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    May 8, 1890

    “The True Israel” The Present Truth 6, 10.

    EJW

    E. J. Waggoner

    The promise is: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.” Revelation 3:21. Now the word “Israel” signifies, “a prince of God,” or “one who prevails.” It was given to Jacob after he had wrestled all night with the angel, and had gained the victory. The Lord said to him: “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” Genesis 32:28. Therefore an overcomer is an Israelite; and the promise is that to those who are Israelites Christ will grant to sit with Him on His throne.PTUK May 8, 1890, page 153.1

    The natural descendants of Abraham were never considered as the true Israel, and heirs according to the promise, unless they were, like Him, righteous. When Christ told the Jews that if they believed in Him they should know the truth, and the truth should make them free, they replied, “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man.” John 8:33. But Jesus showed them that they were in the worst bondage than any human slavery, namely, the bondage of sin (verse 34); and to their repeated statements that they were the children of Abraham, He replied: “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God; this did not Abraham.” “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” Verses 39, 40, 44.PTUK May 8, 1890, page 153.2

    In like manner, also, John the Baptist told the wicked Pharisees and Sadducees not to flatter themselves that they were the children of Abraham, because God was able of the very stones to raise up children unto Abraham (Matthew 3:7-9), plainly implying that sooner than fulfil the promise to such unworthy descendants as they were, God would take stones and raise up children unto Abraham. That this was not a new idea, is evident from the fact that even in the wilderness, from the very time that the promise was renewed to the Jews at the exode, the stubborn Jew who refused to humble himself before God, and confess his sin, on the day of atonement, was cut off from among his people (Leviticus 23:28, 29), while a stranger was at any time permitted to identify himself with Israel by circumcision.PTUK May 8, 1890, page 153.3

    Circumcision was the mark of Jewish citizenship. The man who was circumcised was known to be an Israelite; yet, as has been stated, this was a rite administered to foreigners, after which they were considered the same as those that were born of Jewish parents, thus showing that the natural descendants of Abraham did not comprise all Israel. More than this, we have evidence to show that the Lord never regarded the outward mark of circumcision, whether in the person of a native, or a foreigner, as evidence that that individual was really an heir of Abraham. In the following passage we learn what circumcision implied:-PTUK May 8, 1890, page 154.1

    “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.” Romans 4:8-11.PTUK May 8, 1890, page 154.2

    Abraham received circumcision as a sign that he had obtained “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.” Circumcision was there for a sign of righteousness. If a person was circumcised, but was not righteous, he was no more a child of Abraham than any other man; and whoever was righteous, like Abraham, was really his child. So Abraham was the father of all that believed, whether circumcised or uncircumcised. That outward circumcision did not make the man an Israelite, unless he was righteous, is plainly declared by Paul in Romans 2:25-29:-PTUK May 8, 1890, page 154.3

    “For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? ... For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; 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.”PTUK May 8, 1890, page 154.4

    This was true, not simply when the apostle wrote, but from the beginning of the history of the Jewish nation. When the Lord gave laws to His people, from Mount Sinai, He said that if they disobeyed Him, He would bring desolation upon their land, and they should perish among the heathen; but,-PTUK May 8, 1890, page 154.5

    “If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against Me, and that also they have walked contrary unto Me; ... if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity; then will I remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.” Leviticus 26:40-42.PTUK May 8, 1890, page 154.6

    And so it was in the days of Moses, as well as in the days of Christ, that “an Israelite indeed” was one in whom was “no guile.”PTUK May 8, 1890, page 154.7

    In the eleventh of Romans the apostle very forcibly illustrates the way in which the promises to Israel could be fulfilled, even though all the literal descendants of Jacob should forfeit their right to the inheritance. In the first and second verses he declares that God has not cast away His people. This might lead us to suppose that literal Israel are yet the chosen people of God, if he did not say in verse 5 that those that remain are “according to the election of grace.” Then he represents Israel by an olive tree. Some of the branches have been cut off, and the Gentiles, a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. This grafting is contrary to nature, for the grafts partake of the root and fatness of the tame olive tree into which they are grafted, and bear the same kind of fruit. He warns those who are thus grafted in not to boast, since they stand only by faith, and as natural branches were broken off because of unbelief, so they may likewise be removed. The Jews, the natural branches, they become part of the tree, but if they do, it will not be as original branches, but as spiritual grafts. Thus the people of Israel will be only a spiritual people, those who are Christ, “and so all Israel shall be saved.”PTUK May 8, 1890, page 154.8

    E. J. W.

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