|Dr. Couch, what is the "new" nation that Christ is speaking about in Matthew 21:43? Some say it is the church, and that the Kingdom of God has been taken away from the Jews and given to the "church," which is that new nation.|
ANSWER: The passage says (Matthew 21:33-44) that the vine-growers take the owner's son (who would be Christ in the context) and kill him and seize his inheritance (v. 38). The Lord adds: The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone (v. 42). Then, "The kingdom of God will be taken away from you (the chief priests and the Pharisees), and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it" (v. 43).
Some foolishly argue that this means the Kingdom of God is taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles, the church! How does the church "produce the fruit of the Kingdom"? There is no comparison between what happens in the dispensation of the Kingdom and what is now taking place in the dispensation of the church! The Kingdom is a theocracy, with Israel, confined in its governorship to the Promised Land, though the Messiah's rule is worldwide. There is the restoration of the priesthood (Zadokian priesthood) and the restoration of a new Kingdom temple (Ezek. 40-48).
Secondly, the church is never called "a nation." The Jewish leadership got the point; they knew He was speaking of them. "They understood that He was speaking about them" (v. 45). Christ is speaking about a future generation of Jews, a new and later Jewish nation that will embrace the Kingdom. He said, "Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation" (23:36). A future generation, a new nation, will receive and accept the Kingdom!
Some dumbly attempt to say that when Peter quotes Exodus 19:6, he is there calling the church the "holy nation" as was applied to Israel. Exodus 19:6 reads: "You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel." (Notice it has to do with Israel, not the church!) Peter quotes this in 1 Peter 2:9 and says to the Jews who are in the Diaspora (the scattered ones), "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation." While it is true that Peter is writing to Jews who now belong to the church, his point is that the believing Jews have this as their heritage with its national promise. He is not applying this in the broad sense to the church. He says to those Jews, the "scattered Jews," that they have such promises as a nation. In fact, he goes on and says, you are "a people for God's own possession" (v. 9). The believing Jews now have received the promised blessings of the New Covenant as prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-on. These Jews "obeyed Jesus Christ and [were] sprinkled with His blood" (the New Covenant). They had received grace "in the fullest measure."
Thus, even believing Jews today can be proud of their historic heritage. They were God's "race," His holy race, and "a royal priesthood" that represented Him on earth, and as well, they were designated "a holy nation" which is not said of the church. The church is not a race or a nation, but this is how the Jewish people, even today, are described!
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch