Most of the Jews, however, were not looking for a Savior. They were looking for a king. Jesus is King, but he earned his throne by his obedience and death, and that is not what they wanted. They wanted glory, power and an earthly, political, theocratic, this-worldly kingdom. Jesus has established his kingdom, through the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments. This kingdom may not be as exciting as ruling from Jerusalem during an earthly golden age, it may not sell many books or fill seats in movie theaters, but the world never has found the Jesus of Scripture very interesting, that’s why he’s stumbling block to Jews and a foolishness to Greeks.
The Dividing Wall Demolished (Ephesians 2:11–22)
The movement of the history of redemption is on this order. The people of God were an international people from Adam to Noah to Moses. Under Moses, the people of God became temporarily a national people. God instituted special civil and ceremonial laws to separate his national people from the Gentile pagans. In Ephesians 2:14 the Apostle Paul describes these civil and ceremonial laws as a “dividing wall” between Jew and Gentile. Because of that dividing wall, the Gentiles, considered as a people, were “separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (2:12).
Now, however, because of Christ’s death, Paul assures Gentile Christians that “you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (v.13). How? Through his death, Christ has destroyed the dividing wall, torn the temple veil, destroyed the temple and restored it three days by his resurrection (John 2:19),
by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross.…(Eph 2:15–16).
Now, by virtue of our union with Christ, both Jewish and Gentile Christians are “fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (Eph 2:19); “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh” (Phil 3:3). Why? Because “…our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3.20). How is it that Premillennialism, by having two parallel peoples of God, does not rebuild that very dividing wall which Jesus destroyed by his death?
Not All Israel is Israel
One of the clearest places in Scripture on this question is Romans chapter 9. The context is the very question we are addressing now, what about Israel? Who is the Israel of God? Has God abandoned his promise to Abraham? Paul’s answer is, a Jew is one who is a Jew inwardly, who loves the Savior of Abraham. Since Jesus was circumcised (Col 2.11–12) for us on the cross, circumcision is morally and spiritually indifferent.
“It is not as though God’s Word has failed” (Rom 9:6). The reason that only some Jews have trusted Jesus as Messiah is because not “all Israel is Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children.” Rather, Abraham’s children are reckoned “through Isaac” (9:7) What this means is that “it is not the natural children who are God’s, but children of the promise” (v.8). How was Isaac born? By the sovereign power of God. How are Christians born? By the sovereign power of God. Every Christian is an “Isaac” in his own way. Why is this so?