Monday, December 29, 2003

The Jews and the Gospel

Here are a few verses to provoke some more thought about the issue of Jews, Salvation and Israel:

And the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, "Have you not observed what this people have spoken, saying, 'The two families which the Lord chose, He has rejected them'? Thus they despise My people, no longer are they as a nation in their sight. 

"Thus says the Lord, 'If My covenant for day and night stand not, and the fixed patterns of heaven and earth I have not established, then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

"But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.'" (Jeremiah 33:23-26)

And these:

Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The Lord of hosts is His name: "If this fixed order departs From before Me," declares the Lord, "Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever." 

Thus says the Lord, "If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done," declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:35-37)

This is another essay in a series exploring the relationship of Jews, Gentiles, and the Gospel. To start at the beginning click here.

Spiritual Israel

As I understand it, the preterist makes a distinction between physical Israel and spiritual Israel. The physical Israel consists of the physical descendants of Abraham and those who have joined the line through marriage. It is comprised of all Jews. Spiritual Israel consists of all believers whether they are Jew or Gentile. Belonging to the first is a matter of biology. Belonging to the second is a matter of faith. Salvation has always been by faith, as demonstrated by Genesis 15:6, "Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness." The end of the Jewish Age has come about because:

  1. The Jews rejected the Messiah and came under the wrath of God.
  2. God no longer needed the nation as a carrier and holder of the covenant writings.

I deduce from this that God, according to the preterist, has always had His face on the forming of the Church. The nation of Israel is of minimal importance. There was no actual program or covenant with the Nation of Israel, only those within the nation who believed and who really belonged to the Church.

In terms of salvation, what the preterist say is correct. Salvation has always required faith and its outworking. A Jew without faith derives no benefit from physical descent and the Gentile with faith suffers no harm from not being of Abraham's line.

The question is whether or not God has a program or future for the Nation of Israel, held in escrow by the Jews scattered among the nations. As the Lord told Jeremiah, "If this fixed order departs from before Me, then the offspring of Israel will also cease from being a nation before Me forever." Here, tied to the regular cycle of day and night, is a promise to the "offspring of Israel (Jacob)" that they will be a Nation before the Lord. How does such verses read to one not familiar with preterism? Can one, without systematic theological lenses of certain prescription, read Church here?

What about the uncanny accuracy of these words from the Lord in Deuteronomy?

So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. 

If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. 

The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. 

Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. (Deuteronomy 30:1-6)

When the virgin Mary praises God for the child she carries, she concludes:

He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever. (Luke 1:54-55)

Read again through the verses I have brought together today. They are just a sampling. Note the time references. They all point to a persistent covenant between God and the physical descendants of Abraham. It is a covenant that expected unbelief and the need for discipline.

How can we declare the end of the Jewish Age when the Jews, in uncanny accord with Moses' words above, have been scattered across the globe and have maintained their Jewish life and culture and look forward to the day when they will occupy the promised land again?

Tuesday: Preterism and Anti-Semitism

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

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