The term “Holy One of Israel” is used more than thirty times in the Bible. However, the English translation does not accurately convey the genuine meaning as seen in the Hebrew. In the English language, the words “one” and “of” added to the translation (הקדוש של ישראל). In Hebrew, on the other hand, it is written as “Holy Israel” (קדוש ישראל). The difference is rather significant.
The English language conveys a distinctly separate association. The Hebrew, however, communicates oneness. In other words, “Holy Israel” is another name given to the Lord. He is holy, yes, and He is also Israel. The implication is that Yeshua, who is God revealed in the flesh, is also Israel, and therefore, He and Israel are one.
Now that might sound blasphemous to some, but the evidence of this truth is found in scripture. Yeshua made several profound statements about Israel when He declared, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:14-15). “Is it not written in your law, I said, You are gods?” (John 10:34, NKJV).[i]
And regarding the divinity of Yeshua it is written, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7). Here the writer is declaring that Yeshua is equal with God, and just before that, Yeshua is declaring that we are, His disciples are equal with Him. Wow! That blows my mind.
To be clear, equally does not necessarily mean that He has given us authority that supersedes His. No, Yeshua is still the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But He said He would share and delegate His authority to those who are deemed worthy—His friends. “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21).
Friendship comes with certain privileges and a degree of equality. For example, scripture tells us the husband is the head of his wife.[ii] But for us who have been married for some time, we know that our wives are indeed equal partners with us; otherwise, our marriage lacks the trust and intimacy required between a man and a woman.
Abraham was called a friend of God, and the Lord spoke plainly with him.[iii] The Lord also spoke face to face with Moses, the same as a man speaks to his friend.[iv] “Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). But Israel was called God’s servant. “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend” (Isaiah 41:8).
The distinction, I believe, is that the promise of Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, including Israel, would come through his seed, the Messiah of the world. And it would be in Christ that Israel’s promise to receive the spirit of adoption and become sons of God, and therefore, friends of God, would not happen until the Father would be sent forth His Son, and afterward, His Holy Spirit to gather the lost sheep of Israel. “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage [under the Law] again to fear, but you received the [Holy] Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15). And now that same Spirit has also been given to the Gentiles.
I love this story in the Book of Luke about Yeshua’ zealous disciples. Before He was to head up to Jerusalem for His final entry and crucifixion, Yeshua set His face towards the city, sending His disciples before Him to prepare the way. The disciples entered a Samaritan village, and the people there refused to receive them, even after the Samaritan woman at the well had joyfully shared her discovery of the Messiah with her friends and family.
Two of Yeshua’ disciples, James and John turned to Him and said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” (John 9:54). Yeshua lovingly rebuked them and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (John 9:55-56).
The fact that Yeshua did not deny their authority to call down fire from heaven affirmed the instrument of judgment was available to them. However, it was not the right time to use it. “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).
Up to this point, we have been talking about Israel, and so you might be wondering how the church fits into this story. Very simply, the church being the ecclesia and great assembly of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation redeemed from the earth through the blood of Christ, are also one with Him.[v] Therefore, Israel and the church are one in Christ.
Yeshua’ famous prayer of unity in the Book of John, not only includes the Jewish people but includes every family of the Gentiles who have received Him. “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him” (John 17:1-2). Yes, all flesh.
And so, it is the church united with Israel, i.e., the commonwealth of Israel, and which is the Kingdom of God and Zion, the Holy abode of our Lord and Savior, that will arise to execute God’s righteous judgments over those who reject Him. For it is written, “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion; For I will make your horn iron, And I will make your hooves bronze; You shall beat in pieces many peoples” (Micah 4:13). “For thrones are set there for judgment, The thrones of the house of David” (Psalm 122:5).