Building an approach to understanding the end times, part 2; Romans 9-11, Israel and the church

Romans chapters 9-11 raises an important issue as to the role of the physical nation of Israel now that Messiah has come. Are we to understand that the church is now the new Spiritual Israel and the recipient of all the old testament promises or is there a distinction between the two, with both fulfilling and awaiting fulfillment of biblical prophecies side by side?

Romans 9 does seem to imply that the faith, the spirit and the heart of a person are what make one right with God. “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants…that is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise…that Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness…by faith” (vss 6-33). Thus those who are of faith in Christ are the new spiritual Israel.

But Romans 11 implies that there will be a remnant of people from the nation of Israel who survive as physical and spiritual Israel. “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice…for God is able to graft them in again” (vss 5-23).

Thus it appears that the faithful within the church form the true spiritual Israel and that God in His faithfulness will preserve a righteous remnant of the physical nation of Israel that will come to find Him in true faith and be the fruition of Old Testament promises of the final earthly reign of the kingdom of God (Amos 9:11 et al.).

Thus there does appear to be a distinction between a remnant within the nation of Israel that comes to true faith in the end times and becomes the recipient of Old Testament promises and the church now, filled with both Jewish and Gentile believers with true faith in Christ.

If this is the case, then determining which promises and prophecies apply to which group of people becomes a framework for putting together end times issues.

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