God's Kingdom Ministries
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Chapter 3: Two Nations and Two Cities

Israel was originally just one man named Jacob. The term was later extended to his household—not just his sons but his entire village/city. Recall that Abraham himself, two generations earlier, had 318 men born in his house who were of military age, and these were sent to rescue his nephew, Lot. Gen. 14:14 says:

When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

If we include their families (women, children, and older men), Abraham’s “household of faith” (Gal. 6:10) must have numbered at least 2,000 people. None of them were descendants of Abraham but were Abraham’s seed by faith alone.

Two generations later, Jacob-Israel moved to Egypt at the invitation of Joseph. Gen. 46:1 says that “Israel set out with all that he had” and “took their livestock and their property” (Gen. 46:6). It is not likely that he left the herdsmen in Canaan. If there were about two thousand people in the early days of Abraham’s sojourn, how many were there two generations later in the time of Jacob? A minimum of ten thousand perhaps?

These went to Egypt with Jacob, though only his immediate family (“from the loins of Jacob”) was numbered in Exodus 1:5. By the time they left Egypt under Moses, they numbered about six million. Most of these Israelites were not directly descended from Jacob-Israel. Jacob’s sons were the leaders of the tribes, but most of the Israelite tribes were not actual family members. They were of the household of faith and therefore they could be called Israelites.

In other words, Israel had become a nation of an unknown number of ethnicities, and Israel is often referred to as a nation. Many years later, Isaiah tells us that foreigners were welcome to join the nation of Israel (Isaiah 56:6) as equal citizens of the Kingdom. Their status is clarified further in the New Testament, especially through the ministry of the apostle Paul with his teaching on “one new man.”

The modern notion that one is an Israelite only if he can trace his genealogy back to Abraham or Israel has no Scriptural foundation whatsoever. The term is national, not racial.

Confusing Israel and Judah

One of the most egregious mistakes that Christian Zionists make, is by confusing Israel with Judah.

After the death of Solomon and a dispute over high taxes without representation, ten of the tribes refused to recognize Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, as their king (1 Kings 12:16). The kingdom was divided, and this created a problem. Which group had the legal right to retain the name Israel? Jacob had given his name Israel to the sons of Joseph (Gen. 48:16). These became the heads of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, both of which revolted against Rehoboam after Solomon’s death. So, the northern tribes retained the name Israel. The remaining two tribes had to pick an alternative name, settling upon the name of the dominant tribe, Judah.

Only those in unity with the sons of Joseph could call themselves Israelites from that point forward, and all the prophets reflected this. The modern term, Jew, is short for Judah. When the nation was divided, the Jews were no longer (national) Israelites. It is only when the prophets spoke of a future reunification that the Jews could be termed Israelites.

Yet when the Assyrians conquered Israel and deported them to Halah, Habor, and by the river Gozan (2 Kings 17:6), never to return to the old land, the Jews increasingly began to think that they had replaced the Israelites in the matter of the birthright. After all, God had divorced the house of Israel (Jer. 3:8; Hosea 2:2). But Judah could not replace Israel, because there are numerous prophecies of Israel’s restoration and remarriage–most notably in Hosea 2:19:

I will betroth you [Israel] to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.

This prophecy was not about Judah but about Israel. In fact, Hosea’s unfaithful wife, Gomer, played an active role in the prophecy, because the Assyrians knew Israel by the name Gomer (i.e., Gomri, Gimirri, or Beth-Ghomri). Hence, Hosea was prophesying about Israel while his unfaithful wife was a prophetic pattern of unfaithful Israel in real life.

Dr. A. Neubauer wrote in 1888:

“The captives of Israel exiled beyond the Euphrates did not return as a whole to Palestine along with their brethren the captives of Judah; at least there is no mention of this event in the documents at our disposal” (The Jewish Quarterly Review, 1888, Vol. 1).

The first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote this about them:

“Wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans; while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now; and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers” (Antiquities of the Jews, XI, v, 2).

The Israelites were still identifiable during the first century, but they lived hundreds of miles north of the land of Judah. We get the impression that their population far exceeded that of the Jews in the land of Judea, although they were known officially by other names. This tended to hide their identity.

Much could be said about this, but the point is that the Jews and Israelites were/are not the same people, though in modern times the Jewish state has taken for itself the name “Israel” without first being reunited with the tribes of Joseph.

As we have seen already, a good example of such misidentification can be seen in church expositions of Jer. 18:1-10 regarding the Potter and the clay. The passage is about the House of Israel (Jer. 18:6), pictured as wet clay that was marred in the hand of the Potter. The Potter beat down the jar and remade it into a new vessel, prophesying how God would eventually reconstitute the nation of Israel.

Modern Christian Zionists incorrectly point to the Jewish state as the fulfillment of this prophecy. They fail to take note that the prophet gave a second prophecy about Judah and Jerusalem.

Jer. 18:11 to the end of chapter 19 is the parallel prophecy that applies to Judah and Jerusalem. This is the prophecy that Christian Zionists exclude from its application to the modern Jewish state. After issuing a prophetic judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem, Jeremiah the prophet was instructed by God to smash the jar in the valley of Ben-hinnom (Jer. 19:10 & 11).

This valley outside of Jerusalem was known in Greek as Gehenna and became a prophetic term illustrating the fate of Jerusalem. The jar itself was irreparable.

This is the real fate of Jerusalem. The wet clay of the House of Israel is NOT the present Jewish state which men call “Israel.”

Two Jerusalems

The Hebrew word for Jerusalem is Yerushalayim. It literally means two Jerusalems. The ending, -ayim is a dual. They also have another ending -im, which makes a word plural (more than one).

The Old Testament prophets never explain the distinction between the two Jerusalems. One must study Galatians 4 or Revelation 21 to distinguish between the two cities. John in particular quotes Isaiah’s description of the restored Jerusalem but applies it to the New Jerusalem.

Zechariah is probably the most difficult to understand. He moves seamlessly from the earthly city to the heavenly city. As a rule, when the prophets speak of Jerusalem as a wicked city, it is speaking of the earthly city which attracts divine judgment; when they speak in terms of glory and restoration, it is speaking of the heavenly city.

We would not expect Jews to agree with this, of course, even though the ancient rabbis debated the question of why Jerusalem carried the dual ending, -ayim. The distinctions are unclear until the New Testament reveals this. Christians, however, have no excuse for their ignorance, seeing that they claim to have New Testament understanding.

The underlying principle behind this is seen also in the fact that our “old man,” carnal in nature, must die to make way for the “new man” to be raised in glory. God is not going to save the “old man.” He has already sentenced him to death, and this will not change. Salvation is about being begotten by the Spirit, which creates a “new man,” or a new creature, something distinct from the old man that was begotten physically by our fathers.

So also, it is with the two Jerusalems. The old has been sentenced to death; the New Jerusalem has replaced the old city.

The Cursed Fig Tree

Matthew 21:18 & 19 reads:

Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city [Jerusalem], He became hungry. Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.

Jesus had been looking for fruit on the “fig tree” of Judah during His entire ministry (Luke 13:6-9). He found “leaves only,” which are no substitute for fruit. One cannot eat fig leaves. In fact, fig leaves have been a problem since Adam (Gen. 3:7). Fig leaves represent a false covering for sin and shame. It is self-justification that carries no legal weight in the divine court. In a later dispensation though, leaves will “heal” the nations (See Revelation 22).

The nature of Jesus’ curse indicated that the Judah fig tree would never bring forth fruit. Yet later, Jesus prophesied that this fig tree would indeed return to life. Matt. 24:32 & 33 says:

Now learn the parable from the fig tree; when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

It is almost universally recognized in the church that the Jewish state, founded in 1948, fulfills this prophecy. Agreed. It has indeed come back to life. But the question is whether this tree will bear fruit or just more leaves—which occasioned Jesus’ curse in the beginning.

There are individuals who surely bear fruit in Jerusalem, but as a nation represented by the fig tree, Jesus’ prophecies give no indication that it would bear fruit. In other words, Jerusalem and the Israeli state as a whole, will not repent and turn to Christ. In fact, if the city and the “Israeli” state itself were to repent, the case could be made that Jesus prophesied falsely!

Cast Out the Bondwoman

Paul tells us in Gal. 4:22-26 that Abraham had two wives, a bondwoman, and a free woman. The bondwoman he identifies as the earthly Jerusalem; the free woman is the heavenly city. The children of the bondwoman are the unbelieving Jews, along with all who consider the earthly city to be the “mother church.” These are called children of the flesh (Gal. 4:29), that is, people who were born of earthly parents in a natural way. But we, as believers, have a different mother, called “the Jerusalem above… our mother” (Gal. 4:26).

Paul’s conclusion, quoted from Gen. 21:10, is given in Gal. 4:30:

But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.”

Christian Zionists continue to petition God for Jerusalem and the “Israeli” state to be the heir of the birthright. They cite Psalm 122:6, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” without asking themselves, which Jerusalem?

The name of the city is derived from the Hebrew word shalom, “peace.” Hence, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray that the city will fulfill the calling inherent in its name. But the prophets renamed the city, “Bloody City” (Ezekiel 24:6, 9; Nahum 3:1) on account of its violence toward the innocent and its human sacrifice.

It is for this conduct of consuming blood (as it were) that Jerusalem lost its status as the City of Peace and was replaced by a second city by the same name—the heavenly Jerusalem. The Apostle Paul comments on this in Galatians 4, telling us that the earthly Jerusalem represents the Old Covenant, while the heavenly Jerusalem represents the New Covenant. Allegorically speaking, these two cities were represented by the two wives of Abraham: Hagar and Sarah.

Those Jews who rejected the Mediator of the New Covenant opted to remain under the Old Covenant, which was instituted at Sinai. This identified Jerusalem with Sinai in Arabia, Paul said. Arabia was the inheritance of Ishmael, the father of the Arabs. Hence, by remaining under the Old Covenant, the Jews unwittingly placed Jerusalem under the legal jurisdiction of the Arabs.

There are legal consequences to our decisions. It was only a matter of time before God honored the Jewish decision and allowed the Arabs to take possession of the city and the entire land of Palestine. The Arabs conquered the land in the seventh century, although their right and title was disputed by the Christian Crusaders for the next few centuries.

Edomite Zionism then added a third demand on Jerusalem and Palestine. The present conflict is mostly between Esau (Jews) and Ishmael (Arabs), with much of Christendom siding with Esau-Edom.

If you haven’t figured out the difference between two nations and two cities by now, even the most stunted logic would indicate that you will land up misguided!