The Glorious Future of Israel


There is a future for Israel. The OT points to a Messianic kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-7, Mic. 4:1; Isa. 2:2-3, 11:6-9) and temple on Mount Zion (Ezek. 40:48; Isa. 2:2; Hag. 2:7-9; Zech. 6:12-13; Joel 3:18). God made unconditional promises in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 13:14-17) that have never been fulfilled at any time in history. Even though Israel violated the Mosaic Covenant, Paul makes clear that it did not make void the Abrahamic (Gal 3:17). In a similar fashion, the Davidic covenant (2 Sam 7:11-16; cf. 1 Chron. 17) expanded God’s blessings to Israel and was irrevocable, stating that your throne will be established forever.” The New Covenant states explicitly that God will make it with “the house of Israel(Jer. 31:31-33).

In Acts 1:6 just before the ascension the disciples ask Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  Did Jesus say, “Sorry, Israel forfeited?” No, instead he says “It is not for you to know times or seasons…” This infers a future time when God will restore the Kingdom to Israel. In Luke 22:30, Jesus makes clear that national Israel will not only be present in the future kingdom but that they will still retain tribal identity. Also, the 144,000 are chosen from the 12 tribes (Rev. 7:4).  The church does not have tribes. If the church has replaced national Israel as “spiritual Israel” this is incoherent. In Romans 9-11, Paul’s purpose was to explain Israel’s future. The gentile church is clearly described as “grafted into” not replacing Israel. God could not have been any clearer than their election being “irrevocable” (Rom. 11:28-29). Robert Saucy argues that their restoration is a part of God’s continuing revelation to the world.

It would seem reasonable in the light of the prophetic Scriptures that we have noted concerning God’s revelation of himself to the nations through the judgment and restoration of Israel to believe that he has not completed that revelation through the realities of history and that he yet intends to display his redemptive power overtly in the restoration of his people as a people. [i]

In Isaiah 19:16-24 we read that Egypt will be attacked in the Day of the Lord and the result will be that Egypt will repent and convert to the worship of Yahweh. This is yet to occur. Clearly, Israel has a future in the spiritual leadership of the world (Zech. 8:23; cf. Zech. 14).

Israel’s literal national restoration is not captured any more explicitly than in Amos 9:11-15. Verses 11-12 speak of the political revival under the Davidic Messiah (cf. Ezek. 34). This is the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant and of the angel Gabriel’s promise to Mary that Jesus would sit on David’s throne – forever – which did not even exist during the first advent (Lk. 1:32-33). Verses 13-15 turn to the restoration of the fertility of the land and the return of the people. While this passage was a message of hope for the exiles, it is necessarily a case of the “already but not yet” paradigm at work in prophecy. God states categorically that they will return to “never again be uprooted” (v.15). While they were uprooted again in A.D. 70 by the Romans,  Isaiah foretold:

In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. (Isa. 11:11)

We live in a time of active prophetic fulfillment because this began in 1948, when national Israel was reestablished and Jews returned from far and wide to the land. This is ongoing and is reflected in the present day turmoil in the Middle East over Jerusalem (Zech. 12:2-3).

Israel’s glorious future is not captured any more beautifully than in Isaiah. This is revealed in poetry like “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Is 60:1) and underneath the text within its form.  A chiasm is a literary device in which a pattern such as A-B-C-B´-A´ is employed to give special weight to the middle ‘C’ portion. Chapters 60-62 are given prominence as the center of a chiasm made up of chapters 56–66.[ii] This is an example of the “already but not yet” paradigm as well. The church is the figurative “already” part of the kingdom, but the messianic age awaits literal fulfillment.  Although much still anticipates future fulfillment, God’s light has reached the world through the gospel and many nations have come to Jerusalem in response.  Jesus’ message has gone out to the world as the church evangelizes the nations. Still yet, verses 60:19-22 clearly forecast the Edenic New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:23:

“The sun shall be no more your light by day,

nor for brightness shall the moon give you light;

but the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your God will be your glory.

Your sun shall no more go down,

nor your moon withdraw itself;

for the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your days of mourning shall be ended.

Your people shall all be righteous;

they shall possess the land forever,

the branch of my planting,

the work of my hands,

that I might be glorified.

The least one shall become a clan,

and the smallest one a mighty nation;

I am the Lord; in its time I will hasten it.”

(Is 60:19-22)

Maranatha!


[i] Robert L. Saucy. “A Rationale for the Future of Israel.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, December 1985: 438.

[ii]John Oswalt, The NIV Application Commentary: Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2003), 641.

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.

Comments

  1. D says:

    I have to admit I am having a hard time understanding how you reached several of the conclusions outlined in this article…

    To start, I am a little perplexed as to why you said, “Even though Israel violated the Mosaic Covenant, Paul makes clear that it did not make void the Abrahamic (Gal 3:17)…”

    Because while it is true that Paul is saying that the Law (the Mosaic Covenant) did not nullify God’s promise to Abraham, (but instead only served to convict us of sin, and underscore our need for a sin sacrifice…), I would have to argue that Paul is NOT saying here that the Israelites didn’t violate the Abrahamic Covenant…

    Why? Because throughout the New Testament we are clearly shown what the Promise to Abraham was all about… Even in that same chapter of Galatians that you quoted from, Gal. 3, Paul is explaining this very thing to his readers, explaining how Abraham was justified by faith (and not by works), and that we who have faith are justified the exact same way, and it is those who have the faith of Abraham who are “children of the Promise”…

    verses 7-9 say: “Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[d] So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

    This is exactly the same point being explained in chapters 9-11 of Romans, such as where Paul says, “But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed…”

    Even Jesus says this same thing in John 8….

    “They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”
    Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.”

    It is this perspective that must be remembered when we read a passage like Acts 1:6, where the apostles are asking Jesus when the Kingdom will be restored to Israel… Are we really to believe that after all that the apostles had seen, after seeing their Lord crucified and raised from the dead, that they were at that moment still concerned about Israel regaining political independance…?

    It makes little sense to ignore the massive amounts of scripture which explain the nature of how all who believe are “grafted into” Israel, simply because we note that there are several places that mention the tribes of Israel… If we are “grafted in”, then we are IN! It makes little sense to talk about “replacing” anything, as though instead of being grafted into the tree, we were being raised up as some seperate tree altogether… Where ever we read about this topic in all of the N.T., we are presented with the same, simple conclusion…

    The true Israel IS AND ALWAYS WAS the “spiritual” Israel…

    Israel IS the Kingdom that is to come, not some Jewish portion of it… Look at the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation… The twelve gates are named after the twelve tribes, and the twelve foundations are named after the twelve apostles… Does that suggest some kind of jewish/gentile segregation to you? Do you see anywhere that would suggest that Jewish children of God will be distinguished from Gentile ones in the Everlasting KIngdom…? Yes, it is true that the Church is not divided up into tribes. If that had been considered necessary by God then I suppose the twelve Apostles would’ve started assigning new gentile believers to a particular tribe when they got baptized or something, but we never see any such thing… Obviously it was not considered important to get assigned to a “tribe” when in reality the only thing that matters is faith in Christ! Actually it makes a lot of sense as to why they would not do such a thing, when we remember how much the apostles had to battle against the Judaizers, those who were teaching that followers of Christ had to try and obey the entire Mosaic Law… It’s easy to see how the whole issue of “finding your tribe” would have only contributed to the confusion and false teaching…

    What significance is it really of knowing what “tribe” you are descended from anyhow? Does knowing one’s tribe save anyone? If simply being a physical descendant of Abraham has no bearing on one’s salvation, then how could a specific tribe be any more important? In a similar matter, the church was “birthed” out of the twelve apostles, but does each Christian attempt to trace back the roots of their faith to a particular Apostle…? No… That would be fruitless and totally confuse the issue of salvation by grace through faith…

    Anyways, I gues I just have a difficult time understanding it when people try and refute the so-called “replacement theology”, when the thing they are refuting is itself a misrepresentation of what is meant by “spiritual Israel”… I usually find it to be an exercise of debunking this idea of “first there was national Israel, but now there is spiritual Israel”…

    But to argue against such a thing is to miss the whole point. The point is that it was ALWAYS about “spiritual Israel”. People in the O.T. were saved by Faith, the same as they are now! The true children of Abraham were ALWAYS the ones who had the faith of Abraham, both before and after Christ came… “National Israel” existed for a time, (and again now) in order to serve the purposes of God, just as things like the physical temple served to explain Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, even while no one was ever justified through the sacrifices of bulls and goats on the altar…

    I’m not saying I don’t believe that there will come a day when the majority of Jews will recognize the true Messiah, whom they have formerly rejected, (and what a glorious day that will be…), but this still doesn’t mean we can disregard al that scripture says about the coming Kingdom, and try to reintroduce these nationalist concepts of Israel back into the equation, when the truth is that to do so is to contradict the very core of the Gospel itself….

    • Cris Putnam says:

      On Gal. 3:17, the law [the time-bound Mosaic covenant], introduced 430 years later [than the timeless Abrahamic covenant], does not set aside the [Abrahamic] covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through promise.… So the [Mosaic] law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

      I think it is both figurative and literal, but the OT is crystal clear about a future temple and messianic kingdom head quartered in Jerusalem. Of course there is a “spiritual Israel” but that doesn’t preclude the national’s future role. The Abrahamic covenant is actually unconditional but it refers to physical land for a physical line of descendants. The Jews belong in the land. Yes believers inherit promises but God still chose a specific nation for the land. His land, His chosen nation, for His revelatory purposes. Jesus in Luke 19:42 and Paul in Romans 11:25 explain that Israel is blinded nationally . Temporarily blinded not replaced. Jesus said that Jerusalem would be trodden down by the gentiles until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled in Luke 21:24b just prior to his second coming. “Until” is the operative term.

      I don’t see why you are reading salvation into it… I’m not arguing that national identity has salvific efficacy, I am simply talking about the fulfillment of OT prophecy. I think it’s both figurative in the church and literal nationally.

      Here’s Geisler on Genesis 15:7–18

      Several important facts emerge. First, the covenant is unconditional—Abraham was not even conscious when it was made, and God alone passed through the split sacrifice. This was a one-way arrangement, like the original pledge He made to Abraham (“I will bless you”), as opposed to the conditional Mosaic covenant—“If you obey my voice” (Ex. 19:5 tlb). The Lord’s passing through the parts alone followed the legal form of a grant covenant (such as a king would give to a subject, or a master to a servant), not the bilateral (two-way) form of a treaty.6 Paul stresses this point (Rom. 4:1ff.), as does the writer of Hebrews (6:13–18).

      Second, the dimensions of the land given to Abraham were spelled out, and they include all of modern Israel, the territory of the Palesinians, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and all the way to Northern Iraq. Even under Joshua’s conquests they did not occupy all this land, and at no time in Israel’s history did they ever occupy it all for any prolonged period of time, let alone “forever.” So to date, the Abrahamic covenant remains yet to be fulfilled.

      Third, the great New Testament text on justification appears here: Abraham was declared righteous on the basis of his faith alone. Paul used this in Romans to show that all who believe are Abraham’s spiritual seed (cf. 4:3–5; 13–16). This fulfills in part the promise to bless all nations through Abraham, for he believed the “gospel” when it was preached to him (Gal. 3:8), as do all others who follow in the footsteps of his faith (3:26).7

      Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four: Church, Last Things (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 502.

  2. Judy says:

    Thank you, Chris, for posting this article on the prophetic newsletter. I’m so very tired of reading arguments about
    the ‘church’ being ‘raptured’ soon. It amazes me how many pastors can’t read anymore; and people who merely sit on a pew 1 hour a week, are slothful enough to believe everything they say.

  3. D says:

    Ok, I’ve been meaning to respond but haven’t had the chance till today…

    I think it’s interesting to stop and think about several of the points that are actually brought up in that quote from Geisler, especially when we compare them to the idea that God’s promise to Abraham has some sort of “dichotomized” meaning, (i.e. one application that applies to his physical descendents and a totally seperate application for those who have the faith of Abraham…)

    Why am I “reading salvation into it”? Because that’s what it’s all about! That’s what it was ALWAYS about, from the very beginning… That’s what the nation of Israel was created to illustrate in the first place, and you sort of pointed to this yourself when you said, “Yes believers inherit promises but God still chose a specific nation for the land. His land, His chosen nation, for His revelatory purposes.”

    Yes, for “revelatory purposes”…. So what revelation is still waiting to be revealed? Which part of the gospel is still missing? What part of Christ’s death and resurrection is still waiting for completion? What purpose could the establishment (and/or expansion) of a physical land, a temporal kingdom for the physical descendants of Abraham, have in terms of bringing people (including unbelieving Jews) to faith in Christ? If we take an honest look at everything that happens in both the gospels, and the days of the Early Church in the N.T., we see that for so many people, their Jewish heritage was actually a stumbling block in coming to faith in Christ, rather than something that seemed to propel them towards Jesus… (in general that is…) Do we forget that it was this very issue that was at the heart of why the Jewish people had such a hard time accepting Jesus as a Messiah who had come to save us from the bondage to sin, instead of bondage to the Romans? They were more interested in the messiah being a military leader who would restore their physical kingdom, and earthly, political glory, than they were in a messiah who had come to die as a sacrifice for their sin…. Jesus said to Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world…”

    So why do we Christians continue to embrace this mindset which believes we need to affirm everything about their physical, Jewish ancestery, when Jesus HIMSELF told them (to their face…) that being physically descended from Abraham was of absolutely no value to them (because they did not believe in Him!)

    In that quote from Geisler, he says, “Even under Joshua’s conquests they did not occupy all this land, and at no time in Israel’s history did they ever occupy it all for any prolonged period of time, let alone “forever.” So to date, the Abrahamic covenant remains yet to be fulfilled.”

    So straight away, we are dealt with a serious problem in the idea that God promised the physical land to Abraham’s physical descendents (and not even all his physical descendents, just the ones descended through Isaac…), because there is no dispute that up to the present day, the boundaries described by God have never been attained… So did God not make good on His promises? Or does it instead mean that the literal/national application of the Promise to Abraham only applies to the Jewish people in that last chapter of history, in the Last Days? But again, Geisler adds, “let alone “forever.”

    Do we really believe that Jesus is going to return and establish a restored, physical Kingdom of Israel, full of citizens who do not put faith in Christ and who will not inherit eternal life, while simultaneously there will be a “spiritual Israel” consisting of those who DO have faith, and have been given resurrected bodies and live forever? That makes absolutely no sense…

    Why do the promises say “forever”? Because it is talking about a literal “forever”! Forever means eternity, and to live in God’s eternal Kingdom requires being literally, physically resurrected from death! Now, is there any way to experience eternal life apart from faith in Christ?

    The whole purpose of the promises to Abraham was about Salvation. Even the words spoken by God to Adam and Eve in Genesis after their sin are about the messiah, and salvation. I challenge you to find a single verse that even hints at there being a dichotomy between how the Abraham covenant applies differently to Jews than to Gentiles…

    It is ALL about faith! Always has been! Read through the book of Hebrews… In chapter 11 the writer is talking all these examples of faith in the O.T., (and how they are saved through faith, the same as we are…). Verses 13-16 says, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

    and then in vs. 39, 40 it says, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

    We can’t read this and forget that virtually all the people being listed as examples of true faith were also Hebrews! And yet it plainly says, “they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one“.

    It is the “heavenly country”, the New Jerusalem, that will be established and reign forever. It is that Kingdom that will reach the prophesied borders that Geisler mentions. And it is that Kingdom that will be inhabited by all those who have received eternal life from the One who paid the price for our sins, and redeemed us from eternal death and seperation from God… When God “repairs David’s fallen tent”, (Amos 9:11), do you really believe that this means God is going to simply rebuild a naitonal Israel, defined by physical lineage, instead of Faith? Do we forget what it says in the first part of Amos chapter 9? Do we forget why God was declaring Judgement on the Israelites in the first place? Because of their lack of faith! Do we not see God comparing the Israelites to the Cushites and Egyptians and Arameans, calling them a “sinful kingdom”? But who are the “remnant of Jacob”? They are those who believe. That is why is says “I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the LORD, who will do these things.

    You tell me, which interpretation, which application of God’s promise to Abraham is worth more… A promise to get to physically live in Palestine during one’s mortal lifetime, only to die without faith and meet an eternity seperated from God? Or to live one’s earthly life without an “inheritance”, with a place to call home, but having the assurance that an eternal, everlasting home and inheritance awaits us when we are raised on the Last Day?

    I believe the way Jesus put it was, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”

    • Cris Putnam says:

      It’s not a matter of “which promise is worth more” – God will keep all of his promises. It seems to me that this is an ongoing process not an event and a case of the “already but not yet” paradigm. The church is the “already” part in that the kingdom is here spiritually, yet it still awaits the return of the King for the “not yet”. This is what is known as “progressive dispensationalism”. It says, in a nutshell, that the fulfillment of a prophecy may be more than what is literally in the words, but not less. I do not think you can exegetically justify transforming promises concerning physical land and descendants into a purely spiritual context.

      Do we really believe that Jesus is going to return and establish a restored, physical Kingdom of Israel, full of citizens who do not put faith in Christ and who will not inherit eternal life, while simultaneously there will be a “spiritual Israel” consisting of those who DO have faith, and have been given resurrected bodies and live forever? That makes absolutely no sense…

      No one believes that, this is a strawman argument. They are temporarily blinded. Faith is not something you do, it is a gift of God. You don’t deserve salvation, your faith was a gift.

      “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; ” (Ephesians 2:8, NAS)

      The OT is clearly speaking of physical realities as well as spiritual. Amos 9 also speaks of the fertility of the land and the return of the people. It’s just not coherent to spiritualize away the clear meaning of the text.

      ““I will also plant them on their land, And they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them,” Says the LORD your God. ” (Amos 9:15, NAS)

      God will restore the nation of Israel to her own land, never again to be uprooted and exiled from the land He has given them (cf. Gen. 13:14-15; 17:7-8; Deut. 30:1-5; 2 Sam. 7:10; Jer. 30:10-11; Joel 3:17-21; Micah 4:4-7). He says he will certainly do these things (Amos 9:12). The land will be inhabited by Israel (cf. Ezek. 37:25; Joel 3:20; Zech. 14:11). It’s not only the church here – the church was never uprooted from her land – , that is just not possible if you take God at his word. The thing is, I agree with some of what you argue, but it does not cancel out God’s literal promises in the prophets – its both. If you have access to an academic journal source I would suggest reading the article footnoted “A Rationale for the Future of Israel.”

      You asked “Yes, for “revelatory purposes”…. So what revelation is still waiting to be revealed?”

      Obviously most the world does not believe yet. In fact, atheism seems to be on the rise. Obviously God is not done in revealing himself!

      “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” (Romans 11:25)

      UNTIL is the operative word. Again “until”

      “They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. ” (Luke 21:24)

  4. D says:

    Perhaps I am not articulating myself very well… I never intended to convey that I was trying to “spiritualize” the promises regarding the physical land or the physical city of Jerusalem…

    If anything, I am trying to articulate the exact inverse…

    If anything, I am trying to say that the perspective you are outlining (the one which I heard most of my life), does not take literally enough the verses which speak of our being “grafted in” (through belief in Christ) to the nation of Israel, and thus being co-inheritants of ALL the promises made to Abraham…

    So I guess that’s what’s so strange to me… How many times does is say in the New Testament that there is now no longer any difference between Jew and Gentile? How many times? (Romans 3!) We are all saved by grace through faith (and yes, I know faith is itself a gift from God), and there is only going to be ONE messianic Kingdom, is there not?

    So when you try and make points about how the church does not have tribes, etc., in order to show that God is speaking solely about the Jewish people (the physical descendants of Abraham), then I would have to say that it is you who are not taking certain scriptures literally enough… You are “spiritualizing” being “grafted in”, are you not? This is why I believe the entire concept of “replacement theology” is itself a “straw man” argument, because it is not even an accurate description of what being “grafted in” really means…

    Romans 11 (which you have already referenced) tells us plainly that we are not to “boast against the branches”, because even though we may see that we have been grafted in, while the unbelieving branches have been broken off, we have to always remember that both the natural and the “wild” branches are equally supported by the Root! We can be broken off due to unbelief just the same! So there is really no difference in the end, because we are all equally and totally dependant on the Root to sustain us. Without the root, we all die the same death…

    This is why I guess do not understand the overall point you are making…

    You talk about the “glorious future of Israel”, and the coming Messianic Kingdom, and so on, (which I would totally say “Amen” to…) but then you continue on and describe a “future glory of Israel” that is seperate and distinct from the Body of Christ… This is what makes no sense to me. Do you really think that Christ is going to return, and build upon the government structures that were formed in 1948? (I though Jesus was coming back to judge the world and establish His everlasting Kingdom on earth…) I fully agree with you that the Bible talks about the Jews (at least a big portion of them) coming back to a belief in Christ in the Last Day(s), but do we think that God is going to accomplish this by having Christ return to earth in order to boot out all those dirty Palestinians who are squatting on their God-given land? I guess I just still don’t understand how this idea of the “both/and” interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant is supposed to play itself out in a tangible way… I guess it just feels like this view of eschatology employs a great deal of jumping back and forth between talking about the “messianic kingdom”, and the temporal, earthly kingdom of Israel. It just doesn’t seem to be thought through very well… Maybe you could help me understand what is actually being envisioned by this “both/and” perspective in terms of what actually is supposed to happen when, and where, etc… I don’t understand how this perspective essentially holds two seperate concepts of the “Messianic Kingdom” simultaneously… When I read the Bible, I only see it talking about one messiah, who will rule over a single messianic Kingdom…

    You list all of those O.T. prophecies regarding Israel, and yet this really confuses me, because you do so as though we had no clue as to what the entire New Testament has to say about all such prophecies. The Kingdom which I look forward to, the Eternity with God that I put my hope in, is the very one being described in all those verses!

    Look at Ezekiel 37:25, (which you listed)… “They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.” Who will be their “prince forever”? We know that we are not talking about the literal king David here, but the One whom king David was a “type and shadow” for… I believe in this verse it IS talking about the the literal land, but it is undeniably talking about Christ’s Kingdom too! That is because they are one and the same

    From Ezekiel 37: ‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.”

    Now when we look at Revelation 21 and 22…

    “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

    He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

    He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (verses 1-7)

    “….I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (verses22-27)

    Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever…” (ch. 22:1-5)

    This is the “glorious future of Israel”… It is the glorious future of all who put their faith in Christ, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile… It is completely at odds with the idea that only the Jews are going to inherit the physical land of Israel, because that is where Christ’s eternal Kingdom will be! Do you really think that only Jewish believers in Christ will be allowed to live in the New Jerusalem? Do you believe that their physical lineage will somehow augment their faith in such a way as to give them closer access to the throne of God? Do you seriously believe that resurrected Jewish Christians will have special rights to certain portions of real estate in the New Heaven and New Earth? Such an idea totally contradicts the very heart of the gospel itself…. Personally, i do not believe that after we have been redeemed, and resurrected, and brought into the eternal Kingdom of the Lamb, that we will even continue having much of a concept of “owning” much of anything, let alone land, because it is all God’s, and we will all live with God forever… What could compare to that? Do we really think we’ll be drawing up lines on a map and saying “this portion is mine, that’s yours…”, when we have the privelage and joy of walking and talking with our Creator? Do you really think we would care about who “owns” which portion of the Great City? Do we expect the citizens of the Eternal Kingdom to do things like carve up harvesting rights to the tree of life, which grow on each side of the river of life? Do you think redeemed people are going to buy and trade those twelve fruits on some kind of commodities market!? Do you really imagine someone like Paul (who is undeniably Jewish…) is going to be walking around the New Jerusalem saying things like, “Hey, you’re a gentile aren’t you? You’re not allowed in this area, this is a Jewish-only section…”??? I genuinely do not believe so! It is a house that God Himself has prepared for those who love him, and it is an inheritance that is totally from Him, given to Jew and Gentile alike based on His great mercy and love… No one will have any reason to think of “owning” anything, because we will all have everything we could ever need, and much, much more… We will be face-to-face with God Himself…

    So in the end, I am not “spiritualizing” anything… I am actually saying that we need to stop “spiritualizing” our own inheritance as “gentile” believers, as those who have been “grafted in” to Israel, to the promises made to Abraham, and to the everlasting Covenant made between God and His people. It is not an issue of “replacing” Israel, but rather of coming to a full understanding of what “Israel” has been about from the very beginning…

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Again I really don’t have a problem with what you say about the church – still yet you haven’t really explained the passages that refer to 12 tribes. The distinction between national Israel and the church is still there because God made promises to a literal nation that he intends to fulfill. It seems clear enough to me that they will be incorporated into the church when the recognize Christ and he will rule from Jerusalem. I’m still a bit unclear as to your position.

      Are you amillennial?

  5. D says:

    Well, I have often wondered about what exactly is meant by Revelation 7:1-8, whether it is possibily figurative (representing something about the completeness of the salvation of Israel, as the number 12 seems to often represent the concept of completion or fullness…), or just totally literal. I must say I have no objection to a purely literal interpretation (since that’s usually the best way to interpret, unless we are told specifically that a passage is figurative…), because overall I don’t see how there being exactly 12,000 saved from every tribe would negate any of the points I made above…

    Honestly, I don’t totally know exactly what I think about the millennium, although Revelation 20 clearly speaks of a thousand year period… (To be honest though I’ve never really understand why Satan would be imprisoned after the Antichrist and everything, only to be released again, before being thrown in the lake of fire….)

    But regardless, even if we just accept a literal millennium, where do we see a special role being assigned to Christians of Jewish descent? Accepting 12,000 saved from every tribe is one thing, but where does it speak of a “national Israel” existing as a seperate portion of the millennial Kingdom? All it says is:

    I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”

    I see nothing which would even suggest a Jew/Gentile segregation during the millennial period (ch. 20), nor during the everlasting Kingdom which follows, marked by the arrival of the new Heavenly Jerusalem (ch.21,22).

    In my opinion, (and this is just an opinion now…), I am more inclined to believe that the national restoration of Israel in 1948, and all the subsequent “miraculous” events (military victories, etc.) which have followed over the years which have preserved and expanded Israel’s national borders, are actually going to play a significant role in the Great Deception, and the inaugeration of the leadership of the Anti-christ…. People love to talk about how the re-establishment of Israel is this huge example of God fulfilling prophecy and so on, and while I believe that of course God is allowing it to happen, and it is certainly part of how God is orchestrating all of history to fulfill all His prophecies, I honestly don’t see it as something that God is Himself “doing”, in the same manner that God led the Israelites into the Promised Land the first time. It looks way more to me like an example of people working totally in the flesh… If God really wanted the Jewish people (saved or unsaved) to occupy the Land tomorrow, they wouldn’t need tanks or guns or nukes. They wouldn’t need to try and take it back piece by piece, one little settlement at a time. God would give it to them through His own power… (like He did in the O.T…)

    I believe that the root of much of our evangelical misunderstanding regarding Israel today relates very closely to our broader misunderstanding about Israel in the Old Testament… We have romanticized so many things about ancient Israel, the kingdoms of David & Solomon, etc., that we more or less completely forget that in the end, “national Israel” stands as a testament to the waywardness of the heart of man, and the insufficiency of religious or political institutions when compared to simple faith… We somehow forget about all the wickedness and idolatry that happened time and time again. We forget that God led them into captivity because of their sin… We forget that even though there have been many Israelites who did have the privelage of living in the physical land of Israel during their lifetimes (even if it wasn’t occupying the full prophecied boundaries), for so many of them, that privelage was ultimately worthless, because in the end they still rejected the true God and died in their sins…

    Everything God did in regards to creating the nation of Israel was to point to Christ, period!

    God instructed the Israelites on how to build the temple and conduct the sacrifices, but if you seperate those things from the meaning they have regarding Christ’s death and atonement, do those things still have some sort of “residual value”? NO! They become absolutely worthless…

    God commanded Abraham and his descendants to be circumcised, but if we seperate that custom from the spiritual meaning behind it (the circumcision of the heart…), does circumcision still retain some level of benefit? NO….

    God gave them the Law, and the priesthood, and the festival days, and the very words of God Himself! But if any of those things are seperated from belief in the true messiah, Jesus Christ, they all become worthless, or worse, they become the objects of worship themselves, and become a trap to those who would put their faith in their own customs, or their own physical lineage, instead of God…

    So whether we are talking about a millennial period, or the eternal kingdom after that, we can see that the need for “types and shadows of things to come” will no longer be necessary, because the “things to come” will have come! Jesus will rule from His throne, and we will see Him face to face. His law will be written on our hearts, and no one will say, “Know the Lord” because we will all know Him… There will be no temple… No sacrifiices… (no church buildings either!) There will only be God and His people, (“the apple of His eye”), the Redeemed…

    As I write this I find myself wondering if it is this issue of the millenium which takes you on a different track than the one I am trying to describe here… Do you see the millenium as being somehow different? Do you see the Jewish people having some kind of special role during the millennial period? (and where do you find this in scripture, since Rev. 7 doesn’t say anything beyond 144,000 Jewish people being saved…?)

    I must say I do not understand why make assertions like, “The distinction between national Israel and the church is still there because God made promises to a literal nation that he intends to fulfill“, because as I have already tried to explain, I believe our being “grafted in” means being grafted into that “literal nation”. So of course God intends to fulfill his promises, the only question is what did those promises really mean from the beginning? When God was talking to Abraham, was he really talking about his physical descendants? I believe the answer we get from the New Testament is a resounding “No”… (and the fact that only one his physical sons, Isaac, went on to receive that promise, proves this from that very first generation!) If being an “Israelite” is defined by being a physical descendant of Abraham, then everyone descended from Ishmaal (and also Esau) would be Israelites too…

    Jesus told a bunch of Israelites, the Pharisees, that they were not true Israelites, because they did not believe in HIM! (John 8:39-47)

    Am I saying that God has “shut the door” on the Jewish people? Of course not, no way! But their “privelage”, their special role, is spelled out by Paul, who explains that they have been “entrusted with the very words of God”, (Romans 3, Romans 9:4,5). They were given the Law and the Prophets, which is the “platform” that was prepared ahead of time in order to explain the purpose and power of the messiah when He would come. That is no small privelage.

    But their heritage is now also our heritage. Their father Abraham is our “father” too, because he is called the father of all who have Faith in God… That’s why God selected Abraham to be the starting point of it all in the first place, because of Abraham’s faith! It was his faith, put into action, that pleased God, not his genetic background, or cultural heritage… Christ’s Kingdom is defined by faith, always was, always will be…

    So, in short, there is no “distinction between national Israel and the church”. There cannot be. If anyone is truly a part of the “church”, then they have been grafted into Israel, they are a child of the Promise, a true descendant of Abraham, part of the “literal nation of Israel”… They will live in the literal, physical land, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their neighbors and brothers…

    Do you see how we cannot create this false dichotomy between a “spiritual” interpretation of the Promise and physical one? The New Testament knows no such distinction… Those who are Israel are Israel, those who are not, are not…

    It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring…” (Romans 9:6-8)

  6. Cris Putnam says:

    “If God really wanted the Jewish people (saved or unsaved) to occupy the Land tomorrow, they wouldn’t need tanks or guns or nukes. ”

    Joshua and David still had to fight battles. The Magog invasion describes God defending the nation against impossible odds as an example to the world so they will believe in Him. This is future and concerns the actual nation for Gods revelatory purposes.

    Its not a false dichotomy it is a biblical one. If you read all of Paul’s argument in Rom 9,10, 11 it is crystal clear that the Nation – the blood decedents of Israel still have a distinctive future. They are still the special people of God. Having declared that Israel’s rejection has meant the reconciliation of the world, Paul asks, “What will their [Israel’s] acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11:15). The future is bright: “And so all Israel will be saved” (v. 26). There is a special future coming for national Israel, however, through large-scale conversion to Christ and entry into the church. The New Jerusalem is after the millennium, I think that special role is during that millennium time. You keep skipping to the end which is why you aren’t seeing the place where they fit in. It seems to me that it is a process.

  7. D says:

    Okay, well you are still not explaining how/why Israel has this special role during the Millenium… In Revelation it says that those who are killed for not taking the Mark of the Beast will be raised first and reign with Christ for a thousand years.(ch.20 vs. 4-6) These people are from every tribe and nation… If you say that Israel’s “special future” is defined by a “large-scale conversion to Christ and entry into the church”, then in the end, I don’t see how you are really arguing something different from what I am talking about! Because in such a statement, you are bringing it back around to the issue of Salvation, and not just talking about the nation of “Israel” as an unsaved, earthly political entity… Such a statement means you’re no longer talking about people who are physically descended from Abraham but do not believe in Christ… So, in your own words, you’re actually not presenting a defense of Jewish people who are simply “chosen” because of their physical ancestry… They are only “children of the Promise” if they also have faith in Christ, the same as us!

    So you keep dividing up the Jewish believers from the gentile believers, as though they are two seperate entities, two different “Bodies” of Christ, even though the scriptures you cite never do this….

    Also, what do we “clearly see” in Revelation 20? Again, you are inserting this assumption that it is talking about the Jewish people when it says, “the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. (vs. 9) But yet again that is a false assumption, because when we read vs. 4 it is clearly talking about the “Tribulation saints” (some of whom probably are Jewish, but not all….)

    And yes, I know the Israelites had to fight to conquer the Promised Land. They were told to do this by God Himself! But the question is, is God telling the Jewish people to do this again today? That is the massive assumption at the middle of this whole thing, and at the heart of “Christian Zionism”… We forget that God told the Israelites to build the first Temple too, but is that what He is calling for today? Does God want us to build a third temple, even though Christ already fulfilled the entire purpose of the temple and the sacrifices? Did God tell any of the Jewish Christians in the first century to fight the Romans and reoccupy the Land? If that is really God’s will, then weren’t all the Apostles being disobediant to God? Or did they somehow forfeit their “land rights” when they became Christians? Don’t you think it’s just a bit odd that not ONE of the authors of the NT (who were ALL Jewish…) were at all concerned with restoring a political, earthly Israel, but instead concerned about the salvation of souls!?

    God’s plans for Israel was ALWAYS about Christ and the cross, and providing the door to His eternal Kingdom! Do you think Jesus’ death was just some kind of “plan B” after the Israelites failed to occupy the Promised Land and live in obediance to God? Don’t we understand that God KNEW that would happen? Don’t we realize that God was never interested in setting aside a certain piece of dirt, just so a specific ethnic group could live their earthly lives there? And now, we have millions of Christians who are so confused about this, who are actually supporting war and violence against Palestinians (in total contradiction of the Gospel itself) simply because they still have this confused concept about Israel (as defined ethnically) being God’s “chosen people”….

    They were “chosen” as the people through whom the Savior of the World would come….

    Should we want to see the Jewish people come to faith in Christ! Absolutely, I pray that such a day comes soon! But does that mean we should simultaneously support a Jewish person’s “God-given right” to kill and remove anyone who is on “their land”??? That doesn’t even make any sense! How could we preach the gospel to someone in that situation? If we were actually standing there, let’s say in some borderline settlement in Israel, standing in front of an Israeli soldier with a machine gun on the one side, and a Palestinian with a gun on the other side, how do you preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to both of them, preaching the forgiveness of sins through the cross, preaching that we are ALL sinners in need of a Saviour, preaching that God loves them and sent His Son to die for them… and then a second later turn to the Israeli soldier and say, “Okay, go ahead and shoot him now, because he’s violating your God-given right to have this land…”

    Do we really imagine that Jesus Himself affirms such a schizophrenic position, Jesus, the One who told the parable about the “good Samaritan”? (“but Samaritans are not our neighbors! They’re not Jews!!!”) But the Jews were not privelaged because they were promised a parcel of Land, they were privelaged because the SON of GOD came to Earth, right in front of their faces, just as God said He would!

    Israelis have no more “rights” to kill people for that land than we do, because it has actually been promised TO US (the entire Body of Christ)!!! Where do you think the “City He loves” is???

    You just keep repeating the idea that “blood decedents of Israel still have a distinctive future”, but you are not showing me any scriptures to back this up (other than the reference to Revelation where it lists the twelve tribes), while I have showed you many scriptures which say there is now no difference between Jews and Gentiles in the eyes of God… (Romans 3:9, Romans 3:22, Romans 10:12, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11, Ephesians 2:11-13)

    Either you and I have been made “citizens of Israel”, or we have not. Either we are “heirs of the Promise” through faith in Christ, or we are not. Either we have been “grafted in”, or we have not. There are not two “Israels”, there is only one. There are not two “Bodies” of Christ, there is only one. There is now a “Spirit for the Jews” and a “Spirit for the Gentiles”, there is only one Holy Spirit. There is only one promised Land. There is only one Holy City. There is only one Chosen people.

    There is only one messiah, one truth, one life, one God…

  8. Cris Putnam says:

    For explicit unconditional promises to the blood descendants of David, read this:

    “I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him, so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not outwit him; the wicked shall not humble him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him. I will establish his offspring forever and his throne as the days of the heavens. If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules, if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah ” (Ps 89:20–37)

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