocks.   For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.”  At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me. 

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast.  As I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to overthrow, to destroy and to bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord.  “In those days they will not say again, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’  But everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.  “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts is His name:  “If this fixed order departs from before Me,” declares the Lord, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever.”  Thus says the Lord, “If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,” declares the Lord. 

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the city will be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.  The measuring line will go out farther straight ahead to the hill Gareb; then it will turn to Goah.  And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the Lord; it will not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”  (Jeremiah 31:1-40 NASB, emphasis added)

Do you see the Gospel of the Kingdom in this New Covenant?  It is not some ethereal heavenly kingdom that Jesus came to create out of nothing, but the very real, very spiritual, and very physical Kingdom of Israel which He has come to restore.  That is why He tells us to seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).  Why is this important?  Because none of the other kingdoms or nations of the earth will survive the coming wrath of the Almighty.  That is something else Jeremiah tells us:

“But as for you, O Jacob My servant, do not fear, nor be dismayed, O Israel!  For, see, I am going to save you from afar, and your descendants from the land of their captivity; and Jacob will return and be undisturbed and secure, with no one making him tremble.  O Jacob My servant, do not fear,” declares the Lord, “For I am with you.  For I will make a full end of all the nations where I have driven you, yet I will not make a full end of you; but I will correct you properly and by no means leave you unpunished.”  (Jeremiah 46:27-28 NASB, emphasis added)

He says this also by the Prophet Amos:

“Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,” declares the Lord.  “For behold, I am commanding, and I will shake the house of Israel among all nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, but not a kernel will fall to the ground.”  (Amos 9:8-9 NASB)

Interestingly enough, that passage of Amos contains the same verses the Apostle James cites in the discussion about what to do with the people coming into the Kingdom from among the gentiles:

“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth [tabernacle] of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom [remnant of mankind] and all the nations who are called by My name,” declares the Lord who does this.  (Amos 9:11-12 NASB; see also Acts 15:13-21)

Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea, by James Tissot. If the Lord God really is working through the entire nation of Israel to bring redemption to every nation on earth, then the Gospel of the Kingdom is more than just personal salvation in Messiah. It is nothing less than the restoration and reunification of Judah and Ephraim under the reign of Messiah Son of David.
Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea, by James Tissot. If the Lord God really is working through the entire nation of Israel to bring redemption to every nation on earth, then the Gospel of the Kingdom is more than just personal salvation in Messiah. It is nothing less than the restoration and reunification of Judah and Ephraim under the reign of Messiah Son of David as the basis for redemption of every nation.

There is much more to be said about this, but I hope you understand the crucial point:  There is no salvation outside of the nation of Israel.  That is why the Lord made a way for every person, every tribe, every nation, every tongue to join with His people.  That is the One New Man, the New Creation which is able to live by the righteous standards of the Holy God because He has created new hearts in them that can receive and walk out His laws, instructions, and commandments (Deuteronomy 10:15-17, 30:1-6; Ezekiel 36:22-32).  It meets with His intent to have one unified world and one unified humanity, not according to the vision of any man in rebellion against God, but according to the vision God Himself intended to bring about all along.

Do not take my word alone; examine these things for yourselves.  But consider this:  if what I have said is indeed the counsel of Scripture, then instead of resisting the idea of our shared Israelite identity, we should be proclaiming it from the rooftops.

Which, after all, is what we are supposed to do:

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.  (Matthew 24:14 NASB)

This paper was first presented at the B’Ney Yosef Region 35 Conference in Denton, Texas, on December 5, 2015.

© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014-2016.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Author: Albert J. McCarn

I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth, an avid student of the Bible, a devoted husband and father, a 29-year veteran of the United States Army, and a historian who connects people with their own stories.

12 thoughts on “Finding Israelite Identity in the New Covenant”

  1. With all the grandkids, the family businesses, and the building projects that Beth and I share in, about the only place where I can indulge my hobby (manifesting the 5 fold ministry) at least currently—is found in being (as per one disapproving acolyte of the site named Matt) a troll. is where I “hide under the bridge”.

    This stuff about finding our Israelite identity in the NT will get there to and be translated through my sharing it there as surreptitiously as I possibly can. The reason for the supposed subterfuge? His name is John Kesler and he works there @ “contra web site” as a junkyard dog of sorts to help keep people like us off the site. So he “roams to and fro throughout the earth” (to quote from the book of Job) and keeps a record that includes you and all of us here @ So I have to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove, and no, I can’t give attribution! Sorry bro’

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  2. As we look back on the history of the early AD centuries, we see the curve around which most of subsequent christian theology has turned. But as that is reviewed, I am reminded that a lie told often enough is soon accepted as “truth”. The earliest believers, AD, certainly knew of the connection with the synagogues and Judaism because that is where they studied (Acts 15). Now we live in a milieux where the consideration of the original Jewish paradigm of belief is considered virtually anathema. This now raises so many questions: Are there really many true believers (Revelation 14:12)? Are many prayers being answered (Proverbs 28:9)? Are many who think they are on their way to “heaven” really on their way there (Matthew 7:21-23)? Perhaps its time to investigate the truth and accept it wherever the evil one has hidden it!


    1. Good questions David. My prayer is that we are all surprised that the number of folks in the Kingdom is far greater than we had suspected. I think about that from time to time, but find it more productive to focus on the tasks Abba puts right in front of me and trust Him to save as many as are willing. You are right about the “Jewish paradigm” being considered anathema. Our thinking is completely turned upside down. That’s why it’s such an awesome miracle that our King is correcting this problem right before our eyes.

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  3. Reblogged this on natsab and commented:
    I wish my old church family would take the time to read this slowly and prayerfully. They just might begin to understand what I see so clearly in Scripture.

    Al McCarn presents a terrific explanation and overview of the grand scope of HIStory and where we are and who we are in it. Bravo!

    This is not a ‘sound byte’ snack to browse and move on from as culture is want to do, rather it is is a longer read… might take 15 whole minutes, but it can give you so much clarity it will change your life!

    Who are you in Messiah? Who are you, really!?!

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  4. Shalom! Loved it, Barking Fox! Great job spelling out the details, especially for those who are unfamiliar with these teachings and terms.

    Quick question that I’m eager for input on . . .

    Jeremiah 46:28 is quoted here: “I will make a full end of all the nations where I have driven you, yet I will not make a full end of you; but I will correct you properly and by no means leave you unpunished.”

    So in that sense it sounds like any nation other than Israel will come to an end, but I’m wondering about how to dovetail this with Zechariah 14:16-19, which says,

    “It will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.”

    I’ve been trying to figure out the relationship between miillennial redeemed Israel and other nations for some time now, and the Jeremiah 46 quote is new to me. Any thoughts on how these two fit together? Thanks for any insight anyone can provide!


    1. Hi Anisa!
      It’s very good to hear from you. Thanks for the question! You’ve addressed something that will be a blog post one of these days. I don’t have the complete answer, but I have pondered this for some time and can give you my thoughts to this point. Please keep investigating this on your own and let me know what Abba tells you!
      Let’s begin with a common expectation: Messiah comes to crush His enemies and set up housekeeping in Jerusalem, and then everyone lives happily ever after. That’s the expectation in the Christian circles I’ve travelled all my life, and I surmise it’s the expectation among our Jewish brethren as well. Very few people consider what happens after Messiah returns – even though Isaiah, Zechariah, and even John the Revelator have much to say about the Millennium. We’ll be doing some real work in those 1,000 years. There will be a great deal of damage to repair as we go about cleaning up the waste places of the earth, healing the sick and injured, restoring that which is broken down and destroyed, and getting about the business of being fruitful and multiplying. It’s not going to be all fixed in an instant. If we’re going to be ready to reign with our King for all eternity and help Him run the universe, we must complete our training program here on earth while Satan is bound and no longer a threat until the very end. As Revelation 20 says:
      Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. (Revelation 20:1-3 NASB)
      From this passage we understand that the nations will continue to exist in the Millennium. That is consistent with what Daniel learned in his vision of the four beasts (Daniel 7). The fourth beast will be utterly destroyed, but look what happens to the first three (the Eagle, Bear, and Winged Leopard):
      Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time. . . Thus he said: “The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.” (Daniel 7:11-12, 23-27 NASB)
      What that tells me is that our Messiah King will rule through Israel over all the surviving nations of the earth. Some will submit willingly, and some will not. Those who do not submit will suffer the plague of Zechariah 14:12-19. Isaiah 65 also tells us of the different status between those who obey the Lord and those who do not. I would surmise as well that the obedient nations will be the ones to help bring the people of Israel back to the Land. It seems that the Second Exodus will not be complete before the Tribulation ends. That is why we have passages like this:
      Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations and set up My standard to the peoples; and they will bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. Kings will be your guardians, and their princesses your nurses. They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth and lick the dust of your feet; and you will know that I am the Lord; those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame. (Isaiah 49:22-23 NASB; see also Isaiah 14 and Isaiah 60)
      This may be where we get the full understanding of that parable about the sheep and goat nations (Matthew 25:31-46).
      What I conclude from all this is that during the Millennium those who have not yet joined themselves to Israel will have the opportunity to do so up to the very end. It is at the end that their final choice must be made because only at the end of the thousand years are the nations consumed. I surmise that the “goat nations” are the ones John is writing about in this somewhat anticlimactic passage:
      When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:7-10 NASB)
      To summarize, right now the “middle ground” between YHVH’s nation (Israel) and all the other nations is being eroded so that the choice will be clear: align with the Almighty and His nation, or face the eternal consequences. Some people among Jews and non-Jews are being called out even now to form the ranks of redeemed Israel which will be the instrument of YHVH’s redemption and restoration of the earth in the Millennium. In those thousand years many will join them, but many will not. Those who refuse to join Israel will retain their foreign identity as gentiles among the nations. It will be possible to survive that way for a while, and even to live well enough as long as they obey the commands of the King, but at the very end when Satan is released they will have to make their final choice.
      I hope that answers the question well enough for now. Once again, it’s just the status of my thoughts at the moment, so please don’t consider this a final answer, and by no means authoritative! Thanks again for giving me the chance to share these thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Those are excellent points! I think I get it now–halleluyah. Thank you for that informative and thorough explanation. And you’re so right–we don’t hear much teaching about the Millennium, which is funny since it’s so HUGE and is our DESTINY as Israel. I’m excited that you’ll be tackling that topic more in the future. I’m grateful for the time you’ve spent studying all of this, and thanks for your openness to further input as we all keep listening to the Father. Onward Israelite Soldiers!


  6. I noticed that at the end of the article/post, it says “This paper was first presented at the B’ney Yosef Region 35 Conference in Denton, Texas, on December 5, 2015”. I would submit that while that may have been the first time, it certainly should not be the last! Very clear, without being “in your face” so to say. Shalom to your hearts and homes, Tom

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