By JAN WILLEM VAN DER HOEVEN, Director ICZC—
The bride is part of Israel and Israel is part of the bride!
This is so clearly seen in the majestic vision by the angel in Revelation when he says: “Come I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.(Revelation 21:9-14; emphasis added)
This is actually entirely consistent with many other scriptural references which hold that in the end there will be only ONE FLOCK, ONE ISRAEL OF GOD, ONE BODY, ONE JERUSALEM, ONE BRIDE – Jew and Gentile forged into one Tree or Commonwealth of Israel.
Under the strong influence of the separation – which particularly Constantine, the Roman emperor, was responsible for – which cut the Gentile church off from its original Jewish tree and roots, Christianity became a separate, distinct religion. And even after the Reformation and various evangelical and charismatic awakenings, Gentile believers on the whole were taught that they belonged to a separate body called the church, or Bride of Christ. that would one day be separately treated with a heavenly rapture before the Lord in His mercy returns to Israel.
This, however, is NOT what the Bible teaches, and certainly in this wonderful passage in The Revelation we unmistakably find that Israel – all the tribes of Israel -are seen as part of the bride or the heavenly Jerusalem.
This is not being taught in most churches today – where the unbiblical emphasis brought into the world by Constantine is furthered, teaching that the Gentile-based church is the heavenly Jerusalem or bride of Christ, and that Israel is the other people of God; loved by Him and even to become His people once again, but all this only AFTER the bride has gone to be with her Messiah and Lord.
This – again – is not what the Word of God teaches; yet this unbiblical understanding has opened the way for the Evil One to seduce us into believing in the theory of the rapture of “the church” as a distinct and separate entity from Israel.
Israel herself, according to the many Bible teachers who uphold this erroneous doctrine, will then STILL have to go through the valley of the great Jacob’s Trouble or Tribulation.
Nothing is further from the truth, as we shall find out also later on from many a scripture.
But first and foremost we have to establish the biblical fact of the unity of God’s people.
It is indeed ONE tree and commonwealth of Israel, as Paul so clearly teaches in his epistle to the Romans. The Gentiles – soon coming to our intended fullness in numbers – have been given the immense privilege, because of our repentance and faith in Jesus, of being grafted into the tree or commonwealth of Israel.
We have not formed a new tree called the church into which we were grafted, but because of our faith we were given the privilege of being grafted into the tree of Israel with all the believing Jews, and with the promise that the other Jews, taken out because of their unbelief – will one day be grafted back – not onto a new tree called the church, but onto THEIR OWN TREE, into which we have already been grafted.
This therefore leaves us only with one tree, one flock, one stick united, one heavenly Jerusalem, ONE body (see Ephesians 2:11-24) and one commonwealth of Israel. Just as the prophet Ezekiel is told that the two sticks will become one, or as Jesus said, ‘ that the other sheep He had – the Gentile believers – would become ONE FLOCK together with the chosen people of Israel:
“And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16).
When, as promised, the wind of the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon the people of Israel – as prophesied by Ezekiel, Joel and Zechariah – it is only then, when all Israel will have been regenerated, that the Gentile believers worldwide, chosen and redeemed from every tribe and nation, will be able to become totally one people with the born again Israel of God. And they will.
This promised outpouring of God’s Spirit – of which Pentecost, when the wind of the Spirit filled 120 Jewish believers was a foreshadowing – will happen BEFORE the physical return of the Lord! It will therefore give Gentile believers the time to relate to this miraculous spiritual restoration of Israel years before the actual physical coming of the Lord.
Just think of it! Zechariah 12 tells us that God will pour out a spirit of grace and supplication on His Jewish people with the result that they will see Him whom they have pierced – it will be as a result of this tremendous outpouring NOT as a result of Jesus’ physical return. This spiritual wakening is about to happen and I believe will occur during a coming Feast of Tabernacles.
But think of it: When it happens, what an effect this will have on the worldwide community of Gentile believers, when they will hear and witness that all Israel has been saved and that there will be no one Israeli who will have to tell his fellow Israel: know the Lord. For as Jeremiah prophesied: they shall all know Him:
“No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”(Jeremiah 31:34; emphasis added).
Indeed, all of Israel will be saved and we gentile believers will then be able to be fully one people with them as, according to the word of God, we, when we came to Christ, were grafted in among the believing Jewish branches of the tree and commonwealth of Israel. One people. One flock. ONE heavenly Jerusalem waiting for the glorious coming and re-entry of our Lord and Messiah into this world.
This is a very important point – not preached by many – who have been taught that only at the physical second coming of the Lord will Israel be saved. This, however, is NOT what the prophets Ezekiel, Zechariah and Joel prophesy:
“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you.And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations. Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord GOD, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!”(Ezekiel 36:24-32; emphasis added)
Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”‘” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. … “I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,” says the LORD.'” (Ezekiel 37:9,10,14)
“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29; emphasis added)
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves. (Zechariah 12:10-14; emphasis added)
“In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” (Zechariah 13:1; emphasis added)
“So you shall know that I am the LORD your God,
Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain.
Then Jerusalem shall be holy,
And no aliens shall ever pass through her again.”
And it will come to pass in that day
That the mountains shall drip with new wine,
The hills shall flow with milk,
And all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water;
A fountain shall flow from the house of the LORD
And water the Valley of Acacias. (Joel 3:17-18; emphasis added)
‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;
They will spring up among the grass
Like willows by the watercourses.’
One will say, ‘I am the LORD’s’;
Another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
Another will write with his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’
And name himself by the name of Israel. (Isaiah 44:1-5; emphasis added)
Thus we all may look forward – however bad the times in which we live may become all over the world – and indeed, when the thickening darkness will cover the nations of this world, something wonderful will happen in and with Israel. God, as He promised, will pour out His Spirit on the whole nation, causing Israel to enter her most wonderful hour of fullness and fulfillment. As Paul writes about this coming miracle, already in his epistle to the Romans:
Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! … For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (Romans 11:12,15)
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
“For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
May this day, when the Gentile believers will become fully ONE with the spiritually restored Israel – ONE FLOCK WITH ONE LORD – speedily come!