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What Does Israel Mean In The Bible

Gods Purpose For Israel Today

The authentic Hebrew meaning of the word Israel – Biblical Hebrew insight by Professor Lipnick

So if Jesus fulfilled Israels purpose, does God still have a further purpose for them? Or have they been set aside?

There is much heated debate over this issue. Clearly Israel still exists as a nation, and it would seem that God has been preserving some remnant of them over the past 2,000 years. The vast majority of the times the New Testament uses the name Israel is in regard to the physical descendants of Jacob.

But I believe there is more to Israel than that today. Looking at Ephesians 2:11-22 it is clear that Paul sees something more than just the status quo for Israel. Paul refers here to a new humanity that Christ has created via his death on the cross. Created out of both Jew and Gentile. Not containing both Jews and Gentiles. But one where that distinction does not exist.

Most commonly we call that new humanity the Church. But in Galatians 6:16 Paul seems to call them the Israel of God. I am convinced that the Church has not replaced Israel. I am also convinced that God does not have two distinct covenant people. Instead, Israel now includes people from all backgrounds. All united together in Christ Israel fulfilled.

See What Is Premillennialism? to learn more about the differing views of Israel mentioned here.

Does Romans 1: 26 All Israel Shall Be Saved Mean Every Jew Will Go To Heaven

The Bible says in Romans 11:26-27: And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. Does this mean that every single Jew who has ever lived will come to faith in Christ? Does this mean that every last Jew will go to heaven? Let us look in the Bible for answers!

Romans 11:26 predicts: And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: This word all is indicative of the nation rather than individual Jewish salvation. It is a corporate issue.

To read about individual Jewish salvation, we refer to Romans 10:1: Brethren, my hearts desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. Paul wanted individual Jews to be saved during the Acts period . Those Jews, like him, had rebelled against Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit . They were part of an apostate nation, and they needed to be saved from the error that had gripped national Israel. Individual Jews could be saved but the nation of Israel could not be saved at that point. National Israel was set aside and still is set aside. Paul was the primary example of a Jewish individual being saved unto eternal life without national Israel being saved unto eternal life .

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Modern Jewish Debates On The Land Of Israel

The Land of Israel concept has been evoked by the founders of the State of Israel. It often surfaces in political debates on the status of the West Bank, which is referred to in official Israeli discourse as Judea and Samaria, from the names of the two historical Israelite and Judean kingdoms. These debates frequently invoke religious principles, despite the little weight these principles typically carry in Israeli secular politics.

Ideas about the need for Jewish control of the land of Israel have been propounded by figures such as Yitzhak Ginsburg, who has written about the historical entitlement that Jews have to the whole Land of Israel. Ginsburgh’s ideas about the need for Jewish control over the land has some popularity within contemporary West Bank settlements. However, there are also strong backlashes from the Jewish community regarding these ideas.

The Satmar Hasidic community in particular denounces any geographic or political establishment of Israel, deeming this establishment has directly interfering with God’s plan for Jewish redemption. Joel Teitelbaum was a foremost figure in this denouncement, calling the Land and State of Israel a vehicle for idol worship, as well as a smokescreen for Satan’s workings.

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What Israel Provided Us

While it might be tempting to see Israel as a failure, I do not believe that was the case. God knew their disobedience to the covenant and his purpose for them upfront. And through it all he worked to produce at least two important things out of Israel.

1. Jesus Christ

Most important was Jesus, who while fully divine, was also fully human. He was Jewish, and living under the covenant law of Israel. And he not only lived under it. He fulfilled it. After Jesus fulfilment of the law, believers could look back and see that the law pointed to Jesus all along.

All of Israels history was moving toward the coming of Jesus. The law and the prophets spoke of him , and he came to fulfill them . Jesus was the fulfilment of Israels purpose. Even though Israel as a nation would seem to have failed, God used them to bring Jesus into the world.

2. The Old Testament

Israel also produced what Christians today call the Old Testament. This record of Israels history, and Gods dealing with them is important for our understanding of God and redemption history.

It is a history with a few bright spots, but mostly it is a story of human failure. And, contrasted with the failure of humanity, we see God clearly portrayed as purposeful, patient, and just. Our understanding of who God is would be poorer if not for the messy history of Israel.

Why Does God Preserve A Remnant

What Does The Word

You might wonder why does God preserve a remnant? The answer is simple it is because God chooses to fulfill his purpose in the earth through ordinary men and women like you and me. Because he desires to fulfill his plan in this manner, he seeks out and preserves a people who are ready and willing to follow him regardless of the direction that everyone else is going.

These people who make up the remnant are instrumental in preserving Gods character, Gods purpose, and Gods will in the earth. Therefore those who make up the remnant represent hope along with the promise and possibility of restoration.

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Israel Means To Struggle With God

It is possible to be a good Jew and have questions about God.

Commentary on Parashat Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4 – 36:43

Many people hold back on religion in their lives because they are uncomfortable with the concept of God. Does God exist? How could bad things happen to good people? Why does evil exist? These are all questions that people have addressed throughout time. Many sophisticated discussions and answers are embedded in Jewish texts for adults to encounter and wrestle with personally.

In this weeks Torah portion, Vayishlah, Jacob wrestles all night with a mysterious angel representing God.Because Jacob successfully survives this encounter, his name is changed to Israel. The translation of Israel is to struggle with God. The Torah is saying that to struggle with God is common. Most people require inquiry and study, as adults, to come to terms with their personal encounter. Jews are not asked to accept complete faith blindly. Jews are encouraged intellectually to encounter God within themselves after studying the wrestling our sages encountered in their journeys to God. It is possible to be a good Jew and have questions about God. In Judaism, actions are more important than faith.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about God from your personal view and struggles.


Do you see clues in life to Gods existence?

Do you have unanswered questions about how God operates?

Do you hold back from religion because of your unanswered questions?


What Is The Meaning Of Israel In The Bible

Israel is a name used 2,431 times in the Bible. It is included in 34 out of the 39 books in the Old Testament. And in 13 of the 27 New Testament books as well. Clearly it is an important name. But who, or what, is Israel? How come it is the most significant name in the Bible apart from God?

The primary thread throughout the Bible is the redemption of humanity. The first three chapters recount the creation and fall of humanity. The remainder of the Scripture primarily deals with the story of our restoration. And Israel is at the center of that story.

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What Is The Meaning Of Israel

So what does Israel mean in the Bible? It really depends on the context.

  • It could refer to an individual Abrahams grandson.
  • It could mean the descendants of Israel the children of Israel.
  • Frequently it refers to the nation of Israel either the united kingdom or the northern kingdom.
  • Probably the most common usage is to refer to Gods people those that he established a covenant with at Sinai and their descendants.
  • And, finally, we see it pointing toward the new humanity created in Christ citizens of the kingdom of God.

But always the name points back to God and his purposes. Those identified with that name are Gods people, chosen for a purpose. And that is what Israel ultimately means: Gods people.

Ed Jarrettis a long time follower of Jesus and a member of Sylvan Way Baptist Church. He has been a Bible teacher for over 40 years and regularly blogs at A Clay Jar. You can also follow him on or . Ed is married, the father of two, and grandfather of two lovely girls. He is retired and currently enjoys his gardens and backpacking.

Fall Of Judah & Babylonian Exile

What does Hallelujah mean in Hebrew? Biblical Hebrew insight by Professor Lipnick

Ultimately, it wasn’t the Assyrian Empire that destroyed Judah. Nearly a century after Sennacherib’s unsuccessful siege of Jerusalem, a Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar II conquered much of Assyria’s former empire and laid siege to Jerusalem, taking the city in 587 B.C., destroying the First Temple and deporting many of Judah’s inhabitants to Babylonia. Both the Hebrew Bible and cuneiform tablets written in Nebuchadnezzar II’s time tell of the events that took place.

The fate of the Ark of the Covenant, which contained tablets recording the 10 Commandments, is unknown. Some ancient writers say the ark was brought back to Babylon, while other suggest that it was hidden away. In the millennia after the destruction of the First Temple a number of stories were spun telling tales of the location of the lost Ark.

In recent years, a number of cuneiform tablets have emerged from Iraq revealing details of the lives of Jewish deportees who lived at a village called l-Yahdu which means the “village of Judea.” Many of the tablets were purchased by private collectors on the antiquities market, raising concerns that some of the tablets may have been recently looted.

The tablets were “written by Babylonian scribes on behalf of the Judean families that lived in and around l-Yahdu,” wrote Kathleen Abraham, a professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium, in a paper she wrote for an exhibition catalog, “Light and Shadows: The Story of Iran and the Jews” .

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Etymology And Biblical Roots

The term “Land of Israel” is a direct translation of the Hebrew phrase , which occasionally occurs in the Bible, and is first mentioned in the Tanakh in 1 Samuel 13:19, following the Exodus, when the Israelite tribes were already in the Land of Canaan. The words are used sparsely in the Bible: King David is ordered to gather ‘strangers to the land of Israel’ for building purposes , and the same phrasing is used in reference to King Solomon‘s census of all of the ‘strangers in the Land of Israel’ . Ezekiel, though generally preferring the phrase ‘soil of Israel’ , employs eretz Israel twice, respectively at Ezekiel 40:2 and Ezekiel 47:18.

According to , the term is not an “authentic and original name for this land”, but instead serves as “a somewhat flexible description of the area which the Israelite tribes had their settlements”. According to Anita Shapira, the term “Eretz Yisrael” was a holy term, vague as far as the exact boundaries of the territories are concerned but clearly defining ownership. The sanctity of the land developed rich associations in rabbinical thought, where it assumes a highly symbolic and mythological status infused with promise, though always connected to a geographical location.Nur Masalha argues that the biblical boundaries are “entirely fictitious”, and bore simply religious connotations in Diaspora Judaism, with the term only coming into ascendency with the rise of Zionism.

We Know That Gods Heart Was Always For All The Nations

The very reason he created Israel at all was in order to bless the whole world . The plan was always to embrace all nations into his presence . Isaiah has a great way of putting it: in chapter 5, verse 26:

He will raise a signal for nations far away, and whistle for them from the ends of the earth and behold, quickly, speedily they come!

Yes, God was always longing to bring all of his children to worship him. But we can see in Isaiah 11:12 that there is a distinction between the nations that he whistles for and the people of Israel

He will raise a signal for the nations AND will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

God shows his desire to call Jewish people back to be together again. And this he has done, in 1948 when the State of Israel was re-established and Jews came from the four corners of the earth back to the Promised Land.But wait he also whistles for all the peoples of the earth to come are we all supposed to go to Israel? Or is it a metaphor for coming into salvation? And if so, is he also speaking metaphorically about re-gathering Israel? Are we supposed to read these things literally or figuratively?

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Rabbinic Laws In The Land Of Israel

According to Menachem Lorberbaum,

In Rabbinic tradition, the land of Israel consecrated by the returning exiles was significantly different in it boundaries from both the prescribed biblical borders and the actual borders of the pre-Exilic kingdoms. It ranged roughly from Acre in the north to Ashkelon in the south along the Mediterranean, and included Galilee and the Golan. Yet there was no settlement in Samaria.

According to Jewish religious law , some laws only apply to Jews living in the Land of Israel and some areas in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria . These include agricultural laws such as the Shmita tithing laws such as the Maaser Rishon , Maaser sheni, and Maaser ani charitable practices during farming, such as pe’ah and laws regarding taxation. One popular source lists 26 of the 613 mitzvot as contingent upon the Land of Israel.

Many of the religious laws which applied in ancient times are applied in the modern State of Israel others have not been revived, since the State of Israel does not adhere to traditional Jewish law. However, certain parts of the current territory of the State of Israel, such as the Arabah, are considered by some religious authorities to be outside the Land of Israel for purposes of Jewish law. According to these authorities, the religious laws do not apply there.

According to some Jewish religious authorities, every Jew has an obligation to dwell in the Land of Israel and may not leave except for specifically permitted reasons .

Usage In Israeli Politics

What It Means To Be A Hebrew

Early government usage of the term, following Israel’s establishment, continued the historical link and possible Zionist intentions. In 19512 David Ben-Gurion wrote “Only now, after seventy years of pioneer striving, have we reached the beginning of independence in a part of our small country.” Soon afterwards he wrote “It has already been said that when the State was established it held only six percent of the Jewish people remaining alive after the Nazi cataclysm. It must now be said that it has been established in only a portion of the Land of Israel. Even those who are dubious as to the restoration of the historical frontiers, as fixed and crystallised and given from the beginning of time, will hardly deny the anomaly of the boundaries of the new State.” The 1955 Israeli government year-book said, “It is called the ‘State of Israel’ because it is part of the Land of Israel and not merely a Jewish State. The creation of the new State by no means derogates from the scope of historical Eretz Israel”.

The IsraelJordan Treaty of Peace, signed on 1993, led to the establishment of an agreed border between the two nations, and subsequently the state of Israel has no territorial claims in the parts of the historic Land of Israel lying east of the Jordan river.

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Gods Purpose For Israel

So God had a plan for Israel. But what was that plan? What was his purpose in taking this slave people and making a nation out of them? And continuing to put up with their rebellious nature for hundreds of years?

I believe that if you go back to Gods encounter with Israel at Mt Sinai you will find an answer to that question. In Exodus 19:5-6 is found Gods invitation to Israel to join him: Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Gods purpose, if Israel agreed, was to make Israel into a kingdom of priests a holy nation. As a kingdom of priests they would have the task of representing the nations to God. And God to the nations. They were a people that God intended to use to further his work in the redemption of humanity.

In general Israel failed as Gods representative to the world. They even failed in keeping Gods covenant. As a result God destroyed them as a nation, sending them into exile, before bringing some of them back to the land and seemingly starting over. Israel was a demonstration that no matter what God does for people, we will rebel against him.


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