Over half a century ago there was a refugee crisis.
Vast numbers of people crossed the Mediterranean Sea. These refugees landed in a place where the inhabitants viewed them as illegal aliens, a threat to their way of life and dangerous.
There were terrorist bombings and assassinations perpetrated by those emerging from the sea—trying to gain a foothold. The native people were overwhelmed, they were unable to repel the invasion—driven from their ancestral homes and into poverty.
To many this happening is a fulfillment of prophecy and miracle from God. They use success in battle as evidence that God is on the side of the victors, they use Scriptural promises made to Abraham as proof texts, and urge the Christian church to fall in line.
But Jesus warned of false prophets who “will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24)
So, how do we know the difference between a miracle of God and deception? Are the nationalistic ambitions of some today reflective of the new covenant or is that a return to bondage? Is our new covenant one of physical reality or spiritual? Who are the true children of God?
#1) Jesus says clearly that children of Abraham by blood who do not believe are children of the devil, not God…
“‘Abraham is our father,’ they answered.
‘If you were Abraham’s children,’ said Jesus, ‘then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.’
‘We are not illegitimate children,’ they protested. ‘The only Father we have is God himself.’
Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.'” (John 8:39-47)
Jesus tells these ‘Jews’ that the true children of Abraham do as he did. Jesus suggests they are illegitimate children. They claim to be children of God because of their biological lineage and Jesus dismisses them as children of the devil.
Do we agree with them? Is God and Abraham their father? Or do we agree with Jesus?
#2) Paul says the old covenant will “soon disappear” and be replaced by the new and superior covenant of Jesus…
“But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: ‘The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.“ (Hebrews 8:6-13)
This is where historical context matters.
The text above was written before the destruction of the temple and final ending of the inferior covenant’s sacrificial system.
Jesus represented the ending of the age, the fullness of a time, and a better way. The old covenant has disappeared, we live in the fulfillment of that prophecy above and should not look backwards.
A covenant is an agreement only good when both sides keep the terms. Paul clearly says that the old covenant was broken and God “turned away” from the people who broke the contract.
Nobody under the new covenant should be pining for a return of the old…
“We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.“ (2 Corinthians 3:13-17)
Do you live in the freedom of the new covenant or do you remain with Moses in dullness of mind and persistent lacking of understanding?
#3) The physical or outward circumcision does not mean anything to God, the true circumcision is something internal and spiritual…
“A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.” (Romans 2:28-29)
Paul harkens back to the conditional promise given in Deuteronomy (chapter 30) where assurance is given “when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul” that He “will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”
What circumcision is important to you? That of religious devotion and performed by human hands?
Or that circumcision of heart performed by spiritual means?
Physical circumcision is a cultural and religious tradition only—it is a ritual performed by men and has not real value to God. The true circumcision is the one performed by God when people “return” to Him and live in obedience to His voice.
#4) The true sheep hear His voice, the false teachers are unable to comprehend and despite their diligent study of Scripture…
“The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’
Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.'” (John 10:24-27)
“And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:37-40)
We see these descendants of Abraham, even with their diligent study of Scripture, did not know God’s word or voice and did not accept Jesus. They are not heirs of the promise to Abraham and are not the true children of God.
#5) The book of Revelation and 1 John tells us physical descendants of Abraham who did not obey Jesus are not children of the covenant, they are damned liars…
“Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” (1 John 2:22-23)
“I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.” (Revelation 3:9)
Can the language of Scripture be anymore explicit?
Those who have rejected Jesus are the “antichrist” and seperated from God the Father. These are people who “claim to be Jews” yet really “are of the synagogue of Satan” and liars. We want to share no part in their self-deception.
#6) Those who accept Jesus are the true seed of Abraham and the rightful heirs, not an ethnic group determined by bloodline…
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.“ (Galatians 3:26-2)
The early church dealt with the same issues we do today. Some wanted, due to religious heritage and ethnic background, to think of themselves as superior. But that is an idea in direct opposition to Scripture.
In Jesus the importance of physical bloodlines is wiped away completely. All who share the faith of Abraham are the real heirs of the promise and true children of God.
#7) So, what about Zionism and the resurrected state of Israel?
Many are bewitched and made fools (Galatians 3) by those in the church peddling the old covenant. Sensational claims grab our attention and sensational eschatology has become the biggest distraction from teaching true obedience to Jesus in many churches.
The book of Revelation does give a prophecy of the resurrected and seemingly invincible beast that emerges from the sea…
“One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, ‘Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?'” (Revelation 13:3-4)
In the prior chapter we learn it is at war with the true offspring of God’s promise…
“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17)
I don’t claim to know for certain what the beast is in the passages above. But I see that the “offspring” are defined as those who have a testimony about Jesus. I do also know that the antichrist is clearly defined in Scripture as those who have rejected Jesus as the son of God and we should have no part in their deception.
According to Scripture true descendants of Abraham are those who have heard, believed and followed after Jesus. The real circumcision is not one of a religious ritual, not one of a physical nation, but one of obedience and heart.
Coincidentally the modern state of Israel was formed May 15, 1947 or precisely 69 years and a day ago from the date of this post.