SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Thursday October 17, 1996

The True Israel of God
(Rom. 2:28, 29)

God's purpose did not change even though Israel failed to represent His character to the world.  He still has a people who constitute a "holy nation" because they live the truth (1 Peter 2:9; Isa. 26:2). They are God's true Israel.

How did the Old Testament prophets characterize this "holy nation"?  Ps. 73:1; Isa. 63:8; Zeph. 3:13.

Jacob, whose name means "supplanter" and "layer of snares," underwent a name change at the River Jabbok, when he wrestled with the Angel.  There God changed his name to Israel, which means "a prince with God," "an overcomer with God" (Gen. 32:24-30). The Angel said to Jacob, "For you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed" (verse 28 ). Jacob did not overcome God, but was at last overcome by God's love and goodness.  From a schemer he became a man of trust, who relied upon god alone.  If Jacob's descendants continued to honor His covenant, God would bless them.

What did Israel's rejection of their role as God's covenant-keeping people lead Jesus, their King, to say?   Matt. 21:42, 43; 23:37-39.

Ingratitude, selfishness, pride, contempt for divine righteousness, and hatred for the Messiah all combined to cause the ruin of ancient Israel.  Yet in Matthew 23, we read the most tender expression of love toward Israel.  "The time was at hand when God must reject the Jews as His chosen people . . . yet how reluctantly Heaven abandoned them to their own perverse way and to their tragic fate!  For other statements of Scripture expressing the mercy and longsuffering of God exercised toward unrepentant sinners see Eze. 18:23, 31, 32; 33:11; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p.493.

How does the New Testament identify the true followers of Jesus?   John 1:47; Rom. 2:28, 29; Phil. 3:9.

The Angel touched Jacob on one of the strongest parts of the human body, indicating that God must "break" us down at the strongest part of our self before we are ready to be productive members of His church body.  What part of you must God "break" in order for you to be such a member?