In the 2021 Leadership Institute seminar The Israel of God, Mike Kuhn examined an array of passages from both the Old and New Testaments in light of the question, “how we should understand ‘Israel’ biblically?” He also considered three implications regarding the current state of Israel:
First, the identity boundaries of Israel were never ethnic but covenantal.
“The sign of the covenant was the identity marker,” he said.
Second, the Old Testament anticipates what the New Testament teaches—an expansion of those boundaries in terms of both land and people.
Third, all nations are included in the Israel of God—people—and the promised land is a renewal of all creation.
“Jesus, in word and action, gave sufficient indication that the true people of God are those people who believe the testimony about Him and join themselves to him to become one with Him,” Kuhn said. “Jesus is the spiritual progenitor of a new people, a new nation consisting of both Jews and Gentiles.”
Kuhn emphasized that this new nation is the inclusive and expansive continuation of Old Testament Israel.
“The difference is that now the anointed prophet, priest, and king has appeared—God’s eternal purpose for His people is fulfilled in Christ,” he said. “To use the language of Hebrews, the shadow has now given way to the reality. In Christ, God’s purposes are not merely proclaimed, but achieved. Christ is the Israel of God.”
Kuhn serves as Missional Theology Specialist for EPC World Outreach’s International Theological Education Network (ITEN). For more than 28 years, he lived in three different Arab countries: Morocco, Egypt, and Lebanon, where he served as Professor of Biblical Theology and Discipleship at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut from 2012-2018.
The Leadership Institute is an equipping component of the annual General Assembly meeting.