Does Romans 4:13 Universalize Israel’s Land Promises?

Masada National Park

Romans 4:13 has become a hotly debated verse lately between those who believe in a literal future fulfillment of Israel’s land promises and those who do not. Here Paul declares:

For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith (Rom. 4:13).

Much discussion involves what Paul means when he says Abraham is “heir of the world.” Some non-dispensational scholars see this verse as evidence that Israel’s land promises in the Old Testament have been universalized in such a way that there is no longer an expectation of fulfillment of particular land promises for national Israel. Thus, Romans 4:13 allegedly transcends the Old Testament expectation of the land promises to Israel. Theologians such as N.T. Wright and Gary Burge, along with others, have promoted this view. Concerning Romans 4:13 Burge says,

The formula that linked Abraham to Jewish ethnic lineage and the right to possess the land has now been overturned in Christ. Paul’s Christian theology links Abraham to children of faith, and to them belongs God’s full domain, namely, the world” (Gary Burge, Jesus and the Land: The New Testament Challenge to “Holy Land” Theology, 86). (emphasis mine).

N.T. Wright declares:

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Does Scripture Promise that “No Virus can Touch your House” as a Believer?

"If physical safety and protection in this life are God’s promises to us, we would have to admit that God has not fulfilled His promises in a way that is clear to all of us. Honestly, if God fulfills His promises in the way that many religious teachers are claiming that He fulfills His promises, I’m not sure what we mean by promises anymore." - The Cripplegate

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Surveying the Period from Joshua to David (Part 2)

Uzzah Touches the Ark and Dies. Matthäus Merian (1593-1650)

Read Part 1.

Judges is best read as a chronicle of the fate of the separate tribes within the narrative. There appears to be some overlapping of events within the Book so that a strict 410 year chronology from first to last is doubtful.1 Further, there is the sad report that summarizes the first two stories in the so-called “Bethlehem Trilogy” at the end of the Book,2 that,

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6)

This report, repeated for emphasis in Judges 21:25, does not come from the close of the era of the Judges, but most likely from the beginning. Kaiser remarks,

The events narrated in these two appendixes to the Book of Judges probably fell early in the period of the judges, since a grandson of Moses, in one case, and a grandson of Aaron, in the other, would need to be contemporaneous with the generation that came after the Conquest.3

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Surveying the Period from Joshua to David (Part 1)

The Battle of Jericho - Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872)

After the death of Moses on the east side of the River Jordan the responsibility for leading the fledgling people of Israel into the Promised Land fell upon Joshua the son of Nun (Josh. 1:1-2). The first indications were that Yahweh’s power would make them unstoppable. The passage of the ark of the covenant over the dry bed of the Jordan demonstrated to the people that the Creator Himself was their God, and they were in covenant with Him (Josh. 3:17). In a real sense the priests bore the covenant with them as they passed into Canaan. There was every reason to be devoted to God.

The overthrow of Jericho and the way it was accomplished once again only underlined Israel’s dependence on Yahweh (Josh. 6). But Achan’s sin cost the lives of thirty-six men (Josh. 7:1-5), as well as causing the name of Yahweh to be blasphemed.1 Defeat at Ai proved that without God conquest was not going to be possible. Thus, from the very start of the campaign miraculous acts of God encouraged the Israelites to occupy the land.2 But they were also reminded that success depended on them going about it God’s way; that is, with an eye to the covenant.3

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The Preservation of the Jewish People, Part 1

Some time ago in my Sojourners class I spoke on “The Greatest Reason That the Bible is True” from Deut. 29-30, which deals with the promises of punishment for Israel’s disobedience (fulfilled) and the promises of blessing for them (beginning to be fulfilled in their return to the Land). One of the greatest evidences that the promises are true is that God has preserved the Jewish people through their trials. Here are some further thoughts on that subject—in three parts.

A visiting preacher opened his message with the following provocative statement, “Today I want to tell you how to destroy the Jewish people,” which was the title of the sermon in the Church Bulletin: “How to Destroy the Jewish People.” That rather inflammatory title had also appeared in the local newspaper that week as part of an advertisement for the special meetings the church was conducting with their guest. In a short time, the announced sermon title had resulted in no small commotion in the small town. So significant was the brouhaha that the local rabbi had taken notice and was actually sitting in a pew that morning! Needless to say, the atmosphere in the 11:00 a.m. service at was more than a little charged with emotional electricity.

The preacher then continued his opening remarks with the announcement of his text for the sermon. Has asked his hearers to listen to the words of Jer. 31:31-33. “Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

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