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The Nature of Israel

By john.a.wills ·
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Throughout this tract we translate ‘am and laos as “people”, goy and ethnos as “nation”, qahal and ekklesia as “church”.

Israel is a people which does not count itself among the nations (Nm 23:9). Israel is a church (Nm 20:10-12). The word gentile, “non-Israelite”, comes from Latin gens, “nation”. Israel did indeed go down into Egypt and there become a great nation (Dt 26:5), but the Sinai experience turned that nation and its hangers-on (Ex 12:3 into a church. At the beginning of Joshua (5: we read that the nation was circumcised, but after that the Bible does not approvingly call Israel a nation.
In general, Israel gets contrasted with the nations (e.g. Ez 6:21), notably in that Israel has been given the Law and no nation has (Ps 147:20). When Israel does get called a nation, it is generally because God is annoyed with it (e.g. Ml 3:9).
How then can we briefly and usefully portray this church? First we note that it was founded at Sinai and absorbed many tribes and nations in Canaan (Ez 16:3), eventually fixing its central shrine in Jerusalem (2 S 6). It had a state of sorts to protect it in its formative centuries, but this state split (1 K 12:17-20) and so did the church (v. 28-29). One of the successor churches we call the Jews, the other the Samaritans. Each has its own history up to the beginning of the Common Era, when another great split took place.
Because churches have doctrines to teach, both branches of Israel, but especially the Jews, made converts outside the two states. The Book of Jonah proclaims Israel’s duty to spread the doctrines. By the beginning of the Common Era there were Jews from Barbary to Babylon and beyond.

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continuation

by john.a.wills In reply to The Nature of Israel

Israel expected a Redeemer, a Messiah (Is 61:1-2 and many other places). At the beginning of the Common Era, Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the Messiah (Lk 4:21, Jn 4:25-26). About the year 50, at the Council of Jerusalem (Ac 15:5-29), his followers renewed Israel. In the year 70, when the Romans were about to destroy Jerusalem, premessianic Jews stayed in the city while Christians fled beyond Jordan. The Emperor gave permission to rebuild the Temple, but instead the premessianic-Jewish hierarchy stayed in Jamnia, also known as Yavne. About the year 90 the Council of Jamnia founded the Rabbinical Jewish church as a continuing premessianic branch of Israel. Thus the Jews split into Christians and Rabbinical Jews, the most obvious difference being the question of whether Jesus was the Messiah, the most important perhaps the question of which matters of the Law are the weightiest (Mt 23:23 etc.).
Meanwhile we find a reference (Jn 11:48-52) to the people of the Holy Land as a nation, presumably a result of the Herodian conquest’s unifying effect. The chief priest would certainly not call Israel a nation, and John would not make the mistake of putting such a mistake in his mouth. This is the nation we now call Palestine, the first majority-Jewish nation.
Both Rabbinical Judaism and Christianity continued evangelization, the Christians by the year 200 converting a majority of the Palestinians from Samaritanism and premessianic Judaism – an apostasy for which some Rabbinical Jews have not yet forgiven them. The Palestinians remained majority-Christian until after the Crusades. Christians converted most of the Roman Empire, whereas Rabbinical Jews converted several Central Asian peoples, most notably the Khazars, from the remains of whose Empire the original Zionist settlers came.

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Okay, I'll bite.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to The Nature of Israel

What's with the history lesson / Bible study?

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avoiding identity errors

by john.a.wills In reply to Okay, I'll bite.

The main idea is to prevent confusion of concepts, which has led to some great ills in the world. Somewhere in Deuteronomy it is written that when Israel degenerates into a nation it loses its intelligence, as has indeed happened to both branches of Israel in Northern Ireland (and also to both in Yugoslavia). The tract is also directed against CUfI and others who confuse the modern Israelis and the Biblical Israelites, thus fouling up discussion of the Holy Land Question Set, among other matters.

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Then my follow-up question:

by CharlieSpencer In reply to avoiding identity errors

Why this forum? I ask because I can't see your post generating much discussion here, and it doesn't seem to be a site that those interested the topic would frequent. The TR Water Cooler is been wide open; I just wonder if you're reaching your target audience.

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Why here?

by john.a.wills In reply to Okay, I'll bite.

The Water Cooler has been quiescent for some months, so perhaps CharlieSpencer is right about an interested audience not being available: there is no audience at all, it sometimes seems. But in the past related discussions have aroused quite a lot of interest, and perhaps the interested are there but not responding.

When I put the beginning of this tract on one of the Amazon discussion forums I was roundly attacked on a minor point (where, as it happens, I was right) and I did not bother to submit the rest. Know anyone else who might be interested? I most often distribute by hand outside Zionist and anti-Zionist gatherings.

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