It is the great historical nation of Israel “…to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came…” (Rom 9:4-5). Within Israel’s citizenship there has always been a remnant – elected and preserved by YHVH (Isa. 10:20-22; Rom. 9:27; 11:1-5). As it is written: “…for they are not all Israel which are of Israel” (Rom. 9:6).
Those of the remnant of Israel were the first to believe the Gospel of the Kingdom of Messiah Yeshua and were the first to enter into its citizenship under the New Covenant foretold by the prophets (Jer. 31:31-34) and enacted by Messiah’s Blood that was offered for the remission of sin (Mt. 26:28). Moreover, in the book of Acts chapter two, on the day of Shavuot (Pentecost), those who first received the promise of the Spirit were indeed of the remnant of Israel – they were the legitimate heirs of the promise of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-29; Eze. 37:14; 39:29; Acts 2:16-18).
Several years after the resurrection and ascension of Messiah to the right hand of His Father, gentile believers would come to believe in Messiah Yeshua through the Gospel preached by those of the remnant of Israel (Acts 10). Those new gentile believers would then be grafted into the olive tree of Israel as new branches in Messiah Yeshua (Jer. 11:16; Rom. 11; Isa. 11:1; Jn. 15) and would immediately become full citizens of the commonwealth of Israel and covenants of promise by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:11-12).
The cross-over truth that most gentile believers in Yeshua have yet to grasp, that prevents them from coming out of Roman Constantinian-Christianity is this, say it: “BECAUSE I AM CONNECTED TO YESHUA, I AM A BRANCH OF ISRAEL, I HAVE NOT REPLACED ISRAEL, I AM A PART OF ISRAEL”
In the time of the book of the Acts of the Apostles, the Body of Messiah was distinctly Israel in its identity. It was not Israel in terms of a geo-political entity; it was Israel in terms of covenant community that had been redeemed from the earth – a community that was in the world but not of the world – a called out assembly of Messiah Yeshua, the ultimate Israel (Isa. 49:1-6).
A couple centuries after the original apostles, the historical Church gradually shed off its Israel identity and eventually divorced itself from Israel; under the influence of Romanism, the Church cast off its “Jewishness” and took on a Gentile identity and abandoned the religious practices of the Jews found in the Old Testament. Generally speaking, from the time the Church divorced itself from Israel, the true remnant of Israel has existed in a realm that was between the religion of national Israel which rejected Messiah Yeshua, and the religion of the Gentile Church which rejected the Law of God and portrays Yeshua in a way that contradicts the New Covenant writings.
Since the time of the Protestant Reformation, beginning around 1500 A.D., there has been a breaking away from many of the dogmas of the Roman Church. Great efforts have been performed by the protestant reformers to restore the truths of the Bible. However, many of those reformers did not realize the depth of the error that Romanism introduced to the Christian faith. The protestant reformers did not realize that every truth that they were attempting to restore should have been seen as rooted in to the book of Genesis, then seen as masterfully woven through the Law of God, His appointed times, and seen in the writing of the Prophets. That truth must ultimately be seen in Yeshua Messiah as He’s truly portrayed in the New Covenant writings. To claim something as true and not be able to prove it from the book of Genesis through the book of Revelation is not the truth.
The Gentile-centric Church has to renounce its anti-Jewishness and reconnect its doctrines and practices to the whole Bible and then they will clearly see the Yeshua of the Scriptures. The Church needs a restoration of its true identify as New Covenant Israel and loose its identity as “the Church” – nobody in the Bible called it that. “Church” is an incorrect nomenclature for that which Yeshua is building.
The Church has to return to a paradigm where there is no difference between the remnant of Israel and grafted in Gentiles under the New Covenant – when they were one new man sharing the common heritage of faith in the Messiah (Gal. 3:8, 28; Eph. 3:6).
There are many examples in The Acts of the Apostles where the Gospel is presented by the Apostles to their Jewish audience wherein no distinction was made between the Apostles and their audience in terms of history and God given promises (Acts 3:13, 25; 5:30; 7:1-50; 13:17; 15:10; 22:14; 26:6; 28:17; 28:25). An example is Stephen’s testimony before the high priest (Acts 7:1-50) after being falsely accused of starting a new religion that disregarded the religion of the Jews (Acts 6:11-14).
In Stephen’s testimony, he recounts centuries of history from Abraham to Solomon’s Temple. Stephen’s testimony shows that he fully identified with the descendants from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the history of the people. Stephen used the phrase “our fathers” eight times (Acts 7) as if to say, we, the believers in Jesus Christ, are not a people who are divergent from historical Israel; to the contrary, we are indeed the same people of Israel and recipients of the promised New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-40; Mat. 26:28; Heb. 8:8-12;), New Birth (Eze. 36:26-28; Jn. 3:1-8; 1 Pet. 1:23), and Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32; Jn. 14:15-18, 25-26; 15:26; Jn. 16:7-11; Lk 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:16-21) through Jesus the Messiah.
New Covenant Israel and the Church do not have two distinct histories and callings; it is the same history and calling. In Stephen’s witness to the high priest (Acts 7), he called Israel “the Church in the Wilderness” (Acts 7:38). The underlying Greek word for “church” is “ekklesia”, a compond of the Greek word “ek” meaning “from” and the word “klesis” meaning “called out”. So ekklesia means “called out from”.
The Septuagint uses the Greek word “ekklesia” 9 times in the Pentateuch to translate the Hebrew word “qahal”, translated as either “assembly”, or “congregation”. Stephen was saying Israel was the “ekklesia”; the people whom God had called out from Egpyt to be an assembly unto Himself in the wilderness. (Exo. 5:1-2; 6:2-7; Deut 4:20 29:10-15)
Now in the New Covenant Writings, the Greek word “ekklesia” is used 115 times and translated in the KJV as either “church”, “churches”, or “assembly”. In all but one place (Acts 7:38), “ekklesia” refers exclusively to the congregation of New Covenent Israel – the people whom God has called out from Egypt – figuratively speaking, and to assemble unto the Great Shepherd Jesus Christ in the wilderness – figuratively speaking. (Heb. 11:13)
The Church is one and the same as New Covenant Israel – one redeemed people with full citizenship into the commonwealth of Israel and heirs to the covenants of promise through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:12).
May Israel proclaim: “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Yehovah!” This is a key prerequisite to the coming Messianic Age (Mt. 32:39).
Charles J. Shields
Now Arise Ministries