Home > Hermeneutics > In like manner, the word “Jews” is applied to two very different classes of people

In like manner, the word “Jews” is applied to two very different classes of people

In like manner, the word “Jews” is applied to two very different classes of people, though few today would think so if they confined themselves to the ministry of a class who pride themselves on having more light than the majority of professing Christians. Nevertheless, such is unequivocall established by the declaration of Romans 2:28, 29: “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.” Surely nothing could be plainer than that, and in the light of such a statement it seems passing strange that there are those—boasting loudly of their orthodoxy, and bitterly condemning all who differ from them—who insist that the term “Jew” pertains only to the natural descendants of Jacob, and ridicule the idea that there is any such thing as a spiritual Jew. But when God tells us, “he is a Jew, which is one inwardly,” He manifestly means that the true “Jew,” the antitypical one, is a regenerated person, who enjoys the “praise” or approbation of God.

It is not only childish, but misleading, to affirm that “Israel” means Israel and “Jew” means Jew, and that when God’s Word makes mention of Jerusalem or Zion nothing else is referred to than those actual places. Those who make such assertions are but deceiving themselves (and others who are gullible enough to heed them) by the mere sound of words. As well aver that “flesh” signifies nothing more than the physical body, that “water” (John 4:14) refers only to that material element, or that “death” (John 5:24) signifies nothing but physical dissolution. There is an end of all interpretation—bringing out the sense of Scripture—when such a foolish attitude be adopted. Each verse calls for careful and prayerful study, so that it may be fairly ascertained which the Spirit has in view: the carnal Israel or the spiritual, the literal seed of Abraham or the mystical, the natural Jew or the regenerate, the earthly Jerusalem or the heavenly, the typical Zion or the antitypical. God has not written His Word in such a way that the average reader is made independent of that help which He has designed to give through His accredited teachers.

We can well imagine those of our readers who have sat under the errors of Dispensationalism saying, “All of this seems very confusing, for we have been taught to distinguish sharply between Israel and the Church, the one being an earthly people and the other a heavenly.” Of course, Israel was an “earthly people”: so too were the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and all the other inhabitants of this world. This writer and his Christian readers are also an “earthly people,” for neither their bodies nor their souls have yet been removed to heaven. In reply, the objector will say that it was Israel’s inheritance which was an earthly one. But we ask, was it? Was the inheritance of the patriarchs an earthly one? Hebrews 11:14-16, plainly shows otherwise, for there we are told “they seek a country,” that after they had entered the land of Canaan “now they [Abraham, Isaac and Jacob] desire a better country, that is, an heavenly.” Was the inheritance of Moses an earthly one? Let Hebrews 11:26, make answer: “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward,” namely the eternal one (cf. Colossians 3:24)! Was David’s inheritance a mundane one? If so, how could he speak of himself as “a stranger in the earth” (Psalm 39:12; 119:119)? Psalm 73:25 shows what his heart was set upon.

It is not sufficient to affirm that Israel’s inheritance was an earthly one: which “Israel” must be definitely stated, and also what the inheritance adumbrated. As the portion which Jehovah appointed, promised, and gave to Abraham and his descendants, that land of Canaan has, throughout the Christian era, been rightly regarded as figuring the heavenly inheritance, to which the members of Christ are journeying as they pass through this scene of sin and trial. In order to obtain the complete typical picture of the varied spiritual experiences and exercises of God’s elect as they were so vividly foreshadowed of old, we have to take into account not only the history of the Hebrews in Egypt and their wilderness journeyings, but also what was demanded of them in order to make their entrance into and occupation of the land of Canaan. As we have so frequently pointed out in our articles on the life and times of Joshua, Canaan is also to be contemplated from two standpoints, natural and spiritual: spiritually, as portraying the heritage of regenerated Israelites, which heritage is to be appropriated and enjoyed now by faith and obedience, but which will not be fully entered into until the Jordan of death has been crossed. Admittedly, great care has to be taken with the Analogy of Faith.

Though Canaan was a divine gift to the natural Israel, nevertheless their occupation thereof was the result of their own prowess. It was indeed bestowed upon them by free gift from God, yet it had to be conquered by them. Therein was accurately shadowed forth what is necessary in order to make an entrance into the heavenly Canaan. The book of Joshua not only displays the sovereign grace of God, exhibits His covenant faithfulness, and the mighty power which He puts forth on behalf of His people, but it also makes known what He required from them in the discharge of their responsibility, and shows that the Lord only fought for His people while they remained in entire dependence on and were in complete subjection to Him. There were formidable obstacles to be surmounted, fierce and powerful foes to be vanquished, a hard and protracted warfare to be waged, and only while they actively concurred did the Lord show Himself strong on their behalf.

“For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to cleave unto Him; then will the Lord drive out all these nations…. Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours” (Deuteronomy 11:22-24).

That was not the “if” of uncertainty, but had to do with their accountability—as the “if” of John 8:31, 51; Colossians 1:23 and Hebrews 3:6, 14 has to do with ours.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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