LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Question About Israel

Relative to the Unconditional Election post, I have a question. I'll preface this by admitting that I've done little research on the subject of Isreal. You guys are far more learned than I. The jury is still out as far as any stance that I have, but some things just keep nagging at me. At the moment, my initial thoughts seems to line up with Jonathan Moorhead's .

Susan said this in a comment on that post, "But I hold to chosen individuals, not nations. Yes, Israel was (and is) a national and ethnic group, but I don't believe that Scripture holds that they will all be saved (born again) as a nation or ethnicity." I believe this is Jazzy's thought as well. To this I want to say I whole-heartedly agree. Completely. There is but 'one way' and that is faith in Jesus Christ.

But my question is, cannot God have a special plan/purpose/use for Israel, which doesn't include national salvation, but be chosen nonetheless?

If there isn't something 'special' about the Jews, then why are they so fiercely hated? Why did Adolph Hitler feel the need to try to wipe them off the face of the earth? Why is there so much controversy and war surrounding them? (OK, so I had more than one question)

"One people," yes - the body of Christ. But I can't simply disregard Isreal as having no significant place in the future. It is singled out too much in the Bible to be ignored.

Your thoughts would be most appreciated.

9 Comments:

Blogger Susan said...

Gayla,

These are all good and worthy questions to ask, probably none of which I have the answer to.
I would ask this back to you however (which I must point out is a very Jewish thing to do - answer a question with a question), but you ask:

cannot God have a special plan/purpose/use for Israel, which doesn't include national salvation, but be chosen nonetheless?

To that, I would ask, chosen to what?

If we do not see it in Scripture, that is, a people chosen for some specific purpose in God’s plan of redemption, then I presume it’s not there, but we’re reading it into the text.

Interestingly, I was reading on this subject this morning in O. Palmer Robertson’s The Israel of God,, which I’ll refer to in the next comment.

July 27, 2007 11:36 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Just some additional thoughts to consider or for discussion, from the aforementioned book.

"...if the rejection of the Jews is the riches of the Gentiles, how much greater enrichment will their fullness bring (Rom 11:12). Converted Gentiles in their turn become God's instrument for the turning of elect Jews, which demonstrates that 'according to the principle of election' they are still beloved of God on account of their fathers (Rom 11:28b). ...
"Israel is bound to the Gentiles even as the Gentiles are bound to Israel."

July 27, 2007 11:43 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

One last (maybe not) thing.

I have long thought as well, "There's something about the Jews. All that persecution..."

And yet.... While they have been continually persecuted throughout millennia, some of it (all of it?) was God's judgment upon them - for unfaithfulness, idolatry, etc.

I would have to also say that although Christians are not a united nation or body as the Jews have been, look at persecution of the Christian church - from the first century on through these days, notably in Muslim nations. Who's to say it won't happen in the US as well? My understanding is that England and Europe in general is moving along in the Islamic tide.

My point? The Body of Christ has suffered and is suffering greater persecution than that of Hitler's murder of the Jews in his day.

I don't know actual numbers, but I'm guessing that Christian persecution and martyrs outnumbers that of the Jews, but we don't have an organized and unified structure and body that makes this known as well as the Jewish body as done. Other than Voice of the Martyrs and a few smaller groups, we'd hardly hear of persecution of the Body of Christ at all.

July 27, 2007 11:52 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Ok, another "last" comment.
;-)

"Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham." - Galatians 3:7

"And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring." - Galatians 3:29

"No one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit" - Romans 2:28-29

"For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring... it is not children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring."
- Romans 9:6-8

I see in these verses (and a few others) that God's elect (Jew and Gentile) are the "Israel of God." Not in a supercessionist sense, but in the sense that the verses here attest to. We are included in the children of God - the children of promise - the children of Abraham. His offspring. The Bible says so.

That said, God does indeed have a future plan for the "Israel of God."

I do not see ethnicity in these verses. In fact, I see the opposite of it.

July 27, 2007 12:03 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Genesis 26:4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,

Doesn't this mean that Jesus would be born through the offspring of Abraham and all nations would be blessed. (Not all people in all nations, but the elect from all nations)

The role of ethnic Israel in redemptive history is finished. Wasn't that emphasized by 70 A.D.

The new covenant spoken of in Hebrews makes the old one obsolete.

July 27, 2007 4:29 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Gayla,

I’m really surprised that no one else besides Wayne has chosen to comment here yet on this thread. It’s a great topic.

Since no one else is around, here, I brought you a latte. Skinny. With pumpkin spice flavoring. A little warm up to prepare for Fall. So we can talk about this subject between us gals.

I wanted to let you know that for a long time I loved Israel (still do), the ethnic people and the nation. What a great country, culture, and people. I was raised with a love for Israel, eventually converted to Judaism and moved there (that’s the Reader’s Digest condensed version). I’m only telling you this to let you know how big of a deal it was for me to change my theological perspective to believe that no matter what my “feelings” about Israel and its people are, I have to believe what God said in Scripture before all.

I wasn’t really thinking much about it until Jonathan Moorhead posted a great topic, as yours, here:
http://jmoorhead.blogspot.com/2007_02_01_archive.html
It’s at the top of the page, dated Saturday, February 24, 2007.
The post topic reads: “Is it True that ‘Israel Always Means Israel’ in Scripture?”

His post reads:
“This is one of the perennial dispensational arguments that I think needs to be refined. I have listed a few ways Israel can be understood. Can you list more?
(1) Jacob
(2) the nation under the rule of David
(3) the northern tribes after the time of Solomon
(4) Israel that is not Israel (Rom. 11)
(5) all ethnic Jews”

There are 86 comments, and I think it’s worth reading through them. I actually printed out the comments section back in March and took it to my pastor, asking for his consideration to discuss it with me. God blessed me with a most patient and gracious shepherd for a pastor, who read through the whole thing, then sat down one Sunday after church over lunch to discuss it with me and my husband. I was able to ask our pastor any question about it I could think of (I came prepared with a notebook).

One of the things that stands out in my head from that day was that a few times I asked him regarding specific passages of Scripture, “Is this symbolic or is it literal?” to which he replied, more than once, “It’s spiritual.”

Later in meditating on this, I realized that he spoke what I think is a great truth often overlooked. Things don’t have to fall categorically into either the “literal” or “symbolic.” They can be “spiritual,” which is a reality and can also be either or both literal and symbolic. The point I’m making is that the realization of this truth led me to dig deeper and read more. I believe my pastor is correct. After all, what is the Bible if not a spiritual book at the core?

This is what started me down the path to study more on who Israel is (not just was), what spiritual Israel means, and how the spiritual realm can apply to the kingdom of heaven as we live today. I began reading on amillenialism and eventually partial preterism.

For now, I just wanted to tell you that as the conversation eventually continued with my pastor over the weeks and now months, at one point, my pastor commented over Sunday lunch (where now a group of us meet to break bread, fellowship, and discuss the Scriptures): “It all depends on how you see Israel, doesn’t it?”

I think we were discussing different eschatogical schemes at the time, but maybe not. Maybe Reformed theology. Either way, I think it applies. A lot depends on how you see Israel. So I would encourage you to go read Jonathan’s post and comments. And then read more. Search the Scriptures for yourself regarding the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).

Another latte?

July 27, 2007 8:09 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wayne, thank you for your answer.

And Susan, thank you for taking so much time to be so thoughtful in your replies. :)

I will most definitely check out the post at Jonathan's site.

I guess one thought I have is how do we know which prophecies are to be taken spiritually and which ones literally? The prophecies concerning the birth of Christ were certainly fulfilled literally.

July 28, 2007 7:47 PM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

hmmm....

that's not an anonymous person; it;s me, Gayla

July 28, 2007 7:48 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

how do we know which prophecies are to be taken spiritually and which ones literally?

Gayla,

I really hope someone more knowledgeable than I tackles this question, because I *really* am a novice at this. It may seem like a know something, but I've only been at this a short while, and I see many bloggers and commenters who are far better read than I, and I hope they can answer you.

That said, I think there's no hard and fast rule to answer your question, but I'm sure you already knew that much.

Here's what I know. A good list of rules and guidelines for interpreting Scripture (aka "hermeneutics") involves at least the following to be applied to any given text:

1. The analogy of faith. This says that Scripture interprets Scripture. Interpret more complex passages by text that is less complex; interpret the less clear by the more clear.
2. Literalist interpretation. (This is not "literal" as we use the term today.) Literal *actually* means according to the type of literature it is: poetry, history, allegory, parable, etc. Pay attention to grammar, word choice, and genre.
3. Genre analysis. This says that it is crucial to distinguish between genres. Interpret history as historical record, poetry as poetry, dig further into texts like Jonah, which can be under dispute between historical narrative and poetry (second chapter). Different books of the Bible will offer similar challenges (Daniel, Revelation, Ezekiel - and other apocalyptic literature).
4. Grammatico-Historical. This is a method of interpreting Scripture that focuses on grammatical constructions and historical context.
5. Authorship and dating. It is important to understand the dating of a particular book (witness my recent posts about dating the book of Revelation and the significance to understanding how it could be applied to 70 AD as opposed to, say, thousands of years after its writing) as well as authorship.

A few more points that deserve careful attention when reading any particular text are:
1. Don't change the rules of interpretation for the Bible. Read it just like any other book.
2. Empathize with its characters.
3. Narratives must be interpreted by the didactic (intended to instruct, morally instructive).
4. The implicit is to be interpreted by the explicit.
5. Determine the meaning of words using lexicography, etymology, and context.
6. Note the presence of parallelisms (like the comparative verses in Proverbs).
7. Note the difference between proverb and law.
8. Observe the differences between the spirit and the letter of the law.
9. Be careful with parables.
10. Be careful with predictive prophecies.

If I have time, I'll expand more on the last point, but I'm to bed now. If it's too lengthy I'll create a post if you like.

Hope this helps.

July 28, 2007 9:59 PM

 

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