Terry Cropper is an excellent Bible students and I have shared some of his articles here before. Just recently, he wrote an article that relates to the calling of the Gentiles. I felt that it was important to share that with my visitors. This is the first in a two part series. Enjoy!
An interesting fact that many Christians are not aware of is Gentile were always welcome and assimilated by faith into the Israel of God during the Old Covenant. The calling of the Gentiles was always God’s plan!
Jesus is the “true Israel” of God. (Matthew 2:13-15)
Throughout the Bible shows that God’s sovereign grace has always been extended to Gentiles from the very beginning to also be a part of His Israel. This means that people from all ethnic nationalities were always welcome to be a part of God’s spiritual Israel. Our objective in this article is to show God always had a remnant of believers who wanted to fellowship with Him and be a part of His Israel.
Not every person who left Egypt was an Israelite. Among the foreigners living in Israel were those who had accompanied them on their flight from Egypt. Exodus 12:38 A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock. Exodus tells us a “mixed multitude of people went up with” the children of Israel.
These people had a desire to worship God and marched out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. For how long? Their presence during the quail incident, indicates that these people were still with the Israelites at least one year after the first Passover. That means that the mixed multitude was present at Mount Sinai, some fifty days after the Red Sea crossing. This means they were present at the giving of the Law!
People from other nationalities who had a sincere desire to become a part of God’s covenant people God’s Israel were welcome and assimilated (absorbed equals) into “Israel,” through faith and obedience to the conditions of the covenant. In other words through God grace the back door was always open. Those who hold the literal approach to scripture and believe the promises of God only apply to the biological fleshly seed of Abraham will never tell you foreigners were welcome and assimilated (absorbed equals) into “Israel,” through faith,
An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the mails in his household circumcised; them he may take part, like one born in the land… The SAME law applies to the native-born. And to the alien living among you” (Exodus 12:48-49) Other verses are (Numbers 9:14; Isaiah 56:4a, 6-7) Israel as a people were neither better nor worse than other people. This is why the Mosaic law contains detailed teaching concerning aliens and strangers. This teaching continually remind the Israelites of how they should behave towards aliens living among them. The prophets also speak of the time as coming when the strangers shall share in all the privileges of Israel (Ezekiel 47:22 ; Isaiah 2:2 ; 11:10 ; 56:3-6 ; Micah 4:1).
The law of Moses made specific regulations regarding the admission into the Jewish church of such as were not born Israelites ( Exodus 20:10 ; 23:12 ; Exodus 12:19 Exodus 12:48 ; Deuteronomy 5:14 ; Deuteronomy 16:11 Deuteronomy 16:14 , etc.). The Kenites, the Gibeonites, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites were thus admitted to the privileges of Israelites.
So under the Old Covenant system there were people from other nationalities who had a desire to serve God by faith. They were assimilated and absorbed as equals into Israel as long as they had faith and were obedient to the covenant. These aliens were called proselytes. The Greek term προσήλυτος (proselytos), as used in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) for “stranger”, i.e. a “newcomer to Israel”; a “sojourner in the land”, and in the Greek New Testament for a first century convert to Judaism, generally from Ancient Greek.
The book of Joshua introduces us to one of the most amazing and thought provoking women of the Old Testament. Rahab, the prostitute earned unique praise for her faith, and a place in the lineage of Christ. God blessed this women by putting her in the lineage of Christ.
Certainly this one women demonstrates faith in God as a gentiles during the Old Covenant. Matthew’s Gospel included 4 such women. He lists Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. Of these four, only Bathsheba was Jewish. Neither of the other three women was a biological descendant of Abraham, but the three were allowed to become biological ancestors of the Lord Jesus.
God’s true “Israel” has (always) been a spiritual entity, comprised of His covenant people, regardless of nationality or time in history. Foreigners were well integrated into the religious life of Israel, able to participate in all the major festivals. Even at the consecration of the great temple in Jerusalem, the foreigner was not forgotten. Solomon prayed that the temple would serve to make God known well outside national boundaries (2 Chronicles 6:23-33). Faithful to this global vision, all the great prophets of Israel speak of the day when people will come from the ends of the earth to worship the God of the universe (Isaiah 56:6-7).
We will continue with Terry’s excellent article on the calling of the Gentiles in the next installment. Stay tuned!
Needless to say, the identity of Israel in the modern evangelical world is a subject of endless discussion. The Zionist / Dispensationalists tell us that there is really no debate, the nation calling itself Israel, in the land of Palestine, is in fact the covenant people of God. Not only that, they must, absolutely must, be supported by America, or we as a nation risk incurring God’s wrath as John Hagee and other noted (infamously false teachers) remind us constantly.
The truth is that it is a very legitimate study to ask the question, is the nation of Israel as it exists today actually descended from Abraham, by blood, and, should America and the rest of the world support her right to the land called “Israel” regardless of anything.
Now, let me say this: everyone has a “right” to live somewhere, regardless of their national identity. It is simply wrong to say that a person, because of their ostensible lineage, has no right to live anywhere– or to even live!
With that said, however, to acknowledge that everyone has a right to live somewhere is not the same as saying that a given people are God’s covenant people and that a given piece of real estate is their’s by divine right! Those are separate issues.
The issue of whether the people called “Israel” today is genuinely racially related to Abraham is one that is hotly debated. This continues to be debated based on DNA studies, a field far beyond my expertise, and totally unrelated to what I want to share here. While I am unqualified to address the issue of DNA, it should be noted that several studies have concluded that modern “Israel” is not, in fact, descended from the physical lineage of Abraham. Those studies, needless to say, have come under severe attack by the “pro-Israel” camp, that claims that the counter studies are “anti-semitic” and even promote Nazism!
In spite of that controversy, which, needless to say, is sometimes extremely emotionally based, I think it is more than worthwhile to take note of what anthropologists and even what the “Jews” of the day say about the issue. I will give here only a few citations, because this information is not the point of this discussion. Nonetheless, I think it important to offer just a small sampling of evidence for the reader to consider.
The Encyclopedia Americana, (1986, vol. 16, p. 71), under the heading: “Racial and Ethnic Considerations” says this:
“Some theorists have considered the Jews a distinct race, although this has no factual basis. In every country in which the Jews lived for a considerable time, their physical traits came to approximate those of the indigenous people. Hence the Jews belong to several distinct racial types, ranging, for example, from fair to dark. Among the reasons for this phenomenon are voluntary or involuntary miscegenation and the conversion of Gentiles to Judaism”
Collier’s Encyclopedia (1977, vol. 13, p. 573), offers this:
“A common error and persistent modern myth is the designation of the Jews as a ‘race! This is scientifically fallacious, from the standpoint of both physical and historical tradition. Investigations by anthropologists have shown that Jews are by no means uniform in physical character and that they nearly always reflect the physical and mental characteristics of the people among whom they five”
Today, being a Jew simply means that one is of the Judaistic religion or a convert to it, or else in a “brotherhood” of those who are. Therefore, being a Jew has nothing to do with race. We are familiar with a number of notable figures, such as Sammy Davis, Jr., Elizabeth Taylor, and Tom Arnold, in fact, who became Jews by conversion to the religion of Judaism. In fact, one is defined a Jew by legal dispensation or coercion, with race playing no part at all.”
The Encyclopedia Brittanica, (1973, vol. 12, page 1054):
‘The Jews As A Race: The findings of physical anthropology show that, contrary to the popularview, there is no Jewish race. Anthropornetric measurements of Jewish groups in many parts ofthe world indicate that they differ greatly from one another with respect to all the importantphysical characteristics.”
Finally, from a host of other sources that could be cited, we offer this from the Jewish Encyclopedia, which, I think it is safe to say, is not anti-semitic, nor in favor of “Nazism”:
Encyclopedia Judaica Jerusalem (1971, vol. 3, p. 50; 1986):
“It is a common assumption, and one that sometimes seems ineradicable even in the face ofevidence to the contrary, that the Jews of today constitute a race, a homogeneous entity easilyrecognizable. From the preceding discussion of the origin and early history of the Jews, it shouldbe clear that in the course of their formation as a people and a nation they had already assimilated a variety of racial strains from people moving into the general area they occupied. This had taken place by interbreeding and then by conversion to Judaism of a considerable number of communities.
. . .
“Thus, the diversity of the racial and genetic attributes of various Jewish colonies of today renders any unified racial classification of them a contradiction in terms. Despite this, many people readily accept the notion that they are a distinct race. This is probably reinforced by the fact that some Jews are recognizably different in appearance from the surrounding population. That many cannot be easily identified is overlooked and the stereotype for some is extended to all – a not uncommon phenomenon”
With this scientific evidence to consider, what I want to is to examine what identified a Jew / Israelite, in the ancient world. In light of the above, let it be noted that for my purposes, I am not denying the existence of a group of people that had – in the first century – some connection, some racial, blood line connection to Abraham. There were genealogies in the Temple that established that, and that is how the identity of Jesus as Messiah could be fully established beyond disputation. However, with the catastrophic destruction of the Temple in AD 70, those genealogical tablets– the only way of proving a physical connection to Abraham – were destroyed! The significance of this can hardly be over-emphasized, and yet, many people today simply ignore it.
With these preliminaries before us. We will begin our investigation. In the meantime, be sure to get a copy of my book, Israel 1948: Countdown to No Where. It may well open your eyes! It has literally changed the lives of countless Bible students!
Announcing an Up Coming Formal Debate On YouTube !
I am thrilled to announce that we have confirmation for a formal YouTube debate between myself and my friend Himie Pickett. This will be a two hour formal debate, carried live on YouTube– perhaps also on Google Hangout.
In addition to this debate, Himie Pickett has graciously invited me to speak at a symposium in Washington DC, in March of 2017. I am very excited about both of these events!
My proposition for the debate will be:
Resolved: The Bible teaches that the salvation of Israel at the coming of the Lord – as foretold in Romans 11:25-27 was fulfilled at the time of the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Himie Pickett will affirm the following proposition:
Resolved: The Bible teaches that at the Second Coming of Christ, as foretold in Romans 11:25-27 – God will rapture the church, and He will place His emphasis back on ethnic Israel.
Affirm: Himie Pickett
Deny: Don K. Preston
Note: Himie Picket is a Progressive Dispensationalist, not a traditional Dispensationalist. He does believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church, the rapture of the church, and a literal millennium, but, there are some important nuances to Progressive Dispensationalism that set it apart.
This promises to be an excellent, lively, cordial discussion so you don’t want to miss it! Projected date is for the first week in November of this year (2016), tentatively set at this time for a Thursday. We will be sure to post the specific times later.
In Brian Martin’s DVD “You’ve Got To Be Kidding” the point was made that John the Baptizer was Elijah as promised in Malachi 4:5-6. Brian made the excellent point that John was the “second coming” of Elijah, but not the literal physical return of the great prophet. Just recently, Brian received an “answer” to this claim. I am happy to respond to the Objection which is given here. (I am finishing a major book on John and his eschatological role. It is a subject sorely ignored by too many Bible students. The book is already available on Kindle, and will be available in book form shortly).
Here is the objection:
<<In one part of the DVD by Brian Martin, he cited Malachi 4:5-6 about Elijah to come, but failed to cite Jesus’ teaching in Mark 9:12 that an Elijah will still come to restore all things. John the Baptist did not restore all things and was not the final Elijah to come of Malachi 4:5-6 (see also The Elijah Heresies).
Later in the DVD, Brian Martin makes a lot about John the Baptist being spiritual and cites Matthew 17. He claims this is why no one should think that Jesus is literally coming in clouds, etc. as he says that physically, John the Baptist was the only Elijah to come and John did not do certain things one would expect from various Old Testament prophecies. I consider this to be a ‘sleight of hand’ move–he uses this several times in the DVD.
One theological error Brian Martin makes is that he fails to realize that the Greek in Matthew actually tells of a future “Elijah” to come after John the Baptist. Notice:
11 Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things” (Matthew 17:11).
Matthew 17:11 itself COULD NOT refer to John the Baptist, because he was beheaded (Matthew 14:10) earlier than Jesus spoke this and taught that Elijah still needed to restore all things. Also, John the Baptist did not restore all things. Thus, the Elijah prophecies must have a fulfillment beyond John the Baptist. While it is also true that Jesus said that John the Baptist was a type of Elijah, John could not in the future restore all things unless he was resurrected in the future to do so.
Thus, Brian Martin’s use of John the Baptist not literal fulfilling certain “Elijah” prophecies as proof that Jesus would not physically return is in grave error.>> (EoQ).
The Coming of Elijah- My Response
The Objector claims that the Greek of Matthew 17 proves that Jesus was predicting a still future coming of Elijah, who would come after John. This is false.
Note that this objection implicitly admits that John was in fact Elijah in some manner! If not, why even discuss John in the context of the coming of Elijah? If John was not Elijah, why didn’t Jesus say, very clearly, that John was not Elijah and that Elijah would one day truly come.
What did Jesus mean by saying “Elijah truly must come”? Look closely at the context. The Objector ignores it. The disciples asked, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come?” Jesus’ response, “Elijah must come” is a confirmation of what the scribes taught, and had taught for four centuries. But, you see, the scribes simply reiterated what the ancient prophecies foretold! Jesus was not making a new prophecy of a future coming of Elijah. He was confirming that the scribes were correct to say Elijah would come, because the prophets foretold Elijah.
It is highly significant – and fatal to the objection – that after confirming the scribes’ teaching concerning the coming of Elijah, that Jesus then said, plainly, unequivocally: “But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands” (Matthew 17:11-12).
The Objector essentially ignored these interpretive words from Jesus, waving them aside as if they carried no meaning? Could words be any clearer: “Elijah has already come!”? After clearly stating that Elijah had come, and, “they have done to him (Him who? Elijah!- DKP) what they wished” the text declares, “the disciples understood that he spoke to them of John the Baptist.” Again, words could not be clearer. John was Elijah, or else Jesus was wrong. John was Elijah, or else the disciples were wrong to make the connection between Jesus’ declaration that “Elijah has already come,” and John the Baptizer.
Notice the Objector’s presuppositional claims: <“Matthew 17:11 itself COULD NOT refer to John the Baptist, because he was beheaded (Matthew 14:10) earlier than Jesus spoke this and taught that Elijah still needed to restore all things. Also, John the Baptist did not restore all things. Thus, the Elijah prophecies must have a fulfillment beyond John the Baptist. While it is also true that Jesus said that John the Baptist was a type of Elijah, John could not in the future restore all things unless he was resurrected in the future to do so.”
The Objector claims that Jesus said John was “a type of the Elijah” that is yet to come. He said no such thing: “Elijah has already come,” is not, “John is a type of the true Elijah that will one day come.” It is wrong to turn Jesus’, “Elijah has already come” into, “Elijah has not come.”
Look closely at the reason the Objector rejects John as Elijah: John could not be Elijah because Elijah would restore all things. John did not restore all things– he was beheaded. The Objector’s presuppositional theology about the nature of the restoration of all things leads him to reject – to distort – Jesus’ emphatic identification of John. But once again, the Objector fails to grasp the power of Jesus’ words.
Note that Jesus said, “they have done to him what they wished.” This puts John in the category of one of the martyrs of God. John was joining Jesus and all of the OT prophets and martyrs in filling up the measure of suffering that would result in the great Day of the Lord (of Malachi 4:5-6) in vindication of the martyrs.
The Coming of Elijah and Martyr Vindication
In Matthew 23, Jesus spoke of Israel’s internecine history:
“Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:31-36).
Jesus was emphatic, all of the blood of all the martyrs would be avenged at the judgment of Jerusalem in his generation. This motif is critical to understand.
In Matthew 21 and the parable of the wicked vineyard keepers, the martyrs would be avenged at the coming of the master of the vineyard, who would, “come and utterly destroy those wicked husbandmen” (Matthew 21:40f). According to Jesus, the martyrs would be avenged at his coming and he promised, “he will avenge them speedily” (Luke 18:7-8). (Some claim that “speedily” here does not suggest imminence. This is specious. See my lengthy discussion of the Greek of the text in my Who Is This Babylon? book. In short, there is not one occurrence of the Greek term used here (en tachei) that emphasizes rapidity of action over the imminence of occurrence).
In Revelation 6:9-17, John saw the martyrs crying out for vindication. They were told that they would be vindicated very soon (cf. Luke 18!) when the full number of martyrs would be full. Of necessity, that had to include John! That vindication would be at the Great Day of the Lord when no man could stand before Him ( Revelation 6:17). This is a direct citation of Malachi 3:1-3, where The Messenger would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord in judgment and: “Who shall stand before Him when He comes?” That is the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord to be proclaimed by Elijah!
The Messenger would prepare for the coming of the Lord in judgment when no one could stand before Him (Malachi 3:1-6).
The Day of the Lord in vindication of the martyrs, when no man could stand before Him, would be the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord (Revelation 6:17). (Don’t forget that this would be at the judgment of Jerusalem, per Jesus).
The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord is the Day to be heralded by Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6).
Therefore, the Day of the Lord in vindication of the martyrs, when no man could stand before Him, is the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord of Malachi 4:5-6– the Day to be heralded by Elijah.
But, John was The Messenger heralding the imminent coming of the Lord in judgment (Matthew 3 / Mark 1:1-2)– the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.
Therefore, as The Messenger, was Elijah. The Coming of the Messenger Was the Coming of Elijah!
It is critical to understand that the Day of Malachi 3 would be the time of judgment on Israel – just like Matthew 23 – for violating Torah. This is demonstrated in v. 6, where the Lord said, “I will come near to you in judgment,” That judgment would be for violating Torah, specifically Exodus 22:21f and Deuteronomy 27:19f: mandates against sorcerers, extortioners, abusers of widows, etc.. Those passages make it clear that the judgment for those sins would be national judgment on Israel (Exodus 22:24)! With this in mind, note the following:
John was The Voice in the wilderness, preparing for the coming of the Lord in judgment. This is undeniable (Isaiah 40:1-12–> Mark 1:1-3/ John 1:23).
John was The Messenger, who would prepare for the coming of the Lord in judgment of Israel for violating Torah. Once again: Undeniable (Malachi 3:1-6 / Mark 1:1-2).
But, if John was The Voice and The Messenger, then without doubt, he was Elijah unless one is willing to say that as The Voice and The Messenger, John heralded a different coming of the Lord in judgment from that which Elijah was to proclaim! That is untenable.
Did John “successfully” fulfill his role as The Voice, The Messenger and Elijah, to warn of the Great Day of the Lord? If he did, then he fulfilled his role of “restoring all things.” He certainly fulfilled his role as a martyr, helping to fill the measure of end times, eschatological suffering.
What was John’s message, as The Voice, The Messenger and Elijah? (Space forbids lengthy discussion of the “restoration of all things” but, see my book Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, for an in-depth study of this fascinating issue).
Matthew 3:7: John said to the Pharisees and Sadducees: “Who has warned you to flee from the wrath that is (literally, “about to come”- from mello)?” This wrath is none other than the Day of fire of Malachi 4:1-3, the Great Day of the Lord of Malachi 4:5-6! John draws directly from Malachi.
Matthew 3:10, 12:
“And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. … His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
In Malachi 4:1, the Day of the Lord to be heralded by Elijah would be against the wicked and would leave them “neither root nor branch.” This was John’s message! So, Malachi said Elijah would herald the Great Day of the Lord when the wicked would be cut down, leaving neither root or branch. John (who Jesus said was Elijah) said the axe was already at the root. We are given no recourse but to see John as Elijah.
John said, “his winnowing fork is already in his hand.” The imagery tells us that the end of the age harvest, when the chaff would be burned up was already approaching! Once again, this is the Day of the Lord of Malachi 4:1-2 – the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord of Malachi 4:5-6– the Day for which Elijah (John) was The Voice and The Messenger!
Side Bar: Significantly, I have not found a single commentary (perhaps I have missed one) that denied that John was The Voice, or, The Messenger! Well, if John was undeniably The Voice and The Messenger, then he was equally, Elijah! There is no distinction!
In Matthew 3, John’s message was the message of Elijah in Malachi 4. And John, as The Voice, The Messenger and Elijah, said that Day of the Lord was imminent. That Day, the time of the vindication of the martyrs (of Matthew 23, Revelation 6) did fall on Israel in AD 70! Prophecy fulfilled! The Voice, The Messenger, Elijah fulfilled his role!
Let me summarize.
Jesus unequivocally said, “Elijah has already come.” It is wrong to deny this. Jesus did not say that John was a “type” of the true Elijah that will one day come.
The disciples understood that Jesus was talking about John as the promised Elijah. Were the disciples wrong? There is not a word in the text to suggest it.
Jesus put John in the company of the martyrs. Jesus said the eschatological, last days number of the martyrs would be filled in his generation. He said that all of the blood, of all the martyrs, – which of necessity would include John – would be vindicated at his coming in the judgment of Jerusalem that occurred in AD 70. That Day of the Lord in vindication of the martyrs is the Day of the Lord foretold by Malachi 3-4, that John, as The Voice and The Messenger, heralded. But, that is the Great and the Terrible Day of the Lord of Malachi 4:5-6, thus making John Elijah in fulfillment of Malachi.
John was irrefutably The Voice. But The Voice, just like Elijah, was to prepare for the Day of the Lord in judgment.
John was undeniably The Messenger who, just like Elijah, was to prepare for the Day of the Lord in judgment – the Day of the Lord against Israel for violating Torah!
Thus, to reiterate, unless John, as The Voice and The Messenger, foretold a totally different Day of the Lord from that of Malachi 4– and his message in Matthew 3 falsifies this idea – this serves as prima facie proof that John was Elijah.
The contrast between the Objector and Jesus could not be more stark.
Jesus said, “Elijah has already come.”
The Objector says Elijah has not come.”
The Objection has been Over-Ruled!
Replacement Theology| Paul, the Church and the Hope of Israel #31
As we begin to bring this study of Replacement Theology to a close, it is critical that we take another, closer look at some of the things that Paul says, as they relate to his eschatological hope and his view of Israel and her promises.
Let me simply give here a few of the passages from Paul’s own sermons in which he explained his gospel, his eschatology, his hope.
The Jews accused Paul of preaching against Israel, against Moses and the hope of Israel:
“Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place” (Acts 21:28).
“For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law” (Acts 24:5-6).
Now, if Dispensationalism is correct, and that the kingdom had been postponed, Israel (temporarily even) set aside, then it surely seems that the accusations against Paul were accurate! Why didn’t Paul tell them that their kingdom expectations were now in abatement? Why didn’t Paul respond to their charges by saying, “Brethren, you don’t understand. You had your chance to accept the kingdom, and your rejected it, so now, I am telling you that your failure has led to God temporarily replacing you with this thing called the church! I know you have never known of it, and I know it was not any part of God’s promises to us, but, because of your rebellion, God has established this “church” and will work with it until sometime in the future (who knows when?) when He will turn back to Israel”? Dispensationalism posits a double Replacement Theology!
Replacement Theology and Paul’s Hope
What was Paul’s response to the charge that he preached an “anti-Israel, anti-Moses” message? Read his words carefully:
“And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” Acts 24:12-15).
Note carefully what Paul said. The Jews accused him of preaching against Moses and the Law– in other words, against the hope of Israel.
Paul said, “They cannot prove the things they accuse me of!”
Paul said that his eschatological hope was from Moses, the Law and the prophets. It is critical to note that per the Dispensational view, Paul could not be, in any way, preaching the hope of Israel found in Torah, because that hope had been deferred, postponed and delayed. And yet, here was Paul, saying that his gospel message was taken directly from Torah! He neither wrote or uttered one word about Israel’s failure. He said not a word about the kingdom offer being postponed. He did not hint, or suggest, in the slightest manner, that the church was a temporary replacement for Israel until the “right time” arrived for God to resume His dealings with Israel. Paul had one message– taken from Torah. He had “one hope” (Ephesians 4:4f), and that one hope was found in Moses, the Law and the prophets! Paul knew nothing of a Replacement Theology, wherein Israel’s promises failed, or were postponed temporarily.
Remember that we demonstrated above that the apostle said, unequivocally, that the remnant of Israel was, when he wrote, receiving what Israel longed for. Now, since what Israel longed for was found in Torah, and since what the remnant was participating in was the body of Christ, it therefore follows that the body of Christ – the church – was in fact the hope of Israel!
I want to give here, once again, some comments I made earlier, based on Romans 16:25-26. This is a critical text that should guide us in any discussion of Replacement Theology:
If it is true that all NT writers said that their eschatological hope was the expectation of the imminent fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises to Israel, then the entire Dispensational house falls to the ground. I will not belabor this point except to focus one more time on two texts that we introduced earlier. One of those texts is mostly ignored in Dispensational literature, Romans 16:25-26:
“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began, but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith.”
Notice now what Paul said.
1. He proclaimed the “mystery of God,” by the authority of God.
2. He said that mystery was “kept secret since the world began” but was now, through him, being revealed. The Dispensationalists tell us that what Paul means here is that the mystery was not to be found in the OT. But that is not what Paul said.
3. Paul said that he preached the mystery of God from “the prophetic scriptures.” That is a direct reference to “Moses, the Law and the prophets”!
Since Paul said he preached the mystery of God from the Old Testament prophetic scriptures, then if the Dispensationalists are right in saying that the mystery was never foretold anywhere in the OT, was Paul wrong? Was Paul mis-using the OT prophecies when he preached the mystery? Was Paul a perverter of the OT prophecies? If the mystery of God was not in the OT scriptures then the only way that Paul could preach the mystery of God from the OT scriptures is for him to pervert the OT!
It is clearly and irrefutably wrong to say that the church, the mystery of God, was not foretold in the OT. It is patently false to say that the church was not the hope of Israel. It is clearly wrong to say that Paul preached a postponed “hope of Israel.” See my book, Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, for an excellent study of God’s faithfulness to Israel!
Paul, Replacement Theology and “nothing but the hope of Israel!
This is driven home in Acts 26:19-23, as Paul stood on trial before Agrippa and defended himself against the Jew’s charges against him:
“Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”
Do you catch the power of what Paul said?
Paul said he preached “nothing” but what Moses and the prophets said! That means that since Paul was preaching Jesus and the his church, that he was preaching that from Moses!
Note that the calling of the Gentiles was Paul’s ministry. (Remember that Peter said that all of the prophets foretold the calling of the Gentiles, as we have shown above). But, the calling of the Gentiles, per the Dispensational paradigm, was proof positive of the postponement of the kingdom and the temporary Replacement Theology! But, Paul knew nothing – absolutely nothing – of that doctrine! He said his gospel was nothing but what Moses and the prophets foretold.
So, when Paul affirmed that he preached nothing but the hope of Israel found in Moses, the Law and the prophets, and he preached Christ and the church, then the Dispensational charge against non-Dispensationalists of a negative Replacement Theology is totally falsified. When the Dispensationalists posit a temporary replacement of Israel, to be ultimately followed by the final replacement of the church, this is absolutely contrary to what Paul said. Paul did not preach or teach that kind of Replacement Theology. He preached Fulfillment Theology!
Replacement Theology| The Tabernacle of David Has Been Raised!
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of carefully analyzing the situation in Acts 15. Peter had opened the kingdom to the Gentiles by preaching to Cornelius. Peter was called on the carpet for those actions, and he explained what had happened there in Caesarea. James stood up and called attention to the fact that it was God who had, by those actions, sanctioned the inclusion of the Gentiles into Israel’s kingdom. He then gave as supportive evidence that this was what God originally intended, a direct quote of Amos 9:11. Let me give that again here:
James said (Acts 15: 10-17):
“Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name.”
Amos was written at the time of, and was concerned with, the dissolution of the northern kingdom, the alienation of the ten northern tribes from “the house of David.” Please catch the power of what Amos was predicting and how James and the Jerusalem council were applying Amos’ prophecy.
Amos was anticipating the restoration of the “house of David,” the restoration of the northern tribes, under Messiah. He was saying, in different words, the same thing as Hosea who promised that in the last days, Israel would be restored under Messiah (who of course, was of David’s house!).
But notice that Amos said that the tabernacle of David would be restored “so that” the rest of mankind could then serve the Lord and receive His blessings! Do you catch that? The Tabernacle of David– the restoration of Israel– had to take place for the Gentiles to be called into Israel’s blessings! James was not saying, and Amos did not say: “Well the Gentiles have to be converted, and then after that, at some point, the Tabernacle of David will be restored, and then the Gentiles will be called in!” That turns the text on its head!
Replacement Theology and the Calling of the Gentiles– Foretold and Fulfilled!
The Tabernacle of David had to be restored “so that” all men – inclusive of the Gentiles / pagans – might call on the name of the Lord.
But, all men – “whoever believes in him” (Acts 10:43)– can now call on Christ and be accepted by the Lord (Acts 10:28).
Therefore, the Tabernacle of the Lord had been– or more accurately– was being restored.
(This is verified by the fact that as we have shown, in Romans 11:7 Paul states in no uncertain terms that the righteous remnant was already entering into the promises made to Israel, and it is also illustrated by the conversion and inclusion of the Samaritans)
For James, Peter and the Jerusalem council, the conversion of the Gentiles into the body of Christ – what we call the church – was the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises of the restoration of Israel! This is a devastating blow to Zionism / Dispensationalism, and their rejection of the church as the fulfillment of God’s promises. Thus, while we can rightly reject Replacement Theology— i.e the failure of Israel’s promise and the substitution of the church due to that failure, we must affirm, with full confidence, the reality and truth of Fulfillment Theology!
Be sure to order a copy of The Last Days Identified, for a fuller understanding of the Old Covenant promises that God made to Israel, about what He would do for them– and for the world – in the last days.
Now, the consummation of that restoration would occur at the parousia, Romans 11:25-27, but that is too large of a study for here. The point is that for James and the Jerusalem council, there could be no doubt. God’s promise to restore Israel under Messiah was taking place. It was taking place in Christ, the Son of David. The inclusion of the Gentiles into Israel’s promises was proof positive. This means that the charge of Replacement Theology is totally misplaced, for Jesus, Son of David (Romans 1:4) has restored the Sovereignty and calls all men to him, just as Israel’s prophets promised. The Tabernacle of David has been restored!
More to come, as we continue our series on Replacement Theology.
Replacement Theology| Cornelius and the Holy Spirit = Fulfillment Theology!
In our last installment we began laying the context for a proper understanding of one of the key Messianic “Temple” prophecies of the Old Testament. Be sure to read that previous article.
After Peter had (reluctantly) preached to the pagan Cornelius (Although he was a “God-fearer” he was nonetheless a non-proselyte. He was not of the tribes of Israel. He was a true “Gentile” in the sense that is commonly understood).
Peter and his entourage was shaken by the fact that Cornelius and his household had received the Holy Spirit and spoken in tongues and prophesied. That had only happened like this back on Pentecost. It was not a common occurrence, so, for it to happen, for it to be given to this pagan – no matter how pious he might be – and his household was truly amazing, shocking and challenging to Peter and his group.
Upon witnessing this amazing occurrence, Peter immediately challenged the entire group: ‘Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit, just as we have?” (Acts 10:47). Peter was clearly stunned that Cornelius and his household had received the gift of the Spirit in the same way, the same manner as the apostles on Pentecost. The impartation of that gift must be seen as fulfillment of Joel 2!
Remember that in Acts 2, when the apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter unequivocally affirmed “this is that” in declaring the events of that day as the partial fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that in the last days, the Spirit would be poured out “on all flesh.” Here was Cornelius, a pagan, receiving another manifestation of the promise of Joel! This means that, as Peter had already declared in v. 43, the Old Covenant prophets had foretold the acceptance of anyone of faith. The fact that Cornelius received the Spirit was “another” fulfillment of Joel 2! Israel’s promises had not been postponed. They had not failed! Cornelius’ reception of the Spirit was proof!
Replacement Theology| The Presence of the Spirit = Fulfillment of Israel’s Promises!
There is an important point to consider here. Peter was an apostle and a prophet, inspired by the Spirit. What is so important about this is that Israel in the first century, and for centuries earlier, believed that the prophetic Spirit had departed from Israel with the book of Malachi. And, here is the critical point, the Spirit would not return to Israel, until the last days and the establishment of the Messianic Temple! The Spirit would only return, in other words, when God’s promises to David, to set Messiah on the throne, were fulfilled.
N.T. Wright, cites several sources, both Rabbinic and scholarly, who point out that the second temple (i.e. in Peter’s day) did not have the Spirit, the Shechinah. He shows that during the entire second temple period, there were no writers that affirmed that the Spirit had returned. No prophet or priest ever said that YHVH had come to the second temple! They always pointed to the last days and the Messianic temple. (Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Vol. 1, (Minneapolis, Fortress, 2013)104-107.
Likewise, Barton, says: “The conviction seems to be widespread in early Christianity that the spirit of God had returned, a sign that the last day had arrived (a point stressed by the author of the Acts of the Apostles when he describes the events of the Day of Pentecost as a sign of the Last days in Acts 2:17.” (John Barton, The Biblical World, Vol 1, (Routledge, London and New York, 2002)145.
So you catch the power of the reality of the out-pouring of the Spirit on Pentecost? Peter said it was the fulfillment of Israel’s promises. Do you see the implications for the out-pouring of the Spirit on Cornelius? Peter said it was the fulfillment of Israel’s promises! There is not a word here about postponement. No delay of Israel’s promises. No, this falsifies the charge of Replacement Theology. It is Fulfillment Theology directly from the mouth of Peter!
Notice the following argument:
The Holy Spirit had departed Israel with Malachi.
The Holy Spirit would return in Israel’s last days to bring in the kingdom.
The Holy Spirit had returned to Israel on Pentecost (and don’t forget John the Baptizer, who was full of the Spirit from his mother’s womb!) and in the apostles and prophets of Christ in the church.
The Holy Spirit was poured out on the household of Cornelius and Peter affirmed that it was the same Spirit and the same actions as were manifested on Pentecost– fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel!
(From this alone, one could rightly conclude that Israel’s last days had arrived and the Day of the Lord was near).
The incredible scene there in the house of Cornelius, when the Spirit came on him, carries with it incredible eschatological implications that are often not investigated.
But that is not all.
When news of Peter preaching to Cornelius, a pagan, reached the leaders of the church at Jerusalem, they called Peter on the carpet to explain his actions. I must reiterate at this juncture how important it is to “catch the power” of what was happening.
Did the Jerusalem leaders call anyone on the carpet to explain their preaching to the Samaritans? Not a word of protest! Indeed, there was overt approval. When the leaders of the Jerusalem church – including Peter! – knew of the successful preaching of the kingdom there, Peter himself went to Samaria to lay hands on the new converts so that they could receive the Spirit! He went there to communicate approval and acceptance of the Samaritans. No objections. No sheets lowered from heaven were needed. No voice from heaven correcting any reservations about sharing the kingdom news with Samaria. Not a syllable of either disapproval or even reservation about preaching the kingdom to the Samaritans. There is such a stark contrast between that situation and Peter’s response to the command to preach to the Roman centurion! The conversion of the Samaritans was the fulfillment of God’s promises to restore Israel. But, the Samaritans were not being restored nationalistically, nor were they receiving a renewal of their possession of the land promises. They were not told that those promises were now on hold while God temporarily instituted Replacement Theology – as we have documented that Thomas Ice affirms. Peter and the apostles preached the kingdom in Samaria and imparted the Spirit to them – this is prophecy fulfilled!
However, when news of the Peter’s actions with Cornelius reached the leadership at Jerusalem, as just noted, they called on Peter to explain his actions. It is important to note that following the conversion of Cornelius, others began to share the gospel with Gentiles. Some in the church, those zealous for “the law” began to teach that while it was “okay” to bring the Gentiles into the kingdom, those Gentiles had to be followers of Moses and the Law. They had to be circumcised or else they could not be saved! This was an incredibly important, challenging issue! (And I would note that circumcision – and its relevance to eschatology – is still not properly understood by many believers today!)
The leaders of the Jerusalem church discussed the issue, concluding, by guidance of the Spirit, that it was improper to impose circumcision on Gentiles. They would be considered full members of the body of Messiah without being subject to Torah! Here is an expression, even if not fully understood by those men, of the Mystery of God, the equality of Jew and Gentile in the body of Christ! Notice the Peter said that God had shown that there was now “no distinction” between Jew and Gentile believers– between any person who believes in Christ (v. 9).
That council then concluded, in a speech by James, that what Peter had initiated and what was taking place in the conversion of the Gentiles was foretold by Israel’s Old Covenant prophets, and was in fact proof that Israel’s restoration, as promised in those prophecies, was taking place!
So, for Peter and for the Jerusalem council, the out-pouring of the Spirit on Cornelius was proof positive that what “all the prophets” foretold was being fulfilled. As we will see in the next installment, they saw the conversion of the Gentiles as the direct fulfillment of God’s promises of the restoration of Israel, because in their own prophecies, Israel had to be restored before the nations could be called into Israel’s blessings! In Israel’s prophecies “the tabernacle of David” had to be raised again (the restoration of “all Israel”) in order that the rest of mankind could then be saved!
In our next installment, we will look closer at the incredible scene and speech in Acts 15, and how it relates to the unfortunate charge of “Replacement Theology.” What we have seen in this installment on Cornelius and the Spirit is actually enough, but we will see that there is not one word about Replacement Theology; it is all about Fulfillment!
Replacement Theology|– The Conversion of the Gentiles– Fulfilling Prophecy! #27
Continuing with our chain of thought that the NT writers affirmed that they were preaching nothing but the hope of Israel, and that their hope was not delayed and had not failed, I want to call attention to one of the key passages in the book of Acts, Acts 15. Before getting to a full discussion of that text, let me set the context.
Keep in mind that Peter had been given “the keys of the kingdom” (Matthew 16:19f). That authority was exercised on the day of Pentecost when he proclaimed that Jesus had been raised from the dead – in fulfillment of God’s promise to David that he would raise the Christ to sit on his throne (Acts 2:29f). Be sure to read our comments above (Article #23) about the fact that Peter called his audience’s attention to the fact that what was happening on Pentecost was in fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel:
1. The prophecies of the resurrection of Messiah.
2. The prophecies made to David, that God would raise Messiah to sit on David’s throne.
3. The prophecy that Messiah would be seated at the right hand of the Father (Psalms 110).
4. The prophecy of the outpouring of the Spirit in the last days (Joel 2:28f).
This raises a question: If God’s OT promises to Israel had been postponed, and if, on the day of Pentecost, God was doing something unknown in Israel’s OT prophecies.,why in the world did Peter speak so eloquently and powerfully of the fact that the events surrounding Jesus’ passion and that day of Pentecost were in fact in fulfillment of Israel’s OT prophecies? Why is there not one word from Peter or any of the apostles on that august day, that even remotely suggests to us that Pentecost was a “starting over with a new “Plan B” because of the failure of “Plan “A”? Why did Peter speak so much about the remarkable fulfillment of Israel’s promises that day, instead of saying at least something of the postponement of Israel’s hope? Pentecost was the affirmation of fulfillment not failure! This is very important!
From Pentecost onward, Peter is presented to us as one of the key leaders of the church in Jerusalem, even in the midst of the persecution that arose. But then, a stunning thing happened.
In Acts 10, Peter, the apostle to the circumcision, but, the one with the keys to the kingdom, was called upon by the God of heaven to preach to the Gentiles! Peter absolutely did not want to preach to the Gentiles, and this raises an important point.
It must be remembered that part of the cherished hope of Israel was the restoration of all twelve tribes under Messiah. A host of Old Testament prophecies made it clear that in the kingdom, all the tribes would serve Messiah under a New Covenant (Ezekiel 37). While the restoration of Israel was a foundational tenet of Israel’s eschatological hope– and Peter would surely have no problem facilitating the fulfillment of that hope– the calling of the Gentiles into the body of Israel– being grafted into Israel’s things, per Romans 11 – was a mystery that was simply not well understood or grasped by Israel (Romans 16:25-26). There were OT prophecies of the calling of the nations to join Israel in the kingdom (Isaiah 61-62). Thus, it was not a 100% unknown tenet. Nonetheless, the idea that the Gentiles would be called into a full equality in the kingdom, with Israel, was not well known, and certainly not well accepted.
Replacement Theology and the Samaritans| What Does This Mean?
In Acts 8, first Philip, and then the apostles had gone to Samaria to share the gospel of the kingdom and the Spirit with those new converts to Messiah Jesus. This would have been seen as a normal, expected part of the restoration of Israel. Samaria was the epi-center from which the Diaspora went, and was viewed still as the very epitome of apostate Israel. Neither Peter or any of the apostles had any objection to converting the Samaritans! They may be “half-breeds” but, they were still seen, at least in some ways, as “Israel.”
The same cannot be said of the Romans. We should not be surprised when Peter initially refused to share the gospel of Christ with a Roman centurion (Acts 10). After all, Romans were pretty much despised by all Jews of the day! So, in stark contrast to the mission to Samaria, accepted and approved by the apostles and the leadership of the church at Jerusalem, Peter simply did not want to go to Cornelius’ house. He did not want to share the gospel with that Roman soldier! And even when he did, he encountered stiff opposition from the leaders at the church at Jerusalem.
As we will see, Peter was essentially called on the carpet for preaching to a Gentile, a Roman (Acts 11)! Now, remember, that same church leadership had no objection to the preaching of the gospel to the Samaritans, because of the historical connection between Samaria and the Israelites. So, preaching to the Samaritans was part of the “restoration of Israel” foretold and anticipated by the Old Covenant prophets and longed for by good faithful Jews. But, preaching to a Gentile, who was not even a Samaritan, was another thing entirely.
Take note of the fact that even after the Lord had “convinced” Peter to go to Cornelius’ house and preach to him, that the moment he walked in, Peter said: “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?” (Don’t you find it almost funny that Peter said he came “without objection” to Cornelius’ house?
Replacement Theology| Peter, Cornelius and the Fulfillment of Israel’s Promises!
Peter reminded Cornelius that it was unlawful for him to enter the house of a Gentile. This reflects on the Jewish antipathy toward those that were “not of the tribes” (Greek allophule) or, “not of the seed (allogenes). Those of Israel were not to “mingle” or associate with those outside their nation. (Again, keep in mind that Peter and the leaders of the church at Jerusalem had no such reservations about going to the Samaritans). Be sure to go back above and read Larry Siegle’s excellent comments on the mystery of God as relates to the conversion of Cornelius and the subsequent mission to the pagan nations.
When Peter proclaimed the gospel of Christ, his death and resurrection, and now the forgiveness of sin through faith, the Spirit fell on Cornelius and his household. If we think Peter was “moved” by his vision of the sheet from heaven and the Lord’s voice speaking to him, now, he is totally blown away!
Take careful note that Peter, having been spoken to directly by God from heaven, informing him that he was to preach to Gentiles, it seems that even as he spoke to Cornelius the pieces began to “fall into place for him.” He said, “To him the prophets witness that through his name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10: 43). Do you see what Peter has done? Do you catch the power of what he said?
Peter, who adamantly did not want to preach to Gentiles, was convinced by the Lord to preach to the Gentiles there in Caesarea. Seemingly, as he spoke, he realized, he remembered, that even the OT prophets had foretold that “whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins”– not just Israelites, not just Judeans– but, “whoever believes in Him!” (Compare Revelation 22:17). And, to our point, Peter now realizes that his preaching to the Gentiles was part and parcel of the Old Covenant promises and prophecies made to Israel! Peter realized that what was happening, right then and right there, was not Replacement Theology, but, Fulfillment Theology! What an event!
There could not be a clearer proof that the Old Covenant did predict the church and the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles. Peter was not preaching the postponement of the kingdom! He was not preaching a message different from what the OT prophets said, for he undeniably now “justified” (and realized) that his preaching to Cornelius was foretold in “all the prophets” all along!
What Peter said there in Cornelius’ house, and what happened even as Peter spoke those momentous words, was incredible. But, it is not the total story. The “rest of the story” reinforces what we have shared in earlier installments of this series on Replacement Theology. What we will see as we continue our study of the conversion of Cornelius is, if possible, an even stronger repudiation of the false charge of Replacement Theology. Stay tuned!
Religious Zionism and the Postponement of the Kingdom – #4
In this final installment in our examination of religious Zionism / Dispensationalism and Determinism, we will show that the idea of a postponed kingdom is false. Keep in mind that religious Zionism / Dispensationalism says that Jesus came to fulfill the Old Covenant promises of the Messianic Kingdom, but that due to Jewish unbelief God withdrew the offer, and Jesus established the church (an unforeseen, un-predicted entity) instead. However, as we suggested in our last article, the OT is full of predictions of the Jewish rejection of Jesus– thus proving that the rejection of the kingdom was not an unforeseen thing – and that in spite of that unbelief and rebellion, God would fulfill His kingdom promises! There is not a hint of a clue, or a shadow of a suggestion that the kingdom would be postponed due to Israel’s rebellion and unbelief! Take a look at just one of the many OT prophecies of the Jewish rejection of Jesus and God’s promise to fulfill the promises in spite of that unbelief.
“Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”
Note that the text specifically and emphatically foretold the rejection of Messiah by the Jews. However, there is no “Ooops!” in the text! There is no suggestion of a gap between the offer of the kingdom and the actual fulfillment of the promises. But there is something here that demands our attention. It is the word “Yet.”
Religious Zionism Versus Psalms 2
The Psalmist foretells Israel’s rebellion and rejection of Messiah. YHVH responds by saying “Yet, I have set my king on my holy hill Zion!” This means that YHVH would perform His word, keep His promise in spite of that rebellion! What wonderful assurance! What awe inspiring promise! Man’s rebellion cannot thwart God’s divine intent. As Paul said, Let God be true, and every man a liar!” (Romans 3:1-4).
Psalms 2 actually demands that the Messiah would be enthroned over the objections of his subjects – in spite of their efforts to prevent it (cf. Luke 19:11f) not at the time when the subjects were hailing him as king! This is critical, for religious Zionism / Dispensationalism insists that the Jews will turn in belief to Jesus when he descends physically and visibly. In other words, the millennial view of things demands that Israel be humble, submissive, and full of faith and acceptance for Jesus to be king. Appeal is often made to Matthew 23:39 as proof of this, but, see my article on this for a refutation of that claim. Properly understood, Matthew 23:39 is actually a prediction of when the Lord was coming in judgment of Jerusalem! This is fatal to religious Zionism!
The vision of Psalms is that Israel would be in a state of denial, rebellion, and even violence. In spite of that condition the king would be enthroned, and as Psalms 110:1f says, he would, “rule in the midst of thine enemies.” But you see, according to the Millennialists, Israel would no longer be the enemy. They are supposedly converted! This is a violation of the inspired text. Notice another important text, Luke 10:6-11:
“And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’”
There is something very powerful here, that is commonly overlooked.
Religious Zionism and Jesus’ “Nevertheless”
Jesus sent his disciples out to preach the kingdom. Notice that he told those disciples that if they were accepted in the towns they traveled to, they were to say, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” So far, so good in regards to the kingdom offer. But wait, there is more.
Notice that Jesus also said that if their message of the kingdom was rejected, they were to go into the streets of that city and proclaim “Nevertheless, know that the kingdom has come near to you.” Do you catch the power of that “Nevertheless”? Jesus was saying that Jewish faith or Jewish rebellion would not change the fact that the kingdom had drawn near!
So, what have we seen? We have seen that the paradigm of religious Zionism is full of contradictions. On the one hand, they speak of God’ sovereign control of what happens, how it happens and when it happens. They tell us that prophecy is history is written in advance. They tell us that prophecy means certain things will definitely happen while other possibilities are eliminated.
On the other hand, they tell us that God sent His Son at what was supposed to be, and was predicted to be, and was said to be, just the right time, to do what He had foretold. However, the Jews rebelled and made it “impossible” for God to fulfill the prophecies. God did not control what happened, and He did not control when it happened. The so-called pre-written “history” was falsified, and God did not bring to pass what He said He would.
To cover up this glaring contradiction, the Millennialists do a two-step and claim that Jesus did not actually come to establish the kingdom after all. He came to die, and establish the period of grace and mercy we now live in. However, this is a huge contradiction because Jesus said he came to be king and he offered to establish the kingdom. Further, Jesus came to confirm the promises made to the Old Testament fathers (Romans 15:8), and that means he came to fulfill the promises made to Israel. The problem for the Millennialists is that they claim that the Old Testament never predicted, in any way whatsoever, the establishment of the current age of grace!
So, on the one hand the Millennialists say Jesus did come to establish the kingdom, but then they claim he did not come to establish the kingdom. They say he came to die and establish the church. But, if Jesus came to die and establish the church, he did so in fulfillment of Old Testament promises to Israel. If Jesus came to establish the church in fulfillment of Old Testament promises made to Israel, one of the most critical foundations of religious Zionism / Millennialism crumbles.
To cover up that embarrassment, the Millennialists then claim that the kingdom promise was, or is, a conditional promise, therefore Jewish rejection of that promise does not impugn God’s sovereignty. However, this flies in the face of scripture testimony that God’s kingdom promise was not conditional at all. Further, to suggest that the establishment of the kingdom was or is conditional demands that the possibility exists that it can be postponed again in the future. Of course, we have shown how the Millennialists contradict each other, because in their own writings, they say that the Second Coming is both conditional and unconditional. Just exactly how the same event can be both conditional and unconditional we are never told. And of course we will not be told, because it is not possible.
The self-contradictions in religious Zionism / Millennialism are super-abundant and they are serious. The wonderful thing is that more and more Bible students are awakening to those contradictions and abandoning that doctrine. May God hasten the day that more and more will see the Truth!
If the doctrine of Zionism and postponement of the kingdom elucidated in the first article is correct, should not just the opposite be true? If, “God determines what will happen and when it will happen,” this should mean it would have been impossible for the Jewish rejection to prevent the establishment of the kingdom. Zionism and Postponement are clearly not Biblical doctrines.
On this thought read Psalms 2. In that great prophecy, Jehovah not only knew of the rejection of His Son, He foretold it, and said He would laugh at man’s efforts to defeat Him. He said that in spite of man’s unbelief, “Yet have I sat my king on My holy hill Zion!” Key in on that word “Yet,” because it means that in spite of Jewish rebellion God would accomplish His purpose. God did not have to postpone the kingdom to fulfill His promises! That rebellion was part of God’s determination to enthrone His Messiah.
Very clearly, there is a huge disparity between the two tenets of millennialism. It is totally inconsistent on the one hand to say that God is in control and determines what will happen and when it will happen, and then to affirm that God determined when the kingdom would be established, but could not accomplish His task. Those are two polar opposite positions, 180 degrees opposite to one another! How does the millennialist respond to this problem? He comes up with another idea that contradicts his idea about Jesus’ mission!
You will notice in the first article that Ice says Jesus came to establish the kingdom, and that if the Jews would have accepted him, the kingdom would have been established. However, perhaps feeling the heat of a doctrine that impugns the wisdom, veracity, and reliability of God, Ice, and others, claim that, in reality, Jesus did not come to establish the kingdom after all!
Zionism and Jesus’ Original Mission
Ice says the reason the Jews rejected Jesus is because he did not conquer the Romans. As a result the Jews were disillusioned. They, “did not realize the prophecies related to his future kingdom would be fulfilled at his second coming, and not his first. He came instead to suffer for their sins, die on the cross, and rise again without which there would be no forgiveness of sins, or eternal life.” (Charting The End Times, 26). On page 30 of the same work he says, “The purpose of his first coming was to announce the period of grace and salvation we are living in, not the time of judgment that is yet to come.” Do you catch what he has done? Ice says that Jesus did not actually come to establish the kingdom at all! He actually came to die and announce the period of grace we are living in now.” What does that mean, though?
Well, to grasp the significance of this little bit of information, you have to understand that the Millennialists claim that not one Old Testament prophet ever foretold the establishment of the church. Spargimino (195) says the Old Testament prophets, “knew nothing about this phase” of God’s plan. They knew only of God’s kingdom. Ice says that the church “was an un-revealed mystery in the Old Testament.” So, per Ice, Jesus did come to establish the kingdom, but, on the other hand, he did not come to establish the kingdom! This is a blatant, inescapable and fatal self-contradiction!
Okay, with this in mind consider what Ice said about Jesus “coming to announce the period of grace and salvation we are living in,” and not to establish the kingdom. If Jesus came to announce the period of grace we are living in now (i.e. the church age), then Jesus came to establish the church! However, what did Jesus say in Matthew 4:17 and Mark 1:15? He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” and Thomas Ice says that this was the kingdom foretold by the Old Testament prophets!
If Jesus came to die to establish the period of grace we are living in now, and the time of grace we are living in now is the church age, then patently, Jesus came to establish the Church. However, Jesus came to offer the kingdom! Thus, in coming to establish the Church, and by offering the kingdom, Jesus was offering to establish the Church as the kingdom. But if this is true – and it patently is – then Zionism is falsified.
The religious Zionists / Millennialists cannot have it both ways. Jesus either did come to establish the Messianic kingdom or he did not. They try to say that he did, but, then again, he didn’t, not really. Which is it? If he came to die and establish the church, then he was wrong to offer the kingdom, and get Israel’s hopes up about something he did not intend to do for 2000+ years. On the other hand, if he came to establish an earthly kingdom, then patently, his rejection and death were a horrible failure and defeat. The establishment of the church was in fact, a sad reality after all. The contradiction here is very real and very substantive. It cannot be lightly dismissed. So, how does the millennialist respond? He offers yet another contradiction.
To explain why Jesus could not establish the kingdom—but hey, did he really come to establish it anyway??–in the first century, we are told that the Second Coming—when the kingdom was to be established—was, or at least is now, a conditional promise. Actually, Ice goes so far as to say that the Second Coming was supposed to happen in the first century but was postponed! So, the kingdom was supposed to be established in the first century, but it was conditional, dependent on Jewish acceptance, and since they rejected it, it was postponed,
However, on page 24 of Charting, these same men say that the Second Coming is an unconditional promise: “Before our Lord left the world, he gave an unconditional promise to his followers; ‘I will come again’” (John 14:3, my emphasis)! Thus, out of the same keyboards comes the doctrine that the Second Coming is unconditional, and that it is conditional!
So, which is it? There are only so many choices in regard to whether the kingdom and Second Coming were conditional or not. Let’s take a quick look at the choices and the implications.
Conditional then and now. The establishment of the kingdom at the parousia was or could have been, conditional when promised in the Old Testament prophets, and could still be conditional now. However, if the kingdom and parousia was and is conditional, then if the Jewish rejection in the first century delayed the kingdom then, it can most assuredly postpone it in the future!