the doctrine of Israel

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Australian Baptist Student, Aug 12, 2004.

  1. Australian Baptist Student

    Australian Baptist Student
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    Jul 11, 2001
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    Hi there,
    this is something I wrote for a friend, and thought I would post here to gain some feedback.

    The "all Israel" of Romans 11:26 refers to the people of Israel, as distinct from either the
    church or the believing remnant, its two other possible referents. This is shown in that 11:28 continues that "they" (that is, the Israel of 11:26) are enemies of God for your sake, but as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers". The church are not enemies of God, and neither are that portion within it which is the believing remnant of Jews. All this begs the question, however of "why", and "so what". If true religion is helping widows and orphans, why bother with a small land in the eastern Mediterranean? How does it affect my walk with Jesus?

    These questions are vital to a Biblical appreciation of Romans 9-11. Clearly, the answer is given in verse 28, the nation/people of Israel are "beloved for the sake of their forefathers." It is further expanded in verse 29, "for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable". This in turn then leads into the doxology of verses 33-36, that is, God's continuing love for Israel is apparently good news.

    What are we to make of this? At one level, Romans 9-11 can appear as an unexpected parenthesis in the book, seemingly unasked for and irrelevant to
    the flow of argument within the rest of the book. At another level, they are what the Jews have always been, a practical, gritty, all too human fleshing out of doctrine into the lives of real people.

    "For the sake of their forefathers" This brings us to covenant and election. Several points need to be made here: God has chosen to reveal himself, not through a textbook of systematic theology, but through a love relationship.
    As people who are likewise entering into a love relationship with this same God, the Bible thus reveals what is most vital and relevant to us - the nature of God's love. In the Old Testament, we see it in the history of a people God has chosen to enter into a love bond with. We see it in a myriad different situations, in good times and bad, across thousands of years. Now, God entered this bond willingly, both because Abraham was his friend, and because this relationship was never an end in itself, but was always an
    expression of God's love for all humanity. God's love for the Jewish people is not a strange quirk in his nature, it is rather both a truth in its own right (Deuteronomy 7:8), and is also his chosen means of reaching out to humanity in general. "Through you, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" (see also John 4:22 etc.). This speaks to us about the nature of
    election. It is not God's way of abandoning the rest, of creating a holy huddle of the chosen, but rather, it is always God's way of reaching the
    rest. Abraham is chosen that through him, "all the nations will be blessed", David is chosen to "be a shepherd to Israel", Jesus calls specific people to be" fishers of men", and Paul is chosen to be "an apostle to the gentiles".
    The children of Israel were chosen to be a nation of priests (Exodus 19:6), to show the way of salvation to the world.

    What then is this history, and how does it relate to us today? As seen, their calling is based in love. Deuteronomy 7:7 It was not because you were
    more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love upon you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples;

    8 but it is because the LORD loves you, and is keeping the oath which he
    swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand,
    and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of

    They are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. This is central. To take the love bond between me and my wife, Heather as an analogy, if she chose me because I was the richest or most handsome man about, I would be in constant trouble. She will constantly meet richer and better looking guys! But if her choice was based in her love for me, then I am secure, she can meet all the rich handsome guys around, they are irrelevant to our relationship.

    Overflowing with spiritually beneficial lessons (the first call upon Abraham is to go, upon the nation of Israel is to go from Egypt and from Jesus to the disciples is to follow, etc.), but to give the roughest brush strokes, at Sinai, they are given a Godly constitution, under David , a Godly line of kings, from the prophets, regular updates and corrections, from Solomon, a
    Temple for praise and sacrifice. Some years ago, we had a debate in Australia about whether our constitution needed updating, as it was written
    before computers etc., likewise, in Queensland, we had a Commission to check out the police force, and each election, the two leaders
    promise that, with a little tinkering, we can all live in paradise. Imagine our constitution was written by the finger of God! Imagine it was truly
    perfect. Imagine further that rather than Tony Fitzgerald, we had prophets, who had sat in the council of God, telling us where we needed to improve. Surely then, we would indeed be in paradise.

    But the history of Israel proves otherwise. Given every divine encouragement, still, people cannot reach God. With the reign of Solomon, the reality of the human condition is revealed, at his death the kingdom is divided, driven into exile, they return only to crucify God's own son. That is, given every aid divine love can fashion, yet they sin, and not just a "little one", they sin to the utmost. The wages of sin are death, and Israel
    has had a living death among the nations for the past 2,000 years.

    Is this then the end of their story? Human brokenness is greater than God's love, God's covenant, God's election?

    This is why Romans 9-11 follow directly on from Romans 8! This human tragedy directly confronts the beautiful theory Paul has been painstakingly
    building, and which has reached its climax in the declaration:

    28 We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him,
    who are called according to his purpose.
    29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the
    image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many
    30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called
    he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
    31 What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us?
    32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not
    also give us all things with him?
    33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies;
    34 who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised
    from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for
    35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or
    distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
    36 As it is written, "For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we
    are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
    37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who
    loved us.
    38 For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
    principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
    39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able
    to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    But Paul, what about Israel? They were elect and chosen, in God's love, and they killed Jesus, and now they are separated, cut off, rejected as a
    nation. They are the litmus test of your theory, and they prove it to be wrong.

    This is the issue Paul must confront. He does this is chapters 9-11, and he starts in an endlessly profound way:

    Romans 9:1 I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience
    bears me witness in the Holy Spirit,
    2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
    3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for
    the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race.
    4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the
    covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;
    5 to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh,
    is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.

    He starts with his love. Paul knows well that sound doctrine without love is meaningless (1 Corinthians 13:2). Paul cannot treat Israel as simply a doctrinal argument. He must first confess his love for them, a love confirmed by the Holy Spirit. Further more, in anguish, he confirms that theirs are the covenants, the promises, the sonship, the glory, the patriarchs and even, according to the flesh, the Messiah. He also acknowledges that Israel have presently stumbled (31-33).

    Paul (and God's) love lead directly into the missionary imperative of Romans 10. "Brethren, my hearts desire for Israel is that they be saved", and "how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" This is love's priority. Only after having declared his love, and the need to preach the Gospel, does Paul move on to the central question: "Did God reject his people?" He
    answers this in several ways. Firstly, his own salvation as a Jew shows that any rejection is not total, and there is a remnant chosen by grace. He also notes that the rest of Israel (those outside the Godly remnant), were hardened, leading to his re-asking of his initial question in verse 11, "I ask again, did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?" That is, are the
    elect (vs. 7) remnant within Israel God's way of abandoning the rest, or God 's guarantee to the rest, a kind of firstfruits? Paul's answer is emphatic. "Not at all!" Israel has not fallen beyond recovery. Writing to gentiles, Paul then notes that because of Israel's rejection, salvation has come to the gentiles, that they are beneficiaries of what has transpired, but he
    then goes on to say in verses 12 and 15, that if the falling of Israel has meant riches for the gentiles, their re-inclusion will bring even greater blessings.

    The story of Joseph is a good way of approaching this. Rejected by his brothers in the flesh, Joseph then becomes ruler of the gentile Egyptians. It is to these Egyptians, basking in Joseph's rule, that his brothers come during the famine - they need what the Egyptians have, as Paul notes in verse 13-14, we should live so that the Jewish people are jealous of the riches we have in Jesus. Finally, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, and there is weeping and joy. The Egyptians hear this, and are not jealous
    ("maybe Joseph wont love us anymore"), but rejoice with them, "we love Joseph, and are delighted that he has found his family again, come, bring your children, the best of the land is yours, we love Joseph so much" (Genesis 45:16-20). And so, all Israel will be saved.

    After the death of Jesus, John lingered at the Cross, and saw the soldier thrust his spear into his side. He wrote "these things occurred so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, 'none of his bones shall be broken'. And again, another passage of Scripture says, 'they shall look upon him who they have pierced. .'" Israel's national history began at the Exodus, here fulfilled, and will climax when they shall look on him who they have pierced. Jesus is the centre of Israel's history, its commencement and consummation. To see the details of this, we turn to Zechariah 12:1-13:1. Here, Jerusalem is surrounded by her enemies, God himself fights for Israel,and His feet stand on the mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:1-4, as per Acts 1:11). For Israel, however, having just been rescued from disaster, their eyes are not on their victory, or on the defeat of their enemies. The things of earth grow strangely dim, and their eyes are only on Jesus. Nothing else
    matters. They look on him whom they have pierced, and they mourn for him (12:10). Joseph is with his brothers. How are Israel saved? By some back
    door marked "Jews only" - no! There is only one way to salvation. "They look on him whom they have pierced" - there is conviction of sin (the work of the Holy Spirit). "They mourn for him" - there is repentance, and "On that day, a fountain is opened in the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from their sin" - there is baptism, signifying new birth, and "the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

    That is, Israel are saved by conviction of sin, repentance and new birth - just as you and I were. That is, the national history of Israel, played out on the world stage, declares Salvation is of God. Their testimony? "Called in love, given every divine help, we sinned to killing Jesus, the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life. Of ourselves, we are
    nothing. It is by grace and grace alone we exist. We are monuments to his love, his grace, his faithfulness. Our sin abounded unto death, but his love abounded unto life." That which was lost is found, the who was dead is alive. Paul therefore follows up his promise that all Israel shall be saved with his conclusion, that: "the gifts and call of God are irrevocable." Called to be a nation of priests, their national history preaches the Gospel: Human inadequacy, the wages of sin, and the gift of God.

    This is wonderful on so many levels. Just as Paul gloried in his witness, that through saving him, the chief of sinners, the grace of God to all was
    displayed, so Israel. Israel is the final proof of the depth of God's love, the final test of Romans 8, and God's love triumphs! His love is stronger than our sin, and nothing can separate us from him. His heart has won the victory. The people he chose in love, and guided for generations killed his own dear son, yet he never gave up on them, for thousands of years more his
    love pursued them, and finally rescued and redeemed them. For myself, I sin, I let God down, and even as I repent, I wonder, "how could God still love me? Will he now finally cast me off?", and then I remember Israel, and think, if he did not cast them off, then I am secure, not to sin again, but to know the wonder of his forgivness. God hates divorce, and we do not worship a divorcee. The restoration of Israel is not a Biblical quirk, unrelated to our own love-bond to God. It is a celebration of our wonderful
    God who does not know how to stop loving us. The doxology of Romans 11 affirms and rejoices in the doxology of Romans 8. The worst possible case
    one could bring against Romans 8, God's chosen people crucifying his own son, has rebounded to his Glory. His love is the strongest power in the
    universe, and the Lamb has conquered. For us who likewise cling to him, this is wonderful news!

    Jeremiah 31: 35 Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and
    the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up
    the sea so that its waves roar -- the LORD of hosts is his name:

    36 "If this fixed order departs from before me, says the LORD, then shall
    the descendants of Israel cease from being a nation before me for ever."
    37 Thus says the LORD: "If the heavens above can be measured, and the
    foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the
    descendants of Israel for all that they have done, says the LORD."

    Psalm 105: 15 He is mindful of his covenant for ever, of the word that he
    commanded, for a thousand generations,
    16 the covenant which he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac,
    17 which he confirmed as a statute to Jacob, as an everlasting covenant to
    18 saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan, as your portion for an

    Jeremiah 33: 25 Thus says the LORD: If I have not established my covenant
    with day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth,
    26 then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and
    will not choose one of his descendants to rule over the seed of Abraham,
    Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes, and will have mercy
    upon them."

    Hosea 11: 8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O
    Israel! How can I make you like Admah! How can I treat you like Zeboiim! My
    heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender.

    Jeremiah 31:1 "At that time, says the LORD, I will be the God of all the
    families of Israel, and they shall be my people."

    2 Thus says the LORD: "The people who survived the sword found grace in the
    wilderness; when Israel sought for rest,
    3 the LORD appeared to him from afar. I have loved you with an everlasting
    love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
    4 Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again
    you shall adorn yourself with timbrels, and shall go forth in the dance of
    the merrymakers.
    5 Again you shall plant vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria; the
    planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit.
    6 For there shall be a day when watchmen will call in the hill country of
    Ephraim: `Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.'"
    7 For thus says the LORD: "Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise
    shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, `The
    LORD has saved his people, the remnant of Israel.'
    8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from
    the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the
    woman with child and her who is in travail, together; a great company, they
    shall return here.
    9 With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them
    back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which
    they shall not stumble; for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my
    10 "Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands
    afar off; say, `He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him
    as a shepherd keeps his flock.'
    11 For the LORD has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too
    strong for him.
    12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be
    radiant over the goodness of the LORD, over the grain, the wine, and the
    oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall be like
    a watered garden, and they shall languish no more.
    13 Then shall the maidens rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the
    old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort
    them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
    14 I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall
    be satisfied with my goodness, says the LORD."

    How does the view of Israel's history interact with the present situation in the Middle East? The first point to make is that of Acts 1:6-8, Israel's history is in God's hands - our job it to preach the Gospel (like Romans 10). Secondly, while one can see in the preservation of the Jewish people, and in the rebirth of the Jewish state, evidence of God's grace and love, and indeed, the first blossomings of our own redemption (Romans 11:12, 15), loving the Jewish people in no way requires us to hate the Palestinians. They too are loved of God, they too need Jesus. Jesus died for Yassir Arafat as much as for any one else on the planet. I do not see our role as being an uncritical supporter of every Israeli political desicion. I have been to
    enough church buisness meetings to know how far from perfect even Christian meetings can be - to believe that unbelieving Jews, who are sinning and in need of repentance like the rest of us, make perfect decisions is silly. I see Israel as having been brought back in unbelief (as per the situation in Zechariah 12-14), without their prophet, priest and king, who is Jesus. I do
    believe that they need unconditional love. Israelis are hurting and often feel very alone. What they need from us is genuine love and the good news about Jesus. I am uncomfortable with labels, but think this makes me a moderate Christian Zionist?

    All the best, Colin
  2. GODzThunder

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    Jul 1, 2003
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    wow that is a long post
  3. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Jun 30, 2000
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    And in one sentence, you point is?
  4. Australian Baptist Student

    Australian Baptist Student
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    Jul 11, 2001
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    God's gifts and call to Israel are irrevockable - hay, you are right, I should have just quoted that scripture!
  5. Australian Baptist Student

    Australian Baptist Student
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    Jul 11, 2001
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    Actually, having written it, I just thought I would appreciate any feedback on it.
    God bless, Colin
  6. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Jun 30, 2000
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    Absolutely. And to steal those promises and apply those precious gifts to the Church is dishonest.
  7. Ben W

    Ben W
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    Sep 16, 2002
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    One point that I consider is that the church of today is Grafted to the Jewish Root. No we dont have to keep the Jewish law as Gentiles, yet even so we are grafted on to that root.

    So ultimatley Israels history after Christ is the churches history also or at least one stream of it. Many Christians do live in Israel today.
  8. HankD

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    May 14, 2001
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    Acts 1
    6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
    7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

    It's not a question of if Israel's restoration will happen but when, of which "times" or "seasons" He said "it is not for you to know".

  9. natters

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    Jul 23, 2004
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    Dr. Bob said "And to steal those promises and apply those precious gifts to the Church is dishonest."

    Sometimes those promises are applied to the church without stealing them away from Israel. e.g.:

    Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith 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.
    Heb 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
  10. av1611jim

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    Aug 22, 2002
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    Think of grafting in a branch in exactly the way it was meant.
    You can take the fruit bearing branch of a pear tree and graft it onto the trunk of an apple tree.
    Amazing thing happens!
    Next season, you get fruit from the pear branch sure enough, but it has the flavor of an apple!
    Cool huh?
    Apply it to the church and Israel.
    The Church, being grafted in; can and will bear fruit. But the fruit WILL have the flavor of its "host".
    The 'FLAVORFUL FRUIT" we as the Church must have, will resemble the Source of the "apple' tree's Life. We will manifest the fruits that God intended Isreal to manifest, i.e. being a blessing to the world.
    "Food for thought" on an old thread.
    In His service;

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