Who are the Israel of God?
The Apostle Paul makes it clear that all born again believers are the Israel of God.
Gal 6:12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
Gal 6:13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor
uncircumcision, but a new creature.
Gal 6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
This is sure from what Paul says in verse 15.
Notice V15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
To be circumcised availeth nothing and uncircumcision availeth nothing.
However, to be in Christ does.
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
So the Israel of God is not physical Israel, meaning, Jews in the flesh but those who are born of the Spirit of God (the church) whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, bond or free.
Php 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
It is not circumcision of the flesh but circumcision of the heart that is important.
Those who are born of the Spirit are those who have been circumcised in the heart and not the flesh.
Circumcision in the flesh is only profitable if one keeps the law. However, the moment one breaks the law, his circumcision becomes uncircumcision.
Romans 2:25 Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
Therefore, because all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God, there is none righteous, no not one.
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Our righteousness is found only in Jesus Christ, circumcision in the flesh cannot save anyone because no man keeps the law.
It is a condition of the heart and only the Holy Spirit can change the heart by an act of regeneration. This is what the Apostle Paul teaches in Romans.
Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Being born of the Spirit does not make anyone a physical Jew but a spiritual Jew. A physical Jew who is born of the Spirit is also a spiritual Jew.
Both physical Jews and physical Gentiles are grafted into the tree/vine. The physical Jew is the natural branch and the Gentile is the wild branch.
When both believe they are grafted into the tree/vine.
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
The Jews, on the whole, as a nation rejected their Messiah, Jesus Christ and represent the branches that were cut/broken off from the tree but those that come to faith in Christ are grafted back in. All the first Christians were physical Jews, who believed and were grafted into the tree. When the Gospel was given to the Gentiles, those that believed were also grafted into the same tree.
Romans 11:17 And if some of the branches be broken off, (the unbelieving Jew) and thou,( a Gentile) being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
23 And if they (the unbelieving Jew) do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if you were cut from a wild olive tree, and contrary to nature were grafted into one that is cultivated, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
There is coming a time, when the fullness, (full number) of the Gentiles has come in, when the last Gentile is saved, then God will turn His attention back to the Jews (the physical Israel).
Romans 11:25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not be conceited: A hardening in part has come to Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.…
Rom 11:26 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: (Israel)
Rom 11:27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
Rom 11:28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.
Rom 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Rom 11:30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Rom 11:31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
Rom 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
One day, God will turn away Israel’s unbelief and all Israel (the remnant/elect) shall be saved.
Rom 11:26 And so all Israel shall be saved:
The all refers only to the elect of God.
However, not all who say they are Israel, are Israel.
Romans 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel
The “all” of Israel are those who submit to Jesus Christ at His coming. They will only be saved through faith in Jesus Christ, for without Christ no one can be saved.:
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
When Christ appears at His second advent, the physical Israel shall see Him for who He really is, their Messiah.
Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
We need to recognise that God is not done with ethnic Israel. There is a continuing place for Israel in God's plan. In Romans 9-11 we find Paul dealing with this matter. All these chapters are valuable.
Chapter 11 which begins, "I ask, then, has God rejected his people?" To this Paul responds: "By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham...God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew" (vv. 1-2).
Shortly, Paul adds, Rom 11:5 "At the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace". A remnant, a part of Israel (including, of course, Paul himself), has received grace, meaning the grace of salvation.
These are all the Jews that have accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
God has not rejected His ancient people. But clearly this is a spiritual fulfillment, when the remnant of Jews, along with believing Gentiles (e.g., the Romans) have come to salvation.
In V11, 12, Paul makes a breathtaking statement,
Rom 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
Rom 11:12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
Rom 11:15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
When will this happen?
Paul tells us when, in Rom 11:25.
The Mystery of Israel's Salvation.
Rom 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Thus the Jews, Israel, will eventually and supernaturally witness to the gospel and with such explosive power that the world can scarcely be the same! There is God's future for ethnic Israel an amazing prospect!
The promises made to Abraham were physical and spiritual. A literal land, and a literal blessing but also a spiritual land and spiritual blessing. Abraham occupied the physical land but looked forward to the spiritual fulfilment.
Hebrews 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
When eventually the elect of Israel look on Him whom they pierced, the physical and the spiritual will be merged into one.
Earlier Old Testament prophecies that seemed to relate only to earthly fulfillment, such as the promised land, are now transcended by a far greater future: the spiritual realm of salvation. Together with the Gentiles, Israel will enter into its fullness.