Friday, May 13, 2011

Introduction to Israel the Sanctified Race

INTRODUCTION

Theological distinctions are fine but not thin. In all the mess of modern thoughtlessness, that still calls itself modern thought, there is perhaps nothing so stupendously stupid as the common saying, 'Religion can never depend on minute disputes about doctrine." It is like saying that life can never depend on minute disputes about medicine.[1]"

One may ask, ‘why even attempt to study Eschatology since so many people disagree over it?’  L. S. Chafer has an excellent response to this question: The plea that the prophetic portions of the Bible present problems over which men disagree is not a worthy release from its claims.  There are no more problems in Eschatology than in soteriology.  It happens that, owing to the central place accorded Soteriology by the Reformers and in subsequent theological writings, that it has had a measure of consideration not given to prophetic truth.  Disagreements as divergent as Calvinism and Arminianism have never been urged as a reason for the neglect of Soteriology, but disunity of the slightest degree among teachers respecting Eschatology has been seized on as a reason for its neglect.”
In this study I am only going to deal with one aspect of Eschatology, the identity of ‘Israel’.  I have written these essays in response to the view held by Reformed ‘Covenant Theologians (Fulfillment Theologians), that the true Israel is the Church: elect to salvation Jews and Gentiles.  I believe that the name ‘Israel’ in the Bible only refers to physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, never to Gentiles.   Now, what do I mean by the title of these collected essays: ‘Israel the Sanctified Race’? Does this mean that I believe that all Jews will go to Heaven on account of their race? No, absolutely not.   By referring to Israel as a ‘sanctified race’ I mean that they are set apart by God from all other nations as a particular people before Him.  All that I mean by ‘sanctified’ is ‘set-apart’, not ‘saved’. 

Why does it matter whether one views ‘Israel’ as being the Church or a peculiar people?  It matters because our view of Israel can effect our hermeneutic, our method of interpreting the Scriptures. Thus, I believe that our view on Israel has a significant bearing on our views/positions on several things in our lives  as Christians; such as: baptism, God, covenants, world events, church services, soteriology, and most importantly, it has an effect on whether we are interpreting the Scripture rightly or wrongly. In my opinion, the position we take on Israel(the Jews) is an important factor in ‘Rightly Dividing the Word of truth(2 Tim 2:15).

  It can also influence our view of the law. The one who takes the stand that the church is the true Israel may allegorize the Old Testament and incorporate OT practices(relating to the mosaic law/covenant) into the church.  On the other hand, the one who believes that Israel is elect physical descendants of Jacob, takes the Old Covenant and its practices literally, as being procedures/rituals done by the Jews under the Mosaic covenant/law, which is no longer in effect. Therefore, they have a valid basis for not incorporating those practices into the church. They act the fact that they “are not under law, but under grace” and so should live accordingly.
 
Our perception of Israel also reflects, whether we acknowledge it or not, upon God.  Has He nullified the singular(God keeps it/unconditional) Abrahamic covenant on account of the Israelites not keeping the mutual(conditional) Mosaic covenant? – A covenant that God meant for them to break: “no one can be made right with God by following the law.  The law only shows us our sin.”(Romans 3:19) If their disobedience cancels the promises of God, of which a large number were made while they were in the midst of disobedience, the promises being that He would, for His name’s sake, bring them back to the land in the future, giving them a new heart and that He would never remove them from the land of Israel again; then how can we Christians give any credence to God’s promises to us? How can we be certain that He will accomplish them for us, or for Christian Gentiles who are a wild olive branch,if He doesn’t keep the promises to the original/ natural branch, the Jews, to whom He promised it specifically as a people? (Romans 11)
Thus, in the following chapters, I make the case that the racial sanctification of the descendants of Jacob is perpetual, not only in the Old Testament, but in the New as well.  And that God still has future plans for that particular race of people.

Here I end this introduction with a quote by Charles L. Feinberg on the importance and value of Eschatology: "Eschatology is of inestimable value and importance….because of the testimony it yields to the omniscience and omnipotence of our God.  When Isaiah was exhorting Israel in Babylon to see that their God was greater and mightier  than the gods of Babylon, even though the Babylonians had taken Israel captive from their land, he pointed out among other things that the god's of heathen Babylon were totally incapable of showing and declaring future events to prove their claim to worship.  But, on the other hand, the true God can say: "before they spring forth I tell you of them."  Again and again God is represented by the prophet as saying: "yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it" (Isa. 46:11).

Another reason for the significance attached to eschatology is that it is an indispensable conconitant of a normal Christian walk and service.  Much is heard these days as in former days in religions circles of the great task lying before the Church of bringing in the kingdom. Such energy is misdirected and were well utilized along lines consonant with the eternal purposes of God in Christ Jesus for this present age.  Others are laboring in the Church to make the world a better place in which to live, to mitigate as far as possible the line of cleavage and separation between the Church and the world.  The result is a Satanic social gospel and situation in which the Church is to be found in the world and the world in the Church.  Eschatology furnishes the answer to the question as to the work of the believer in this day and age.  But there is more than this.  A knowledge of prophecy, particularly of the imminent return of our Lord, is conducive to a proper Christian walk.   Values are soon in their relative importance.  There is not a dissipating of purpose and energy between the things of this world and those of heaven.  A wise teacher once attributed the suffering and misery of man to the fact that he has one foot in the finite and one in the infinite, with the result that he is torn asunder, not by four horses as in olden times, but between two worlds.  Many Christians are attempting to walk with Christ while they consort with the world.  The cause is to be found in their utter lack of knowledge of prophetic things, the knowledge of which would have a strong tendency, to say the least, in drawing their eyes from the things of this world and fixing them upon Christ and His future purposes.”





[1] G.K. Chesterton


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