1) Upon whom was the name "Israel" first bestowed?
"And he said, 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.
As implied in the text, the word Israel means a "prince," or "one who prevails with God."
2) Afterward who came to be called by this title?
"Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; ... Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher ... Joseph was in Egypt already." Exodus 1:1-5.
In other words, the descendants of Jacob were the twelve tribes of Israel.
And to be more specific: "Now the sons of Jacob were twelve: The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun: The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin: And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali: And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram." Genesis 35:22-26.
3) Were there any other children that became children of Israel?
"And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. And thy issue [children], which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance." Genesis 48:5,6.
Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, are now considered sons of Israel, equal in closeness of relationship as his literal sons Reuben and Simeon. Notice that the descendants after Ephraim and Manasseh will be sons of Joseph.
4) During the time of the census, which tribes of Israel consisted of the leaders of war?
"Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel ... that are able to go forth to war in Israel: ... of the tribe of Reuben ... of Simeon ... of Judah ... of Issachar ... of Zebulun ... of the children of Joseph: of Ephraim ... of Manasseh ... of Benjamin ... of Dan ... of Asher ... of Gad ... of Naphtali ... These were the renowned of the congregation, princes of the tribes of their fathers, heads of thousands in Israel." Numbers 1:2,3,5-16.
At this point in Israel's history, the tribes of Levi and Joseph have been removed, with the tribe of Joseph now being split into the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh to maintain 12 tribes.
5) What happened to the tribe of Levi?
"But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them. For the LORD had spoken unto Moses, saying, Only thou shalt not number the tribe of Levi, neither take the sum of them among the children of Israel: But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle." Numbers 1:47-50.
Though the Levites did not go to war, they had the greatest and most important responsibility of caring for the tabernacle of testimony.
6) When Israel was to conquer the land of Canaan, and the inheritance of the land was to be allotted to the tribes, was there a tribe that was not to receive the earthly inheritance?
"At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day. Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him." Deuteronomy 10:8,9
The tribe of Levi not receiving an earthly inheritance is something to ponder about, because we shall see later their connection with the heavenly Canaan.
7) What are the blessings bestowed on the Israelites, as enumerated by Paul?
"For I could wish that myself were accursed [separated] from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all." Romans 9:3-5.
8) But did the apostle consider all those who belonged to the twelve tribes as true Israelites?
"They are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called." Romans 9:6,7.
"That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." Verse 8.
Thus we see that the apostle makes true Israel depend on their being children of God, or children of the promise. Otherwise, even though being literal descendants of Abraham, they are not counted as Israel.
9) What did John the Baptist say to those who came to his baptism?
"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 3:9.
God is not dependent on you, the literal seed of Abraham, to perpetuate Israel. He can raise up the true children of Abraham from these stones if he sees fit. The meaning of the stones here that John refers to does not refer to literal stones, but symbolic stones of the Gentile people. This type of language is more understood from Peter's address to the Gentile people: "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:5.
Therefore do not think you are to receive of these blessings, unless you become children of God. These are, in substance, the words of John, and show that the name Israel, in the true sense, is not to be limited to any particular nation (for example, only the Jews), but includes all the TRUE FOLLOWERS of God.
10) What does it require to be counted a child of Abraham?
"Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." Galatians 3:6,7.
"So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." Verse 9.
11) What does it mean to be of faith?
"That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Galatians 3:14.
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Verse 26.
12) By what means does one become heir to the promises of God to Abraham?
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 28,29.
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." Verse 16.
"For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." Romans 4:13.
"Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe." Romans 3:22.
"Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham." Romans 4:16.
13) And by what name are Christians also known?
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." Galatians 6:15,16.
"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." James 1:1.
The apostle James, writing in 60 A.D., addresses his epistle to the scattered tribes, which are his fellow Christian brethren; some converted from paganism and others were Jews. We know that disciples were called Christians first in Antioch (See Acts 11:26).
14) We are taught to address God as "Our Father." By what right may we do this?
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Romans 8:14,15.
That is, we are adopted into the family of God, and are given the name of children by virtue of His adopting us, who were homeless and friendless. The Jews had that distinctive title until they forfeited it.
15) Ultimately, what does it mean to be a Jew in the New Covenant?
"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 2:28,29.
MINISTRY TO THE JEWS AND GENTILES
16) To whom did Paul say the gospel would first be presented to?
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Romans 1:16.
17) When the woman of Canaan came to Christ, beseeching him to heal her daughter, and the disciples requested that she might be sent away, what reply did the Saviour make?
"But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Matthew 15:24.
18) When she persisted in her request, and fell down to worship Christ, what did He say to her?
"But he answered and said, It is not meet [proper, or right] to take the children's bread, and cast it to dogs." Verse 26.
Later, in verses 27 and 28, by her persistent faith, this woman, although a Canaanite, showed that she was really a true child of Abraham.
19) When Jesus sent forth the twelve disciples to preach, to whom did He first send them?
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Matthew 10:5,6.
20) What happened after the Jews lost their peculiarity as God's special people?
"And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles." Acts 8:1.
"Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them." Verses 4,5.
By the crucifixion of the Saviour and the persecution of His disciples, the Jews as a nation filled up the cup of their iniquity. The death of the martyr Stephen marked the culmination of the period allotted to the Jewish nation, and the beginning of the times of the Gentiles (See Daniel 9:24).
21) How did the Jews respond to Paul's preaching of the gospel? And what did Paul and Barnabas say?
"But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." Acts 13:45,46.
22) Why was the gospel to be preached to the Gentiles?
"Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name." Acts 15:14.
23) Was it ever prophesied that the Gentile people would eventually come to know and love God?
"And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God." Hosea 2:23.
It is thus plain that if the Jews had not rejected Christ, they would have still maintained the pre-eminence as the children of God. But Paul says that we are entitled to cry, Abba, Father, because we have been adopted into his family, and now bear the name Israel in common with those who were first called by that name.
24) What will terminate the "times" allotted to the Gentiles?
"This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Matthew 24:14.
GENTILES BECOME SPIRITUAL ISRAELITES
25) When the name Israel was first borne by God's ancient people, how did he illustrate their standing before him?
"The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult [storm] he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken. For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee ..." Jeremiah 11:16,17.
26) With the first house of Israel being cut off, how does Paul explain the present existence of Israel?
"For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree." Romans 11:16,17.
When some of the Jewish branches were cut off because of their unbelief, the roots and stock of the olive tree are represented as still being left. Christ has died for the world; and although His people rejected him, He will not change the plan in the least. Now, everyone who comes to Him must be grafted into the parent stock of Israel, and take that name.
27) But if Gentiles are thus grafted into that stock, won't the tree now become a Gentile tree?
"Do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you." (NIV) Verse 18.
28) Lest the Gentile grafts should boast by saying that the Jews were broken off to let them come in, what does the apostle say?
"Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded [arrogant], but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." Verses 19-22.
God is not dependent on anyone to sustain the olive tree of Israel. He can cut off the Gentile grafts as easily as he did the natural branches, if they disobey his word, and supply their place with others more worthy.
29) May not the broken branches be again grafted into this tree?
"And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?" Verses 23,24.
Notice, the tree stands the same, however many branches are cut off or grafted into it. It is still Israel. And when Gentiles and Jews who believe are all together grafted into this tree under the new covenant, it will still be, to all intents and purposes, an Israelite tree; yet a portion of its branches, at least, are formed by grafting in of Gentiles.
30) And how will ALL Israel be saved?
"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved." Verses 25,26.
Therefore, in the manner previously described, if the Jews fall out, their places will be filled by Gentiles changed into Israelites, and when the coming of the Gentiles are filled, then ALL Israel will be saved.
GOD'S LAST-DAY REMNANT PEOPLE [or SPIRITUAL ISRAELITES]
31) Before Gentiles become a part of Israel, in what condition are they?
"Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles ... that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." Ephesians 2:11,12.
If, in order to be saved, Gentiles must become Israelites, as is everywhere asserted, then when converted from their Gentile ways to the ways of Israel, they certainly must conform to the moral law God gave to Israel anciently; otherwise it would not be the commonwealth [citizenship] of Israel, but of the Gentiles.
32) In the closing work of the gospel, what will be the characteristics of God's people?
"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14:12.
The word here translated "commandments" is the Greek word entole, meaning "injunction" or "an authoritative prescription." This same Greek word is used for the "commandments" found in Revelation 12:17 and 22:14. People have reasoned that because it is not the Greek word nomos, which means "law," or basically, "the Ten Commandments," then it does not refer to the Ten Commandments. But we shall see that entole can also refer to the Ten Commandments. Please look at last verse in the next question.
33) Why are God's true people keeping the 10 commandments?
"If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15.
"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." John 15:10.
"We know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:2,3.
"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him ... if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Matthew 19:16-19.
The Greek words translated in all these four scriptural passages all use entole, which, in Matthew 19, Jesus then quotes from the Ten Commandments. It is quite clear that the commandments Jesus is talking about is from the 10 commandments that was given on Mount Sinai. Therefore, the terms "commandments of God" and "law of God" means the Ten Commandments, and can be used interchangeably.
34) If God's true people are keeping the 10 commandments, what will happen to them?
"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Revelation 12:17.
"Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." John 16:2.
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2 Timothy 3:12. In the last days, there will only be a few who will live a godly life and they will have three main qualities in them:
1) Keeping the 10 commandments (including the 7th day [Saturday] Sabbath Holy - Hebrews 4:1-11).
2) Having the faith of Jesus Christ (to be born again in spirit and worship in truth - John 3:3,5; 4:23,24).
3) Having the testimony of Jesus Christ (which is the spirit of prophecy - Revelation 19:10).
35) And what will be the reward of commandment-keepers?
"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:14.
36) Whose names are found inscribed in the foundations of the city of God?
"And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." Revelation 21:14.
37) Whose names are over the twelve gates?
"And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel." Verse 12.
38) Who are the twelve spiritual tribes of Israel during this future time? How many people will consist of these twelve tribes?
"And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand." Revelation 7:4-8.
Therefore, the spiritual Israelites that are sealed will be 144,000 "IN NUMBER." From these future tribes, and compared with the tribes of ancient Israel, Dan and Ephraim have been omitted, and Levi and Joseph have replaced those tribes. The omission of Dan is accounted for by commentators on the ground that that tribe was the one chiefly addicted to idolatry (See Judges 18). The omission of Ephraim is accounted for the fact that not only was that tribe addicted to idolatry, but also was addicted to prostitution (See Hosea 4-9,12,13). The final judgment of Ephraim was this: "My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations." Hosea 9:17.
The tribe of Levi here now takes its place with the rest of the tribes. In the heavenly Canaan they now receive their inheritance, as opposed to them not receiving one as it was in the earthly Canaan, as seen earlier. Joseph is most likely substituted for his son Ephraim, which the name Joseph appears to have been applied to the tribe of either Ephraim or Manasseh (See again Numbers 1:10; 13:11).
39) Who will have the privilege of walking in the light of that city?
"And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it." Revelation 21:24.
This city of the New Jerusalem will be for all nations that are saved, and yet they must enter that city through gates on which are written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. More than this, the names of the twelve apostles are to appear in the foundations of the city. The name of Israel will not only be perpetuated, but those who bear that name will be from all nations, and will be associated with Christ and the twelve apostles. When one of the twelve fell, another was appointed to take his place, in order to preserve the exact number. To these Jesus said: "Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Matthew 19:28.
We find them again in the New Jerusalem, blended with the tribes of Israel. Israel is sure to triumph, and those who join themselves to Israel will finally triumph with them.
Bible Reader's Digest, pp. 46-50
Daniel and the Revelation, 1944, pp. 467,468