COMMENTARY: Do You Have to be Jewish to be Israel?

Thursday, September 10, 2015 |  Brian Hennessy

Most non-Jewish Christians who’ve awakened to the Hebraic roots of their faith now realize Replacement Theology (RT) falsely taught that the Church was God’s new Israel. Consequently, they are hesitant to think, much less say, they are part of Israel even when their hearts are telling them it’s true. As a result they are left with an unrequited love, yearning to make this biblical nation their own, but believing it can never be.

Having found myself trapped in that painful place, I’d like to share how the Lord convinced me to “lean not to my own understanding” – but to trust my heart.

Although my wife and I had been traditional church goers all our lives, we did not encounter God’s living presence and the saving work of Yeshua until in our thirties. At the time neither of us was searching for God. Our spiritual encounter was a totally divine intervention of mercy and grace. And since we’d never read the Bible we couldn’t explain what had happened to us, nor could anyone we knew.

It wasn’t until we came upon a verse in a Christian booklet that we learned about the spiritual rebirth. But it wasn’t Jesus’ words about being “born again.” The verse was from the Old Testament where God promises “to remove our heart of stone” and “give us a new heart, and put a new spirit within us” (Ezekiel 36:26,27). 

God chose this OT verse to prepare me, I believe, for another revelation. Years later I would come upon it again while reading through my Bible. But it was the next verse that would stop me in my tracks this time. It read: “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God” (v. 28). I saw immediately that if the first two verses applied to me, so must this one. But how could that be? I wasn’t Jewish or descended from the patriarchs who had lived in the land. I was an Irish-American who had grown up in Queens, N.Y.

Although I couldn’t explain it, I knew God had just told me I was part of Israel, and I immediately received it by faith. Yet whenever I would speak it out, I was quickly told by respected teachers that a non-Jewish believer could not be considered Israel. Only a physical descendant of Abraham, namely a Jew, could be part of Israel. I was part of the Church – not Israel.  

However, the more I studied the Scriptures the more they confirmed that I was indeed included in every promise made to Abraham. I was part of Israel. Not only me, but all who confessed Yeshua as Lord, whether Jewish or not. Didn’t Paul tell us that “For as many as are the promises of God, in him [Yeshua] they are yes!” (2 Cor. 1:20). 

So if you are a non-Jewish believer who loves Israel, take heart. I believe a great revelation lies ahead that will rival the joyous moment when Joseph revealed to the sons of Jacob that he was their lost brother.

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