The law given through Moses was given to Israel. As no one will question this statement. I make no effort to prove it. Israel is a nation - it is not the church of the present administration. It is God's chosen nation.
According to Dan. 7:27, Israel is to have the dominion under the heaven - not in heaven. This dominion is to be a kingdom which the God of heaven will establish, and which shall break into pieces all other kingdoms, and shall stand for the eon - Dan. 2:44.
The disciples who followed Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry were Israelites. There is no need to prove this, for, so far as I know, no one denies it. Those disciples formed the nucleus of the ecclesia Christ mentioned in Matt. 19:18. This nucleus of the ecclesia surrounded Christ as He sat on a mount, and He taught them, as we find, beginning in Matt. 5. This is referred to as the sermon on the mount. In that talk He told them the law shall not pass - not even one iota or one ceriph of it - until heaven and earth pass. Thus the ecclesia that is composed of Israelites shall be under the law of Moses so long as the present earth shall last.
In Matt. 23:1-3, Christ taught His disciples to keep the law as the scribes and Pharisees bade them do. One of the last acts of Christ before His crucifixion was to keep the law, when He observed the Passover - Luke 15:16. The Passover is part of the law of Moses.
The church observed the law in its first great activity apart from the bodily presence of Christ - that is, after His ascension. I refer to the day of Pentecost, mentioned in Acts 2. Pentecost is the Greek word for "fiftieth." The fiftieth day after the Passover was ordained as the Feast of the Harvest of Firstfruits - Lev. 23:10-16. Incidentally, this proved to be a day of firstfruits, for the ecclesia took on a marvelous growth on that day - the addition of three-thousand persons. James, writing to the twelve tribes - Israel, not people of the nations, or gentiles - said they were a kind of firstfruits. This shows how the ecclesia of Israel was closely connected with the law.
Many years later we find that ecclesia composed of tens of thousands, and all were zealous of the law - Acts 21:20.
The twelve apostles were chosen in preparation for the future kingdom, into which the ecclesia shall expand, for Christ told them they shall, in the regeneration, when the Son of Mankind shall be seated on the throne of His glory, sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel - Matt. 19:28.
The ecclesia soon showed a tendency to refuse to do kingdom work - bring blessings to the nations - Acts 13:46-48. Later, when this tendency became more pronounced, Paul called their attention to the words of Isaiah concerning them - Acts 28:26-27 - and the ecclesia of Israel stood rejected.
It has been taught that the words of Christ in Matt 16:18 insures the perpetuity of the ecclesia. The opposite is true. It implies its failure and its re-bringing into manifestation. "Now I also am saying to you, you are a rock, and on this rock I shall be building My ecclesia, and the gates of the unseen shall not be prevailing against it."
This was, as we can now see, a clear intimation that the ecclesia should go into the unseen, although Simon, the rock, probably did not see the significance of the statement at the time. In the first place, the ecclesia could not stand many years, because the foundation was too weak. Peter, (rock), was the foundation. When he relinquished his position, and James, who was not an apostle, became the ruler, the ecclesia began to decline. Christ did not intend that it should continue. If He had, He would have used a better foundation. It went into the unseen, and is there today.
But it shall not remain there perpetually. When Christ is ready He will call it out of the unseen, and the gates of the unseen shall not prevail against it - it shall come out.
We see it coming out of the unseen in the early part of the Lord's day - Un. 1:10. It is seen as the seven ecclesias of Asia - Un. 2 and 3. That those ecclesias are Jewish is apparent to all who read those two chapters carefully. That they are future is apparent from the fact that they are to be in existence in the Lord's day - Un. 1:10 - and from the fact that in the apostles' time in the past, there was no ecclesia in Thyatira. The day of the Lord will not come until after the ecclesia of the present administration is snatched away for a meeting with the Lord in the air - 1 Thess. 4:13-5:10.
After the affliction period in Un. 6-19, the ecclesia shall expand into the kingdom, at the coming of Christ - Un. 20. This is also foretold in Ezek. 39:25-29. Then follows a description of the kingdom temple, and this is followed by directions for the observance of the law of Moses in the kingdom. Read Ezek. 42-46 inclusive. There will be found confirmation of the fact that the law, which was given for Israel, shall be in force during the so-called Millennium. But the law will not then be a burden to them, because the new covenant will be in force - Heb. 8:8-12. The law will be written in their hearts and imparted to their comprehension - Heb. 8:8-12. The new covenant is for the house of Israel and the house of Judah - it is not for the nations.
During the last few years of the existence of the ecclesia of Israel there were two evangels - one of the Circumcision and one of the Uncircumcision - Gal. 2:6-9. To Peter, James and John were committed the former; to Paul was committed the latter.
It will be well to notice some of the differences between the two. James says justification is not by faith alone - James 2:24; Paul says justification IS by faith alone - Rom. 4:5. Peter teaches that election is to be made certain by giving diligence - II Peter 1:10; Paul says election was before the disruption of the world, and that it insures our becoming holy and flawless - Eph. 1:3,4. John says they to whom he wrote ought to take up with ministers who accept no help from the nations - II John 5-8; Paul says they who are taught in the word should impart good things to the teacher, without specifying the donors should be Israelites - Gal. 6:6.
The evangel of the Uncircumcision is for a different group than that of the Circumcision. If it is a different group it is a different ecclesia. It is called "the ecclesia which is His body" - Eph. 1:23; Col. 1:24,25 - a term not used of the ecclesia of the Circumcision or Israel.
While the ecclesia of Israel is under law, and will remain so until heaven and earth pass by, the ecclesia of the Uncircumcision is NOT under law - Rom. 6:14. Israelites who become connected with this ecclesia were taken out from under law - Rom. 7:16 - and placed on "gentile" ground. Paul and others of the "last apostles" - 1 Cor. 4:9 - were thus taken from under law - Gal. 3:13,14.
While the ecclesia of Israel still functioned, the Israelites in the Uncircumcision ecclesia had the pre-eminence, and the "gentiles" who believed were apart from Christ, (Physically), being alienated from the citizenship of Israel and guests of the promise covenants, having no expectation, and without God in the world - Eph. 2:11-18. They had no expectation of a part in the kingdom promised to Israel, and, as God was called the God of Israel, they could not claim Him, nor look for any blessings except through Israel. The outlook for such blessings was not bright, for they could see the ecclesia of Israel falling.
When that failure was consummated a mighty change took place. Those who were far off - believers among the nations - became nigh by the blood of Christ. Christ became the Peace by razing the middle wall of the barrier, (the emnity in His flesh), and reconciled Jew and "gentile" in one body, so that now the Jew in the ecclesia which is the body of Christ has no pre-eminence over the man of the nations. A new humanity was created, and both have access to the Father in one spirit - Eph. 2:13-18. The body became a joint body and joint enjoyers of the allotment and joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus - Eph. 3:6.
This ecclesia, which is functioning while the other one is in the unseen, has a celestial destiny - Eph. 1:3; Phil. 3:20, 21; II Tim. 4:18 - a promise never made to the ecclesia of Israel.
This ecclesia is entreated to keep the unity of the spirit - one body, one spirit, one expectation, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Father - Eph. 4:16.
The reader is exhorted to read all the passages referred to in this editorial. The Messenger is too small to give many scripture quotations.
DEBATING WITH A GENTLEMAN
I have just finished a two-days' debate with Elder W. E. Sherrill of Benton, Ark. Brother Sherrill is a gentleman, and we were both much firmer friends when we finished, than when we started. It is a pleasure to discuss the scriptures with a man who strives to abide by the rule of honorable controversy. More about this in the next issue.
Brother J. R. Garner of Stapleton, Ga., has been holding services in this section. He is greatly beloved by the people here.
Brother N. W. Venable of Manchester, Ga., is now preaching each second Sunday in Thomaston, Ga.