God’s Unchangeable Purpose with Israel, part 2
Was the Bible given to Israel and to Israel alone?
In the previous essay we answered the question: Was the Bible written by Israelites? Let us now proceed to deal with the second claim; namely, that the Bible was given to Israel and to Israel alone. Was that actually the case? Well, yes, it was. But there is much more to the story than that and we must be cautious not to race to conclusions based on that fact. Among other Scriptures we could cite, this one in the Psalms is quite clear about the matter in question.
Psalm 147: 19 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.
20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.
We previously cited Romans 3:2 where Paul confirmed that the Levitical priests, which were attached to the House of Judah, were designated to be the custodians, the guardians, and teachers of the oracles, i.e., the words of God. So, it is true that the Bible was given to Israel and to Israel alone. That is a biblical fact which ought to start the wheels turning in the mind of the average Christian. He might now be thinking:
“Well, if the Bible was given to Israel alone, then why did all those non-Israelite gentiles take over and embrace the Bible right after Jesus came and died?” He might be a little puzzled for a moment, but ultimately he shrugs his shoulders in resignation with the thought: “Well, the facts are there: the Jews rejected Jesus, and in doing so, they rejected God and His Word, so God had to give up on them and turn to the gentiles.” We shall return to deal with this reaction later in this series.
Now, at the polar opposite of that, there are some (a very small number) within the circle of believers who do understand our physical Israelite identity, who hang their doctrinal hat on that verse and similar ones because they believe and teach that not only was the Bible written by, and to, and for and about Israel, but that it stops and ends right there.
In other words, they contend that all the benefits of being the chosen people are exclusive to Israel alone—forever. Meaning, according to them, that redemption and salvation are for Israel alone. Some even mistakenly equate Israel with the entire white race (a gross error), and thereby proclaim that only white people can be saved!
With that kind of thinking, it is easy to see how this misunderstanding of theirs can easily lead to a feeling of superiority and white supremacy, along with a denigration of other races, as though God created them only slightly higher than animals, and God chose not to offer them eternal life. It is only for the “white race.” No salvation for other races is their bottom line!
I categorically reject such a theology. It is in serious error on a number of counts. I will not take the time to dissect all those errors here because it would cause me to detour far from our present subject.
But yet, perhaps we don’t need to go into all the details of those errors because if one can knock out the major premise upon which the whole false structure is based, then that serves the purpose. So let me pose a question:
If we speak about “the inhabitants of the world,” of whom are we speaking—some group in particular, such as the Koreans, or the Nigerians, or the Russians, or the Polynesians, or Israelites? Or does that phrase refer to all the people in the world? Obviously, it means the latter, doesn’t it?
So here in this Psalm, we have just established that God was very exclusive in that He gave “His
word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. 20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them.”
Now, let us look at Isaiah 26, and we shall see that while, indeed, Israel was chosen exclusively to be given the Word, especially including the commandments, statutes and judgments; the question we need to ask ourselves is: was that exclusiveness to last for all time?
Keep in mind that the context we are dealing with here is Israel and the divine law, and by extension, the salvation issue. I readily grant and agree that certain blessings were to always be for Israel and for Israel alone. For example, God had married the Israel nation at Mt. Sinai. Israel was God’s wife. They were later divorced, but they will be remarried. No other nation will ever have that privilege. So the context is important. Here we are speaking of the exclusivity of Israel in reference to the law and salvation.
A further question: does Psalm 147 mean that the people of Israel were to hoard those truths and keep God’s revelations all to themselves? No, not at all. Quite the contrary. Israel was called and chosen by God for a very special purpose. That of service. We are a servant people. Now, look here at Isaiah.
Isaiah 26:9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
If I may for a moment, assume the lingo of a country person raised in the school of plain ol’ common sense; then, as we speak about the commandments, statutes and judgments, it becomes very elementary. We simply ask: Who’s got ’em? (Ans: Israel.) Who’s s’posed to get ’em? (Ans: the world.) So, how are they gonna get ’em, unless those that’s got ’em, take ’em to ’em?
One of the primary missions with which we are charged, as God’s servant people, Israel, is to share the good news with all the other people of the earth. Let’s look at the great commission in Matthew 28.
I am aware that those who hold to Aryan supremacy, i.e., white supremacy—or that the blessings of the Bible are for (true) Israel’s benefit alone, I know that they interpret the phrase “all nations” in this upcoming passage to refer to ten-tribed Israel alone. I am contending they do err, so let’s look at it. This takes place after the death, burial and resurrection, and just before Jesus ascended back to the right hand of the Father.
Matthew 28: 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
In the emphasized phrase above, there is no dispute about the word “all”; it means “all.” This word “nations” comes from the Greek word G1484 in Strong’s Lexicon. It is the Greek word ἔθνος éthnos; the plural is pronounced eth-nay. As I said, some maintain that since the Bible was written to, for and about Israel; that therefore the word “nations” here in this context has to mean all the Israel nations, and no others.
All serious Bible students agree that context always governs. True enough, but we must also understand that the context can refer to a sentence, a chapter, a book or the entire Bible. So I would suggest you take your concordance and look up the phrase “all nations.” You will have to admit that it certainly can mean just what it says—meaning, not exclusively Israel. You will find the first five occurrences are in Deuteronomy and all five refer to non-Israelite nations.
In fact, when I examined almost all of the 35 occurrences of the phrase “all nations” in the Old Testament I could not find one that referred to Israel exclusively. In almost every case, it was clearly referring to non-Israelites. Now let us zero in on the context of the book of Matthew itself. There are three other occurrences other than the one under consideration.
Matthew 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
Does “all nations” there mean (A.) all of the dispersed ten tribes? Or does it refer (B.) primarily to non-Israelites, or (C.) to both Israelites and non-Israelites? In my view, the answer is C. with B. being a weak possibility and with A. not even in the running—not even a remote possibility.
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
This is essentially the same usage as the one under question (Matthew 28:19), so we’ll move on to the third:
Matthew 25:32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
This is a reference to the Great White Throne judgment in Revelation, chapter 20. Our opponents, then, would have to limit the great white throne judgment as only pertaining to Israel. But that is an unsupportable position because it totally ignores the context of the entire Bible which tells of God’s great Plan for all creation. (See footnote.)
In this verse in particular, “all nations” consist of symbolic sheep and goats. Did you know that only Israel was ever referred to as sheep? And even when Jesus spoke of the ten lost tribes, He referred to them as “other sheep,” remember that verse? Here it is:
John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Therefore, the all nations in Matthew 28:19 must consist of the sheep nations (all the tribes of Israel), plus the goat nations (all the non-Israel people). We won’t belabor the point any further; you can look up the phrase “all nations” in the rest of the New Testament if you wish, but you will in no way be able to prove that it must refer only to Israel.
Now, as we return to Matthew 28, we saw that Jesus was commanding the disciples to teach all nations. Question: what were they supposed to teach all the other nations? The answer is in verse 20.
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Was Jesus God in the flesh? Yes, He was. Then, when Jesus says to teach all nations whatsoever I have commanded you, would that include the commandments, statutes and judgments (i.e., His law?) Yes, indeed!
After Christ’s ascension, it took a number of centuries for the gospel to permeate all the lands of Europe, which is where the dispersed and scattered ten-tribed Israel had primarily migrated to, but Europe finally became known as Christendom, which is short for “Christian kingdom,” or “the dominion of Christ.” It has been only in the past 400 years or so, that our ancestors began taking the gospel primarily to the other races (ethnay) of the world.
But oddly enough, as God’s Plan had scripted in advance, Israel has engaged in great missionary activity all the while being blind to the fact that they themselves are the Israel nations! (That’s another story for another time.) And furthermore, they/we fall far short of the great commission because we teach the heathen practically only one thing: faith for the purpose of personal salvation. Just believe in Jesus and you’ll go to heaven when you die. But that gospel is woefully lacking because it is essentially faith without obedience. They fail to teach all nations all that Jesus has commanded.
But there is a time coming when that will be corrected. The law will go forth from New Jerusalem (which is not the old city), including the judgments, and when God’s judgments are in the earth, all the nations of the world will learn righteousness—thus saith the Almighty (in Isaiah 26:9).
And when that happens, it will be right in keeping with God’s promise to our forefather Abram (Abraham) that his descendants would be a blessing to all the families of the earth. (Genesis 12:3).
Thus far we have discussed how the Bible was written by Israelites, and how the Bible was written to Israelites. I shall expand upon that in a different manner next time. (To be continued.)
Footnote: For a detailed study of God’s plan for all nations, the reader is encouraged to obtain my series of lectures entitled: God’s Plan for Man. Click here.