When the modern Bible reader sees this word, it is natural to think first of that modern nation in the middle east which calls itself by that name (especially if you have actually been there).
The Bible’s use of this word is actually broader than that. In fact, there are at least ten interpretive options which the honest Bible student needs to consider before deciding what the word “Israel” means in any given passage:
- Jacob’s Covenant Name (Genesis 32:28)
- Jacob’s Physical Descendants (Genesis 49:28)
- The Entire OT Congregation (Exodus 12:47, c.f., vv. 37-38)
- A Geographic Territory (Judges 19:29)
- Northern Political Kingdom (Isaiah 7:1)
- Northern Spiritual Kingdom (Jeremiah 3:6, 4:1-4)
- Jesus the Messiah (Hosea 11:1; Matt. 2:15)
- A Geo-political Entity (Acts 1:6-8)
- A Portion of Jewish People (Romans 9:6)
- All Christians (Galatians 6:16, c.f., 3:28-29)
I hope this list of interpretive options helps you interpret the holy scriptures more accurately as you seek rightly to divide God’s Word of truth.