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What does the Bible predict will happen in the future? How will God fulfill His promises to His people? Are the promises that God made to Abraham still being fulfilled? Does Israel Have a special place in the coming of Christ? Will the temple be rebuilt and all Israel be saved?
The most popular religious teaching concerning these questions is given by the premillenial dispensationalists.
- They teach that Jesus is returning to rule over a physical kingdom on earth for 1000 years
- Israel will restored as a nation and return to God corporately through a national conversion to Christ.
- The temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt, along with the worship of the Temple.
I. Israel in the Divine plan: The Biblical teaching concerning the place of the nation of Israel includes at least four elements.
A. Selection: Almost two thousand years before the birth of Christ, Jehovah selected Abraham to be the founder of a new nation. It was declared that through him a seed would come by whom all peoples of the earth would be blessed. As we studied this morning, God fulfilled the promises of Genesis 12:1-3.
1. The divine selection took place over several centuries. Abraham’s offspring were delivered from an era of bondage in Egypt. They were given a special law and system of worship designed to separate them from the other nations of the world
- Exodus 19:5-6 – 5 now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
2. God’s selection of Abraham, and thus Israel, was not due to any holy character, or just for their benefit, but as a means whereby He would bring Christ, as the coming Messiah of the Jews, and the Savior of the world. Galatians 3:24-25 – 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
B. Testing: For some fifteen hundred years the Lord God attempted to cultivate the nation of Israel to be a people that reflected His character and purpose. This was in preparation for the coming of Christ. But the nation grossly violated the law, frequently went after “strange gods,” and they viciously persecuted God’s prophets.
- Jeremiah 32:23 – 23 And they came in and took possession of it, but they have not obeyed Your voice or walked in Your law. They have done nothing of all that You commanded them to do; therefore You have caused all this calamity to come upon them.
- Jesus enunciates the failure of Israel to meet the conditions of God’s covenant with them in Luke 13:34 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!
C. Rejection: The rebellion of the nation consummated with the murder of Jesus Christ. God rejected the Hebrew people, repudiated their status as His nation and determined to scatter them as dust.
1. Israel’s unique status with God was conditional: Deuteronomy 28:1 – Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. Because Israel violated the covenant, God rejected them as His people.
2. Jesus foretold this Divine judgment in several of his later parables, including The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers: Matt 21:33-44 – 33 “Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 34 Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. 35 And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. 37 Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves,’This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” 41 They said to Him,”He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”
a. This parable came to fulfillment when the Roman armies came against Palestine in A.D. 70, and Judaism was destroyed. Jeremiah had also predicted this ultimate and irrecoverable rejection by God. Jeremiah 19:11 – 11 and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts:”Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot be made whole again; The Jewish “vessel” was smashed, and it cannot be put back together.
b. According to Jewish historian, Josephus, some 1.1 million Hebrews were slaughtered, and thousands were taken into slavery. All Jewish records were lost in that holocaust. Today, there is not a single Jew who knows his tribal ancestry (McClintock and Strong 1969, 771). The physical nation of Israel is dead. The “Jews” that make up the State of Israel today (less than twenty-five percent of the world Jewish population) cannot legitimately be called a “God’s covenant nation.”
c. With the coming of Christ, there was also an end to the law of Moses, and thus the separateness of Israel as God’s covenant people. Ephesians 2:14-16 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
d. The writer of Hebrews points out that the law of Moses was inherently weak in several ways and that God had promised a new covenant based upon better promises. The law was designed to sanctify Israel as God’s elect, His special people. But the law was never designed to be the true avenue of sanctification. Heb 10:9-10 – He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. The blood of Jesus offered on Calvary is the only avenue through which God has sanctified His people forever.
- 1 Peter 1:18-21 – 8 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
D. Replacement: As a consequence of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, God has replaced physical Israel with a new nation, spiritual Israel. This spiritual Israel has been sanctified by the blood of Jesus. Today, the “Jew” is not one who is so physically, but one who is so inwardly, i.e., spiritually.
- Romans 2:28-29 –28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
1. Those who submit to the gospel plan of redemption—whether Jew or Gentile become children of God, and thus are constituted as the true “seed of Abraham”
- Gal 3:7-9 – Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
- Galatians 3:26-29 – 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
- 1 Peter 2:9 – 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
II. Will All Israel be Saved? Will there be a national conversion of Israel and the reestablishment of a national Jewish State?
A. Although, in fulfillment of the promises to Abraham, physical Israel WAS a special people to God, with the coming of the Gospel, there was no intrinsic value in being a physical descendant of Abraham. John the Baptizer: Matthew 3:8-10 – 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves,’ We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 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.
1. John’s words are focused on the coming wrath of God (v. 7) which was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in 70 A.D. The point to be seen is this: When a tree is cut down, there is hope that it will sprout again, provided its stump or roots remain (Isaiah 11:1 – 11 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.) But when the axe is laid at the root, where is the hope of restoration? There simply is none!
- In the parable of the barren fig tree of Matthew 21 Jesus declared “Let there be no fruit from thee henceforth for ever” (Matthew 21:19). Later in that same chapter Jesus announced to the Jews “The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (21:43).
2. In several of Jesus’ later parables He depicts Israel as those who reject 1)the royal invitation to the marriage,( Matt. 22:1-8) ; 2) the reign of the Nobleman over his household (Luke 19:14) ; 3) or the invitation to a great supper (Luke 14). In each of these parables the punishment for such rejection is swift and final.
- Luke 14:24 – 24 For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.'” This refers, of course, to the Jewish majority that refused the gospel (a remnant accepted the invitation—cf. Romans 11:5). Why did not the Lord give some clue that eventually there would be a massive Jewish acceptance of his invitation?
B . Although Israel, as a nation, lost its land and its status as a favored nation in the eyes of God, the spiritual blessing of salvation remained. This was always the primary goal of the promises to Abraham. Romans 10:12-15: For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
1. Paul goes on to say that God has not cast off His people, but rather provided “a remnant, according to the election (choosing) of grace” (11:5). After counseling the Gentiles to not be haughty about their position in the kingdom, he states that Jew can be “grafted back” into the tree if they do not continue in unbelief. (11:23)
- Rom 11:26-27 – And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”
- The context provides the correct meaning of “so all Israel shall be saved.” The word “so” is an adverb of manner, meaning, “in this way.” Hence, it is in this way (the way of obeying Christ) that all Israel (who are saved) shall be saved. This passage does not affirm a nation-wide conversion of the people of Israel, but the true and only hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. Paul anguished over his brethren in the flesh: In the previous chapter in Romans – Rom 9:1-5 – I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. Rom 9:33 – Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. Why did not Paul mention here that Israel would be saved and give us the meaning of the O.T. restoration prophecies? Paul’s anguish is inexplicable if Israel was to be converted as a nation in some future time. Israel’s blessing was spiritual, not physical. Israel’s hope was in Christi alone, and not is a physical connection with Abraham or the Law of Moses.
Conclusion: God has kept his promises to Abraham. It is evidence that He will keep His promises to us. Will you trust God to fulfill His promises? Will you have faith like Abraham? Romans 1:16 – 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Gal 3:26-29 – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.