A Voice in the
"For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, that you not be wise within yourselves, that hardness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in." (Rom11:25)
As regular readers of these writings should know by now, I have a special place in my heart for God's 'elect', Israel. As I watch the news and see the whole world ganging up on that tiny 'sliver' of a nation, I often find myself fighting back tears. What can I, clear on the opposite side of the world, do about any of it, besides 'watch'. As a Believer in Israel's Messiah, Jesus Christ, I know that Jehovah God knows what is going on with them, and has everything under control; knowing that Jacob is yet to receive some 'swats' on their beehind in punishment (Jer30:11) for their continuing rejection of the One who covenanted Himself as "their God" (Gen17:8) And as we learned in the "Covenants & Dispensations" series, man breaks his word at every turn; but God keeps His covenants.
The thing I find incredible is the attitudes of various kinds of people toward/about Israel. An area (motorcop) policeman with whom I've had conversations on occasion (I ride motorcycle, too), a person I would have no reason to suspect of being a Christian, when the subject of "Israel" has come up, he is always gung-ho on behalf of Israel. On the other hand, when talking with some claiming to be Christian, there is the attitude that any further future prophecies about "Israel" are actually for the Church; or: 'spiritual' Israel; the prevailing attitude being that Israel is "done for" because of their rebellion against God, God has cast them aside, and the Church has 'replaced' Israel; His "servants by another name". (Is65:15)
What is even more incredible is to occasionally speak to Jews. Those of ethnicity related to Israel. One I speak to on a regular basis, I've had occasion to ask if his heart or mind is ever 'stirred' within him over what is going on in Israel; does he ever have a 'yearning' for Israel, and/or to 'go' to Israel. "No" To him, his Jewish lineage means nothing to him. "Eretz Yisrael" does not beat in his Jewish heart.
What is even more incredible than that is to have a conversation like I did recently (November,05) with a person (a 'pastor') of Jewish descent, claiming to be a Christian; based on the Scriptures he quotes and the things he says, if he truly believes in his heart what he says, should be a True Believer (God knows his heart Ps44:21, Ac15:8, 1Jn3:20, 2Ti2:19); but when it comes to Israel, his own flesh and blood, his "kinsmen according to the flesh" (Rom9:3), he seems to castigate them.
This man did quite a bit of ranting and raving at me the other evening, and it was kinda tough to follow all his thoughts, round-n-round in the circles his mind seems to wind; and so, when one considers that God is "not of confusion" (1Co14:33) it raises a question as to 'where' this person's beliefs come from.
But the basic gist seems to be: If the Church is made up of both Jew and Gentile who have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ (Eph2:11-16), why do dispensationalists teach that Israel (nationally/ethnically) is yet to receive a special dispensation of God's grace on their behalf? If they are rebelling in unbelief now, why should God give them any more chances in the future? If all Israel left Egypt, but "with most of them God was not well pleased" (2Co10:5) due to their "unbelief" (Heb3:19), as Paul also says, "For not all those of Israel are Israel" (Rom9:6b); and only those who are of the "faith of Abraham" (Rom4:16) are saved, and after the Rapture (I don't know if he believes in a rapture, we never got to that) those who had not believed will be given "strong delusion" to believe the lie "because (when they had the chance) they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2Th2:11,10); what makes 'dispensationalists' think that "all Israel shall be saved" (Rom11:26)?
Well, oops! He never quoted this last verse. Whenever I could get two words in edgewise (he was really 'ranting') I tried to give him a few verses like this...but his basic raving suggests that he doesn't believe it.
When asked what he thought of Messiah sitting on David's throne during the Millennium, as prophesied: there again, he went into ranting and raving about "David" being Scripturally -symbolic- of Christ and the Church. And if I understood him correctly, I suppose he thinks we are presently -in- the Kingdom of Christ (Messiah)? Jesus died on the cross, paying the debt of sin, bringing in "everlasting righteousness" (Dan9:24 out-of-context) That that prophecy has pretty much all been fulfilled. He was seeming to 'ignore' vs27 about the 70th week.
I've heard of "preterism" before: that all Scripture prophecy was fulfilled by 70AD. And I've seen plenty of instances of "replacement" theology: that the Church has replaced Israel in Scripture, thus (national/ethnic) Israel is no more... thus also, why worry if Islam wishes to wipe Israel "off the map", and "push them into the sea". But to put these both into one belief system! Well, it is an incredible lack of understanding of God's purpose with Israel; and also God's grace.
As I was not putting up with this man's rantings, he then turned his rage-filled quivering cheek and upper lip, looked me in the face and asked me with raised shouting/yelling voice (that my neighbors could hear): If he himself was a Jew, 'why' would he believe this way?
I looked him right back and said: You're blind.
"Wrong... find another reason"
I re-iterated: You're blind.
You see: I -know- of the blindness of unbelieving Israel. We see it everyday. We see it everytime Israeli leadership caves to edicts from the White House, and the way they uprooted their own citizens out of Gaza, opening the corridor for a massive buildup of weapons and related support from Egypt and Russia.
But to see such blindness in a Jew calling himself a "Christian"! A Jew who does not observe Jewish (sometimes Mosaic) traditions of Judaism, because of his claims to being a Christian. But perhaps it explains the pagan/liturgical symbols he was wearing at the end of the chain around his neck? Apparently the "hardness" ("blindness" kjv) Paul speaks of, regarding Israel, is regarding both Believer and unbeliever? Perhaps this hardness/blindness is an 'ethnic' thing? Although, that doesn't necessarily follow either, because I know of True Believers, who are Jewish, who truly -do- have a Scriptural heart for the 'nation' and 'land' of Israel, ethnically.
By the way, I've seen this same kind of rage in two other scenarios: When confronting charismatics about their demon-possession (which they call: being "spirit-filled"); and when talking with that cult leader years ago of the "No Names Church" when he proclaimed "we're all christ", and I refuted him and got up to leave, he ranted and raved at me with a similar rage all the way to the door. I don't usually see this intensity of rage from the world at large.
So, dear reader: Should it be the case that you are in agreement with this 'pastor', i.e. "That there is no covenant or dispensation to Israel in the future"; and so, what's the alternative? We might as well join Islam to "wipe Israel off the map"; then fearfully consider Ps83. Look at that chapter carefully, consider Israel's current neighbors (enemies) listed there, notice what it was prophesied 3000 years ago that they are currently saying, "Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more" (vs4). If you are of such a disposition, consider that you are at variance with -God- (vs5) and read the rest of the chapter to see your fate.
When we see the UN, Rome (Babylon) and Islam, all, clamoring for a piece of the Jerusalem 'pie', and we see US presidents refusing to move America's embassy to Jerusalem (from Tel Aviv) as our congress years ago passed resolutions by wide margins (to thus -legitimize- Jerusalem as Israel's 'capitol'), do we not see -today- the fulfillment of:
"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling to all the peoples all around, and it shall also be against Judah in the siege against Jerusalem. And in that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it shall be slashed; cut to pieces. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it." (Zec12:2-3) And if you wish to know the outcome of today's wranglings, please read the rest of that chapter. That is all yet 'future'.
Thus... that God DOES have a future covenant for Israel, which He will dispense to them in due time, let us consider briefly. Scripture PROLIFERATES with descriptions of Israel's future state of blessing under Messiah. The following are merely a 'few' examples:
If one reads Ezekiel chs 40-48, what one sees is a lot of -physical- things that have not yet been fulfilled. A physical temple with its dimensions, a river flowing, laws about the priests, about non-Jews being given equal resident status in the land, of the division of the territory to the 12 tribes (all 12 being specifically named); along with specific distances for cities and towns. The prophet is told to take this information and "describe the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern." (43:10)
When Jesus was -physically- taken back up into Heaven, two men appeared to the disciples and proclaimed: "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into Heaven, will so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into Heaven." (Ac1:11) This is not a -spiritual- "David", but the "same" Jesus, of whom John would later write, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have LOOKED UPON, and our HANDS HAVE HANDLED, concerning the Word of Life;" (1Jn1:1) Of this One it was prophesied: "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Strong and Mighty God, The Eternal Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace upon the throne of David there will be no end; and upon His kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on, even forever. The zeal of Jehovah of Hosts will accomplish this." (Is9:6-7)
What sort of kingdom will this be? Jesus is coming and setting His feet again (physically) on the Mount of Olives, when it splits in two, creating a huge valley. (Zec14:4) People from all the nations will be (physically) traveling to Jerusalem annually for the Feast of Booths. (Zec14:16~) And people will be (physically) grabbing the sleeves of Jews as they search after God. (Zec8:23)
Israel's future redemption is both spiritual -and- physical. Please notice: "I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall LIVE, and I will place you in your own LAND. And you shall know that I, Jehovah, have spoken it and performed it, says Jehovah." (Ezk37:14) Both 'spiritual' life, and 'land'.
In judgment God says to Israel, "I will no longer have mercy...you are not My people" (Hos1:6,9) but promises, "behold, I will seduce her and bring her into the wilderness and speak to her heart...I will betroth you to Me forever...in righteousness and justice..." (Hos2:14,19)
God's judgment is because of the "transgression of Jacob...for her wounds are incurable...woe to those who devise wickedness" (Mic1:5,9,2:1) "But it shall be in the latter days, that the mountain of the house of Jehovah shall be established on the top of the mountains; and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. And many nations shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, and to the house of the God of Jacob. And He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For the Law shall go forth out of Zion, and the Word of Jehovah from Jerusalem." (Mic4:1-2)
These things are not about Believers, the 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal (1Ki19:18); but Israel in 'rebellion'...to whom God makes these promises of future restoration and blessing.
The argument is made that if Israel doesn't follow things the way the Church does now, why should they have another chance? Let us never forget that God's covenants with man come in different dispensations. Salvation has -always- been, and always will be, by grace through faith. (Eph2:8, Heb11) That is unchanging: because God "changes not" (Mal3:6), and Jesus Christ is the "same yesterday, today and forever". (Heb13:8)
But in the OT covenant they symbolically offered animal sacrifices. During the Church age with the "new covenant" (Lk22:20) Jesus instituted, we remember the Lord's death with the Bread and Cup. In the next period God is going to take Israel for Himself, and says... "But this is the covenant that I will make with the HOUSE OF ISRAEL (an expression denoting familial ethnic lineage): After those days, says Jehovah, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (Jer31:33)
Notice a summation of the matter: "Thus says the Lord Jehovah: I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the lands where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they will come there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds upon their own heads, says the Lord Jehovah." (Ezk11:17-21)
Just as the faith by which the Church is saved is a "gift of God" (Eph2:8), and is not our own, it is the "faith -of- Christ" (Ga2:16, Php3:9) as the Father "draws" us (Jn6:44) so, too, for future Israel. At present the "fullness" of the Gentiles is being gathered, during which time the "natural branches" have been broken off (Rom11:19)
Israel is currently in a state of "hardness" of heart; and from my personal observation, in some cases that seems to also apply to some of those of Israel who name the name of Christ; although, it is beyond my understanding how this can be so. We know that those, today, who are given the gospel, and reject: during the time of Jacob's trouble it will be too late for them "because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2Th2:10b)
But Israel today is in a state of blindness. Even their devout ones cling to "Judaism" and all the associated 'traditions', which Jesus denounced; because they do not hold to God's commandments. (Mt15:3) But God's promises regarding His special work with Israel proliferate the OT. In the same way the Father today "draws" those to Christ to be saved, His "grace" (Eph2:8) is going to draw Israel. He promises, "He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry" (Is30:19) God exhorts Israel: "Take words with you and return to Jehovah. Say to Him, Take away all iniquity and receive us with grace, that we may repay with the calves of our lips." (Ho14:2)
It is God's grace: "Thus says Jehovah, The people who were survivors of the sword have found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I go to give him rest." (Jer31:2)
"And I will pour on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication. And they shall look on Me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they shall be bitter over Him, like the bitterness over the firstborn." (Zec12:10)
By definition, what is Grace? The short definition: Unmerited favor. Israel does not deserve God's grace. But for anybody claiming to be a Christian, to say that Israel after the Church age cannot be saved, is like those of Jesus' parable who had worked through the heat of the day getting paid a day's wage, complaining at those who had been hired an hour before quitting time also getting paid a full day's wage. And the Master says to them, "Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good? So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen." (Mt20:13-16)
Let us never forget that Israel is God's "elect". And this is how God called them thus: "For Jacob My servantís sake, and Israel My elect, I have even proclaimed your name; I have entitled you, though you have not known Me." (Is45:4)
God -proclaimed- Jacob His own "elect" EVEN THOUGH they were at the time, and are still presently, in UNBELIEF. But He is GOING TO "give" them a new heart, and "write" His laws on their heart.
"And they shall no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Jehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jer31:34) Paul says it this way: "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;" (Rom11:26)
In the OT God pleaded with Israel, "Turn! Turn from your evil ways! For why will you die, O house of Israel?" (Ezk33:11) God spent a lot of time "reasoning together" with Israel. (Is1:18) In the future God is going to take and 'grab' them (if you will) and "turn away" their wickedness. He is going to instil (implant) them with a new heart. God is the Potter, and He will -make- them into vessels of honor.
If they're not believing now, why should they have a chance in the future? Anybody who would castigate Israel as being "done for" should fear. Remember that you are also a 'pot', and the Potter can re-make you into a vessel to dishonor.... just as the lump of clay was "ruined" in the hand of the potter. (Jer18:4)
"Do not be highminded, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: On those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off." (Rom11:20-22)