NEWS FLASH: Jesus Succeeds When Israel Failed



NEWS FLASH: Jesus Succeeds When Israel Failed

Matthew 1-4; Exodus 19:5-6

Jesus succeeded when Israel failed – this understanding is the foundation of the Bible. Take the opening of the Gospel of Matthew as an example of how all the Gospel writers present this message:

1-Jesus Repeated the History of Israel:

  • His linage (Matthew 1:1-17) is traced from Abraham to the Messiah; the history of Israel is embodied in Jesus.
  • His name, “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23) reveals God’s presence and the promise of the prophets that would return to his people.
  • His persecution by Herod (Matthew 2:1-12) mirrors how the Kings of Israel abused God’s people.
  • His sojourn into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-18) repeats Israel’s journey into Egypt.
  • His announcement from John the Baptist (3:1-12) represents the prophets of Israel.
  • His baptism (Matthew 3:13-17) reenacts the Exodus through the Red Sea.
  • And in Chapter 4:1-11, Jesus lives in the wilderness for forty days as Israel lived in the Sinai Desert for forty years.

2-Jesus Took Up the Calling of Israel:

In the desert, the Israelites learned their calling and identity, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a royal priesthood and a holy nation’” (Exodus 19:5-6). But here is the rub: Israel failed to fulfill her calling just as Adam and Eve failed to fulfill their calling.

Jesus follows the spiritual path of Israel. He takes the place of Israel, personifies the identity and history of Israel.

  • Like Israel, Jesus went through the wilderness, faced the temptations, and did not sin. The nation of Israel can look to Jesus “who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
  • Like Israel, Jesus takes on the vocation of Israel to be the royal priest. Jesus takes on himself the task of being the “royal priesthood and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6).
  • Israel turned away from God and failed in her calling. Where Israel abandoned their calling, Jesus fulfills the vocation as “a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God” (Hebrews 2:17).

3-Jesus Gives Us Our New Identity as the New Israel

What does this mean for our identity? If we are in Christ, we belong to the new and faithful Israel, Jesus Christ. In Jesus, we are “the royal priesthood and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6) as Peter declares,

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9, see also Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10; 20:6).

All of God’s purpose and promise for Israel were poured into Christ. Now, through allegiance to Christ, we are the New Israel. When you read of “Israel” in the Bible, remember, in Christ, you belong to the New Israel.



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