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Jesus, the New Israel

When Israel was a youth, I loved him,

And out of Egypt I called my son.

Hosea 11.1

In the history of salvation, there is almost nothing greater than the incarnation when the Son of the Father takes on flesh (i.e. carnis). As we dwell on Christ’s taking on of flesh, we might find it difficult to understand fully his position within Israel, etc. Is he David? A/the prophet? The great high priest? The nation itself? As we read through the New Testament and as it exposits the coming of the Son into the world, we must say in some way that he is all of these. Hebrews spends time telling us about his priestly and kingly attributes. Paul weaves into the texture of his teaching the Son’s Davidic attributes. Perhaps we could say that the gospels spend time on Jesus being the new nation of Israel.

When Matthew quotes Hosea 11.1b, he isn’t simply imposing on Jesus this sort of language. It was actually necessary that the Son truly be the fountainhead of a renewed and true Israel. Although God was faithful and a covenant keeper of the covenant, the original nation of Israel had rejected the covenant and was brought into exile. Both Israel and Judah failed to be faithful. Thus, the Son of God incarnate reestablished the nation, as it were, in himself. He fulfills Hosea 11, because he is the new Israel. He experienced his own time in Egypt. Additionally, he spent 40 days in the wilderness and was led to judgment on the cross as Israel experienced judgment on the crosses of the Assyrians (the original crucifiers).

What does this mean for us? Those of us who have repented of our sin, and put our faith in the Son of God, are united with Christ. Often, we say things like this: the church is the body of Christ; as Christians, we have union with Christ and seek to have communion with the Son; the church is the New Covenant people of God. Ultimately this means that where Israel failed, the New Covenant people of God will triumph, but this triumph is not based in our own effort. Instead it is because we are united with Christ that we share in his victory, and we can sing with the apostle Paul, “O death, where is your sting?” There will not be a new exile for Christ and his church, death has been conquered and sin vanquished. And so we rejoice with an inexpressible joy even as we encounter the trials and temptations of this world and as we endure persecution and oppression from the world. We stand firmly in the fact that the Son of God has come into the world and that the Word of the Lord will endure forever.

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