"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Grace under Siege 60: Is God through with the Jews?

     One page of Dr. Pentecost's 70 pages on the millennium deals with "The Millennium and Israel's Covenents." Here we are on solid ground when we compare Scripture with what Lou believes because he states his views in a document we can consider a reliable and honest reflection of them.
     We know, both from this document and from his admissions to former GBC member Alan Holdich (confirmed by someone whom Alan shared with afterwards), that Lou believes God is through with the Jews. He has abandoned them, there will be no restoration of Israel and she no longer plays a part in His plans.  
     In his 2005 doctoral dissertation, "Spiritual Renewal and the Kingdom of God," from Gordon-Conwell Seminary, Lou asserts "Israel failed (to) bless the world." (pp. 34-5) He quotes theologian N.T. Wright as saying, "God's purpose would not, after all, be to vindicate Israel as a nation. . . Jesus announced increasingly clearly that God's judgment would fall . . .on Israel, that had failed to be the light of the world. . . ." He claimed "Jesus himself and his followers" were "now the true, reconstituted Israel." (p. 41). 
     (Note: This is called "replacement theology.")*
     That's what a theologian named N.T. Wright says. But what does the Bible say? Were God's covenants with Israel conditional? Has God rejected Israel because she failed to bless the world? Has He replaced Israel with the church?
     In Section 2: "The Biblical Covenants and Eschatology," J. Dwight Pentecost lists four covenants between God and mankind: the Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic and New covenants. Of these only one covenant was conditional and that single condition (Genesis 12:1) was "based upon Abraham's obedience in leaving his homeland and going to the land of promise." Each of these four covenants was expressly declared to be eternal and therefore unconditional: Genesis 17:7, 13, 19; I Chronicles 16:17; Psalm 105:10 (Abrahamic), Ezekiel 16:60 (Palestinian), 2 Samuel 7:13, 16, 19; I Chronicles 17:12, 22:10; Isaiah 55:3; Ezekiel 37:25 (Davidic), and Isaiah 61:8, Jeremiah 32:40, 50:5; Hebrews 13:20 (New). 
     As a friend reminds me, the covenants were promises, not demands. God did not command Abraham to "bless the world." God promised him that through him God would bless the world. Moreover, they are unconditional promise--"I will bless you"--and God doesn't break His promises. (In the following paragraph Pentecost uses "should" to mean "shall.")
     "The things promised by God [to Abraham] are the following: 1. That Abraham's name shall be great. 2. That a great nation should come from him. 3. He should be a blessing so great that in him shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4. To him personally ('to thee') and to his seed should be given Palestine forever to inherit. 5. The multitude of his seed should be as the dust of the earth. 6. That whoever blessed him should be blessed, and whoever cursed him should be cursed. 7. He should be the father of many nations. 8. Kings should proceed from him. 9. The covenant shall be perpetual, 'an everlasting covenant.' 10. The land of Canaan shall be 'an everlasting possession.' 11. God will be a God to him and to his seed. 12. His seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. 13. In his seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."
     In the last days God will keep His covenants with the Jews. God has already restored the Jews to their own land (Jeremiah 23:5-8, 32:37-39; Ezekiel 36:28, 39:28). In Jeremiah 32:40 God says "I will never stop doing good to them." Hosea 3:5 says the Jews "will come trembling to the Lord and to His blessings in the last days." Zechariah 10:6 says God "will restore them as though I had not rejected them." Romans 11:26 says "All Israel will be saved."
     Dr. Pentecost writes, "This age (the millennium) will see the complete fulfillment of all the covenants that God made with Israel. . .
      --"the Abrahamic covenant concerning the land and the seed: Isaiah 10:21-22, 19:25, 43:1, 65:8-9; Jeremiah 30:22, 32:38; Ezekiel 34:24, 30-31; Micah 7:19-20;
Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:16-18. Israel's perpetuity, their possession of the land, and their inheritance of blessings are directly related to the fulfillment of this covenant. 
    --"the Davidic covenant concerning the king, the throne, and the royal house: Isaiah 11:1-2, 55:3, 11; Jeremiah 23:5-8, 33:20-26; Ezekiel 34:23-25, 37:23-24; Hosea 3:5; Micah 4:7-8. The fact that Israel has a kingdom, over which David's Son reigns as King, is based on this Davidic covenant.
    --"the Palestinic covenant concerning the possession of the land: Isaiah 11:11-12, 65:9; Ezekiel 16:60-63, 36:28-29, 39:28; Hosea 1:10-2:1; Micah 2:12; Zechariah 10:6. These references to the possession of the land promise fulfillment of the Palestinic covenant.
    --"the new covenant concerning a new heart, the forgiveness of sin, the filling of the Spirit through the converted nation: Jeremiah 31:31-34, 32:35-39; Ezekiel 11:18-20, 16:60-63, 37:26; Romans 11:26-29. All the blessings Israel receives are fulfillment of this covenant."
(Pentecost, Things to Come, Ch. 28, pp. 476-7)
     Numbers 23:19 says "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" God is a promise-keeper. He will do what He says. He always has.
     Oh, by the way--the Jews didn't bless the world? A young Hebrew girl breathed "Yes" to the Almighty and the whole universe was blessed with a Savior. Scribes in their dark cells washed their hands so as not to desecrate the words--words with holy meaning--they were painstakingly transferring to parchment and because of their dedication we hold virtually the original Scriptures, with no major contradictions, in our hands today. 

*Question: "What is replacement theology / supersessionism?"

Answer: Replacement theology (also known as supersessionism) essentially teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. Adherents of replacement theology believe the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel. All the different views of the relationship between the church and Israel can be divided into two camps: either the church is a continuation of Israel (replacement/covenant theology), or the church is completely different and distinct from Israel (dispensationalism/premillennialism).

Replacement theology teaches that the church is the replacement for Israel and that the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian church, not in Israel. So, the prophecies in Scripture concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are “spiritualized” or “allegorized” into promises of God's blessing for the church. Major problems exist with this view, such as the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries and especially with the revival of the modern state of Israel. If Israel has been condemned by God, and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the supernatural survival of the Jewish people over the past 2000 years despite the many attempts to destroy them? How do we explain why and how Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for 1900 years?

The view that Israel and the church are different is clearly taught in the New Testament. Biblically speaking, the church is completely different and distinct from Israel, and the two are never to be confused or used interchangeably. We are taught from Scripture that the church is an entirely new creation that came into being on the day of Pentecost and will continue until it is taken to heaven at the rapture (Ephesians 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). The church has no relationship to the curses and blessings for Israel. The covenants, promises, and warnings are valid only for Israel. Israel has been temporarily set aside in God's program during these past 2000 years of dispersion.

After the rapture (1Thessalonians 4:13-18), God will restore Israel as the primary focus of His plan. The first event at this time is the tribulation (Revelation chapters 6-19). The world will be judged for rejecting Christ, while Israel is prepared through the trials of the great tribulation for the second coming of the Messiah. Then, when Christ does return to the earth, at the end of the tribulation, Israel will be ready to receive Him. The remnant of Israel which survives the tribulation will be saved, and the Lord will establish His kingdom on this earth with Jerusalem as its capital. With Christ reigning as King, Israel will be the leading nation, and representatives from all nations will come to Jerusalem to honor and worship the King—Jesus Christ. The church will return with Christ and will reign with Him for a literal thousand years (Revelation 20:1-5).

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament support a premillennial/dispensational understanding of God's plan for Israel. Even so, the strongest support for premillennialism is found in the clear teaching of Revelation 20:1-7, where it says six times that Christ's kingdom will last 1000 years. After the tribulation the Lord will return and establish His kingdom with the nation of Israel, Christ will reign over the whole earth, and Israel will be the leader of the nations. The church will reign with Him for a literal thousand years. The church has not replaced Israel in God's plan. While God may be focusing His attention primarily on the church in this dispensation of grace, God has not forgotten Israel and will one day restore Israel to His intended role as the nation He has chosen (Romans 11).

1 comment:

  1. Jessica, Dr. Pentecost is one of my favorite theologians, one who stuck to Scripture closely and cited contextually from the Word. This is why his best known book on eschatology, "Things to Come" is difficult to refute from solid Biblical hermeneutics. Dr. Pentecost really takes 2 Timothy 2:15 to heart. This is now why a lot of modern, liberal theologians are trying to use Church History (mostly from a past bad theology) to come up with alternate theology and tell us fundamentalists that we have it all wrong! Replacement theology, I believe, leads to a improper view of Israel's special position within God's present and future plans in regards to His 2nd coming. Please see Jeremiah 31:35-37, Genesis 12 and Romans 1. I do believe Satan (Ezekiel 38) is pulling us away (including Christians as well as our nation) from our support of Israel so the momentum for the impending prophetic attack against Israel can proceed. Our present United States government is presently fostering anti-Semitic undertones towards Israel. They don't speak for me and other Christians (who aren't being deceived) who believe that Genesis 12:3 is applicable today! Praise the Lord for how He made available to us His gift of salvation to the Jew first and then to us (Romans 1:16). Lord Jesus come quickly!