God Looks on the Heart

Just as there are two Israels, there are also two kinds of Jews. First, there are the Jews who are only natural, physical descendants of Abraham. Second, there are the Jews in Spirit who believe in Jesus Christ. Paul writes, "Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest on the law, and makest thy boast of God. ... 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 [Gentiles] 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" (Romans 2:17, 25,26, 28, 29).

Did you catch that? The implications are staggering! Someone who is "called a Jew" because he is a physical descendant of Abraham, and yet who lives as a lawbreaker, "is not a Jew"—at least, not in God's eyes. His "circumcision is made uncircumcision." It is revoked. Thus to God, he is a Gentile. And a believing Gentile, who through faith keeps "the righteousness of the law," his uncircumcision is counted for circumcision. Thus to God, he is a Jew.

lohn the Baptist paved the way for this principle when he warned the lews not to trust their literal ancestry for salvation. "Bring forth therefore fruits meet [worthy] for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham" (Matthew 3:8, 9).

Later, lesus echoed this same principle in a showdown with the religious leaders. "They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. ... Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do" (John 8:39,44).

Paul also writes, "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham" (Galatians 3:7). "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3). Thus, according to Paul, a real lew in the sight of God is anybody—lew or Gentile—who has personal faith in lesus Christ!

Eventually, this truth hit Peter between the eyes, and he told a room full of Gentile converts, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he thatfeareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34, 35).

Eating with the Patriarchs

Remember also when Jesus marveled at the faith of a Gentile soldier. He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness" (Matthew 8:10-12).

Jesus' declaration stunned the listening crowd. The idea of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sitting and eating with Gentiles was taboo, unless they had been converted to the Jewish faith! (Acts 10:28).

This is also an underlying theme in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The Jews feast on the Word, but they do not share it with the Gentiles starving for truth. Therefore, they are cast out of the kingdom. But Lazarus [the Gentiles], the one who lay outside the gate hungering for the crumbs of truth, abides in Abraham's bosom. (See Luke 16:19-31.)

The Road to Building a New Temple

Let's now follow a brief but directly related tangent.

If we want the fog to clear from around the subject of prophetic Israel, we must also consider the lewish temple. Many who have focused their attention on a literal nation fulfillment are also expecting the ancient lewish temple to be rebuilt.

Some of the contemporary so-called Christian "Zionists" who have written on this rebuilding include Thomas Ice, Randall Price, Grant leffrey, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Dave Hunt, and lohn Hagee. Their combined published book sales exceed 70 million in more than 50 languages. This shows their views to be extremely influential, and therefore they cannot be simply dismissed. A significant proportion of evangelical, Charismatic, Pentecostal, and fundamentalist Christians worldwide endorse this view.

In the same way the devil has misdirected focus from spiritual Israel to the literal headlines concerning the Middle East today, he has also confused people on the subject of the temple. Oddly, most of the speculation and hopes for a rebuilt temple spring from one vague ethereal reference in the New Testament dealing with the antichrist power. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4, we read, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (emphasis ours).

Since the Romans destroyed the last Jewish temple in AD 70, many naturally assume that in order for this antichrist being, a specific person in their view, to sit in the temple, it will have to be rebuilt. But let us follow the Biblical clues.

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