The New Nation of Israel

Posted in: 2006
By Tom L. Ballinger
Mar 12, 2008 - 7:09:19 AM

November 15, 2006


In the wilderness of Judaea, John, the son of a Levitical priest and first cousin of Jesus of Nazareth, suddenly appeared on the scene and began preaching and baptizing as he called for Israel to repent. John the Baptist astonished his hearers when he announced that the long expected and hoped-for Kingdom was “at hand” in the person of Jesus (Matt 3:2). Those who believed the Old Testament were expecting Elijah to be “the voice crying in the wilderness” as prophesied by Isaiah 40 and Malachi 3. However, as it turned out, it was John the Baptist at the time.

They were waiting for the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5 to be fulfilled: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”

The waiters for the Kingdom were also expecting Malachi 3:1 to be fulfilled; “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to this temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Malachi 3:1 was fulfilled when John the Baptist showed up and identified Jesus as being the Messiah. A minor reference can be made to John the Baptist in Isaiah 40:3-5; however, the preciseness of Isaiah 40:3-5 will be fulfilled when the Kingdom is present in the world, and Israel has been gathered, and Elijah is present [See, “The Grand Hoax,” for details].

When the New Testament began Israel had been without a holy prophet for 400 years—not since Malachi. When John the Baptist seemingly came out of nowhere, with no credentials, and made his startling proclamation that the Kingdom of God was “at hand,” many were waiting for just such an announcement. The hearers were familiar with the expression of the “Kingdom of God.” While Christ was the central personage of the Old Testament, the central theme of it was the coming kingdom over which God would rule. Therefore, the Kingdom of God didn’t need to be explained to the Jewish audience. All of their prophets had preached about it (Acts 3:21); therefore, the need to explain it was not necessary since they were familiar with its nature.

Most Christians don’t understand that, in Scripture, the “Kingdom” means the Government of God (Webster’s Dictionary of 1828). The Jews, however, understood full well what the Kingdom of God meant which John the Baptist heralded; “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

Three people are identified as examples of those who were waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.

Mark 15:43― “Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.” It says, “which also waited for the Kingdom of God” and clearly indicates many in Israel were waiting for it to come.

Luke 2:25—“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.”

Luke 2:36-38― “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”

Matthew introduced John the Baptist, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:” (Matt. 3:1-8).

John preached repentance because the Kingdom of Heaven (God) was at hand. He demanded “fruit” which was worthy of repentance. Note the parallel passage in Luke 3:7-8; “Then he said to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance …”

An interesting sidelight can be observed when compared to the present-day customary practices in evangelical circles to require faith before baptism; however, John required fruit (works) first.

The fruits worthy of repentance are enumerated in Luke: 3:11-14. The works they were to show were—1. If they had two coats, give one to him that had none; 2. He that had food let him do likewise; 3. The publicans were to collect no more taxes than they were supposed to, and 4. The soldiers were to do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely and to be content with their wages. Clearly, today, those who baptize and those who are baptized do not follow John’s baptism, for faith is first required.

John’s baptism was not an Old Testament baptism. It was not a Levitical washing or dipping. The baptism of John was unique. It was uniquely his own. He was divinely commissioned to do so (John 1:33). It was intimately associated with the proclamation that the Kingdom was “at hand.”

The Purpose of John’s Baptism

John 1:31 tells us in no uncertain terms that it was for the purpose of making Israel’s long awaited Christ manifested to them. Their Messiah was in their midst. John’s baptism (i.e. his ministry) was to make known and identify their Messiah and future King.

“I myself did not know Him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel” (John 1:31) NIV.

Matthew 3:11 says, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance …” The baptism unto repentance was for the purpose of “the remission of sins.” Mark 1:4-5 states additionally, “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” Israel’s sins were weighty. Her moral and spiritual condition was sad, indeed. Isaiah spoke of her condition in his day, and that condition still existed.

“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (Isaiah 1:4).

Those who submitted to John’s baptism admitted their condition—confessing their sins.

Notice what the Lord Jesus Christ said about John the Baptist after two of John’s disciples inquired of Him; “Art thou He that should come? Or should we look for another” (Luke 7:19). The Lord Jesus performed many miracles and sent John’s disciples away, telling them to tell John what they had witnessed.

“And when the messengers of John were departed, He began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:24-30).

The prophets were never part of the religious establishment in Israel. They were always outside the camp. Likewise, so was John the Baptist as was the Lord Jesus Christ.

The New Nation

In his day, the words of John the Baptist had profound political implications on his audience. The political ramifications are most often overlooked. The political consequences of his ministry were the calling out, or calling forth, of a new nation. This new nation was to be the “Israel of God” (Gal. 5:16) which we should set in contrast to the nation of Israel after the flesh. The Apostle Paul also referred to this new nation as “the Commonwealth of Israel” (Eph. 2:12). Those who responded to John’s words, “repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” and later, to the same message of the Lord Jesus Christ, became citizens of the new Israel. Those who repented formed the living nucleus of the new nation. During the “Acts of the Apostles,” all believers of the Gospel of the Kingdom were incorporated into the “Commonwealth.” Their allegiance was to the Government (Kingdom) of God, not to Rome, or to the subjugated Jewish authorities.

Those who responded to John’s baptism message from God became the repentant ones of Israel and formed a separate company within Israel. They were identified with Israel after the flesh by birth. They were identified with Israel’s covenants by circumcision. Now, with John’s baptism, they became identified as the repentant ones in Israel. They would form the new Israel after the Spirit.

His baptism was “unto repentance” which was for the remission of sins. Israelites who were baptized by John were called out of Israel’s religious camp, out of the city of priests, out of the temple, out to the countryside, and out to the base of Mt. Sinai where Israel first heard the Law. They were called out beyond Jordan by John the Baptist to where the twelve stones marked the place of Israel’s crossing the Jordan. They were called out of the Israel “according to the flesh,” and they became the Israel according to promise.

John’s baptism was a time of national awakening, a time for the birth of a new nation—“the Israel of God” (Gal. 5:16) as opposed to Israel after the flesh. Paul referred to this new nation as “the Commonwealth of Israel” (Eph. 2:12) to which Gentile believers, during the Acts period, were aliens. However, as aliens, they would be as the “mixed multitude” who walked out of Egypt with Moses and the Hebrews. That is, the Gentile believers, from the Acts period, would enjoy all of the benefits of the “new nation,” but they were not to hold a government office in the “Israel of God.”

We read in Matthew 3:13-17 of John baptizing the Lord Jesus; “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Christ had no need of repentance, nor did He need the forgiveness of sins because He was without sin (1 Cor. 5:21. Heb. 4:15). His baptism was a sign, identifying Him with those Israelites who had repented and would make up the “new nation.”

Mark 1:9 and Luke 3:21 are accounts of the baptism of the Lord Jesus. By birth, He was the seed of David and by circumcision, He was the seed of Abraham; thereby, He was identified with Israel. At John’s baptism, we will repeat; He was identified, by baptism, with the part of Israel who would become the “new nation” because they believed John’s Gospel. The “Israel of God,” or the “Commonwealth of Israel,” replaced those who would forfeit their place in the “new nation” because of the hardness of their hearts.

Roman 9:6 says, “For they are not all (true) Israel which are of Israel.” Just because they were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not mean they were to make up the true “Israel of God.”

Because of unbelief, those who, by natural right, were to have been heirs of the Kingdom learned they will be cast out. Matthew 8:12 says; “But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

It would be the “Israel of God” (the new nation) who would submit to the rule of Jesus Christ as their King.

The Lord Jesus also said of those who forfeited their right because of unbelief, “…Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him” (Matt. 21:31-32). The self-righteous were to find no place in the “new nation.” Publicans [tax-collectors] and harlots would.

Isaiah had a very interesting prophecy regarding the “new nation.” Isaiah asked, “shall a nation be born at once?” Notice Isaiah 66:7-8; “Before she travailed, she brought forth, before her pain came, she was delivered of man child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” This is the birth of the new nation, the “Israel of God,” that is to say, “the Commonwealth of Israel.”

Zion travailed when Christ was crucified, but a new nation was born on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. “The Acts of the Apostles” chronicles its birth, its growth, its citizens’ divinely given gifts of the Spirit, its engrafting of wild olive branches (Gentiles), and its rulers’ awesome authority with which they were endued with from on high. Because of what Israel was to have been and forfeited because of unbelief, the Lord Jesus raised up a Commonwealth that was submissive to Him and His Apostles during the years of the Acts period. This “new nation” that was “born at once” is referred to as the “Church of God”—however, Paul also christened it as the “Israel of God,” as well as, “the Commonwealth of Israel.”

When the Kingdom comes, it will be restored to the “Israel of God.” Today’s Israel will never see the light of day in the Kingdom because it will be replaced with God’s Nation of Israel. The misled Christians who sincerely believe the “Jews,” who are in Palestine today, are God’s Chosen People will wind up with “egg on their faces.” Because, when Jesus Christ begins to judge the quick and the dead at His Appearing of His Kingdom (2 Timothy 4:1), today’s Israelis will not be part of the “Israel of God.”

During the “Acts of the Apostles,” this new nation had a foretaste of the coming Kingdom of God. Hebrews 6:4-5 says that they had been enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.

The Ambassador of Jesus Christ

This “new nation” functioned during the Acts period. Its King was enthroned in Heaven. He had the Apostles as rulers upon the earth, functioning under His direction, being guided by His Spirit. The Apostles were God-chosen men, and they exercised Divine authority as the higher powers ordained by God (see Romans 13:1-7). Jesus Christ, as Sovereign Head of this “new nation,” designated Paul to be His Ambassador to the nations (Rom. 11:13 and 15:16. 2 Cor. 6:20). An ambassador is a representative of the highest rank sent by one government, or ruler, to another. Paul was the highest ranking representative of the King of the “Commonwealth of Israel.” He was sent by the Government of Christ to the rulers of other nations during the time covered by the Book of Acts.

“…for he (Paul) is a chosen unto Me (Christ), to bear My Name before the Gentiles (nations), and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

In modern political language, it could be said that the Apostle Paul was Jesus Christ’s Secretary of State, on a miniature scale, during the Acts time-frame. But, when the Government of Christ is fully manifested in the earth, the Lord Jesus will be the King, Whose throne will be in Heaven, and Paul will be His Ambassador to the nations, world-wide. This is an indication, to me, that Paul will have access to the Heaven where Christ will be seated, as well as, the capitols of the world.

The Church Which Is His Body

The next logical conclusion is that we, the Church which is His Body, will find our stations of service under the leadership of Paul, the Great Secretary of State. Without a doubt, there will be levels, or grades, or stations of service. Some members of the Church (Ecclesia) of the Mystery will have more responsible positions than others. Some of us may be Under-Secretaries of State, that is, Ambassadors housed in an embassy, to a particular nation-state. Some of us may head-up a Mission in a city of one of the nations representing God’s Government in certain matters. In this sense, a “Mission” is a permanent diplomatic office abroad. There are Missions such as, Trade, Agriculture, International Security, Global Affairs, Political Affairs, Consular Affairs, and Arms Control. During Christ’s rule, there could be a Mission on true worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, equity in affairs of state, or it could be in such matters as laws against respect of persons, living by every Word that proceeds out of the Mouth of the Lord, justice in money and banking, and etc.

Some of us may be assigned to certain Missions doing more routine work for the Government of God as members of the diplomatic staff. There will probably be many more duties as ministers of state, under Paul, which will be required. We will be representatives of the most glorious Government the world has ever known. Whatever our station might be, it will meet the needs of our heart.

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10) NIV.

It would be reasonable to assume that if we perform admirably, there will be promotions and rewards, even in the resurrection-life. Wouldn’t it be a great joy to be in attendance for special meetings of State around the Heavenly Throne of our Lord Jesus Christ? You may say I am getting carried away. Well, you may be right. But, I acknowledge that I do look forward to serving the Lord in the age to come. The older one gets, it seems the more one’s focus is centered on the “things to come.” As we age, the shorter this life is realized to be. Our thoughts are hard to be centered on our future activities in our present life. We think a lot about our yesterdays and very little about our tomorrows. We have more yesterdays than tomorrows.

I try to spend a lot of time contemplating the reality of “the ages to come” and the part that we, as members Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head, will play in His grand purposes of the ages.

The full compliment of the new Israel will be realized when the Kingdom of God materializes, and all of its citizens are raised from the dead. But, this event awaits future fulfillment. The citizens of the “new nation” of Israel are presently sleeping in the dust of the ground. Said another way, all members of the Church of God are awaiting resurrection.

The Lord suspended His working through His “new nation” at the end of Acts 28. The Lord accomplished everything He intended to do at the time. He did not offer the Kingdom to Israel. Therefore, Israel did not reject an offer that was never made. When the Acts period ended, suddenly, God ushered in His hidden secret purpose—the Dispensation of the Grace of God. A new and startling revelation was given to Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles (Eph. 3:1). Christ’s Ambassador, the Apostle Paul, conducted his Ambassadorship in prison and chains for the express purpose of receiving the revelation of the Mystery (Eph. 6:19-20).

But, when the Kingdom comes, his Ambassadorship will not be confined by chains and prison. Nor, will our service be hindered by death, or a corruptible body.

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).

Our new body of glory will be fitted for celestial, as well as, terrestrial activities. It is amazing what horizons the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head will enjoy when the pre-millennial Kingdom of God comes to fruition.

Tom L. Ballinger