9. (Biblical Theology, Old and New Testaments, by Geerhardus Vos (c)1948 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Tenth Printing, page 79 and The Pauline Eschatology, by Geerhardus Vos, (c) 1979 Baker Book House, page 88.)
"The elective principle, abolished as to nationality, continues in force as to individuals. And even with respect to national privilege, while temporarily abolished now that its purpose has been fulfilled, there still remains reserved for the future a certain fulfillment of the national elective promise. Israel in its racial capacity will again in the future be visited by the saving grace of God [Rom. 11.2, 12, 25]....such conversions (of Jewish people) remain for the present but sporadic examples, though at bottom expressive of a divine principle intended to work itself out on the largest of scales at the predetermined point in the future. (9)"
Let us recognize with these great men of theology God's continuing love for the Jewish people, yet not center our theology on ethnic Israel. Speaking of "replacement theology", let's not replace Jesus with Israel, or even put it on an equal footing with him in the plan of God! (10)
God has not replaced the Jewish people with the church. Quite to the contrary, God has grafted Gentile branches into the tree of believing Israel, a tree made up of all true believers, both Jewish and Gentile, a tree rooted in the faith of the patriarchs (Romans 11:17-24). God has expanded Israel, not replaced it.
It precisely because of the fact that Gentile believers have been grafted into the tree of Israel, a tree foreign to their nature, that they have an obligation to the Jewish people, those natural branches which were cut off and which will be grafted in again. The doctrine of spiritual Israel should never be abused to imply God is finished with the Jewish people -- quite the contrary! It is expressly because of the truth of this doctrine we must stand by the natural branches and pray for their grafting in again!
And how foolish is any form of anti-semitism on the part of some so-called "Christian!" For a Christian to hate Jewish people is to hate his own adopted family and nation -- and even His own Jewish Lord and Savior!
Spiritual Israel, Christian Israel.....instead of Replacement Theology
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Edersheim's statement that through the New Covenant we have come to the glorious fulfillment of Messianic promises given to Israel by the prophets is clearly true to the scriptures. Consider these Biblical truths:
Israel was told "the meek will inherit the land" (Psalm 37:11). Jesus said the meek would inherit the whole earth (Mt. 5:5). Paul says Abraham was to inherit "the world" (Rom. 4:13).
God promised Israel a city named Jerusalem. We are told we have come to a glorious heavenly Jerusalem, the community of the redeemed, superior (when seen through spiritual eyes) to anything experienced under the Old Covenant administration (Hebrews 12:22-23).
Paul says the true Jerusalem, the one which fulfills Isaiah 54, is the heavenly (spiritual) Jerusalem. (See how Isaiah 54:1 is interpreted in Galatians 4:26-27). This heavenly city, the church, is the congregation of the faithful (Hebrews 12:22-24).
Israel was promised a Temple; the New Covenant promises to both Jews and Gentiles (and still to the Jew first) that they can actually be the Temple! (1 Peter 2:5)
According to Isaiah 56:3 and the following verses Gentiles are admitted to God's people and come into the Temple. Hebrews says the old Temple has found fulfillment in the new. (See Hebrews 7:18, 8:13 and the whole rest of the book of Hebrews!)
Israel was promised a king -- God sent the world the King of Kings!
Certainly Edersheim was right to say of the New Covenant community: "all that had been national, preparatory, symbolic, typical, would merge into the spiritual reality of fulfillment.
15. Prophecy... page 174.
Messiah, The True Israel
To expand Israel it first had to be narrowed down to one person. The scriptures teach that Jesus is the ultimate Israel. In Matthew 2:15 the Holy Spirit quotes a verse referring to national Israel "Out of Egypt I called my son" (Hosea 11:1) and says Jesus fulfills this prophecy! We are being told Jesus is the true faithful Israel of God. He alone is worthy of the covenant blessings. Messiah is the supreme seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). Paul explicitly says: "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say `and to his seeds', meaning many people, but `and to his seed' meaning one person, who is Messiah". It is only through faith in Jesus that we come into the fullness of the promise to Abraham. This is to the Jew first, and also as for Gentiles.
Israel's Hope Fulfilled Beyond Expectation
Through Jesus we have more than could be conceived of by the prophets or their ancient readers. Peter says: "Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Messiah in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Messiah and the glories that would follow.
It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things" (1 Peter 1:10-12). Amazing! God says the Old Testament prophets were speaking us that salvation which we have received! Our current experience of salvation was spoken of by the Hebrew prophets!
Reformed I have seen much misunderstanding on this topic. I think it betrays a fundamental lack of understanding about some of the themes being discussed here this past month.
It is leading to some fruitful discussion. I am looking forward to JOJ giving more clarification to this modified view of dispensational thought, so I did not want to derail that thread as I have promised to only ask clarifying questions there.
What is interesting is as I slowly start to glance at some of the books I bought years ago, they do not seem as formidable.
I'm glad that you, John, agree with my understanding. The Apostles make it very clear that the OC Scriptures were fulfilled by Jesus & the formation of the Church which at first comprised only Israelites from every nation under heaven. These would have included the dispersed tribes.
Zechariah prophesies that after the Shepherd is struck, 8 And it shall come to pass in all the land,”
Says the Lord,
“That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one–third shall be left in it:
9 I will bring the one–third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, ‘This is My people’;
And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
One third of the Israelites will be delivered from the AD 70 tribulation - believing Israel will continue as prophesied also in Rev. 7, concerning the 144,000. These already are members of the Church, along with already dispersed believing Israelites & believing Gentiles.
Israelites & Jews are of course welcomed by the Gospel - there is NO ongoing rejection of Jews as "Christ killers." No justification for persecution. They are needy sinners who are welcomed by the Gospel of their Saviour God.
As you agree, this is not replacement theology. Nor is it antisemitism. The Church continues as one redeemed people of God practising spiritual worship with none of the trappings of OC worship. At Jesus' return, the NH&NE will be the blessed eternal home of all the redeemed. All to the glory of God.
There is just no place in Scripture prophecy for a very imperfect millennial dispensation, centred on earthly Jerusalem, with a temple & animal sacrifices for sin.
Whether there will be a Jewish revival before Jesus returns is in God's hands. I don't see it in NC prophecy, nor do I see any significance in the return to the land.
Sorry about that.
If what I wrote above is considered RT then that is certainly NOT what I understand RT to be, which is a rejection of the Jews, & replacement by a largely Gentile Church.
God's judgment of this generation that rejected their Messiah was completed in AD 70. From Pentecost on, they have been welcomed by the Gospel. They were & are free to repent, as Saul & many priests & others did, & continued to observe OC customs.
However, within a few generations converted ethnic Jews would intermarry in the Lord with fellow believers & lose the Mosaic distinctives. God knows who they are, but it is very clear that Jew & Gentile, even in the first century, were one people of God in Christ.
Believing Jews have ALL the promises of God as have all members of the Church of Jesus Christ. Whether they continue to observe Jewish customs Is for their conscience - all converts should be encouraged to be faithful family members, as far as is consistent with their faith.
It would seem (at least to me) that BOTH covenant and dispensation theology in some manner “replaces” political/social Israel.
Dispensation would do it for a “time of the Gentiles,” and those of us who are premillennial adhered to the Gentile as grafted into the believing Israel.
Covenant has no literal return of the Jews as a nation, and therefore replaces the nation with the church.
What is the Scripture statement is both a covenant approach AND the dispensation approach.
If one disregards one or the other, more likely there is some area of Scripture that has been taken from the assigned area and made to fit another.
Covenant Theology begins with the Covenant of Works which Adam broke in the garden. Beginning in Genesis 3:15 we see the revealing of the Covenant of Redemption (also called the Covenant of Grace). This covenant is actually the New Covenant revealed in types and shadows in the Old Testament. While God did establish His covenant with Abraham, that covenant did not supersede the promise of Genesis 3, that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent's head. The church does not replace Israel, the church has always been. God has always had one called-out people on the basis of faith. This is not replacement, it is the continuation of God's people of faith. Yes. God established a special relationship with Abraham and his natural descendants, but that relationship was after the Genesis 3 promise.
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