All Eyes on Israel
Chapter 1 - What is Your Name?
Page 10 - The Name Israel
(Go Back to Page 9 -
Jacob Wrestles With God)
Remember, the name Israel was first given to a single man who gained a spiritual victory, who admitted his true character and was willing to depend on God. Then, in Exodus, as we get into the story of Jacob or Israel's descendents, we see, for the first time how it is used in a different way:
"And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:" (Exo 4:22)
Here God applies the name Israel to the corporate body of Israel's descendents. And it is used as such many times through the rest of the Old Testament.
We can see that the significance of the name Israel is that it applies to one who is an overcomer with God, one who is willing to admit their need of the Divine Presence and to depend not on themselves but on God. God's intent, we will see, is that this same name, (this same experience) should be shared by others and that Jacob's story should help us to understand our need of having the same overcoming experience that he had. The original intent was that Jacob's descendents should share this experience and spread it to others, even the whole world.
The first use of the name "Israel" and an understanding of how and why Jacob was so renamed helps us to understand that it designates more of an experience than an ethnicity.
Also, it is important to understand that the name Israel (and especially the experience it designates) was never intended to be restricted to one group of people. The promise to Abraham was that:
"... Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?" (Gen 18:18)
The New Testament further indicates that the blessing is meant for all:
"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Gal 3:8)
"That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Gal 3:14)
The term Israel is to include all who will chose to have that experience and receive the blessing.
End of Chapter 1
In chapter 2
we will start with Abraham to whom the covenant promises were originally made and follow the history of his "seed" through to modern Israel and see to whom these promises apply and how the nation of Israel today relates to them.