A Comparison and Contrast Between

Israel and the Church



The prophecy found in Daniel 9:24-27 is a key to understanding the parenthetical nature of this present age. Israel’s history from the rebuilding of Jerusalem to the second coming of Messiah is incorporated in the 70 Week prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27.  We know that Messiah was cut off (referring to His violent death) after the 69th week, and we know from the book of Revelation and other Scripture passages that the 70th week is yet future and represents the final seven years before the Messiah returns to the earth.  Between the 69th and 70th weeks is a “gap” of nearly 2000 years, during which time God has been building His Church (Matthew 16:18) and “visiting the nations to take out of them a people for His Name” (Acts 15:14).

It is highly significant that this 70-Week prophecy of Daniel, while detailing the history of God’s people—“seventy weeks are determined upon thy people” (Dan. 9:24)—has nothing to say about a period of history which is now known to consist of nearly two millennia.  When this remarkable “gap” or “parenthesis” is integrated with Daniel’s great chronological prophecy, the interpreter is forced to distinguish two histories:  1) the stated history of Israel (490 years); 2) the unstated, parenthetical history of the Church (already nearly 2000 years).  God has a distinct history or program for Israel as well as a distinct history or program for His Church.  The two programs harmonize perfectly but do not interfere one with the other, nor do they overlap in time.  The Church age in its entirety falls in the period of time after the conclusion of the 69th week and before the beginning of the 70th week.


Vital Distinctions Between Israel and the Church

            Dispensationalists are distinguished from non-Dispensationalists in that they recognize clear Biblical distinctions between Israel and the Church. The following distinctions, illustrated in chart form, are based on the clear teachings of the Scriptures when interpreted in their plain, normal, literal sense. For example, non-Dispensationalists are horrified at the thought that animal sacrifices will be observed in the future Messianic kingdom, but this is what the Old Testament prophets predicted. [For further study, see The Millennial Temple of Ezekiel 40-48 by Dr. John Whitcomb (An Exercise in Literal Interpretation).   In this chart the term “Church” refers the true Church made up on born again believers, and does not include mere professing Christians who do not have the life of God (1 John 5:12).

A Comparison and Contrast Between

Israel and the Church


The Church

Israel is a nation chosen by God and sustained by covenant promises (Deut. 7:6-9).  Not all individuals in this chosen nation are saved (Rom. 9:6; 11:28).

The Church is a called out assembly of believers who have been baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).  Every member of the body of Christ is saved, though there are multitudes of professing Christians who may not be saved (2 Tim. 2:19).

Israel traces its origin to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Jacob being the father of the twelve tribes).

The Church traces its origin to the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) when believers were first placed into the body of Christ.

In God’s program for Israel, His witnesses comprised a nation (Isaiah 43:10).

In God’s program for the Church, His witnesses are among all nations (Acts 1:8).

God’s program for Israel centered in Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37) and will again center in Jerusalem during the Tribulation (Matt. 24:15-20) and during the Millennium (Isa. 2:1-5).

God’s program for His Church began in Jerusalem and extended to the uttermost parts of the earth (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8).  The Church is identified with the risen Christ, not with any earthly city.

The hope and expectancy of Israel was earthly, centering in the establishment of the Kingdom of the Messiah foretold by the prophets (Jer. 23:5-8; Isa. 2:1-5; 11:1-16).

The hope and expectancy of the Church is heavenly, centering in the glorious appearing of Christ to take His people to heaven (John 14:1-3; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 3:1-4; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

God’s purpose and program for Israel was revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures.

God’s purpose and program for the Church was not revealed in the Old Testament, but was revealed by the New Testament apostles and prophets (Eph. 3:5).

Israel’s history which is in view in Daniel 9:24 (the 70 weeks or 490 years) involved animal sacrifices. These years will include the tribulation. Israel’s millennial history will involve the same (Ezek.  43:27).

The Church’s history does not involve animal sacrifices.  Messiah’s sacrifice is commemorated by means of the Lord’s Table.

Israel’s history which is in view in Daniel 9:24 (the 490 years including also the Tribulation) involves a temple in Jerusalem. The same will be true in the Millennium (Ezek. chapters 40-48).

During most of the Church age there is no Jewish temple in Jerusalem.  In this age God manifests His glory in His believers, both individually and collectively, designating them as His temple (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19-20; Eph. 2:21-22).  This is accomplished by the indwelling ministry of God the Holy Spirit.

Israel’s history which is in view in Daniel 9:24 (the 490 years) involves a priesthood limited to the sons of Aaron, and excluding most Israelites. The same applies to the Millennium when Zadokian priests (also sons of Aaron) will serve in the temple (Ezek. 40:46; 43:19; 44:15).

During the Church age every true believer is a priest and able to offer spiritual sacrifices to the Lord (Heb. 13:15; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6). Whereas Israel had a priesthood, the Church is a priesthood.

Israel’s history which is in view in Daniel 9:24 (the 490 years) will terminate with the coming of the Messiah to the earth to establish His Kingdom reign.

The Church’s history will end at the Rapture of the Church when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in (1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rom. 11:25).

During Israel’s history (the 490 years of Daniel 9:24 which also includes the Tribulation) the ethnic makeup of the world is bipartite: Jews and Gentiles.  This division of all people into Jews and Gentiles will also apply to those in the Millennial Kingdom in natural bodies.

During the Church age from Pentecost to the Rapture the ethnic makeup of the world is tripartite:  Jews, Gentiles, and the Church of God (1 Cor. 10:32), the Church being composed of saved Jews and Gentiles united together in one Body (Eph. 2:15; 3:6).

During Israel’s history, from Sinai to the Millennial Kingdom (excluding the Church age), Israel’s role in the world will be characterized by PRIORITY [that is, they will have a leading role as God’s chosen people]—see Deut. 4:6-8; Isa. 43:10; Matt. 10:5-6; Zech. 8:23.

During the Church age, Israel’s role in the world will be characterized by EQUALITY—Jew and Gentiles united together in one body to bear testimony to a risen Christ (Col. 3:11; Gal. 3:28).

Male Jews were circumcised as a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant.  Believing Jews were circumcised in the heart (Jer. 4:4).

Believers of this age enjoy an internal circumcision not made with hands (Col. 2:11; Phil. 3:3).  Physical circumcision is not required.

Israel was under the law of Moses as a rule of life.

The Church is under the “new creature” rule (Gal. 6:15-16).  See our study: What is the Believer's Rule of Life?

Unbelieving Jews were physical children of Abraham and spiritual children of the devil (John 8:37-44). 

Every believer in Christ (every true member of the Church, whether Jew or Gentile) is a child of Abraham and a child of God (Rom. 4:11-12; Gal. 3:326-29).  This statement does not mean that Church age believers are Israelites.  See The Use of the Term "Israel" in the N.T.

Israel was to observe the Sabbath Day (Exodus 20:8).  Sabbath observance will also take place in the Tribulation (Matt. 24:20) and in the Millennium (Ezek. 46:1,3).

The Church is to be diligent and make every effort to enter into God’s rest (Heb. 4:9-11). This is a daily duty.

Membership into the Jewish nation was by birth or by becoming a proselyte (a convert to Judaism).

Membership into the Church is by the new birth accomplished by the baptizing ministry of God (1 Cor. 12:13).

Believing Jews prior to Pentecost, believing Jews during the tribulation, and believing Jews during the Kingdom reign of Christ are not members of the body of Christ.

Believing Jews and Gentiles from Pentecost to the Rapture are members of the body of Christ. 

Israel’s place of worship centered in Jerusalem (Dan. 6:10; John 4:20) and this will also be true in the Tribulation (Dan. 9:27) and in the Millennium (Isa. 2:1-5).

The Church’s place of worship is “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name” (Matt. 18:20; John 4:21-24).  Christ is in the midst of His Churches (Rev. 1:13, 20).

Israel is likened to the wife of Jehovah, often an unfaithful wife (Hosea).

The Church is the beloved Bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7-8) to be one day presented blameless and spotless (Eph. 5:27).



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