What is to be said of Israel’s eschatology—God’s first-loved on the earth (the Christian being His first-loved in heaven)? Israel is one of the prime examples of God’s faithfulness to His promises to man, which are a show off His love. The most significant emblem of His love is confirmed within the permanency of His work in a soul. A covenant made with God is never broken on His side. Those to whom He vows His love and promises will ever find them working on and in the souls of His recipients (e.g. Jer 31:1, 3, 31-33; Eze 36:26, 27), “drawing” them ever closer. This will be during the salvation of “all Israel” (Rom 11:26, 27), occurring in the final dispensation remaining on this old earth—the Millennium.
“The people of God”—those among the unbelieving Jews—have been out of fellowship with Him since the coming of Christ, due to their rejection of Him; but nowhere is it written that they are out of union with Him. In fact, God’s unceasing show of repeatedly bringing them back to Himself is a demonstration of the inseparable union of His Covenant with them; and this same truth is the same concerning those within the son-ship of Christ!
In Ephesians 2 we have the description of the Gentile in a most deplorable condition of distance from God, and separation from all that He had chosen upon the earth. But the Cross of Christ has annihilated all such distinctions. It has proved that the favored Jew was, if possible, more iniquitous than the poor Gentile. They had rejected and crucified their own Messiah; and if there were any among the Jews more urgent for His death than others, it was the priests, and so it always is (most Jews still disbelieve that Jesus is the Son of God—NC).
We need to take care what we sanction at the present hour. The Lord has brought out what His Church is. But the will of man has raked up the law of commandments out of the grave of Christ, and enacts it over again. This is what is found all through the Church today. It is inconceivable, except though realizing the wiles of Satan, how Christians can take up the peculiar institution of God to His people, in the face of such a chapter as this, where we find that all this is gone, even for the Jews who believe, by the authority of God. What a solemn proof of the present condition of the Church of God!
The truth is plain enough: “Having abolished is His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one Body by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph 2:15, 16).
To this figure of “one new man” Christians answer. You will find that such a state of things never was known during OT times, nor even during our Lord’s life on earth. It is only after His ascension that Jew and Gentile are united upon earth, and worship the Father on the same level. This is the Body of Christ, which is the Church. It is not merely that they are all believers, but they are members of Christ in heaven and of none another on earth. Of course, when we get to heaven, it will still be the Church; but it began here, and that with Christ crucified and ascended to heaven.
When He thus takes His place there, the work follows of forming the Body, in union with the Head. All distinctions are gone, as far as its own sphere is concerned. The nature of the Church is most plain from this: “That He might reconcile both unto God in one Body by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby”—which enmity was in the commandments of the law, which straightly and wholly separated one from the other.
But Christ “came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and them which were nigh.” All is attributed to Him, because founded on the Cross; and it is Christ, by the Holy Spirit, who now proclaims this heavenly peace to the Gentiles once afar off, as well as to the hitherto favored Israel.
Where this truth is known, men may preach Christ more or less, may be descanting much in general on the promises of God; but a Jew would do that; and to them especially it will be given by and by to sing the song that “the mercy of the Lord endures forever”—the great burden of the millennial Psalms. The practically Jewish position taken by most Christians makes them turn the Psalms of David into the staple of Christian communion, and the expression of their own condition before God.
All Scripture is, of course, given of God for the profit and blessing of the believer. But am I to offer a bull and a goat, because of old it was commanded? To imitate Leviticus is one thing; to understand it is quite another. By faith “we establish the law” (Rom 3:31), but we are not under it. So, speaking about my walk as a Christian, Paul says that sin shall not have dominion over me, for I am not under the law, but under grace (under grace the old man cannot work in the believer to choose it, i.e. “dominate,” because God “works in you” to ever please Him instead—NC).
The Christian is under the law for nothing whatever, because he is in Christ dead and risen. The Lord Jesus was under it once. He passed out of its realm on the Cross; and my association with Him begins thenceforth. I am united to the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, not on earth (His presence is at the right hand of the Father, but His “life” – Col 3:4 - is here by the Spirit—NC).
What has He in heaven to do with the law? Hence we are said to be under grace, not law. One’s walk is amazingly lowered where a mistake is made about it; and Satan tries to bring in the law after believing, if he cannot pervert it to hinder believing.
Here, then, it is peace that is preached “to you who were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by on Spirit unto the Father.” There, instead of the law, which drew a distinction between Jew and Gentile, the Holy Spirit unites them on a common ground, and puts them in a common relationship as sons, having to do with the Father. This is our position. When God was acting as a governor, He chose a nation; He had His own servants. But now, when He has a family, all that order of things vanishes. He has His children, and wants to have them near Him.
The end of all Jewish form of holy places and days, of priesthood and of sacrifice, was the Cross of Christ. God is no longer dealing with men by a visible and sensual religion. The Holy Spirit sent down from heaven leads the children of God to “draw near” to their Father.
How can a Christian acknowledge that this is what God had given to guide him, and yet be found taking part, were it only by his presence, in that which is positively Jewish? What God has provided for the Jew, and what He enjoins upon the Christian are very different things. What He presses upon the Christian is far more cutting to the old man and more honoring to Christ than anything that He ever did or will give to Israel.
The Father has brought us as His family to Himself, and through Christ we “have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph 2:18)—we both—Jew and Gentile. How far are we carrying that out? Are we to sanction the unbelief that turns back to “the weak and beggarly elements of the world” (Gal 4:9, which is a continuation of verses 2-4, and is in reference to “the law of commandments contained in ordinances” - Eph 2:15; esp. those in the ceremonial law “because they could not give life, righteousness, peace, joy, comfort, and salvation” (John Gill – i.e. Heb 7:19)? Or are we cleaving only to the glorified Lord Jesus, worshiping “the Father in the Spirit” (Jhn 4:23)? We may suffer, if faithful to grace and truth; but happy are we, if it be so (1Pe 3:14).
Scripture confines the Body, the Church, to that which followed the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus, and makes it depend on the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9; 1Pe 1:11) sent down to form them into one Body upon the earth. “In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph 2:21, 22).
God had once a dwelling-place on earth—the temple; and there He dwelt, not by the Spirit, but in a visible manner (angel - Exo 23:20; Num 20:16—NC). Now He dwells on earth in a more blessed way still, even through the Spirit. The Holy Spirit constitutes the saints divine habitation and unites them as one Body. What a truth! It is plain that the Father intends that we should walk faithfully in the truth, and according to “Christ who is our Life” (Col 3:4).
— William Kelly (1821 – 1906)