The Names Jacob And Israel And Judah

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Hi D____,
Thank you for your question.

You ask what is the spiritual significance of Jacob, Israel and Judah. All three names are used in scripture to describe God’s elect. But all three names are also used to describe those who persecute God’s elect.
As I have said many times, just as the cloud at the Red Sea was “dark to those and light to these,” so too is every word of God’s Word. Every word has both a positive and a negative application, so that you have the capitol of Judah and Israel as ‘the bondwoman who is in bondage with her children,’ and you also have “Jerusalem above which is the mother of us all,” meaning God’s elect. Paul was a Jew outwardly, but he counted it as dung to become a Jew inwardly.

Gal 4:25  For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
Gal 4:26  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

You have “Israel according to the flesh,” and you have “the Israel of God.”

Rom 9:3  For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
Rom 9:4  Who are Israelites; to whom [ pertaineth] the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service [ of God], and the promises;
Gal 6:15  Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do– submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life!
Gal 6:16  All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God— his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!

The name ‘Jacob’ is merely a less mature name for God’s elect, and it too, has both a negative and a positive application, inasmuch as we are all “carnal… babes in Christ” before we become “the sons of God.” Jacob’s name was not changed to Israel until He returned from Haran which is in the land of Babylon, where he had served his Babylonian uncle for twenty years and out of which he was give both a loved and an unloved wife.
So Israel is a more mature name for God’s elect than is Jacob, but even while in sin in Babylon, we are still God’s elect from the foundation of the world.

1Co 3:1  And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
1Co 3:2  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able [ to bear it], neither yet now are ye able.
1Co 3:3  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas [ there is] among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
1Co 3:4  For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I [ am] of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

A “carnal… babe in Christ” is a concept completely foreign to anyone who believes in a ten- second sinner’s prayer, nevertheless that is the negative spiritual application of the name ‘Jacob,’ whose name was changed only after returning to Canaan from Babylon.
I hope this helps you to see that every word of God’s Word has both a positive and a negative application, and that all three names, Jacob, Israel and Judah, are all names both for those who persecute God’s elect and for God’s “very elect,” at different overlapping stages of their walk.

Your brother in Christ,

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