Thursday, February 04, 2010

God's Future for Israel

Some disagreements in doctrine are understandable. None of us have perfect knowledge or understanding of scripture and there are some parts of scripture that are ambiguous enough for us to come up with vastly different interpretations until further understanding is gained.

However, some truths could not be made clearer and I don’t know how wide sections of the Christian community can dismiss them.

One of these relates to Israel’s place in God’s purposes and in particular their future.

I don’t have to the time to go through all of the evidence, but scripture could not be more clear about the issue.

One day in the future Israel as a nation will recognise that Jesus is their Messiah and they will be saved under the new covenant in the same way that every other believer becomes saved under the new covenant.

When the future of Israel is revealed in prophecy, scripture is not referring to a “spiritual” Israel – meaning the church, as replacement theology insists.
Those prophecies are referring to NATIONAL Israel, physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom the physical land of Israel was promised.

If there was no other prophecy in scripture related to this matter, Ezekiel 36 should establish this truth once and for all.

This portion makes it absolutely clear of whom the Lord is referring.

“24 " 'For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness.

He is referring to a people who have been scattered among the nations and whose forefathers had been given a land. They will be returned to that land and live in it. And they will be cleansed and given a new heart and a new spirit. This clearly refers to the new birth – a fact recognised even by the replacement theologians who apply those references to themselves but ignore the fact that the context here in Ezekiel is specifically and CLEARLY referring to Israel.

Paul also makes Israel’s ultimate future clear when he writes in Romans 11:

26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
"The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins."

“But”, say the replacement theologians, “Paul has already said that ‘not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.’” As if this statement is enough to deny that ANY descended from Israel are Israel and that the statement overturns all prophecy that promises Israel a future with God.

What does that statement mean? I think it is explained towards the end of Amos (chapter 9):

9 For I will give the command,
and I will shake the house of Israel
among all the nations
as grain is shaken in a sieve,
and not a pebble will reach the ground.
10 All the sinners among my people
will die by the sword,
all those who say,
'Disaster will not overtake or meet us.'
11 "In that day I will restore
David's fallen tent.
I will repair its broken places,
restore its ruins,
and build it as it used to be,
12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations that bear my name, "
declares the LORD, who will do these things.
13 "The days are coming," declares the LORD,
"when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman
and the planter by the one treading grapes.
New wine will drip from the mountains
and flow from all the hills.
14 I will bring back my exiled people Israel;
they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
they will make gardens and eat their fruit.
15 I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted
from the land I have given them,"
says the LORD your God.

This section of scripture echo Ezekiel’s prophecy about Israel being returned to the land and adds NEVER AGAIN TO BE UPROOTED* (obviously referring to a time AFTER the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersal and exile of Jews from the land for almost 2000 years).
It also gives us a hint of who God considers to be the true Israel. Firstly taking into account OT prophecy there should be no doubt that Israel is ALWAYS national Israel because of the references to the land of their forefathers. Secondly we take into account Paul’s statement that not all descended from Israel are Israel. Thirdly we see in Amos that a shaking of Israel will take place in which sinners among God’s people of Israel will not survive. Therefore it will be the remnant of national Israel who will survive the shaking who will be that “All Israel” who will be saved in the end times.

It is probably not surprising that those who reject Israel’s future place in God’s plans, also deny the literal millennial reign of Jesus from Jerusalem. And to deny that its necessary to ignore or distort what is clearly revealed throughout the majority of scripture, in particular the Old Testament prophets and the writings of the apostles.


----
* I think it would be a mistake to assume that the establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948 HAS to be the return being prophesied in scripture. It could well be - but personally I wouldn't take it for granted. I see the possibility of a further exile (possibly short term) in which Israel is again subjected to extreme persecution (possibly the sifting mentioned by Amos) after which the final and permanent return occurs.

3 comments:

Onesimus said...

I have seen the view I have expressed above being identified as “dispensationalism” a totally wrong claim that demonstrates an ignorance of how dispensationalist doctrine distinguishes between and separates the destinies of the church and Israel.

The assumptions that come along with this mistake can lead to blindness to what is actually being said about Israel’s future. I have been accused of believing that Israel can be saved apart from Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I have also been accused of believing that Israel was saved through being established as a nation again in 1948. That claim is even more absurd than the first.

Israel’s future is In Christ. It hasn’t happened yet, but unless God is a liar it WILL happen in due time as He predicted through His prophets.

No Doubt said...

Onesimus,

I don't like placing labels either. Let's just call it the truth. The scriptures are quite clear. G-d is not finish with my Jewish brothers. They are blinded until the fullness of the gentiles be complete. At that time, Isreal will see and come to acknowledge the one and only Messiah, Yeshua the true Bar-Abba, Son of God.

Shalom

Onesimus said...

G’Day No Doubt,
Thank you for your comment.
Yes the scriptures are VERY clear on the future Of Israel. If we discount their promised future restoration to God we have no reason to trust that any other promise of God can be trusted, and ALL of our faith in Him has been in vain.

Labels can be very deceiving, especially when they are used to create invalid assumptions. Then again a lot of people seem more devoted to their own chosen label than they are to Jesus and His gospel.