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When God called Israel out of Egypt and formed them into a kingdom at Sinai, He both "called" and 'chose" them as His "peculiar treasure" (Ex. 19:5). From the beginning, however, some of them had genuine faith in God, while others did not. Many worshipped the golden calf, but at that time the Levites were "on the Lord's side" (Ex. 32:26).
This dual situation persisted throughout biblical history.
When Saul was chosen as Israel's first king, it was conditional upon his obedience. When he persisted in rebellion, the kingdom was taken from him, and God chose another (David). In 1 Sam. 13:14 the prophet told Saul, "But now thy kingdom shall not continue; the Lord hath sought Him a man after His own heart."
Being "chosen" is not unconditional. The Israelites died in the wilderness without inheriting the Kingdom. Saul died at the hands of the Philistines, and his kingdom was given to David.
Later, because Israel persisted in idolatry, God raised up the Assyrians to destroy their nation and Samaria, their capital. God stripped them of their Birthright name Israel and actually divorced them (Jer. 3:8; Hos. 2:2). Israel had to learn that being chosen was not unconditional, but was predicated upon their faith in God.
Likewise, Judah had to learn the same lesson. Jeremiah told them that the nation was divided into two kinds of people. In Jer. 24 they are described figuratively as two baskets of figs--one evil and one good. This distinction was not based upon genealogy but upon their faith and obedience to God. Both baskets came from fig trees, but one was inedible, while the other was sweet and good.
Jeremiah says that the primary distinction was in their willingness to submit to the captivity of Babylon. The evil figs refused to submit to God's decree of judgment against them for their sin and hypocritical religion. They could not believe that God would do that to them, on account of their "chosen" status, which they believed was unconditional.
The good figs, like Jeremiah, Daniel, and others, submitted to the judgment of God.
This distinction carried into the New Testament time as well. Jesus was a "good fig" and had no problem accepting Roman rule. He understood that Rome was the fourth kingdom in the succession of empires prophesied by Daniel. So to submit to Rome was the will of God. Most of the other Judeans, however, chafed under Rome. When false messiahs rose up, promising to deliver them from Rome, many people followed them into destruction.
These were the evil figs of the day.
Jesus taught His disciples to submit to Rome and to make use of their time of sentencing by gathering citizens for the Kingdom that was yet to be manifested in the earth.
Jesus was the rightful King and Heir of all things. As the inheritor of the promises to King David, He was given the Scepter of Judah. With it went the "tribe" itself. In other words, those who followed the King of Judah remained as part of the tribe of Judah. Those who rebelled against the King of Judah were cut off from the tribe (unless or until they repented).
The situation was similar to when Absalom revolted against his father, David. When you have two camps, each claiming to be the true nation of Judah, one must decide which is the true Judah and which is not. Obviously, David's band was the true tribe, because David was the rightful heir of the Scepter--even though Absalom had the majority of the Judeans under his dominion.
Even so with Jesus Christ. Those who followed Him and recognized Him as the King were the true Judeans, while those who revolted and usurped His throne were cut off in the sight of God.
Hence, Paul tells us in Romans 2:28, 29 who IS a "Jew" (i.e., of the tribe of Judah), and who is NOT a "Jew." Those who accepted the Mediator of the New Covenant were recognized by God as the true members of the tribe. Those who revolted were not even "Jews" at all, by God's standard of measure.
Was this a matter of genealogy? No, it was a matter of faith in the King of the tribe.
The only way for anyone in that day to remain a tribal member (i.e., a citizen of the Kingdom) was by faith in Jesus Christ (i.e., "David" instead of "Absalom").
In Acts 8:1, when the followers of "Absalom" persecuted the followers of "David," much of the true tribe of Judah was expelled into other countries. There, other ethnic groups began to join the tribe and became citizens of Judah by faith in Jesus Christ. These people were later called "Christians." They became known as "The Church."
But insofar as God was concerned, they were the real tribe of Judah, distinct from the usurpers who actually retained the name "Jew" (or Judean, Judahite) in the eyes of the world.
Today, there are many Christian Zionists who want to become Jews. This became a fad after Pat Boone did so in the 1960's. These people do not understand the legal implications of this. They do not know that in the eyes of God, all those with a genuine faith in Jesus Christ, the King of Judah, are already members of the tribe of Judah.
Not knowing this, they seek to join the tribe by siding with the usurpers who had lost their tribal status in the first century. They are trying to obtain what they already possessed. Their desire to become one of the "chosen" people of God--or at least to join forces with them as good "gentiles"--actually put them in danger of joining Absalom's army that was fighting against David.
Why should a true Jew want to identify with one who is "not a Jew"?? It is not for Christians to identify with those who continue to reject Jesus Christ as the King of Judah. The solution is for those who have rejected Him to leave Absalom's army and to join with David by faith in Jesus Christ.
Those who support the Jewish nation (known incorrectly as Israel) are following in the footsteps of Ahithophel and Judas. That is why this truly is an important issue. Should Christians support Israel? Yes, but the Jewish state is not Israel. It is not even the real tribe of Judah.
It took me many years to understand that the story of David, Absalom, and
Ahithophel was prophetic. Not until the mid-1990's did it occur to me that the whole New Testament story was a replay of that conflict. If others wrote about it, I missed it. But the more I studied it, the more I realized just how huge this connection was, and how important this understanding is for us today.
It can make the difference between being a true disciple of Jesus Christ and being a disciple who, like Judas, betrays Jesus Christ.
Judas betrayed Him in order to force Jesus into using His miraculous powers to save Himself from certain death. The plan failed. Modern Christian Zionists are trying to force the return of Jesus Christ. They send as many Jews to "Israel" as possible, while at the same time believing that only 144,000 of them will survive "Armageddon." They think Jesus will be forced to "save the Jews" (a remaining few of them).
Do the math. What is 144,000 out of 6 million current Israeli citizens? They are not only betraying Jesus Christ, but also betraying the Jews themselves. By their own historic theology, they believe that less than 3% of them will survive, yet they pay for more Jews to immigrate to Israel.
Some people (who do not know me personally) think that my opposition to Zionism means that I hate Jews. Hey, I am the one trying to save lives here. What are the Christian Zionists doing?
Yes, I recognize that most Christian Zionists are blind to this truth. But what about their leaders and theologians? God knows the heart and will judge accordingly.