Promises to Israel: We Should Expect Literal Fulfillment

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Promises to Israel: We Should Expect Literal Fulfillment

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If Israel has been chosen to perform a special role in the divine plan, what promises have been given to Israel that will enable that ancient people to fulfill that role?

The Apostle Paul is clear on the great privileges that God has granted Israel. He wrote in Romans 9:4: “who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises.” Paul nowhere intimates that these great privileges have been annulled, forfeited, or cancelled. As a matter of fact the three chapters of which this verse is a part (Rom. 9-11) have as one of their purposes to emphasize that God has not cancelled His promises to Israel or transferred them to some other people! What says Paul in Romans 11:1?: “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.”

Specifically, what are those promises to Israel?

Well, they ultimately are derived from those to “Father Abraham” in Genesis 12:1-3. To sum them up, they are basically the promises of a people, a land and a blessing. The Book of Deuteronomy and the later prophets unite on the affirmation of these promises to Israel. Chapters 28 and 29 of Deuteronomy clearly delineate the dire consequences if Israel disobeys the Lord - there will be drought, exile and suffering—to name only a few of the judgments. But even if the promises of judgment are fulfilled, that does not cancel the promises of Israel’s future blessings—found in Deuteronomy 30. As we will emphasize again in this brief article, to view the promises of Israel’s judgement as having been literally fulfilled while attempting to spiritualize and then transfer the promises of her blessings to the Church involves an inconsistent hermeneutic.

As an example of many such illustrations of this principle, consider just the prophets Hosea and Micah. In Hosea 3:4 there is a promise of judgement on Israel which already has been literally fulfilled: “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim.” If that verse has had a literal fulfillment in Israel’s history of the last two thousand years, what about the next verse embodying a promise of blessing for Israel?: “Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.” If Israel was punished literally, they will be blessed literally!

Or consider the dual promises of judgement and blessing in Micah 3:12-4:2:

Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, And the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest. Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion the law shall go forth, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

The promise of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was literally fulfilled. Why would anyone then spiritualize the promise of restoration and blessing for Jerusalem and the Temple in the very next verses?

Now, someone may say that although the OT prophets may have stated that, now in the NT the Church is the so-called “New Israel” and the Church really spiritually receives those future promises of blessing to Israel. But this cannot be proved from the NT either. Already we have referred to that great chapter on Israel’s future, Romans 11. Throughout that chapter the word “Israel” refers to the Jewish people. Therefore, when Paul affirms the future blessings for Israel in Rom. 11:26-27, why would he then inject the word with a different meaning? “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.’” Paul actually bases his theology of blessings for a literal Israel on OT prophecies (Isa. 59:20,21 and Jer. 31:33,34).

Why should the plain and natural sense of a text be jettisoned? In Luke 1:31-33 seven promises were given to Mary. Five of them have already literally been fulfilled. Why is someone authorized to say that the remaining two will not also be literally fulfilled? Indeed, Christ shall receive the throne of His father David, and He shall rule over the house of Jacob forever, literally.

Perhaps we need to pay closer attention to the words of a layman who understood the nature of language very well, the poet and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson:

I cannot understand how you theologians and preachers can apply to the Church Scripture promises, which, in their plain meaning apply to God’s chosen people, Israel; and which consequently must be future. The prophetic books are full of teachings which, if they are interpreted literally, would be inspiring, and a magnificent assurance of a great and glorious future; but which, as they are spiritualized, become farcical…as applied to the Church they are a comedy.

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And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring

Hosea 3:4 is speaking of the Babylonian exile likely the time that followed . . . the return of Israel that he then speaks about is the church. 

Isaiah 59 and Jeremiah 31 are clearly speaking of the new covenant which is the church. 

Romans 9-11 is Paul's explanation of how the Church is the true Israel. Thus, he says in 9:6 "But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel." 

This fits perfectly with other statements by Paul in other books:

Gal. 6:16 "For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation."

1 Cor. 7:19 "For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God."

Jesus himself explains that ethnic or physical heritage no longer means anything when it comes to the people of God under the New Covenant. Just a few passages:

He told the Jews that they were not the people of God, unless they did the works of that kingdom. John 8:39 "They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did." 

By Matthew 21:43, Jesus clearly states that because of their constant rebellion, the kingdom was being taken from them: "Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits." 

According to Scripture, just because a covenant is called "everlasting," that does not mean that it cannot be broken: Isaiah 24:5 "The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant."

Yes, the promises did come through the Jews, but there is no longer any advantage to being a Jew. The people of God, the Israel of God are those of faith and those of faith are the church. 

The land promises were fulfilled:

Joshua 21:43-45 "Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass."

And so have the spiritual promises: "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him." (2 Cor. 1:20) and Galatians 3:16 "Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ."

As for the judgments of Deuteronomy 30? And Jeremiah and Isaiah and the rest of the prophets? They are fulfilled in Revelation where Babylon, who is revealed to be Jerusalem (Old Jerusalem, the  the Whore as she is called all through the OT, the city in which our Lord was crucified). All of the judgments that are spoken about in the OT prophets, are fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Just one example: "coming on the clouds" is a sign of judgment all throughout Scripture.

A sign of judgment in the OT Ps. 97:2; Jer. 4:13-14; Zeph. 1:15-17 - there are many more.

Christ promises that he will "come on the clouds" to judge - Matt. 16:27-28 and the fact that this is a sign of judgment is readily apparent to the Jews in Matt. 26:64-65. Why else would they consider his statement to be blasphemy? 

If those passages are not enough to motivate you to at least consider the idea that the true Israel is the church and that God's kingdom is now the church alone and will be forever, consider Daniel 7 where Daniel sees a person Who is described identically to John's vision of Christ in Revelation:

I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.

Christ also said that the "gates of hell will not prevail" against the church. And you expect me to believe that Paul is talking about physical, ethnic Israel? Even Peter didn't believe that when he referred to Jerusalem as Babylon . . . the same as the Babylon who is utterly destroyed at the end of the Book. 

 

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source of the Stevenson quote?

Does anyone know the source of the quote from Robert Louis Stevenson?  I'd like to know the context in which he made the statement.

I don't mean to doubt Dr Varner, but I was unaware of any connection of Stevenson with Christianity, so I went to Wikipedia to read his biography.  It seems Stevenson may have had Christian parents and a Christian upbringing, but turned his back on it, bringing grief to his parents.

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Good point

Maybe Stevenson turned his back on Christianity because nobody could adequately explain how the church has become the reconstituted Israel through the "one Seed," Christ. 

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Stevenson quote

I found the same thing cited in a Master's Seminary Journal article. It is cited as follows:

As quoted from personal conversation by S. J. Whitmee, “‘Tusitala,’ R. L. S.—A New Phase,” The Atlantic Monthly 131 (March 1923): 348

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

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Not buying it ...

I don't have a lot of time today, and need to finish up for this weekend, but ...

Joshua, those are a lot of verses you are using, and you seem to marshal a lot of evidence, but Will Varner is more biblical, regardless of the use of Stevenson or not as support at the end.

I noticed the comment about Hosea 3:4 and ... Hosea prophesied to the Northern tribes of Israel, not to Judah. So, I am just thinking about the implications of that when it comes to proper hermeneutic. Date, audience, intent, occasion and location in the scope of progressive revelation impact how one handles Hosea. Just think how misleading the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has been to Hosea, as well as Micah, Isaiah and Jeremiah later on, (not to mention Daniel, Ezekiel, Joel, Zechariah, and the others) if he uses believing, physical descendants of the Patriarchs as prophets to proclaim a message to all of Israel and later on Judah of future hope, and yet it never really applied to them! NO - for there to be the hope of the promise of Hosea 3:4-5, there has to be a literal believing Israel that are physical descendants of the fathers, because that is the original audience and that is original intent. Nowhere does the text allow us to spiritualize it and apply it to the church. Not buying that ... 

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@ Joshua

The New Covenant was made with the Israel at Shavuot 50 days after Christ's resurrection when diaspora Jews of all the tribes were in Jerusalem at this required feast. The initial Church was composed only of Israelites. When Jesus told the disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, the 11 most likely thought Jesus was referring to the diaspora Jews. Only later was it revealed that now Gentiles would be included.

 

Rom. 11.15 speaks of an even much more glorious era than today when Israel will be re-ingrafted.

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Was Paul not literal, believing "Israel"? Rom. 11:1

jhowell, 

Thank you for your generous words about using Scripture. I am confident that if we can confine ourselves to the biblical evidence, that we can come to a true knowledge of the truth. I used to be a convinced, died-in-the-wool dispensationalist . . . until I really started to look hard at the biblical evidence. I once wrote a 20+ page paper in grad school "proving" how Romans 11:26 taught that physical, ethnic Israel would at some point in the future turn to Christ, en masse. It was garbage.

As to your assertions: 

First, all of the promises have been fulfilled to physical Israel - unless you contradict the clear statement at the end of Joshua or Paul's statement where he declares that the promise was fulfilled in Christ Himself as the "Seed" in Galatians 3. There are no promises for ethnic Israel that have been left unfulfilled, especially when we understand that the church is Israel. That's how Paul saw it.   

The bigger problem in your understanding might be that you seem to be confusing the terms "literal" "physical" and "spiritual." 

In doing so, you are making the same mistake as the Jews, Pharisees and even the disciples of Christ's day when it comes to the kingdom. They were expecting a physical, political kingdom where the Messiah would overthrow Rome, the Jews would reign, etc. Even up to the time of the crucifixion, Peter was expecting to fight with a physical sword. Peter and the Jews and the Pharisees were wrong about that - so are the dispy's especially when supporting the physical, ethnic, political, but godless nation of Israel. 

Peter had figured it out by Acts 2 where he quotes from Joel and Psalms and tells everyone who would listen that the prophecies of the OT had come to fulfillment in Christ. Read the whole chapter. And near the end: "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." Jesus was literally ruling on the throne of David in Acts 2 . . . Peter did not consider ethnic, physical Israel to be the people of God, he called them "Babylon" in 1 Peter 5:13, the early church thought of Jerusalem, ethnic Israel as the "whore of Babylon." This is not to say that Jews cannot be saved. Paul makes this abundantly clear, but they must now come through Christ and His church by faith, not circumcision, sacrifice, the clean laws or an appeal to being the physical descendants of Abraham. 

To my point, the kingdom is real, it is literal - but it isn't physical - i.e. it is not a worldly political entity made up of geographic boundaries or defined by human physical (genetic, fleshly) characteristics. The kingdom is the church - it is very real, it is very literal, yet spiritual. Unless you believe that spiritual entities are not literal . . .  

Therefore, the promises to Israel have been fulfilled to the "true Israel of God" the church in a very literal way - both physically (Do you not consider yourself to be a physical member of the church?) and spiritually. Jesus could not have been more clear as to what was going to happen: "Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits." - Matthew 21:43 And it is this kingdom into which the people of God have been transferred. (Col. 1:13)

 

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alex o. wrote: The New

alex o. wrote:

The New Covenant was made with the Israel at Shavuot 50 days after Christ's resurrection when diaspora Jews of all the tribes were in Jerusalem at this required feast. The initial Church was composed only of Israelites. When Jesus told the disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, the 11 most likely thought Jesus was referring to the diaspora Jews. Only later was it revealed that now Gentiles would be included.

 

Rom. 11.15 speaks of an even much more glorious era than today when Israel will be re-ingrafted.

 

And that reconciling happens through Christ and His church. 

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Dr. Ibex

Sadly Dr. Varner has not posted at Dr. Ibex recently and has threatened to quit that blog. The blog has many good insights and continues to supply  good information.

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Joshua Caucutt wrote: alex o.

Joshua Caucutt wrote:

alex o. wrote:

The New Covenant was made with the Israel at Shavuot 50 days after Christ's resurrection when diaspora Jews of all the tribes were in Jerusalem at this required feast. The initial Church was composed only of Israelites. When Jesus told the disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, the 11 most likely thought Jesus was referring to the diaspora Jews. Only later was it revealed that now Gentiles would be included.

 

Rom. 11.15 speaks of an even much more glorious era than today when Israel will be re-ingrafted.

 

And that reconciling happens through Christ and His church. 

 

It speaks of a new era in my mind. Clearly a normal reading of the Prophets and the New Testament demands, and only makes sense, that a new age will dawn when Christ reunites Israel to Himself.

I am sorry not to have time to debate these points with you in depth. Your first post was not convincing at all to me, I would say however.

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Isaiah 59 and Jeremiah 31 are

Isaiah 59 and Jeremiah 31 are clearly speaking of the new covenant which is the church.

So our fathers were brought out of Egypt by the hand and broke the covenant God made with them then (Jer 31:31-32)? The phrase “house of Israel and house of Judah” can only refer to the kingdoms of Israel, indicating that both are included. That phrase is never applied to non-Israelites in the Scriptures. You have to go outside the Scripture to get that. Notice that when Hebrews quotes the NC, it only quotes a portion of it, the portion needed for that particular argument. He doesn't quote the whole thing because that was referring to something bigger.

Romans 9-11 is Paul's explanation of how the Church is the true Israel. Thus, he says in 9:6 "But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel." 

Paul says this is about his “kinsmen according to the flesh,” (9:3) which is Israel right? How can Paul's "kinsmen according to the flesh" be the church? They are unsaved, and they are fleshly related. Further, Paul says these are the ones to whom belongs “the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,” none of which can be said about the church. The church is expressly said to not have those things. The Law was only for a time until faith came (Gal 3) and the church is the temple (1 Cor 3). In fact, the whole argument of Rom 9-11 is based on distinction between the two. If you equate the two, you have some absurdities like a partial hardening happening to the church until the church comes in.

Paul’s actual point is not that Israel includes more than Israelites, but that not all Israelites are true Israelites. There are some Israelites who are not believers. So not all Israel is actually children of God.

By Matthew 21:43, Jesus clearly states that because of their constant rebellion, the kingdom was being taken from them: "Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits." 

Who is that people? It is endtime Israel, according to Zech 12:10 and Rev 1:7. God gives the kingdom to the Israelites who repent. There is no reason, in the text, to see that as the church. That has to come from outside the text.

 

The land promises were fulfilled:

Joshua 21:43-45 "Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass."

And yet more than 600 years after this, the land promises are still being repeated as future. Even the New Covenant promises a restoration to the land (Jer 31:31-40) and Jeremiah was about 800 years after Joshua. So after the Assyrian captivity of the NK (722 BC), the land is still being held out as a promise of God all through the prophets. And Israel is still being given hope to be chief among the nations.

 

As for the judgments of Deuteronomy 30?

But what about the promises of regathering (30:3ff)? The judgments were on certain group of people, and the promises of restoration are to the same group. Yet you want to change horses midstream, and make the curses on one group and the promises to another. You create an unwarranted division of the covenant here.

Christ promises that he will "come on the clouds" to judge - Matt. 16:27-28 and the fact that this is a sign of judgment is readily apparent to the Jews in Matt. 26:64-65. Why else would they consider his statement to be blasphemy? 

Because they understood him to be claiming to be the Messiah (cf. Dan 7), and they did not believe him. Coming on teh clouds was a sign of power and glory, both for judgment and blessing (the Day of the Lord). To make that in AD 70 fits neither the Scripture nor history.

 

If those passages are not enough to motivate you to at least consider the idea that the true Israel is the church and that God's kingdom is now the church alone and will be forever, consider Daniel 7 where Daniel sees a person Who is described identically to John's vision of Christ in Revelation:

Not sure how that helps anything other than showing why the Pharisees accused Jesus of blasphemy.

 

Christ also said that the "gates of hell will not prevail" against the church. And you expect me to believe that Paul is talking about physical, ethnic Israel?

Why would it be a hard to believe that Jesus and Paul were talking about two different things? Why would Paul be talking about the church being unbelieving and hardened against God, when the very nature of the church is opposite?

 

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Let me get this straight

Are you guys saying that Jesus is going to eventually divorce Himself from His bride, the church after the marriage feast of the Lamb and then re-marry the whore of Babylon? (The city where our Lord was crucified - Rev. 11:8, also 1 Peter 5:13)

Even though God's own law prevents Him from remarrying once final divorce has happened? (Deut. 24; Jer. 3:1)

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Larry wrote:   Christ also

Larry wrote:

 

Christ also said that the "gates of hell will not prevail" against the church. And you expect me to believe that Paul is talking about physical, ethnic Israel?

Why would it be a hard to believe that Jesus and Paul were talking about two different things? Why would Paul be talking about the church being unbelieving and hardened against God, when the very nature of the church is opposite?

 

My reference to Paul here, should have said "Daniel." Daniel was not speaking of a hardened people, he was speaking of an unending dominion - he was speaking of the church, the new covenant community. 

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Are you guys saying that

Are you guys saying that Jesus is going to eventually divorce Himself from His bride, the church after the marriage feast of the Lamb and then re-marry the whore of Babylon? (The city where our Lord was crucified - Rev. 11:8, also 1 Peter 5:13)

Where in the world did that come from?

BTW, 1 Peter 5:13 is probably Rome, not Jerusalem.

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My reference to Paul here,

My reference to Paul here, should have said "Daniel." Daniel was not speaking of a hardened people, he was speaking of an unending dominion - he was speaking of the church, the new covenant community.

In that case, why would it be hard to believe that Jesus and Daniel were talking about two different things? What is the textual reason (textual, mind you) to think that the unending dominion of the Messiah in Daniel 7 is the church? And what reason is there to think that the church is the New Covenant community, given how the New Covenant defines the community in Jer 31?

These are questions that have to be answered from the text.

 

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Larry wrote: Are you guys

Larry wrote:

Are you guys saying that Jesus is going to eventually divorce Himself from His bride, the church after the marriage feast of the Lamb and then re-marry the whore of Babylon? (The city where our Lord was crucified - Rev. 11:8, also 1 Peter 5:13)

Where in the world did that come from?

 

God has always pictured Himself as being married to His covenant people - every covenant has worked this way - although not all of them are explicitly termed as such. The OC and the NC are certainly explicitly called marriage covenants. This why unfaitfulness to the covenant is always called "harlotry" "adultery" etc. God was once joined in a marriage covenant with ethnic Israel, throughout the OT He threatens divorce, after the crucifixion and the rejection of Christ, God (Jesus) divorces ethnic Israel. He then joins Himself in marriage covenant to the church, the bride of Christ. (Ephesians 5, Revelation 19, etc.)

Your position makes it seem as if Jesus is going to at some point in the future, either divorce Himself from His bride the church and re-marry ethnic Israel - who is called the whore of Babylon in the final book of the Bible. Or He is going to add a wife.

Also, under the OC, justification was carried out via the clean laws and sacrifice. In the NC, justification comes via the sacrifice of Christ alone. In this future covenant, what will be the basis of justification? Is there going to be a New New Covenant? 

 

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Irresistible Ignorance

Wow.  Replacement theology at its ugliest.  Joshua, you seem to think you can instruct us.  Please expound Jeremiah 33:14-26 for me in its context.  Then maybe we'll talk.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

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First, I think you are

First, I think you are pushing the marriage imagery a bit far. But regardless, I don't think any of those things follow on what I am saying.

Second, justification in the OC was never by clean laws and sacrifice. As we are told, the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin (Heb 10:4). Justification is always by faith, and it is always based on the sacrifice of Christ. (Imagine the irony of a dispensationalist having to clarify that.)

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Larry wrote: My reference to

Larry wrote:

My reference to Paul here, should have said "Daniel." Daniel was not speaking of a hardened people, he was speaking of an unending dominion - he was speaking of the church, the new covenant community.

In that case, why would it be hard to believe that Jesus and Daniel were talking about two different things? What is the textual reason (textual, mind you) to think that the unending dominion of the Messiah in Daniel 7 is the church? And what reason is there to think that the church is the New Covenant community, given how the New Covenant defines the community in Jer 31?

These are questions that have to be answered from the text.

 

No disrespect, but I almost have to laugh . . . surely you have read these passages?

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah Jeremiah 31:31

And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Luke 22:20

And the writer of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah directly!

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Hebrews 8:10

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:15

Do you really need passages that proclaim the unending dominion of the kingdom the church? We can start with the great commission . . . 

 

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Larry wrote:First, I think

Larry wrote:

First, I think you are pushing the marriage imagery a bit far. But regardless, I don't think any of those things follow on what I am saying.

Second, justification in the OC was never by clean laws and sacrifice. As we are told, the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin (Heb 10:4). Justification is always by faith, and it is always based on the sacrifice of Christ. (Imagine the irony of a dispensationalist having to clarify that.)

How am I pushing the imagery too far? Are you aware of the sheer volume of verses that portray God's relationship with His covenant people in this way?

True, it was not true justification, it was passover justification - temporary (Romans 3:25; Galatians 2,3). However, a Jew who did not practice this rudimentary form of passover justification would not be justified. (i.e. a Jew who was not circumcized, was not justified, etc.) So in that sense, it was the means of justification. 

So, what will be the basis of justification in this future, earthly kingdom of which you speak? The one were the Jews will be re-ingrafted? 

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Just a bit from Eph. 3 and 4

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel...so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places ...Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen....For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God...Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

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No disrespect, but I almost

No disrespect, but I almost have to laugh . . . surely you have read these passages?

Yes, that was kind of my point. Let's read the passages and see what they say.

 

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah Jeremiah 31:31

What does the bolded part mean? The house of Israel and the house of Judah are two political and ethnic entities. The passage gives us a bit more identification when it says that they are the ones God lead out of Egypt by the hand and the ones with whom he made a covenant that they broke. Now, doesn't that have a clear historical referent in the nation of Israel? Didn't God tell us exactly who he was talking about?

And the writer of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah directly!

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Hebrews 8:10

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:15

Yes, if you recall, I mentioned that. And remember that the author of Hebrews (AH) only quotes part of the NC. Why? Because he is only talking about one specific issue in the NC -- forgiveness. He is not intending to invoke it all because it would be irrelevant to his point. That doesn't mean it isn't true, though.

Do you really need passages that proclaim the unending dominion of the kingdom the church? We can start with the great commission . . .

Yes, if we are going to have a biblical theology, then we need passage to tell us things to believe. Otherwise, we are just making it up.

I don't recall anywhere that the Great Commission identifies the church as the unending dominion of the kingdom. Do you have a line in mind?

 

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How am I pushing the imagery

How am I pushing the imagery too far? Are you aware of the sheer volume of verses that portray God's relationship with His covenant people in this way?

Yes, but I would not impose human marriage on the relationship of God with his people.

However, a Jew who did not practice this rudimentary form of passover justification would not be justified. (i.e. a Jew who was not circumcized, was not justified, etc.) So in that sense, it was the means of justification.

The issue was their faith that caused them to offer sacrifice.

So, what will be the basis of justification in this future, earthly kingdom of which you speak? The one were the Jews will be re-ingrafted?

The sacrifice of Christ, as always.

 

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This mystery is that the

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel...so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places ...Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen....For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God...Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

This is a great passage because notice how the church is present (presently members of the same body) and the kingdom is future (inheritance to be gained later).

Again, here is where your presuppositions matter. If you think that the church is Israel, then you read it differently than if you don't. But the issue is simple this: What does the text say? The text does not equate Israel and the church. In fact, it distinguishes them when it talk about the Jews and Gentiles being made into one body. It doesn't talk about the Gentile becoming Jews. Nor the Jews becoming Gentiles. The church is a whole different thing as evidenced through this passage.

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Larry wrote: No disrespect,

Larry wrote:

No disrespect, but I almost have to laugh . . . surely you have read these passages?

Yes, that was kind of my point. Let's read the passages and see what they say.

 

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah Jeremiah 31:31

What does the bolded part mean? The house of Israel and the house of Judah are two political and ethnic entities. The passage gives us a bit more identification when it says that they are the ones God lead out of Egypt by the hand and the ones with whom he made a covenant that they broke. Now, doesn't that have a clear historical referent in the nation of Israel? Didn't God tell us exactly who he was talking about?

And the writer of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah directly!

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Hebrews 8:10

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:15

Yes, if you recall, I mentioned that. And remember that the author of Hebrews (AH) only quotes part of the NC. Why? Because he is only talking about one specific issue in the NC -- forgiveness. He is not intending to invoke it all because it would be irrelevant to his point. That doesn't mean it isn't true, though.

Do you really need passages that proclaim the unending dominion of the kingdom the church? We can start with the great commission . . .

Yes, if we are going to have a biblical theology, then we need passage to tell us things to believe. Otherwise, we are just making it up.

I don't recall anywhere that the Great Commission identifies the church as the unending dominion of the kingdom. Do you have a line in mind?

 

"And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Eph. 3:21; Colossians 1; Matthew 16... I'm curious, though, where do you find the end of the church? Other than heaven - which I submit is still the church, but be that as it may - how does the church end? Destroyed like Israel?  

 

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"And behold, I am with you

"And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

But how does that indicate it is the unending dominion of Daniel 7? I think the kingdom of Christ is his rule over all things, not just over the church or over believers. I think you making connections based on theological presuppositions. We all do that, to some degree, to be sure. But I have never found yours convincing. You can't just quote a line. IMO, you need some argumentation taking into account the whole of Scripture and showing why something is something.

I'm curious, though, where do you find the end of the church?

I don't think the church ends, per se. I think it is eternal

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If this new New Covenant that

If this new New Covenant that you speak of has it's basis in the blood of Christ, how is that not the New Covenant - the church? 

 

Larry wrote:

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel...so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places ...Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen....For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God...Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

This is a great passage because notice how the church is present (presently members of the same body) and the kingdom is future (inheritance to be gained later).

Again, here is where your presuppositions matter. If you think that the church is Israel, then you read it differently than if you don't. But the issue is simple this: What does the text say? The text does not equate Israel and the church. In fact, it distinguishes them when it talk about the Jews and Gentiles being made into one body. It doesn't talk about the Gentile becoming Jews. Nor the Jews becoming Gentiles. The church is a whole different thing as evidenced through this passage.

Huh. Because Christ and the apostles thought the kingdom was now. Matt. 3:2; Mark 1:15, 9:1; Hebrews 1:8, 12:18, 12:28

Colossians 1:13 is probably the best, written in past tense to the church at Colossea: "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son."

Matthew 12:28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

According to your position, someone was given keys that they can't use until . . . when? But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. - Matt. 16:19

Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits." - Matthew 21:43 - are you saying that the Jews had the kingdom, it was taken away from them and then it will be given back to the Jews? 

Do you proclaim the gospel of the kingdom? "And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Because the world is going to end after the kingdom is proclaimed . . . except you seem to think that we have the gospel, then the kingdom, then the world ends. . .? 

Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

I know all of the dispensational explanations and responses to why the kingdom is not the church and frankly, even when I held that position, I didn't understand it. Also, I understand that at times, the NT speaks explicitly of the kingdom as our future in heaven. These are clear - but one cannot be a part of the future, heavenly kingdom if he is not a member of the present, earthly kingdom (the church) so these two groups are essentially the same.

I will post one final passage and I know that the word "church" does not appear (however, assembly is there and many translations use "church" here) in it, but what else could the writer of Hebrews have in mind? As you read, note the present tenses throughout, also the mention of the "new covenant", note that his readers were to be greatful for "receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken." To make this passage about something other than the church would be rip it from it's context which includes numerous references to the church. 

I don't know how anyone can forsee a future end to the church, a future replacement of the church or God's returning to his "whore of Babylon" after reading Hebrews: 
 

Hebrews 12:18-29 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

Tell me, what is the "assembly of the firstborn" in this passage? If it is the church, then nearly everything that I have said is true. If it is not the church, then what could it be?  

Also, keep in mind that Christ often called kingdom a mystery and there would be some who would understand this mystery and some would never understand this mystery. The mystery of the church was hidden from the view of the OT prophets, at least in it's final fulfillment, but now it has been fully revealed. (i.e. Eph. 5 where the model for human marriage is Christ's relationship to His Bride, the church.)

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Larry wrote:   I'm curious,

Larry wrote:

 

I'm curious, though, where do you find the end of the church?

I don't think the church ends, per se. I think it is eternal

 

I agree! Except you were asking me for passages that prove this . . . but, what happens when Israel comes back to God? 

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This is interesting

I am not surprised by the vigor with which Larry has defended his position, I used to do the same myself. However, all the while, there was all kinds of tension in the text, it didn't make sense logically or biblically, but I still held on for dear life, even though I was finding more contradictions within the Text than anything else. Since I have jettisioned dispensationalism as my supporting biblical theology, I have found that I grasp Scripture with far more confidence, I can see the movements and how it all fits together. The Bible makes sense in a way that it never did before. I can read Matthew 13 and easily understand how we are to function within the church because of the kingdom instruction there. I don't have to wonder, Now is this the church? Or is it Isreal? Or is this heaven? Or is the kingdom really the USA? (Btw, do not assume that my bib theo is CT or NCT - those have issues too.) 

I have a philosophical question based on my experiences within dispensationalism and now as I have stepped away from that school of thought. It is simply: Why do dispy's hold on to a system in which it is so easy to poke biblical and logical holes so tightly?

Here are some of my theories:

Fear of letting go of the past - it takes courage to consider a point of view that might be contray to your parents or Bible college. 

A reluctance to treat present-day, political Israel as nothing more than another nation on equal footing before God as Spain, the Congo or the USA. That idea undergirds much of the politics of conservatives in America. One who does not consider present-day Israel to be the "special people of God" is looked at like a liberal, a jihadist, a nazi or an anti-semite. 

Maybe it is a reluctance to consider the instruction given to the kingdom. Dispensationlism is sometimes used as a way of avoiding accountability to all of the instruction that is given for kingdom living in the Bible. Since under DT, the church is not the kingdom and the kingdom is some future or undefined entity, a person who subscribes to this view does not have to see instruction given to the kingdom as binding on the church. It can be a useful "out" on occasion. 

Curious . . . how can we forsake all for the kingdom or seek the kingdom first if we don't really know what it is? I mean, even though Jesus died for the church. . . does he then expect us to make some future Jewish state as our top priority? Is that what Jesus was talking about?

 

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Straw Men

Joshua:

Is it hard building straw men . . . ?

 

 

 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

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Possible . . .

TylerR, what is the kingdom as presently constituted? 

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Joshua

The literal kingdom promised to David (2 Sam 7:12-16), and offered and preached by Christ at His first advent (Mk 1:14-15) is not yet here. 

Dr. Henebury made a challenge to you earlier today which you have not responded to. This matter will not be resolved by sweeping pronouncements and broad generalities. It is solved in the text of Scripture. His challenge was this:

Wow.  Replacement theology at its ugliest.  Joshua, you seem to think you can instruct us.  Please expound Jeremiah 33:14-26 for me in its context.  Then maybe we'll talk.

You are making very sweeping statements about dispensationalists, none of which are valid, and you appear to have contempt for dispensationalism in general. This is unfortunate. No dispensationalists on this thread have shown contempt for CT. I don't have contempt for CT. I simply disagree with it. Please return some common courtesy. 

Please exposit Jer 33:14-26 for us. Unless we discuss specific passages, this conversation will continue to be unprofitable. 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

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Okay, so my characterization

Okay, so my characterization of dispensationalism seems accurate: when Christ calls us to forsake all for the kingdom, He is telling us to forsake all for a future, political, ethnic entity - according to you.

Did I ever say that I was CT? 

Btw, this is not replacement theology, the kingdom has been transferred to a people who are not defined by ethnicity, but are defined by their submission to God - that is not my word, it is Christ's in Matt. 21:43. I have yet to see a dispy explanation of that verse that is satisfactory. Jesus plainly states: the kingdom of God is being taken from you (the Jews) and given to a people bearing the fruit of that kingdom (the Church).  

I will not included direct quotations from Jeremiah in order to save space - you can click through to see the passage:

Here is just a short summary of Jeremiah 33:14-26:

The fulfillment of the kingdom of David was future (to Jeremiah) - the church is future to Jeremiah. 

The righteous Branch is a reference to Christ - I don't think anyone disagrees with this. And Judah and Jerusalem can dwell safely in Him - if they trust in Him (Romans 10). Also, the writer of Hebrews refers to the church as Jerusalem and Paul in Galatians refers to Old, ethnic Jerusalem as the son of Hagar a slave, however the new Jerusalem, the free son of Abraham is the church (Galatians 4). 

Is not Christ the son of David who rules on David's throne eternally? 

Is not Christ a High Priest after the order of Melchizadec, a higher order than the Levites? (Hebrews 7) Btw, Christ was approximately 30 years old when he was crucified, which is the age when a priest begins to serve. 

Is not Christ the offspring of David? Galatians 3

Did God not "restore the fortunes" of Israel when Christ died and provided the means of reconciliation to God? 

God fulfilled all of these promises through Christ and His church - He provided a Prophet, Priest and King, justification by faith and a kingdom against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. What is missing here? 

Now, you might say, well, didn't God promise the physical land on the east side of the Mediterranean to the Jews? Well, first, he provided that (unless you don't believe Joshua 23:14). Secondly, all of the promises that were promised to the Jews are "yes" in Christ. The Jews can still have access to those promises, but they must come through the church, the Body of Christ. 

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a quick word about context

The context of Jeremiah 33 is introduced back in chapter 31 where Jeremiah speak of a "new covenant." Which Christ uses the exact same term when He institutes the "new covenant" through His blood. The writer of Hebrews certainly sees this in the same way when he quotes Jeremiah 31 in Hebrews 10:16. 

Also, the writer of Hebrews clearly sees the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:33 which mentions a "covenant with Israel" as also applying to the church. Read Hebrews 10:1-25 and try to make it about anything other than the church. Especially the part about "not forsaking the assembling together." 

Is this "assembling" something future, something we don't need to do now? Or should we be getting together with Jews? Or . . . what? 

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Let's try again

Quote:
Please expound Jeremiah 33:14-26 for me in its context.  Then maybe we'll talk.

 

Joshua wrote:

Quote:
God fulfilled all of these promises through Christ and His church - He provided a Prophet, Priest and King, justification by faith and a kingdom against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. What is missing here?
  Jeremiah's context where four covenants are cited!

Quote:
Now, you might say, well, didn't God promise the physical land on the east side of the Mediterranean to the Jews? Well, first, he provided that (unless you don't believe Joshua 23:14).
  Last I looked Jeremiah came long after Joshua!

Quote:
Secondly, all of the promises that were promised to the Jews are "yes" in Christ. The Jews can still have access to those promises, but they must come through the church, the Body of Christ.
And where is all that in the context of Jeremiah? 

 

Try again

 

 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

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Replacement Theology

Josh, your expressions are genuinely those of one who holds to Replacement Theology (whether you realize it or not).

 

Replacement Theology holds that:

1) The Church is the New Israel

2) The Church assumes basically all the promises of the Old Testament given to Israel

3) National Israel has no more future in the plan of God that is different from any other nation.

 

You have expressed yourself quite clearly that this is what you believe. Both the Roman Catholic Church and Liberal churches in the west distanced themselves from this position, particularly point 3, several decades ago, because it played a serious role in the destruction of 6 million Jews in WWII. This is all easily-accessible history. Only Evangelical churches (primarily those holding Reformed Theology) have held on to these beliefs. Pope Benedict stated emphatically, that the Nation of Israel has its own separate function and future in God's plan, as revealed in the Scriptures. It is an oddity that when the religious world which denies many important Bible teachings, recognizes a correct biblical view (much as they did with Civil Rights in the US), that Evangelicals will tenaciously hold to the wrong one.

It is those Christians who reject Replacement Theology, who have been so effective in reaching Jewish people for Christ. Their numbers are increasing all the time. This will doubtless continue to be the case in the future.

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Call it what you will

Marsilius wrote:

Josh, your expressions are genuinely those of one who holds to Replacement Theology (whether you realize it or not).

 

Replacement Theology holds that:

1) The Church is the New Israel

2) The Church assumes basically all the promises of the Old Testament given to Israel

3) National Israel has no more future in the plan of God that is different from any other nation.

 

You have expressed yourself quite clearly that this is what you believe. Both the Roman Catholic Church and Liberal churches in the west distanced themselves from this position, particularly point 3, several decades ago, because it played a serious role in the destruction of 6 million Jews in WWII. This is all easily-accessible history. Only Evangelical churches (primarily those holding Reformed Theology) have held on to these beliefs. Pope Benedict stated emphatically, that the Nation of Israel has its own separate function and future in God's plan, as revealed in the Scriptures. It is an oddity that when the religious world which denies many important Bible teachings, recognizes a correct biblical view (much as they did with Civil Rights in the US), that Evangelicals will tenaciously hold to the wrong one.

It is those Christians who reject Replacement Theology, who have been so effective in reaching Jewish people for Christ. Their numbers are increasing all the time. This will doubtless continue to be the case in the future.

Marsilius, call it what you will, I must stand where Scripture stands. 

From Hebrews 12:22-24: "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." The church here is being called "Mount Zion," "the heavenly Jerusalem" and yet somehow, the church is not Israel? 

From Colossians 1:13-14 "Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Paul apparently thought that the believers at Colossea - primarily Gentiles had been transferred into the kingdom. Clearly though, these people had not become physical Jews. 

From Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." To continue to maintain that there is some special divine favor that is still reserved for ethnic, physical or national Israel is a direct contradiction to this verse and frankly, nearly all of Paul's ministry. In Christ, "Jewishness" does not matter in the slightest any more than being from any other ethnic background.

Finally, Christ himself prophesied that this is what was happening - the transfer of the kingdom - which is one of the main reasons why the Jews hated Him so much. He told them that no longer did having Abraham as one's genetic heritage give one an advantage when it came to being the people of God. John 8;39 "They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did." And even more to the point: Matthew 21:43 "Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits." I am attempting to hold the same theological position of Christ, Paul, Peter, John, etc. 

Other than the writers of Scripture, I don't really care who did or did not hold any particular view. The Holocaust was a great tragedy and was clearly wrong regardless of which people group was the target. 

Furthermore, mission efforts that win Jewish people to Christ are fantastic and as long as the true Gospel is preached, Jews can and sill be saved. Paul believed that under the New Covenant, the kingdom was the church and that the kingdom no longer resided in ethnic Israel - especially after the destruction of the Temple. Yet, he still continued to win Jews to Christ, he himself was a Jew and a testimony to the fact that all of God's promises to the Jews were being fulfilled in Jews who like Paul were turning to Christ. Romans 11:1 "I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin." 

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Paul Henebury wrote: Quote:

Paul Henebury wrote:

Quote:
Please expound Jeremiah 33:14-26 for me in its context.  Then maybe we'll talk.

 

Joshua wrote:

Quote:
God fulfilled all of these promises through Christ and His church - He provided a Prophet, Priest and King, justification by faith and a kingdom against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. What is missing here?
  Jeremiah's context where four covenants are cited!

Quote:
Now, you might say, well, didn't God promise the physical land on the east side of the Mediterranean to the Jews? Well, first, he provided that (unless you don't believe Joshua 23:14).
  Last I looked Jeremiah came long after Joshua!

Quote:
Secondly, all of the promises that were promised to the Jews are "yes" in Christ. The Jews can still have access to those promises, but they must come through the church, the Body of Christ.
And where is all that in the context of Jeremiah? 

 

Try again

 

 

I am not sure where you are going with this, but Jeremiah 33 is particularly concerned with the restoration of national Israel following the Babylonian exile. The near fulfillment of this prophecy happened under Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah. I don't belief that anyone disputes this strongly.  

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Joshua,  Let me take another

Joshua,

 Let me take another quick stab here, though I don’t have a lot of time for this. Pardon the length, but you have said a lot and I want to respond to it.

I think your approach is significantly (irreparably?) harmed by severe deficiencies, both in understanding and in methodology.

First, in a previous post you admitted to not understanding dispensationalism, even when you were an adherent to it. That, IMO, should give you pause to make such dogmatic declarations about it. It should also prevent you from declaring that your “characterization of dispensationalism seems accurate.”

Second, your methodology is flawed. Earlier, I posted a response interacting with almost all of your previous verses. You haven’t responded, which is fine. But more importantly, you have offered nothing but assertions in support of your position.

For instance, you have repeatedly declared that the “people who produce the fruit of [the kingdom]” is the church. While that is a popular view (along with a couple of others), I find it insufficient. To the contrary, in light of the OT, we should expect that the “people who produce such fruit” is in fact Israel. This was prophesied in the Palestinian covenant in Deut 30:1ff. where God prophesies the turning away and the repentance and restoration. And significantly, it is the same group of people—the Israelites. This is also the testimony of the NT, such as in Acts 3:19ff. where the restoration (which means the restoration of something that previously existed, i.e., the kingdom) is to happen after Christ has spent time in heaven, which was spoken of in the OT. So Peter gives the same message as the OT, a message of a period of delay with Christ in heaven followed by a period restoration. It what happens when Zech 12:10 is fulfilled in Rev 1:5 when Israel mourns and repents at the sight of the returning Jesus (something that didn't happen in AD 70 and something that the church has already done, meaning that Zech 12:10 can't fulfilled in either; there has to be something else).

 For another instance, take the New Covenant (NC). You have repeatedly referred to it, but haven’t actually interacted with it. It expressly says the “house of Israel and the house of Judah.” That means something. It talks of those who were led by the hand out of Egypt. That means something. It talks of those who were given the covenant that they broke. That means something. What exactly does that mean? You haven't told us how these terms with clear historic referent to the nation of Israel somehow become something that is not a nation, who were never in Egypt, and with whom there was never a Law. Those terms have no reference to the church. Yet you just ignore what the words mean in their context and change them to something else. You appeal to Hebrews, but fail to note that Hebrew is talking about something very specific—forgiveness—and invokes only part of the NC, not the whole thing. This is significant because it signifies that AH did not intend to imply that the entire NC was fulfilled, but rather only part of it.

You face the same kind of issues in Romans 9-11 where Paul explicitly talks about Israel as “my kinsmen according to the flesh.” What else can that mean but ethnic Jews. The church is not Paul's kinsmen according to the flesh. That is spiritual. Paul uses OT language to describe them as the ones for whom are the promises, the covenants, the Law, and the blessings. And yet you want us to believe that “his kinsmen according to the flesh” for whom he desires repentance are actually the church (who presumably have already repented). This seems a significant issue for your position that can’t be dismissed with the wave of a hand.

I think the real issue is the relationship between Israel and the church. You assert (through argument) that the church has replaced Israel, yet you provide no exegesis for that. That is a weakness and it gives us nothing to talk about.

But since you asked, let me hit quickly a few passages, though not all. The methods used here will be applicable to all though.

… what happens when Israel comes back to God? 

When Israel comes back to God, God restores the kingdom promised in the OT (cf. Deut 30, and too many to list after that) and reiterated in Acts (cf. 3:19ff.). God always keeps his promises.

If this new New Covenant that you speak of has it's basis in the blood of Christ, how is that not the New Covenant - the church? 

Not sure what your question is. The New Covenant is the New Covenant. There’s only one. The church participates in its blessings as Hebrews says, but the NC it actually with the people described in the NC (see above).

Christ and the apostles thought the kingdom was now.

Interestingly, at the ascension, the disciples asked Jesus if he was going to restore the kingdom at the time of his resurrection. It is instructive.

  1. We learn that they did not think the kingdom was then. It was something still to be restored.
  2. We learn that Jesus agreed with them since he did nothing to correct them. He simply told them it wasn’t theirs to know the time. Had you been correct, he would have simply said, “It’s already here.” They continued to preach as if the kingdom was still future.

Colossians 1:13 is probably the best, written in past tense to the church at Colossea: "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son."

Yes. I would say that is a judicial transfer. In line with Phil 3:20, our citizenship is in heaven, even though we are not currently there. So it is possible to be a part of something even when we are somewhere else.

 

Matthew 12:28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Yes, when Jesus was here, the kingdom was here. And the Jews rejected it. That’s why it was taken from them to be given to a people producing the fruit of it, namely, end time Israel, such as in Matt 21:43, which you make “the church” without exegetical warrant. He said the kingdom was in their midst (Luke 17:21). It was all around them; they simply needed to look at it. But they refused.

 

According to your position, someone was given keys that they can't use until . . . when? 

Isn’t that a reference to salvation and eternal life that comes from the forgiveness of sins? This passage has to do with church membership as an affirmation of salvation; therefore, put out people who are not living as if they are saved.

 

Also, I understand that at times, the NT speaks explicitly of the kingdom as our future in heaven. These are clear - but one cannot be a part of the future, heavenly kingdom if he is not a member of the present, earthly kingdom (the church) so these two groups are essentially the same.

Notice again the huge unwarranted jump from the kingdom future to the kingdom equaling the church.

 

To make this passage [Heb 12:18-29] about something other than the church would be rip it from it's context which includes numerous references to the church. 

Not following you here. An awful lot of that passage is future, specifically the things that will be shaken, i.e., taken out of the way, for the sake of the kingdom that will not be removed.

 

Tell me, what is the "assembly of the firstborn" in this passage? If it is the church, then nearly everything that I have said is true. If it is not the church, then what could it be? 

It is most likely saints already in heaven since it is the “general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.” So we as believers are joining a body that already exists, the church, and some of them are already in heaven. But I don’t think any thing here requires that the church be Israel, or that Israel is excluded from a future.

The mystery of the church was hidden from the view of the OT prophets

Yes, but the kingdom was not, which is yet another reason why the church is not the kingdom. If it were, they would have fully known about it.

 

Why do dispy's hold on to a system in which it is so easy to poke biblical and logical holes so tightly?

What if it’s not that easy to poke biblical and logical holes in it? I don’t find these arguments substantive. You already told us you didn’t understand it. Perhaps that is why you find it so easy to poke holes in.

 I mean, even though Jesus died for the church. . . does he then expect us to make some future Jewish state as our top priority?

No, the priority is making disciples (the Great Commission).

when Christ calls us to forsake all for the kingdom, He is telling us to forsake all for a future, political, ethnic entity - according to you.

Do you know anyone who thinks this? Because I don’t. It is, to me, totally inaccurate.

 

I have yet to see a dispy explanation of that verse that is satisfactory. Jesus plainly states: the kingdom of God is being taken from you (the Jews) and given to a people bearing the fruit of that kingdom (the Church).  

Why did you add “the church” in there? It makes perfect sense of the OT to see it as end time Israel. Remember the OT: From beginning to end, God prophesied that disobedience and rejection of him would result in their loss of the kingdom and its blessings. But repentance and faith would be a return of the kingdom and its blessings. And both promises (judgment and restoration) are made to the same people. So we should expect exactly what Jesus said there to be a reference to those promises. This is why I say that dispensationalism makes better sense of the whole Bible. It can actually correlate these things in a sensible way. Acts 3:19ff. make the exact same promise, with the explicit declaration that the time of restoration (restoring the kingdom) will come after Jesus has been in heaven. So there, for Peter, the restoration of the kingdom was future, after Christ had been in heaven and then returned.

 

Did God not "restore the fortunes" of Israel when Christ died and provided the means of reconciliation to God? 

No. Romans 11 is explicit: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. If you say that Israel in Rom 9-11 is the church, you have a partial hardening happening to the church. That is odd. The only avoidance seems to be that sometimes Israel means the nation and other times it means the church. How do we know which it means? Well, it appears to depend on the point we want to make. I am not comfortable with that.

What about Rom 11:28-29 which say that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable? That is specifically tied to promises God made to the fathers; it quotes the NC; and it is in contrast to the church. The points seems to be that national Israel has a future because God made irrevocable promises to the fathers.

 

What is missing here? 

The teaching of the whole Bible. You have picked out certain things here or there and separated them from the whole Bible in its context. You have failed to correlate everything God says about the issues at hand.

 

Well, first, he provided that (unless you don't believe Joshua 23:14).

Here you are speaking of the land promises as being fulfilled. Again, as I pointed out (and as Paul did), 600-800 years after Joshua, God is still holding out the promise of the land to his people. How do you explain that? The NC explicitly includes restoration to the land marked by certain geographical landmarks. That seems strange if it was all fulfilled during the conquest. Furthermore the Davidic covenant, 400 years after the conquest also promises safety and dwelling in the land in peace under the ultimate Davidic ruler.

 

The Jews can still have access to those promises, but they must come through the church, the Body of Christ. 

Of course. We are in the church age. God has broken down the middle wall and made both one. But what of the future and God’s promises to Israel? You seem to want to just sweep those under the rug, and pretend like they don’t matter. I don’t think you can do that.

So here’s my conclusion The biggest question, IMO, is this: What makes the best sense of the whole Bible? I will grant that your position may make better sense of some individual passages. But what of the whole? When you try to incorporate that back into the whole of Scripture, there are serious problems, and for these, you must resort to theologizing rather than exegesis. I am not comfortable with that. Our theology must grow out of exegesis.

I don't have a lot of time to devote to this. I have probably already spent too much time on it. But such is life ... I do think this needs considerably more consideration than you appear to have given it.

 

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I've read through your post

I've read through your post and I think that before God, I can deal with each of your statements.

For instance, the disciples' question to Jesus about when He was going to bring in the kingdom makes sense - they were still looking for the dispensational Smile physical fulfillment of the prophecies of the kingdom. This was before Pentecost and before 70 AD (the final destruction of the Temple). Remember also, that Jesus promised that some of His disciples would live to see the kingdom. "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matt. 16:28 So, yes, at the time of the ascension, the kingdom as the church age had not yet been fully realized. Eventually, they figured it out and pretty quickly. At least Peter did when he quoted from Exodus 19 and wrote that the church was "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." Clearly, the church is a nation with laws, a King, boundaries, etc. 

It is stunning to me that someone cannot see the church as the literal fulfillment of these statements. How can you be looking for something more?  

But in the interest of brevity, I just want to ask you one question - this was something that I did not understand when I called myself a dispensationalist: Jesus calls his disciple to forsake all for the kingdom. I would like to be one of Christ's disciples, for what entity then am I forsaking all? What is my "treasure in the field" what is my "pearl of great price"? Is this not the church? 

formerly known as Coach C

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For instance, the disciples'

For instance, the disciples' question to Jesus about when He was going to bring in the kingdom makes sense - they were still looking for the dispensational physical fulfillment of the prophecies of the kingdom.

Why were they looking for this? Is it not because this is what the OT communicated? And why didn't Jesus correct them? In your view, Jesus let these men (to whom he had entrusted his mission) to go on believing something that wasn't true. Don't we consider that a breach of ethics, when a leader allows a subordinate to go on believeing something untrue? Would not an ethical leader correct these false notions, particularly if the mission was at stake?

Remember also, that Jesus promised that some of His disciples would live to see the kingdom. "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matt. 16:28

Yes, and in every account of that occasion it is immediately followed by the Transfiguration where they saw the glory of the Son of Man in his kingdom. And Peter wanted to stay, and Jesus said, "No." Why, in every account of that story, is this statement followed by the Transfiguration? That doesn't seem accidental does it?

It is stunning to me that someone cannot see the church as the literal fulfillment of these statements. How can you be looking for something more?  

Because of the promises God made. Will God keep those promises or not? Of course you say "Yes," but in the process you change the promises. so God doesn't actually keep the promises he made; he keeps other promises.

Clearly, the church is a nation with laws, a King, boundaries, etc. 

That may all be true (though I think there is a more reasonable explanation in light of all of Scripture ... remember, all of it, not just part of it). But none of that is what the OT talked about, and none of that precludes a future for the nation of Israel.

Jesus calls his disciple to forsake all for the kingdom. I would like to be one of Christ's disciples, for what entity then am I forsaking all? What is my "treasure in the field" what is my "pearl of great price"? Is this not the church?

No, it's the future, the kingdom, the eternal state. We are to forsake all for the glory of Christ in his kingdom.

Are you familiar with Michael Vlach's "Has the Church Replaced Israel?" It is a book worth your time. Even if you don't agree, he gives substantive discussion and explanation of these issues, much more so than can be done in a forum like this.

 

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This what I mean

If the Transfiguration fulfilled the prophecy regarding the fact that some of the disciples would not tasted death before they would see the kingdom, then A. How can the kingdom still be future to us . . . if they saw it at the Transfiguration? and B. If they had already seen the kingdom, why were they still looking for it in Acts 1? and C. This does not explain why Paul and Peter told their readers that they "had come" to the kingdom. 

I'm willing to let the matter rest in this forum, but I just want to point out that in the course of just that one comment, you have made the kingdom to at one point refer to heaven and then at another point, you make it to be physical Israel. This is indicative of the contradictions and discontinuity within dispensationalism. There are some dispy's who add the "mystical body" of all believers and even the USA to the list of possible "kingdoms." And where they plug in these various interpretations is arbitrary.  

Christ shed His blood for the church, the apostles devoted their lives and writings to the church, the church has been given the keys to heaven and hell, the very Body of Christ is the church, yet for some reason, you are looking for something more, in actuality, you are looking for something less - a physical country in the Middle East, instead of the glorious kingdom of the church. In the dispy world, the kingdom seems to be "anything but the church." In fact, some have implied that my position might be anti-Israel, it seems to me that the dispensational position could likewise be considered anti-Church.  

I'll try to let this be my last comment here, but the reality is that I agree strongly with the title from the original article: Yes, the promises to Israel have been literally fulfilled. When Christ said that the kingdom was "at hand" He was speaking the truth and that this reality was soon.   

formerly known as Coach C

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One last comeback, and then I

One last comeback, and then I too will let it rest here.

 

If the Transfiguration fulfilled the prophecy regarding the fact that some of the disciples would not tasted death before they would see the kingdom, then A. How can the kingdom still be future to us . . . if they saw it at the Transfiguration? and B. If they had already seen the kingdom, why were they still looking for it in Acts 1? and C. This does not explain why Paul and Peter told their readers that they "had come" to the kingdom. 

Because if you recall the story, (A) the glory of the kingdom went away on that mountain because it was not yet time, and (B) because of what their Bible told them the kingdom was and because they could look around and see that what the OT said did not match what they saw, and again, Jesus took no steps to correct their view; he allowed them to continue to believe it. With respect to C, I am not sure what passage you are talking about, so I don't know the context of the comments.

Quote:
you have made the kingdom to at one point refer to heaven and then at another point, you make it to be physical Israel.
I don't think I have done this. The kingdom gives way to the eternal state, the new heavens and the new earth.

It is true that many dispensationalists do wierd things with the kingdom and the like.  At some level, you are correct that "This is indicative of the contradictions and discontinuity within dispensationalism," although it's more accurate to say "among dispensationalists." But remember your side is hardly more unanimous. There are a number of divisions over there as well. But that's why I said earlier, the kingdom issue here is a bit of a red herring. The real issue is the relationships of Israel and the church. You think they are the same, and I think that is exegetically unsupportable, regardless of the relationship of the church to the kingdom.

Christ shed His blood for the church, the apostles devoted their lives and writings to the church, the church has been given the keys to heaven and hell, the very Body of Christ is the church, yet for some reason, you are looking for something more, in actuality, you are looking for something less - a physical country in the Middle East, instead of the glorious kingdom of the church.

The first part is all true. But then you say we are looking for something more ... or something less instead of the glorious kingdom of the church. Here's the issue to me:

Should we say that the promises of God are more or less compared to other promises? You seem to think it is either the church as the kingdom or the kingdom without the church. I think there is both. There a church and there is a kingdom.

And God made promises. I don't think we should call the promises of God to his people Israel "something less." I don't see the warrant for that.

In the dispy world, the kingdom seems to be "anything but the church." In fact, some have implied that my position might be anti-Israel, it seems to me tsuhat the dispensational position could likewise be considered anti-Church.

As a dispensationalist, I am a big church guy. I don't think anything I say could be remotely construed as anti-church.

The question is, What is the kingdom and when does it come? To answer that, we must use the Bible. And when we do that, I don't think we can say the church is the kingdom. The kingdom has spiritual aspects to be sure, but also moral, ecclesiastical, physical, etc. And we can't simply do away with those, IMO. God made promises and he must keep them or else be unfaithful to himself.

When Christ said that the kingdom was "at hand" He was speaking the truth and that this reality was soon.

I absolutely agree. In fact, he said, "It is in your midst." But they rejected it, and he said it would be taken away and given to people producing the fruit of it, which again, in the context of the whole Bible, is national Israel in fulfillment of Zech 12:10.

Thanks for the exchange. I am going to try to bail out here and work on the kingdom that is my life.

 

 

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I wanted to contribute one

I wanted to contribute one thought.  Joshua C. mentioned several times that the land promises to Israel have been fulfilled in Joshua 23:14.   I would like to add to the mixture the dilemma of the account of Judges.  In Judges 1:21, 27-36 (and additional places), we have accounts of the Canaanites remaining in the land.  Either God's promise is fulfilled in Joshua 23:14 and the Jews simply did not receive the entire benefit of the promise by their neglecting to drive out all the inhabitants (which does not seem likely, particularly in light of Jeremiah 33:14-26 and Larry's comments regarding the greater dimensions of the land specified more fully in the NC and that God would seem to be, pardon me, "short-changing" the people by giving them a Canaanite-ridden land), or the promise is yet unfulfilled and we must question the integrity of Joshua's statements of "conquest totality" peppered throughout Joshua 23-24 (not just 23:14).  It seems to me that we should understand Joshua's statements as "inspired boasts," if you will.  This was done commonly throughout the ANE (and even by politicians today!!).  In other words, Joshua exaggerated the extent of the conquest and the extent to which God's promises (at least in the promise of land) had been fulfilled.  How else can we understand the book of Judges' obvious depictions of failed expulsion, which seem contrary to the benefit of possessing the land fully?

 

I know Larry and Josh C. are done, but someone else is welcome to contribute a thought on this!  Sorry, I know, it's kind of a sidebar to the topic (but important nonetheless!).