Responding to the Critics – Exposing the Error of Howard Denham #2
This is the second installment in our Responding to the Critics series. We are addressing some (mostly false) claims of Howard Denham, one of the most caustic “preachers” that one can imagine. He imagines himself to be the final word on any theological question and is an out-spoken critic of Covenant Eschatology. He recently made some false charges against me, and about the Biblical doctrine of the restoration of Israel. Be sure to read the first installment of this series.
It is critical to see that God’s original covenant with Israel, the Law of Moses given at Sinai, was the first “marriage covenant.” Jeremiah 31:29-31 and other texts confirm this. Thus, the promise of the New Covenant, as in Hosea 2:18, was the promise of remarriage, a New Marriage Covenant.
(I cannot discuss it except in passing, but, when one ignores – as Denham does – the marital motif in relationship to the New Covenant, in discussions of Colossians 2:14-16, they are overlooking a key to a proper understanding of that text. Nothing conveyed the idea of marriage to the ancient Jews more than the idea of covenant. Thus, no discussion of the passing of the Law of Moses can properly ignore the fact that the passing of the Law was to be the de facto divorcement of Judah, the “adulterous generation”! That did not take place at the cross, but at the destruction of Babylon, i.e. Jerusalem, the harlot wife in Revelation. See my book, Who Is This Babylon? for a discussion of this critical Bible doctrine.
Now, was this promise in Hosea to restore and remarry Israel nationalistically, i.e. to restore her as a geo-political theocracy? No! Hosea 1 and Amos 9 make this abundantly clear. God was going to destroy the “kingdom” but not the family of David, and He would transform that Old Covenant kingdom into the New Covenant kingdom. I have never suggested that God would restore the nationalistic, geo-political nation of Israel, in spite of Denham’s claims. Again, God promised to destroy that Old Covenant form of the nation and transform Israel into a New Covenant people. The remarriage would be through the New Covenant, and Israel, the righteous remnant of Israel after the flesh, would be transformed into the spiritual body of Christ. But, the fact that YHVH promised to transform Israel does not negate the underlying irrefutable fact that it was Israel after the flesh that was to receive the fulfillment of those promises.
After all, Paul raised the question: “Has God cast of His people whom He foreknew? God forbid!” (Romans 11:1-2– Please take note that Denham believes God had in fact cast off Israel at the time Paul wrote! This fact alone falsifies Denham’s eschatology!). Paul’s answer to that, however, was, “No, God had not cast off Israel, and that was Israel after the flesh, because he, Paul, was a Benjamite, part of the righteous remnant in whom God was fulfilling those OT promises. Denham says God had already cast off Israel when Paul wrote; Paul said God had not cast off Israel when he wrote. Denham is therefore wrong, and we have Answered the Critics!
Now, was Paul a “spiritual Jew”? Of course, in that he was circumcised in the heart (Romans 2:28f). But, he was also most assuredly an Israelite after the flesh, because he appealed to the fact that he was a Benjamite and a member of the righteous remnant to whom and in whom God’s Old Covenant promises were being fulfilled: “Israel has not obtained that which he sought, but the elect has obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Romans 11:7). Now, the last time I looked, there is no “Benjamite” tribe, or any other tribes in the body of Christ! Perhaps Mr. Denham needs to tell us what tribe he is a member of. Perhaps it is Dan!! (See my seven lesson audio series on Romans 11:7 for a fuller discussion of this great passage).
So, I affirm, with Scripture, that the promise of the Wedding was a promise made to Old Covenant Israel – Israel after the flesh – and had to be fulfilled to Israel after the flesh. Paul made it indisputably clear in Romans 11:25-29 that God was going to be faithful to His promise made to Israel in spite of her then present rebellion. In other words, the Israel that had yet to be saved was the Israel that was, when Paul wrote, “The enemy of the cross”- which effectively eliminates them from being the church, i.e. spiritual Israel!! In spite of that then present rebellion on the part of the majority, the Lord would fulfill His promises to “all Israel” which is referent to the body of the righteous remnant. (See Romans 9:28).
So, I do teach that God was faithful to His promise to remarry Old Covenant Israel, Israel after the flesh. But, it was not a nationalistic restoration. It was not the restoration of the Old Covenant kingdom as Denham falsely claims that I have to believe. The remarriage was between YHVH and the righteous remnant of Old Covenant Israel after the flesh as the Old Covenant promises themselves foretold. As to the timing of that remarriage, I will address that later, so stay tuned for that as we continue our series on Responding to the Critics.