Who Is Israel?
After I came across this explanation, I found that it made complete sense. This is worth your consideration! Check out this page and the video and see what you think.
All my life I was taught that "Israel" is a country and the citizens were Israelis or Israelites.

The first time "Israel" shows in the bible is Genesis chapter 32 verse 28 - 32. The man (or angel?) that Jacob wrestled all night renamed Jacob. “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said. “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.

This renaming is recorded again in Genesis 35:9-10. This is confusing? Why was it repeated? I have no idea!

From that time on the believers and followers of the God of Jacob are referred to as "Israel," "Israelis" or "Israelites." This is not as I had always thought... I had thought that the Israelites were called for their country. This becomes clear when you follow the scriptures from Genesis forward. The spiritual descendants of Jacob were the original "Israel." These spiritual descendants who accepted the Messiah, Jesus, The Son of God, are "Israel." We are "ISRAEL" the Jews who accept Jesus or any Christian... not the Jews who refuse to follow Christ, Jesus. Those who refuse Jesus are simply Jews, not "Israelis"... at least they are not Israelites in the way the scriptures define "Israel." This will be a shock to most every person who reads this. Read on... Let the written word of God speak.

Let the scriptures speak....

Hosea, chapter 2 verse 23 At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites and raise them for myself.  I will show love to those I called ‘Not loved. And to those I called ‘Not my people,’  I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’ And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”

He is speaking of the Gentiles, who were "not my people." It was not a "plot of ground" or a country, whose citizens were called by the country's name! It was a "People" that God "planted." He said so in in verse 23! Those PEOPLE are Israelites and their country is named after them. The opposite of the usual.

Before Jesus, when "Israel" is used in the Old Testament, the "Israelis" or "Israelites" are the descendants of Jacob...

Fast Forward to the New Testament... After God sent His Son... all who accept His Son, Jesus are "Israel."

Not what you have been taught?

Let the scriptures speak for themselves... Here's what Jesus had to say...

Matthew 21: 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

Matthew 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Jesus is talking to Jews... He is telling them that the "stone they rejected" would be taken from them and given to the Gentiles. We (Christians) are the ones to whom it was given. We are "Israel."

There are more scriptures to confirm this. The partial list is at the bottom of the page.

After this page, I suggest you read the entire chapters of the scriptures referenced here... read slowly... understand it. It is very rewarding!

KEY SCRIPTURES: Hebrews 8:7 through 8:13 and Hebrews 10:8 through 10:18. Those who follow Jesus are truly Israelis. Not the plot of ground, not the country but "Israel" as it was first meant to define and describe Jacob and his descendants. As it was explained to Jacob by the angel who Jacob wrestled: “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

Note: I find it hard to believe that Jacob fought with an angel (or God) and won. However; that is the way the scriptures read. Perhaps there's a breakdown in the translation?

As you follow the scriptures you will see how Israel came into existence and how "Israel" is shown to be a spiritual entity, not a plot of ground or a group of people from a country... You will see how the "corner stone" was taken from the Jews and given to any and all people who receive and follow Jesus... regardless of nationality, race, creed or origin. These people are "Israel" as intended in the way the angel of God meant. Through the years and biblical accounts the plot of ground or nation became "Israel" only in the minds of men. In the spiritual and in the heavenly realm, the true "Israel" remains constant. Israel is a Spiritual Entity not a piece of real estate!

Here is one of many scriptures that make the point... Matthew 8: 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! 11 And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. 12 But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was preparedwill be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

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edited 3-20-11