A study of the Old Testament sanctuary service clearly shows that
the religion taught by Jesus is the religion God originally gave
the nation of Israel. That service pointed to Christ as the true
fulfillment of the prophecies of the coming Messiah. Yet when
Jesus arrived, He met in head-on collision with the Jewish leaders.
Judaism and Christianity split into two distinct religions, and
that separation exists today. To understand the Bible correctly,
we must understand why this division took place and what it
Helps and hints: Of all the nations ruled by Rome, the
nationalistic Jews were the most rebellious. But in their frenzy
to destroy Christ they even shouted total allegiance to their hated
overlord, CAESAR!. They rejected God's Son for a pagan ruler, then
sealed that rejection on the cross at Calvary! There are some
Christians who use this passage to teach that the Jews rejected
Jesus as their KING, but not as their Messiah. These well-meaning
people base their whole understanding of Bible prophecy on the idea
that NATIONAL ISRAEL will be the focal point of the closing scenes
of this earth's history. No such distinction is made in this
passage! The issue, however, is a crucial one, for it affects
one's whole understanding of the Bible. Who IS the subject of
Bible prophecy at the end of time? This lesson will address that
Did the Jews actually reject Jesus as their MESSIAH?
Helps and hints: "And ye will not come to me, that ye
might have life." Clearly Jesus is speaking of their rejection of
Him as their SAVIOR, their MESSIAH, not in some separate role as
their "king." To use (as some do) the passage "We have no king but
Caesar" to make such a distinction is a classic example of trying
to make the Bible support a preconceived notion. Though perhaps
sincere, it does not make it "truth." And in this case the whole
meaning of prophetic history is changed, as we shall see.
Were only the leaders included in the decision to destroy
Helps and hints: The priests and rulers were instrumental
in swaying the passions of the mob against Jesus. And undoubtedly
many in Jerusalem were horrified by the decision, even as it was
made. But it was a representative voice of the entire nation that
shouted to Pilate that they would accept the responsibility for the
blood of Jesus on themselves and on their children.
How does the apostle John describe this decision?
Helps and hints: Jesus was rejected by Israel as a whole.
But God continues to accept those who accept Jesus as their
Messiah, regardless of race, social position, sex, or place of
Would God allow the nation to bear the responsibility for
rejecting their Messiah? If so, how?
Helps and hints: Jesus had given the Jewish nation
adequate warning. In verse 34 He reviews the history of
persecution of the prophets and indicates His own approaching
death on the cross. He forecasts continued persecution of His
followers from city to city. In verse 35, Jesus makes it clear
that they WOULD be accountable for that blood. Their reward is
forecast in verse 33.
Had Jesus predicted His rejection even earlier?
Helps and hints: It has been argued that Jesus staged His
own crucifixion. This is not the case. Jesus never sought to
alienate the Jewish leaders. It was they who had alienated
themselves from God. Jesus had done all in His power to save them
without violating their free will. He wept over Jerusalem, "O
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest
them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy
children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her
wings, and ye would not!" Matthew 23:37. They witnessed the
greatest manifestation of God on earth and turned their backs on
Him. Nothing more could be done. Their only hope for the future
lay in turning and accepting Christ, as many did on the Day of
There is little question that as a nation the Jews rejected Jesus
as their Messiah. Throughout the Christian centuries the Jewish
people (except those who have become Christians), have continued to
maintain that Jesus was not the Messiah promised in the Old
Testament. The majority of Jews today have given up hope in a
coming Messiah at all, believing that this hope only reflected the
dreams of an ancient people.
But while the Jews may be in agreement about Jesus as the Messiah,
Christians are very much divided in their ideas about the current
status of the Jewish people. On one extreme are those who believe
that the Jews were REJECTED by God, and as "Christ-killers" have
been under the curse of God for the last 2,000 years. Therefore
God CAUSES them to be persecuted from country to country as a
witness of His wrath against them. Some even say Adolf Hitler
was merely doing God service in trying to annihilate them. On
the other hand, many say that God NEVER REJECTED the Jewish nation,
but only set them aside temporarily. According to this view,
the Jews will yet receive all the covenant promises that God made
to Abraham, including the title to the New Earth. Still
others believe that while God continues to reach out in love to
the Jewish people, their salvation can only be secured through
faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.
Not ALL of these ideas are correct! Yet ALL claim Bible support.
The first section of this lesson considered whether or not the Jews
in fact rejected Jesus as their Messiah. This section will
consider whether or not God rejected THEM as His covenant people,
and if so, what it means for us today.
Helps and hints: God's love is an everlasting love. He
does not punish or destroy any of His creation because He ceases to
love it, but only because His creatures have allowed themselves to
be controlled by sin to the point of no repair. God will destroy
the devil to provide safety for His loyal children, but nowhere
does the Bible say that God has ceased to LOVE him. God still
remembers him as Lucifer, a faithful subject of His kingdom. It is
not without pain that God is separated from His creatures. God
hates only the sin, not the sinner. But eventually His wrath must
fall on those who are determined to choose sin rather
than righteousness. If it were not so, there would never be
peace in the universe!
Has God withheld from Jews the opportunity for salvation?
Helps and hints: Clearly not. The gospel is for both
Jews and Gentiles. The issue considered here is the covenant
promises. God made a covenant with the nation of Israel that they
should be witnesses of His love to the entire world. They were to
bear the message of divine truth to the nations. This they failed
to do, even to the point of rejecting the ultimate truth (Jesus
Christ) themselves. Without the message of the Savior, they cannot
bear witness of God's love to the world. God's covenant people are
those who bear this message of truth. The question then is this.
Do the Jews still qualify as God's COVENANT PEOPLE, or has God
chosen someone else to take their place?
Some say that God made promises to national Israel that He can
never retract. These promises would be called "unconditional." Is
this accurate? Does the Bible teaches that God COULD have cut off
the Jewish nation from the covenant promises, if He so desired.
What does the prophet Jeremiah tell us about God's relationship
Helps and hints: God always reserves the right to deal
with His subjects as He sees fit. Israel's blessings did not rest
on unconditional promises that God was chained to. It was
FAITHFULNESS, not FAVORITISM, that was to determine whether they
would continue as God's covenant people.
What similar message did Jeremiah also bring to God's people?
Helps and hints: When Jeremiah said their house would be
like Shiloh, he meant it would be DESTROYED! When the Jews first
entered Palestine, their sanctuary was kept in the city of Shiloh.
As a result of disobedience, God allowed the Philistines to capture
the "ark of the covenant," and the city itself was eventually
destroyed. Notice how Jeremiah's message is fulfilled in the
statement of Jesus in Matthew 23:37,38.
"If you will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set
before you, to hearken to the words of my servants the prophets,
whom I sent unto you, . . . then will I make this house like
Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all nations of the
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and
stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have
gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her
chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is
left unto you desolate."
At the moment of Jesus' death on the cross, what indication did
God give that the Jewish temple was left "desolate?"
Helps and hints: The temple was God's house.
It was holy BECAUSE the presence of God dwelt there,
at the ark of the covenant. The curtain concealing
the holy things was torn from the TOP DOWN by an
unseen hand. God let all see for themselves that His
glory was no longer there. It had departed from among
them. Their house was left DESOLATE. Forty years later
the Romans destroyed the temple completely. As Jesus had
prophesied (Matthew 24:1,2), not one stone was left on
top of another.
Notice also that Jesus said "your house." Shortly before,
when He turned over the tables of the money changers,
Jesus had said "My house shall be called the house of
prayer." Matthew 21:13. Now He calls it "YOUR HOUSE,"
indicating that He no longer claimed it as His own.
How did Jesus indicate that the Jews would lose their standing
as the overseers of God's kingdom?
Helps and hints: This passage shows that because the Jews
rejected Jesus as the cornerstone of their religious system, He
would reject them as His covenant people in favor of a nation that
would bear fruit for Him. God would not be left without a covenant
people, but they would be a people who would bear the TRUE message
of salvation to the world, in fulfillment of the covenant PROMISE,
"in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." Genesis 12:3.
Does the Bible say which nation would become God's covenant
1 Peter 2:9,10
Helps and hints: Some Christians have tried to say that
this letter was written only to Jews. But Gentiles are
specifically included among those who "were not a people, but are
now the people of God." (see Romans 9:24,25) This letter is
addressed to the entire Christian Church, both Jews and Gentiles
who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ! Compare the language with
1 Peter 2:9,10
When God announced His choice of Israel as His covenant people at
Mount Sinai, He instructed Moses, "These are the words which thou
shalt speak unto the children of Israel." Exodus 19:6. Peter
applies these very expressions to the New Testament CHURCH! Who is
the nation that received the kingdom? It could be none other than
those who now bear God's covenant message to the world, The
Christian Church! The number 12 is used in the Bible to symbolize
the covenant relationship. It is no coincidence that Jesus chose
12 apostles. He indicated that He was continuing the covenant that
He had made with the 12 tribes of Israel. But He was continuing it
with a special REMNANT called out of that original group. the
disciples indicated that they recognized the significance by
filling the place of Judah after his suicide.
(see Acts 1:15-26
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a peculiar people."
"Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my
covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above
all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a
kingdom of priests, and a holy nation."
Helps and hints: The fig tree is a primary biblical
symbol for the Jewish nation. Jesus used the fig tree as an object
lesson. The leaves indicated a healthy condition, but there was no
fruit on it. The Jews made a show of righteousness, but they bore
no fruit spiritually. As Jesus cursed the fig tree and it
withered, so He cursed the Jewish nation; not so that those like
Adolf Hitler could justify killing Jews, but to show that no man
would ever again FIND SALVATION in the context of the Jewish system
Notice that Mark 11:20 says the tree was "dried up from the roots."
John the Baptist had warned the Pharisees, "And now also the ax is
laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which
bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the
When the roots are dead,
no new shoots appear.
How does a similar parable in Luke teach the same lesson?
Helps and hints: Jesus had been working three years for
the Jews. In the fourth year He also found no fruit. In fact,
they crucified Him.
What other image did Jesus use to teach the same message?
Helps and hints: Jesus said the unfruitful branches are
cut off the vine. "Without me ye can do nothing" was especially
meaningful for the Jewish nation. Without Jesus Christ, all of
their ceremonies and rituals were meaningless, powerless to provide
salvation. These things were only SYMBOLS of Christ. To
reject Him was to reject the entire purpose of their formal
religious system. Only the shell of tradition remained.
In chapter 11 of the book of Romans, the apostle Paul sees the
symbol of the olive tree as representing God's covenant family.
Some of the "natural" branches (Jews) were broken off, and
other "wild" branches (Gentiles) grafted in. Paul warns these
Gentiles not to fall into the same trap as the Jews had in feeling
as though salvation automatically belonged to them and them alone.
Rather he appealed to them to extend the offer of salvation through
Christ to the Jews, and fulfill their calling as the instruments of
Israel did not make a covenant with God. God made a covenant with
Israel. That covenant was made possible only be God's grace, and
validated by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The promise of that
sacrifice was unconditional, but God never promised to
UNCONDITIONALLY ACCEPT a people who REJECTED HIM. When the nation
of Israel voluntarily broke God's covenant, God was no longer
bound to it either. It is only a testimony to God's MERCY that He
gave them as many chances as He did! As a NATION they forfeited
their position as God's chosen people when they rejected their
Messiah, separating themselves from the true religion of God. As
INDIVIDUALS they can regain that privilege when they accept Jesus
Christ as their Lord and Savior, just like anyone else. As the
apostle Peter said,
"For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the
same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For
whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Is God Faithful ?
Many have pointed to the reorganization of the Jewish state (1948),
and the reclaiming of Jerusalem (1967), as signs that God is now
demonstrating His faithfulness to Israel. Popular books beginning
with The Late Great Planet Earth have capitalized on these 20th
Century political events to build their whole theory of
Bible prophecy. This theory is strongly advertised on radio,
television, and across the bookstands. It is very appealing to
those who have a limited understanding of the Bible, because it
appears to square with current events. But don't forget, many
thought Adolf Hitler to be the much publicized "Antichrist." At
the time it appeared plausible. Conscientious Bible students knew
better, even when Hitler was at his peak.
Is God returning the covenant promises to the Jewish people today?
Consider these summary points:
- Israel lost their standing with God because of their rejection
of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
- The Jews today have not accepted Jesus as Messiah. (Only a
small percentage of the population of the nation of Israel are
religious at all!) Their position has not changed since the days
- Does it not seem strange that God would ACCEPT the Jewish
nation as the bearer of His covenant under the same conditions for
which He REJECTED it in that capacity nearly 20 centuries ago?
GOD IS FAITHFUL! In fact, God has been faithful to His covenant
promises to the Jewish nation throughout the Christian centuries.
Elaborating on the covenant conditions in the 28th chapter of the
book of Deuteronomy, Moses instructed the people regarding the
blessings and curses. Four times the word IF was used in relating
the covenant blessings. Twice the word IF was used to warn of the
covenant curses. Israel chose the curse through their
unfaithfulness to God. And God has only been faithful to His
promise in allowing them to suffer the consequences. A true
understanding of Bible prophecy reveals how the covenant BLESSING
is being fulfilled for God's true covenant people!
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