Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The People, The Land, and The Future of Israel

The People, the land, and the future of Israel is a collection of essays on those topics by various people including  Michael Rydelnik, John Feinberg and Walter Kaiser Jr.  The Essays are Divided into several groupings, in sections like Practical Theology, Hebrew Scriptures, New Testament..etc.  All of these men are defending the Biblical view that God is not done with the Jews as a people, that they have a future in  the land of Israel, a future in which as believers in Jesus as the Messiah, and as the Atonement for their sins, they will live in peace in the land under their Messiah's rule(The Millennial Kingdom).

At first I liked the idea of having multiple people contributing in one book, but when I read it, or rather as I was reading it,  I changed my mind.  It just wasn't a smooth flow, once you got used to one person's style of writing you ended up with another one.  And then some of the essays were interesting, some weren't so interesting.  That, of course, is mostly a matter of my preference, some may not have a problem with the styles.  But the worst thing for me was that some writers I had to be more wary of some of the writers than others.  I don't love reading books in which you have to critically analyze every other sentence out of doubt of the truth/accuracy of what the writer is saying.  Of course, it wasn't every other sentence, but enough to At first I liked the idea of having multiple people contributing in one book, but when I read it, or rather as I was reading it,  I changed my mind.  It just wasn't a smooth flow, once you got used to one person's style of writing you ended up with another one.  And then some of the essays were interesting, some weren't so interesting.  That, of course, is mostly a matter of my preference, some may not have a problem with the styles.  But the worst thing for me was that I had to be more wary of some of the writers than others.  I don't love reading books in which you have to critically analyze every other sentence out of doubt of the truth/accuracy of what the writer is saying.  Of course, it wasn't every other sentence, but enough to make me uncomfortable. For instance, one of the writers said things like, "Only one thing stopped God from exercising his parental care:  the people did not wish him to do so.  As a result, the gathering and its protection could not take place.  The same risk applies now to Jesus offer…"  and a similar statement by someone else, "Every effort of Jesus to turn the hearts of the Jewish people was thwarted by the Jewish leaders throughout His earthly ministry who rejected His person and message.  Finally, the Savior comes to the heartbreaking conclusion that He is going to be a rejected by his own people…"  Umm….He knew that before(Lk 17:25;8:9-10;Mt 13:10-17) , He did the will of the Father knowing that would happen, He didn't have to "conclude it".  another writer writes that "When a prophecy is fulfilled essentially the main point of the prophecy (its primary intention) is realized with a degree of literality, but some of the accompanying details may not materialize.  An examination of fulfilled prophecies in 1-2 Kings suggests that Old Testament prophets understood that their predictions might be realized essentially without every detail materializing.  In each case, God makes room for human freedom, which gives the prophecy a degree of contingency, or conditionality."  I'm not sure where he's getting that… isn't there only conditionality when God gives conditions in the prophecy itself?  I mean, if one believes that way then, applying it to Christ, the Messiah would not have had to have met the requirements for Messiahship.  For instance, if Mary had chosen to reject God's choice  of her as the earthly mother of Christ, would He not have been born of a virgin?  Or what about the prophesied crucifixion of Christ?  What if the religious leaders hadn't hated Him and didn't want Him to be killed? Christ would not then have been the Atoning sacrifice for sin.   I know that these things are not what that writer said but that's what his statements imply to me.  Sometimes it wasn't what they said but what they didn't say.  One of the writers, Barry Leventhal quoted sources that seemed to accuse God of injustice for allowing the holocaust, but didn't offer a rebuttal to those accusations, instead he seemed to sort of assent to them, as in his introduction of one quotation:  "it was Eliezer Berkovits who admitted that while we cannot exonerate God for His responsibility in all the suffering of history, one can nevertheless rest in His recompense beyond history"  I think that that was a bad choice of words.  Another thing I didn't like was that a lot of the authors used transliterated Hebrew terms instead of English terms, "Yeshua", "Moshiach", "Shalom,"  etc.  Solely using them or randomly interchanging them with the English term, they just seemed out of place. I don't understand why they don't just use English terms.  I don't see how Hebrew transliterations add anything to their argument, and don't think that Replacement theologians, Jews or any others they are trying to reach will be more convinced by the terms.   

There was one thing I was rather impressed with, but it was technological rather than theological:  At the end of each chapter is a bar code you can scan with your smartphone to watch the actual delivery of the messages by the authors at the conference this book originated from.  All in all, though there were good essays, Rydelnik's being one of them, I just wasn't thrilled enough to recommend it, or really enjoy it.  I could recommend different books by certain of the essay writers that are better than this eclectic defense.   

Many thanks to Kregel Academic for sending me a free copy of this book to review!
 

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