Or, My Discovery of Biblical Israel
A Testimony by Arnold Kennedy
For about forty years I went faithfully to church and tried to regularly read the Word of God every day. My beliefs were rather orthodox, that is, they were essentially based upon the notes in the Scofield Bible. I did not then realise was that everything I read in the Bible was conditioned by these notes, and I will tell why I now see that some of these traditional beliefs are wrong beliefs. Today I feel ashamed at the quality of my Bible reading over that period, but that was largely due to how the notes had pre-conditioned me to believe a type of universalism that was not valid.
One day this all started to change. For some reason I looked at the early pages of each Gospel, and Matthew 1:21 caught my eye. This said, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for he shall save His people from their sins.” What this said to me was that the persons being addressed were God’s people before they were saved. Strange I thought, I had always believed that people “got saved” and became God’s people (Scofield style). So through these Gospels, I went on to find many verses that backed what I was seeing for the first time. These were simple statements that could not be bent, and statements that are foundational doctrinal points that will stand up to any scrutiny. All of these verses said something vastly different to what I had been led to believe since they concerned only one people, here termed “Israel”. Luke 1:77 (as below) of course confirmed Matthew 1:21, and obviously all these verses concerned a one particular people only.
- 1. Matthew 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for he shall save His people from their sins.”
- 2. Luke 1:16 “And many of the Children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God…”
- 3. Luke 1: 55 “He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to His seed forever.”
- 4. Luke 1:68-9 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for He hath visited and redeemed His people. And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the House of His servant David….as He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets……..to perform the mercy promised to our fathers……”
- 5. Luke 1:77 “To give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins“.
- 6. Luke 2: 34 “Behold, this Child is set for the rising again of many in Israel.”
- 7. John 1:31 “But that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptising in water”.
Every church I had attended presented the idea that people of any race who “got saved” became what they called “spiritual Israelites”, but as the sequence was back to front, I realised that this could never be right. Oh yes, I had heard the phrase, “The Chosen People”, but what this said to me was obviously that every other race must literally be “un-chosen”. This latter factor gave me a lot to chew upon, especially in regard to “race”. At first I found this to be difficult because of years of church pre-conditioning, but we can consider my conclusions after looking at some more verses.
I went on to find many similar Scriptures to those above, some of which I will list. These I have come to regard as “foundational” verses, by which we can test doctrines. I will make some comments on what “we know” from them.
- 8. Acts 5:30 “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus……. to be a Prince and a Saviour……. to give repentance to Israel.”
From this I could see we know that repentance here concerns none but Israel. The Gospel writers agree with all the similar limitations such as Isaiah 53, “for the transgression of my people was He stricken”, and again with Jesus when He said, “I was not sent but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel”.
- 9. Romans 9:10-11. “When Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)”
So I found that election still is not a matter of behaviour. This is about offspring being elected by God, BEFORE having done good or evil. This shows the choosing was done before human conception.
- 10. Romans 9:21 “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”
This was difficult to accept at first, but from it we can say, “We know that the Potter makes different peoples for differing ends, thus they are not all the same in God’s purposes. We know they had not done good or evil when the Potter made them. I could see that the Potter makes two different types of vessels that are [a] “Fitted for destruction” and [b] “Afore prepared for glory.” After clay is fired, it cannot be changed into another vessel.
- 11. John 8:42-43. “Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.”
From this I came to see that God was not the “Father” of all races, and I recalled passages such as Jer. 31:9 which reads, “I am (a) Father to Israel”. This is still the same context as 2 Cor 6:18, “And will be a Father unto you” where from the first verses of the tenth chapter I could see that the context was only in terms of racial Israelites, despite what I had been taught.
Jesus says that those begotten “from above” (from conception, or the time of begettal) can hear, and that those “from below” cannot hear His words. Jesus says, ”Let him that hath ears, let him hear”. Obviously there are those who do not have ears that can’t “hear”. What could I say I knew from this? We know here that God is not the ”Father” of all peoples. So the “Brotherhood of Man” doctrine is false.
We know that there are those who cannot “hear” Jesus’ words because of their origin, not their belief.
- 12. Matthew 13:37 “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.”
This taught me a lot, because according to God’s Law each reproduces “after his kind”, so one “seed” or “child” cannot change into another. There were three lessons from this.. (a) We know that people, as wheat, are sown by God and tares are sown by the ‘enemy’. (b) We know that tares cannot turn into wheat by belief. They grow together and are separated unchanged at the harvest time. Goats cannot turn into sheep likewise. (c) We know that the unrighteous are gathered first and separated from amongst the righteous (v49). This is the reverse of the Scofield “Rapture” doctrine most churches follow, and that I once followed too.
- 13. Jude 19 “These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. Rom. 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
This threw me somewhat, especially when I saw the word “spirit” (as a neuter noun) was not preceded by the definite article in the Greek text. I started to see how there are people who did not have “spirit” who are described as “natural”, and who could not receive the things of the Spirit of God. This reminded me of Genesis 1 and 2 where we find, “The seed of the Serpent” (the natural man) and “The Seed of the woman”, showing there are these two streams or origins of mankind. This had nothing to do with being converted. We know there are religious persons in the assemblies, “Not having the Spirit”. We know there also are those whose spirit can witness with God’s Spirit that they are children of God.
- 14. John 17:9 “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.”
Jesus prayed about “as many as Thou hast given Me” and then He prayed for those who would believe amongst those to whom the twelve were sent. The twelve were sent, “to the lost sheep of the House of Israel” – [Matt.10:6], the same ones to whom Jesus says that He was sent to, i.e. ”I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” – [Matt.15:24].
We know then that Jesus was not sent to other than those the Father gave to Him, and that He did not pray for other than Israelites who would come to believe.
- 15. Acts 13:48 “And when the Gentiles [peoples of Israel] heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”
I once had had a tussle with this word “Gentiles” but when I discovered the word was also used of Israel, everything simplified, because context determined whether the word was used in regard to Israelites or non-Israelites. We know from this that everyone of all races are not ordained to eternal life.
- 16. Matt 13:11 “Jesus answered, ‘Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given’.”
We know that there are those to whom knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven is not given.
- 17. John 6:65 “Jesus says, ‘No man commeth unto Me, except it be given unto him of My Father’.”
We know that all races cannot come to Jesus. [I noted that “be given” is in the perfect tense, that it is was completed in the past].
- 18. John 2:27 “But the anointing which you have received abideth in you…” John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, because his seed remaineth in him”. John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not.”
Because of my upbringing, I found these verses difficult, but I came to see that the issue was one of “seed” (sperma) and thus had to do with race, and that “seed remaineth” has to do with this seed being unpolluted by race mixing. I saw that this word “seed” was also used of the offspring of animals, so I knew it could not refer to any “spiritual” seed.
We know that there is an anointed race of people, and that not every race (seed) is “born of God”.