At the time the Lord Jesus began His public ministry He met an Israelite whom He very much admired. His name was “Nathaniel”. About fifteen years later the Apostle Paul met an Israelite; but for him he had no admiration. His name was “Bar-jesus”. Nathaniel means, “the gift of God”. Bar-jesus means “the son of Jehovah-Saviour”. So both of these Israelites had splendid and significant names.
I am sure if we study carefully the Bible stories of these two men, we shall learn that God has in them a lesson for us. The Lord’s dealings with Nathanael are recorded in John 1:47 to 50, which we quote:
“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and saith of him Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
Nathanael saith unto Him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
Nathanael answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.”
Paul’s dealings with Bar-jesus are recorded in Acts 13:6 to 12, which we quote:
“And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus:
Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the Word of God.
But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
Then Saul, (who also is called Paul) filled with the Holy Spirit, set his eyes on him And said, O full of all subtlety (guile) and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.”
Nathanael came from under the fig tree. The fig tree speaks of the Nation Israel. Nathaniel was an Israelite in whom there was no guile. We have learned that his name means “the gift of God.”
Inasmuch as we are to study these two Israelites in the light of Romans 11:25 and 26, let us read one of the verses that follow: “The gifts of God are without repentance”. Romans 11:29. We quote also the other two verses referred to.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in you own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”
Here we note that the Nation Israel is to be saved. That Nation is to be saved when the Deliverer, the Son of Man, comes. Luke 21:27 to 31. That Nation is to be saved, because the gifts of God are without repentance. God has promised the national deliverance and restoration of His chosen people, in several covenants. He promised them the land of Canaan. Genesis 17:5 to 15; Amos 9:11 to 15. He promised them a Kingdom and a King to reign over them in that land. II Samuel 7:11 to 15; Isaiah 9:6 and 7; Ezekiel 36:24 to 34 and Ezekiel 37:24 to 34. By the prophet Jeremiah, He promised to make a new covenant with them and to give them new hearts. Jeremiah 31:31 to 35. When the Lord fulfills these covenants and all Israel shall be saved, it will be because God has promised to give them all these blessings; and His gifts are without repentance. Redeemed Israel is to be “Nathaniel”, “The gift of God”. Then all Israel will be as Nathaniel was. Israel’s Messiah said; “behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile”. When the Lord fulfills the second covenant He will remove all the guile from Israel.
But where is Israel in the meantime? The answer is in the story of Bar-jesus. Barjesus had a good name, “the child of Jehovah Saviour”. Israel was the child of Jehovah-Saviour, created by Jehovah for His glory. They were to be the Lord’s messengers and witnesses to the nations and turn them to Him. But instead, they did what Bar-jesus endeavored to do with Sergius Paulus: he endeavored to turn him away from the Lord. What happened to Bar-jesus? The very same thing that has happened to the Nation Israel. Paul said to Bar-jesus, “thou child of the devil, full of all subtlety”. This word “subtlety” is the same Greek word as the word translated “guile”. Thus we see the contrast between Nathaniel and Bar-jesus. In Bar-jesus all guile. In Nathaniel no guile. Bar-jesus represents Israel until the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings. They shall then say to that Sun of Righteousness, “Thou are the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel”. Then in Israel will be no guile. Ezekiel 36:25.
In Matthew 8:1 to 12, we have the words of Jesus, in which He predicted that the children of the Kingdom would be cast into darkness; and the Gentiles would come in. That is what took place when Paul preached to Bar-jesus; Paulus came in. To Bar-jesus, Paul said, “thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season”. Israel today is blind, in darkness; but it is only for a season. Jesus Christ is the Sun of Righteousness. When He comes Israel’s blindness shall be removed. In the meantime, we are living in the day of Gentile favor while Israel is set aside. In Acts 13:46 the story is told. Paul said to Israel, “seeing ye have put it from you we turn to the Gentiles”. The Gentiles obtained mercy because of Israel’s unbelief. Romans 11:30. Israel is, in this age, “Bar-jesus” in the coming age Israel will be “Nathanael”.
Israel was definitely and finally set aside, about 63 A.D. We quote God’s judgment. Acts 28:25 to 28:
“And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word Well spake the Holy Spirit by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers
Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive;
For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Be it known therefore, unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it”.
Remember the words, “the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles.” From that time it has been sent to the Gentiles in a manner and message never before sent the message of pure and unadulterated grace, by which believing sinners become members of the Body of Christ, which is God’s purpose for His Son while Israel waits for their national redemption. God will yet have a new Israel. Isaiah 62:1 to 4 But not during this age. During this age God is making One New Man of sinners saved by grace. Ephesians 2:11 to 18.