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Does Israel Have A Future In God’S Purpose

Discussion in 'Bible Study Forum' started by Elijah returns, Aug 5, 2010.

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    DOES ISRAEL HAVE A FUTURE IN GOD’S PURPOSE? EARLY WTS TEACHING


    Throughout the entire time of the leadership of C.T. Russell and a part of the presidency of J.F. Rutherford the following was the view of the WTS:

    We find statements by both prophets and apostles which clearly indicate that in the times of restitution, Natural Israel as a nation will be the first among the nations to come into harmony with the new order of things; that the earthly Jerusalem will be rebuilt upon her own heaps, and that their polity will be restored as in the beginning under princes or judges (Isa. 1:26; Psa. 45:16; Jer. 30:18). The Divine Plan of the Ages, p. 294.

    Yet WTS publications from 1946 express a "completely opposite" view concerning Israel.

    "REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY"

    http://hubpages.com/hub/Destruction-of-Jerusalem-Still-Future

    This is the teaching that Israel is permanently excluded from any future role in God’s purpose and that the many unfulfilled prophecies pertaining to natural Israel are now to be applied to the Christian Congregation.

    This teaching is also known as "supercessionism" and was first taught in the second century by Origen. It was further developed by Augustine in conjunction with his allegorical interpretation of prophecy, all of which became early orthodox Catholic teaching concerning Israel.


    BASIS FOR CURRENT "WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY" TEACHING

    “Your house is abandoned to you. For I say to you, you will by no means see me from henceforth until you say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name!’”

    (Matt. 23:38, 39).

    The WTS understands Jesus’ statement as an irrevocable divorce decree, indicating that God has no further interest in literal Israel. However, the use of the word “until” by Jesus left the door open for Israel as a whole to repent. So this is not an irrevocable divorce decree, but rather it is a conditional statement. It is parallel to Jeremiah 3:8 where God gives Israel a certificate of divorce, but in verse 12 God appeals to her: “Do return, O renegade Israel...for I am loyal...I shall not stay resentful to time indefinite.”


    FUNCTIONS OF ISRAEL’S PRIESTHOOD METAPHORICALLY TRANSFERRED TO THE “ISRAEL OF GOD”

    Certainly the Apostle Peter shows that from the first century, the Christian Congregation as “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16) has taken on certain functions originally assigned to ancient Israel.

    · “You yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).

    · “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood...that you should declare abroad the excellencies of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. For you were once not a people, but are now God’s people...” (1 Pet. 2:9, 10).

    However, this does not mean that the many prophecies concerning Israel have been reassigned to the Christian Congregation as in Replacement Theology.

    REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY IS NOT APPLICABLE TO PROPHECY


    “The spirit of the sovereign Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening [of the eyes] even to the prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah” (Isa. 61:1, 2a).


    This is the point at which Jesus finished his quotation in Luke 4:18-19. But Isaiah continues with:

    “and the day of vengeance on the part of our God; to comfort all the mourning ones; to assign to those mourning over Zion, to give them a headdress instead of ashes, the oil of exultation instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of the downhearted spirit; and they must be called big trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, for [him] to be beautified. And they must rebuild the long-standing devastated places; they will raise up even the desolated places of former times, and they will certainly make anew the devastated cities, the places desolate for generation after generation. “And strangers will actually stand and shepherd the flocks of YOU people, and the foreigners will be YOUR farmers and YOUR vinedressers. And as for YOU, the priests of Jehovah YOU will be called; the ministers of our God YOU will be said to be. The resources of the nations YOU people will eat, and in their glory YOU will speak elatedly about yourselves. Instead of YOUR shame there will be a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will cry out joyfully over their share. Therefore in their land they will take possession of even a double portion. Rejoicing to time indefinite is what will come to be theirs. For I, Jehovah, am loving justice, hating robbery along with unrighteousness. And I will give their wages in trueness, and an indefinitely lasting covenant I shall conclude toward them. And their offspring will actually be known even among the nations, and their descendants in among the peoples. All those seeing them will recognize them, that they are the offspring whom Jehovah has blessed.” Without fail I shall exult in Jehovah. My soul will be joyful in my God. For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; with the sleeveless coat of righteousness he has enwrapped me, like the bridegroom who, in a priestly way, puts on a headdress, and like the bride who decks herself with her ornamental things. For as the earth itself brings forth its sprout, and as the garden itself makes the things that are sown in it sprout, in like manner the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will cause the sprouting of righteousness and of praise in front of all the nations.”

    (Isa. 61:2b-11).

    In Luke 4:16-21 Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1 and the first half of verse 2 as being fulfilled in his day as “the year of goodwill.” The rest of Isaiah 61 was yet to be fulfilled during and after “the day of vengeance.” However, Luke 7:22 shows that these first events of Jesus’ healing ministry were applied by him in a quite literal way, and therefore indicating that all the events from “the day of vengeance” onward also are to be fulfilled in a quite literal way upon Israel. This means that any replacement theological application to the Christian Congregation certainly would be wrong. Hence, there will be a literal future renewing of “the devastated cities” of Israel “in their land” with “rejoicing to time indefinite” and “the sprouting of righteousness.” All of these events are shown to be after the first advent of Messiah (verses 1 and 2a). However, none of these things has yet been fulfilled.

    FORETOLD FUTURE RESTORATION OF LITERAL ISRAEL

    Paul explains in Romans 11 that, although unbelieving Israel is now excluded because of unbelief, this will not be permanently so, but at the return of Christ natural Israel, as a nation, will accept Jesus as Messiah.

    Much of our understanding of this subject comes from an examination of the many quite literal restoration prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures which are later confirmed in Romans 11. Bible scholar Dr. Robert Shank states that:

    There are in the Old Testament more than a hundred prophecies concerning the national restoration of Israel, a restoration that will involve regathering to the land, reconstruction as a political state, reception of the Messiah and spiritual renewal (“circumcision of the heart”), restoration of the Davidic kingdom, and a golden age of peace and prosperity under the reign of the Messiah. The passages are not to be interpreted as finding their fulfilment in the Church, for they speak of specific matters which could only have reference to Israel. They are not to be interpreted as having reference to heaven rather than the earth, for they pertain specifically to the earthly land of Israel and city of Jerusalem.

    Until the Coming of Messiah and His Kingdom, p. 79

    FULL RESTORATION WAS NOT AFTER RELEASE FROM BABYLON

    The time of Israel’s gathering to the land of promise after the Exodus from Egypt was not a restoration because Israel as a nation had never previously occupied the land of Canaan. So the first time of restoration came after 539 B.C.E when the Jews were released from Babylon; yet it came as only a minor fulfilment of the many prophecies. So the second time, as noted in Isaiah 11:11 will be at the return of Messiah. Furthermore, this full regathering of Israel will include their spiritual restoration as prophesied in Jeremiah 24:7: “they will return to me with all their heart.”


    “And it must occur in that day that Jehovah will again offer his hand, a second time, to acquire the remnant of his people who will remain over from Assyria and from Egypt and from Pathros and from Cush and from Elam and from Shinar and from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. And he will certainly raise up a signal for the nations and gather the dispersed ones of Israel; and the scattered ones of Judah he will collect together from the four extremities of the earth” (Isa. 11:11-12).


    The returning Jews in c.538 B.C.E. amounted to only 50,000 whilst the vast majority remained in Babylon and Egypt. These returning exiles remained in a low spiritual condition requiring that they be constantly encouraged by their leaders to rebuild the city and the temple (Ezra 9:1-4; Neh. 5:1-9; 13;7-11, 23-29). Other than the brief Maccabean period they remained under foreign domination right up to Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D. 70.

    Shank comments that:

    The restoration prophecies remained largely unfulfilled in the post-captivity restoration under Zerubbabel. Nehemiah’s prayer (Neh. 1:5-11) was not fully answered in the return of a small remnant in his day, for the promised return is to include all Israel (Deut. 30:3, 4, Rom. 11:26).


    1. FUTURE REGATHERING OF ISRAEL WILL BE UNIVERSAL

    · “Jehovah your God must also bring back your captives and show you mercy and collect you again from all the peoples where Jehovah your God has scattered you. If your dispersed people should be at the end of the heavens, from there Jehovah your God will collect you and from there he will take you. Jehovah your God will indeed bring you into the land of which your fathers took possession, and you will certainly take possession of it; and he will indeed do you good and multiply you more than your fathers” (Deut. 30:3-5).

    · “And I will let myself be found by YOU,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘And I will gather YOUR body of captives and collect YOU together out of all the nations and out of all the places to which I have dispersed YOU,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘And I will bring YOU back to the place from which I caused YOU to go into exile’” (Jer. 29:14).

    · “‘Now is when I [Jehovah] shall bring back the captive ones of Jacob and actually have mercy upon all the house of Israel; and I will show exclusive devotion for my holy name. 27 When I bring them back from the peoples and I actually collect them together out of the lands of their enemies, I will also sanctify myself among them before the eyes of many nations.’ “‘And they will have to know that I am Jehovah their God, when I send them in exile to the nations and actually bring them together upon their soil, so that I shall leave none of them remaining there any longer...”

    (Ezek. 39:25, 27-29).

    The deportations by both the Assyrians and the Babylonians did not involve Israel’s or Judah’s dispersal to “all nations” and the return was only from Babylon. However the much later invasions by the Romans in both A.D. 70 and 135 did lead to the Jews becoming scattered throughout “all nations.” Furthermore, the return was prophesied to be at the time of the end:

    2. THE REGATHERING OCCURS IN “THE LATTER DAYS”

    · “In the final part of the days YOU people will give YOUR consideration to it. 1 “At that time,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “I shall become God to all the families of Israel; and as for them, they will become my people.”8 Here I am bringing them from the land of the north, and I will collect them together from the remotest parts of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, the pregnant woman and the one giving birth, all together. As a great congregation they will return here. With weeping they will come, and with [their] entreaties for favor I shall bring them. I shall make them walk to torrent valleys of water, in a right way in which they will not be caused to stumble. For I have become to Israel a Father; and as for E´phra·im, he is my firstborn.” Hear the word of Jehovah, O YOU nations, and tell [it] among the islands far away, and say: “The One scattering Israel will himself collect him together, and he will certainly keep him as a shepherd does his drove ... 12 And they will certainly come and cry out joyfully on the height of Zion and become radiant over the goodness of Jehovah, over the grain and over the new wine and over the oil and over the young ones of the flock and the cattle. And their soul will simply become like a well-watered garden, and no more will they languish again.” “At that time the virgin will rejoice in the dance, also the young men and the old men, all together. And I will change their mourning into exultation, and I will comfort them and make them rejoice away from their grief ... 28 “And it must occur that just as I had kept alert toward them to uproot and to pull down and to tear down and to destroy and to do damage, so I shall keep alert toward them to build up and to plant,” is the utterance of Jehovah”

    (Jer. 30:24b-31:1, 8-10, 12, 13, 28).

    · “It is because for many days the sons of Israel will dwell without a king and without a prince and without a sacrifice and without a pillar and without an ephod and teraphim. Afterwards the sons of Israel will come back and certainly look for Jehovah their God, and for David their king; and they will certainly come quivering to Jehovah and to his goodness in the final part of the days” (Hosea 3:4, 5).

    Professor of Hebrew A. B. Davidson tells us that:

    Every prophet predicts the return of Israel to its land in the latter days. In the final state of the Kingdom of God on earth, the people will again dwell in their ancient heritages. Now this idea of the prophets must certainly be taken literally, if we desire to understand what they mean.

    3. RESTORATION OF ISRAEL OCCURS WHEN MESSIAH HAS RETURNED

    · “Look! There are days coming,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “and I will raise up to David a righteous sprout [the Messiah]. And a king will certainly reign and act with discretion and execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel itself will reside in security. And this is his name with which he will be called, Jehovah Is Our Righteousness.” “Therefore, look! there are days coming,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “and they will no more say, ‘Jehovah is alive who brought the sons of Israel up out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘Jehovah is alive who brought up and who brought in the offspring of the house of Israel out of the land of the north and out of all the landsto which I have dispersed them,’ and they will certainly dwell on their own ground” (Jer. 23:5-8).


    · “And it must occur in that day that there will be the root of Jesse [the Messiah] that will be standing up as a signal for the peoples. To him even the nations will turn inquiringly, and his resting-place must become glorious” (Isa. 11:10)


    · “And I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of favor and entreaties, and they will certainly look to the One whom they pierced through, and they will certainly wail over Him as in the wailing over an only [son]; and there will be a bitter lamentation over him as when there is bitter lamentation over the firstborn [son]” (Zech. 12:10).

    This is in the context of the Zechariah 12 – 14 end-time prophecy when Messiah visibly returns (Please see STUDY 2).


    4. REGATHERING OF ISRAEL RESULTS IN PERPETUAL BLESSING

    · “‘Here I am collecting them together out of all the lands to which I shall have dispersed them in my anger and in my rage and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in security. And they will certainly become my people, and I myself shall become their God. And I will give them one heart and one way in order to fear me always, for good to them and to their sons after them. And I will conclude with them an indefinitely lasting covenant, that I shall not turn back from behind them, for me to do them good; and the fear of me I shall put in their heart in order not to turn aside from me. And I will exult over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land in trueness with all my heart and with all my soul’” (Jer. 32:37-41).

    · “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “When I collect together the house of Israel out from the peoples among whom they have been scattered, I will also be sanctified among them in the eyes of the nations. And they will certainly dwell upon their soil that I gave to my servant, to Jacob. And they will actually dwell upon it in security and build houses and plant vineyards, and they must dwell in security when I execute acts of judgment upon all those treating them with scorn all round about them; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah their God”’”

    (Ezek. 28:25, 26).

    5. ISRAEL BECOMES THE FIRST AMONG NATIONS

    “Arise, O woman, shed forth light, for you light has come and upon you the very glory of Jehovah has shone forth. For, look! darkness itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups; but upon you Jehovah will shine forth, and upon you his own glory will be seen. And nations will certainly go to your light, and kings to the brightness of your shining forth. “Raise your eyes all around and see! They have all of them been collected together; they have come to you. From far away your own sons keep coming, and your daughters who will be taken care of on the flank. At that time you will see and certainly become radiant, and your heart will actually quiver and expand, because to you the wealthiness of the sea will direct itself; the very resources of the nations will come to you. 10 And foreigners will actually build your walls, and their own kings will minister to you; for in my indignation I shall have struck you, but in my goodwill I shall certainly have mercy upon you. “And your gates will actually be kept open constantly; they will not be closed even by day or by night, in order to bring to you the resources of the nations, and their kings will be taking the lead. For any nation and any kingdom that will not serve you will perish; and the nations themselves will without fail come to devastation. “To you the very glory of Lebanon will come, the juniper tree, the ash tree and the cypress at the same time, in order to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I shall glorify the very place of my feet. “And to you the sons of those afflicting you must go, bowing down; and all those treating you disrespectfully must bend down at the very soles of your feet, and they will have to call you the city of Jehovah, Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. 60:1-5, 10-14).


    6. THE REGATHERING OF ISRAEL WILL INVOLVE THE END-TIME JUDGEMENT OF NATIONS

    · “For, look! In those days and in that time, when I shall bring back the captive ones of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also collect together all the nations and bring them down to the low plain of Jehoshaphat; and I will put myself on judgment with them there on account of my people and my inheritance Israel, whom they scattered among the nations; and they apportioned out my own land ... 12 “Let the nations be aroused and come up to the low plain of Jehoshaphat; for there I shall sit in order to judge all the nations round about. “THRUST in a sickle, for harvest has grown ripe. Come, descend, for [the] winepress has become full. The press vats actually overflow; for their badness has become abundant. Crowds, crowds are in the low plain of the decision, for the day of Jehovah is near in the low plain of the decision” (Joel 3:1, 2, 12-14).

    · “For, look! it is upon the city upon which my name is called that I am starting off in bringing calamity, and should YOU yourselves in any way go free of punishment?”’ “‘YOU will not go free of punishment, for there is a sword that I am calling against all the inhabitants of the earth,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies. “And as for you, you will prophesy to them all these words, and you must say to them, ‘From on

    high Jehovah himself will roar, and from his holy dwelling he will give forth his voice. Without fail he will roar upon his abiding place. A shout like that of those treading [the winepress] he will sing out against all the inhabitants of the earth.’ “‘A noise will certainly come clear to the farthest part of the earth, for there is a controversy that Jehovah has with the nations. He must personally put himself in judgment with all flesh. As regards the wicked ones, he must give them to the sword,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. “This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘Look! A calamity is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest itself will be roused up from the remotest parts of the earth. And those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth. They will not be bewailed, neither will they be gathered up or be buried. As manure on the surface of the ground they will become’” (Jer. 25:29-33).


    7. THE REGATHERING WILL BE FOLLOWED BY CONVERSION AND BLESSING OF THE NATIONS

    · “Cry out loudly and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for here I am coming, and I will reside in the midst of you,” is the utterance of Jehovah. “And many nations will certainly become joined to Jehovah in that day, and they will actually become my people; and I will reside in the midst of you.” And you will have to know that Jehovah of armies himself has sent me to you. And Jehovah will certainly take possession of Judah as his portion upon the holy ground, and he must yet choose Jerusalem” (Zech. 2:10-12).

    · “...but: “As Jehovah is alive who brought the sons of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the lands to which he had dispersed them!” and I shall certainly bring them back to their soil, which I gave to their forefathers.’ 19 O Jehovah my strength and my stronghold, and my place for flight in the day of distress, to you the nations themselves will come from the ends of the earth, and they will say: “Indeed our forefathers came to possess sheer falsehood, vanity and things in which there was nothing beneficial.” Can earthling man make for himself gods when they are no gods? “Therefore here I am causing them to know; at this one time I shall cause them to know my hand and my mightiness, and they will have to know that my name is Jehovah” (Jer. 16:15, 19-21).

    8. PERMANENT POSSESSION OF THE LAND FOR ISRAEL

    · “‘Here I am collecting them [Israel] together out of all the lands to which I shall have dispersed them in my anger and in my rage and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in security. And they will certainly become my people, and I myself shall become their God. And I will give them one heart and one way in order to fear me always, for good to them and to their sons after them. And I will conclude with them an indefinitely lasting covenant, that I shall not turn back from behind them, for me to do them good; ... and I will plant them in this land in trueness with all my heart and with all my soul’” (Jer. 32:37-41)


    · “‘In that day I shall raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and I shall certainly repair their breaches. And its ruins I shall raise up, and I shall certainly build it up as in the days of long ago, to the end that they may take possession of what is left remaining of Edom, and all the nations upon whom my name has been called,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, who is doing this ... 14 And I will gather back the captive ones of my people Israel, and they will actually build [the] desolated cities and inhabit [them], and plant vineyards and drink the wine of them, and make gardens and

    eat the fruit of them.’ “‘And I shall certainly plant them upon their ground, and they will no more be uprooted from their ground that I have given them,’ Jehovah your God has said” (Amos 9:11-12, 14-15).

    Although written in c.800 B.C.E Amos’ prophecy is still unfulfilled. In Acts 15:16-18 the disciple James applied the words of Amos 9:11 and 12 to the future Messianic age when he adapted the words: “In that day” to “after these things [i.e. after Gentiles also became God’s people] I shall return.” Most commentators understand this to refer to the future gathering of Israel. The booth of David probably refers to the House of David over which Messiah will rule. Edom is representative of all Israel’s previous enemies.

    RESTORATION PROPHECIES IN ZECHARIAH COULD NOT CONCERN THE 537 RETURN

    Zechariah wrote his book in 518 B.C.E., some 20 years after the Jews had left Babylon, thereby making his restoration prophecies have a different and later fulfilment:

    · “This is what Jehovah has said, ‘I will return to Zion and reside in the midst of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem will certainly be called the city of trueness, and the mountain of Jehovah of armies, the holy mountain.’” “This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘There will yet sit old men and old women in the public squares of Jerusalem, each one also with his staff in his hand because of the abundance of [his] days. 5 And the public squares of the city themselves will be filled with boys and girls playing in her public squares.’” ... 7 “This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘Here I am saving my people from the land of the sunrise and from the land of the setting of the sun. And I shall certainly bring them in, and they must reside in the midst of Jerusalem; and they must become my people, and I myself shall become their God in trueness and in righteousness’”(Zech. 8:3-4, 7-8).

    NRSV renders verse 7 as:

    “Thus says the Lord of hosts: I will save my people from the east country and from the west country; and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem.”

    · “‘And now I shall not be as in the former days to the remaining ones of this people,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies. ‘For there will be the seed of peace; the vine itself will give its fruitage, and the earth itself will give its yield, and the heavens themselves will give their dew; and I shall certainly cause the remaining ones of this people to inherit all these [things]. And it must occur that just as YOU became a malediction among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I shall save YOU, and YOU must become a blessing. Do not be afraid. May YOUR hands be strong.’” (Zech. 8:11-13).

    · “‘I will whistle for them and collect them together; for I shall certainly redeem them, and they must become many, just like those who have become many. And I shall scatter them like seed among the peoples, and in the distant places they will remember me; and they must revive with their sons and return. And I must bring them back from the land of Egypt; and from Assyria I shall collect them together; and to the land of Gilead and Lebanon I shall bring them, and no [room] will be found for them. And he must pass through the sea [with] distress; and in the sea he must strike down [the] waves, and all the depths of the Nile must dry up. And the pride of Assyria must be brought down, and the very scepter of Egypt will depart. And I will make them superior in Jehovah, and in his name they will walk about,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” (Zech. 10:8-12).

    All of the above prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures are full of literal statements pertaining to the future of Israel. So one cannot inconsistently take, for example, parts of Isaiah 60 and say that they must be spiritualized. Looking back to Jeremiah 32:37, 40, 41:

    “‘Here I am collecting them together out of all the lands to which I shall have dispersed them in my anger and in my rage and in great indignation ... 40 And I will conclude with them an indefinitely lasting covenant, that I shall not turn back from behind them, for me to do them good ... and I will plant them in this land in trueness with all my heart and with all my soul.’”

    Only literal Israelites were dispersed by Jehovah; and yet this cannot refer to the restoration after 538 B.C.E because Jehovah did not conclude “an indefinitely lasting covenant” with them “that I shall not turn back from behind them, for me to do them good.” This is evident from the fact that the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in A.D.70. Furthermore, it was not in 538/7 B.C.E that Jehovah had planted“them in this land in trueness” because the Romans deported almost a million Jews.

    JESUS DID NOT SPIRITUALIZE ISRAEL

    · “In the re-creation, when the Son of man sits down on his glorious throne, YOU who have followed me will also yourselves sit upon twelve thrones judging (“to govern” Moffatt) the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28).

    Because this concerns events at the beginning of the Millennium there is no reason to spiritualize this statement. Almost all commentators view this as a simple reference to the literal twelve tribes of Israel.

    · “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” (Acts 1:6).

    Jesus did not tell them that they asked about a wrong subject, but only that they were not to know the time for the restoring of the kingdom to Israel.


    THE OLIVET DISCOURSE

    In his great time-of-the-end prophecy on the Mount of Olives Jesus spoke of the literal temple during the invasion of the literal Jerusalem which must therefore concern literal Jews. This is in keeping with the end-time prophecies in Zechariah 12 and 14.


    LUKE DID NOT SPIRITUALIZE ISRAEL

    · “This one...will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:32, 33).


    No Jew or Christian of the time would have imagined that the throne of David was to be anywhere else but in literal Jerusalem.

    · “After these things I shall return and rebuild the booth of David that is fallen down; and I shall rebuild its ruins and erect it again” (Acts 15:16).


    To “rebuild the booth of David that is fallen down” and “rebuild its ruins and erect it again” is a reference to Amos 9:11 concerning literal Jerusalem and therefore things pertaining to literal Israel as discussed above.

    · “…that He may send forth the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven, indeed, must hold within itself until the times of restoration of all things of which God spoke through the mouth of His holy prophets of old time” (Acts 3:20, 21).

    From all of the 100 prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures this restoration evidently includes literal Israel.


    JOHN DID NOT SPIRITUALIZE ISRAEL


    “Look! He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him: and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him” (Rev. 1:7)

    “The grief” mentioned here evidently precipitates the repentance of the whole of Israel as prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures and in particular the statements in Zechariah 12:10. So, in hindsight, this is obviously not referring to the people living in the 1st century, but to the community or corporate responsibility of Israel and of the Gentiles.

    PAUL DID NOT SPIRITUALIZE ISRAEL

    NATURAL ISRAEL IS NOT PERMANENTLY REJECTED

    · “...for because of the hope of Israel I have this chain around me” (Acts 28:20).

    · “I ask, then, God did not reject his people, did he? Never may that happen! For, I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham,of the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people whom he first recognized (“foreknew” most versions).” (Rom. 11:1, 2NWT).

    The fact that Paul notes his tribe indicates that he is referring to Israel in a natural way. The commentaries also show that this refers to an ethnic national identity.


    THE BELIEVING REMNANT IN PAUL’S DAY

    · “Although the number of the sons of Israel may be as the sands of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved” (Rom. 9:27).

    · “In the same way [that there was a remnant in Elijah’s day] then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice” (Rom. 11:5).

    UNBELIEVING ISRAEL EXCLUDED

    “What, then? The very thing Israel was earnestly seeking he did not obtain, but the ones chosen obtained it. The rest had their sensibilities blunted” (Rom. 11:7).

    Although there was a remnant in the first century, this did not fulfil all of the prophecies of the final purpose for Israel.


    EXCLUDED ONLY UNTIL MESSIAH RETURNS

    · “What I am saying is this: Was this stumbling to lead to their final downfall? Out of the question! On the contrary their failure has brought salvation for the gentiles, in order to stir them to jealousy. And if their fall has proved a great gain to the world, and their loss has proved a great gain to the gentiles – how much greater a gain will come when all is restored to them [“their full inclusion” ESV] ... Since their rejection meant reconciliation for the world, do you know what their re-acceptance will mean? Nothing less than life from the dead!” (Rom. 11:11, 12, 15 NJB). Also note Ezekiel 37:1-14.

    · “... They [natural Israel] also, if they do not remain in their lack of faith, will be grafted in [to the olive tree]; for God is able to graft them in again … a dulling of sensibilities has happened in part to Israel until the (‘fullness’ KIT) of the people of the nations has come in, and in this manner[Gk. houtos “thus” or “so”] all Israel will be saved. Just as it is written: “The deliverer will come out of Zion and turn away ungodly practices from Jacob” (Rom. 11:23, 25, 26).


    In an attempt to prove that these verses speak of spiritual Israel the WTS makes much of the Greek word houtos as meaning “in this manner” or “in this way.” These are perfectly correct translations. However, they do not support the WTS interpretation because the context of “the dulling” of Israel is until the Gentiles have “come in.” So there is a sequence here. 1) Natural Israel is dulled. 2) The Gentiles are gathered into Christianity. 3) At Christ’s return natural Israel repents, recognizes Jesus as the Messiah (Zech. 12:10, 11) and is re-grafted into the “Olive tree” of true Israel (Rom. 11:16-24) so that “all Israel will be saved.”


    THE NEW COVENANT

    The promised New Covenant for “the house of Israel” (Jeremiah 31:31) was applied to those who became Christians (Luke 22:20). Does this mean that this promise will never be granted to natural Israel? No! From the future time of “All Israel’s” corporate repentance and acceptance of the Messiah they too will be brought into the New Covenant.


    NOT EVERY INDIVIDUAL JEW WILL BE SAVED

    This does not mean that every single Israelite will be saved; but that Israel as a people would be saved:

    “I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel”

    (Micah 2:12).


    This is Hebrew parallelism showing that all of you, O Jacob = the remnant of Israel.

    The New International Bible commentary (p.1338) states that:

    All Israel means the Jews as a collective whole, not the arithmetical sum of all individual Jews.

    The notes on Romans 11 in the Catholic New American Bible state:

    Once all the Gentile nations have heard the gospel, Israel as a whole is expected to embrace it. This will be tantamount to resurrection of the dead, that is, the reappearance of Jesus Christ with all the believers at the end of time.

    THE REASONS THAT LITERAL ISRAEL STILL HAS A FUTURE

    · “True, with reference to the good news they [the unbelieving Jews] are enemies for YOUR sakes, but with reference to [God’s] choosing they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are not things he will regret (‘irrevocable’ in many versions)” (Rom. 11:28-29).

    · “But Zion kept saying: “Jehovah has left me, and Jehovah himself has forgotten me.” Can a wife forget her suckling so that she should not pity the son of her belly? Even these women can forget, yet I myself shall not forget you. Look! Upon [my] palms I have engraved you. Your walls are in front of me constantly” (Isa. 49:14-16).

    UNCONDITIONAL COVENANT

    “And yet for all this, while they continue in the land of their enemies [as exiles], I shall certainly not reject them nor abhor them so as to exterminate them, to violate my covenant with them; for I am Jehovah their God. And I will remember in their behalf the covenant of the ancestors whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt under the eyes of the nations, in order to prove myself their God. I am Jehovah’”

    (Lev. 26:44-46).

    “The covenant of the ancestors” involved inheritance and possession of the land “from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates” (Gen. 15:18; 17:7, 8; Ps. 105:8-11). So Israel’s failure to adhere to the terms of this covenant make no difference to God’s being faithful to His word. He would never deny them possession of the land. However, the terms would have to be kept by Israel if they also wanted security (Lev. 25:18).

    PERMANENCE OF ISRAEL

    “This is what Jehovah, the Giver of the sun for light by day, the statutes of the moon and the stars for light by night, the One stirring up the sea that its waves may become boisterous, the One whose name is Jehovah of armies, has said: “‘If these regulations could be removed from before me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘those who are the seed of Israel could likewise cease from proving to be a nation before me always.’” This is what Jehovah has said: ‘If the heavens up above could be measured and the foundations of the earth below could be searched out, I myself also could reject the entire seed of Israel on account of all that they have done,’ is the utterance of Jehovah” (Jer. 31:35-37).


    ISRAEL RETURNS TO THE LAND IN UNBELIEF BUT PROVED BY LATER REPENTANCE

    “And I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of favor and entreaties, and they will certainly look to the One whom they pierced through, and they will certainly wail over Him as in the wailing over an only [son]; and there will be a bitter lamentation over him as when there is bitter lamentation over the firstborn [son]” (Zech. 12:10).

    Also see Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7.

    ISRAEL RETURNS TO THE LAND IN STAGES

    Ezekiel 37:7, 8, 10-14:

    FIRST PHYSICALLY

    “And I prophesied just as I had been commanded. And a sound began to occur as soon as I prophesied, and here there was a rattling, and bones began to approach, bone to its bone. And I saw, and, look! upon them sinews themselves and flesh itself came up and skin began to be overlaid upon them above. But as regards breath, there was none in them.”


    THEN SPIRITUALLY

    10 And I prophesied just as he had commanded me, and the breath proceeded to come into them, and they began to live and stand upon their feet, a very, very great military force. And he went on to say to me: “Son of man, as regards these bones, they are the whole house of Israel. Here they are saying, ‘Our bones have become dry, and our hope has perished. We have been severed off to ourselves.’ Therefore prophesy,

    and you must say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “Here I am opening YOUR burial places, and I will bring YOU up out of YOUR burial places, O my people, and bring YOU in upon the soil of Israel. And YOU will have to know that I am Jehovah when I open YOUR burial places and when I bring YOU up out of YOUR burial places, O my people.”’ ‘And I will put my spirit in YOU, and YOU must come to life, and I will settle YOU upon YOUR soil; and YOU will have to know that I myself, Jehovah, have spoken and I have done [it],’ is the utterance of Jehovah.”

    Ezekiel 11:17-20:

    FIRST PHYSICALLY

    “Therefore say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “I will also collect YOU from the peoples and gather YOU from the lands among which YOU have been scattered, and I will give YOU the soil of Israel.

    THEN SPIRITUALLY

    18 And they will certainly come there and remove all its disgusting things and all its detestable things out of it. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I shall put inside them; and I shall certainly remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, in order that they may walk in my own statutes and keep my own judicial decisions and actually carry them out; and they may really become my people and I myself may become their God.”’


    The same pattern can be found in Ezekiel 36:24-27 and Jeremiah 23: 3-4.


    MISAPPLIED TEXTS

    Romans 2:28, 29

    Don’t Paul’s words here mean that only being a “spiritual Jew” of “the seed of Abraham” is what matters now and so God has finished with natural Israel?

    REPLY: Although Christians are certainly spiritual Jews this does not exclude natural Israel as a whole from also, at a single future time, converting. As above Romans 9-11 shows that there is a future for “Israelites according to the flesh.” Clearly at the point of the conversion of Israel “according to the flesh” each individual becomes a believer in Jesus as Messiah.

    “Jesus said to them: “Did YOU never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone that the builders rejected is the one that has become the chief cornerstone. From Jehovah this has come to be, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? This is why I say to YOU, The kingdom of God will be taken from YOU and be given to a nation producing its fruits”

    (Matt. 21:42, 43).

    Jesus was not talking to all of Israel but only to the Jewish religious leaders up to that time.

    The New International Bible commentary (p.1143) states that:

    The kingdom will be taken from the disobedient Jewish leaders; their rejection of the prophets and the Son makes them liable to judgment.

    “For all of YOU who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for YOU are all one [person] in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if YOU belong to Christ, YOU are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise” (Gal. 3:27-29).

    Just as this passage does not say that there is no longer any distinction between male and female so, too, it does not say that there is no longer any distinction between Jew or Greek. Furthermore, because this statement does not block individual Jews from “belonging to Christ” neither will it interfere with the fulfilment of the many prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures and Romans 11 where it is foretold that Israel as a nation will repent and accept Jesus as Messiah when he returns. Until that time unbelieving Jews are not Abraham’s seed.

    A PRACTICAL OBJECTION

    THE LAND WILL NOT BE LARGE ENOUGH FOR THE NEW POPULATION:


    REPLY: The area of land that Israel currently occupies is relatively small compared to all that was promised to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 15:18). In addition to this complete area of land, God promised a further expansion:

    “Make the place of your tent more spacious ... for to the right and to the left you will break forth, and your own offspring will take possession even of the nations, and they will inhabit even the desolated cities” (Isa. 54:2, 3). (Also see Deut. 32:8, 9).

    CONCLUSION

    It is clearly wrong to allegorize the plain literal statements of the Scriptures because it would be left to the human interpreter to decide what is and what is not allegorical. Therefore, because Replacement Theology is based on allegorization it tends to undermine God’s faithfulness to His literal promises and therefore impugns His character. A corollary to this is that if one fails God at all He will cut you off, in spite of His unconditional promises to you.

    Replacement Theology also means that the real and full import of the Abrahamic Covenant is lost in contravention of the statement made by Paul:

    “Further, I say this: As to the [Abrahamic] covenant previously validated by God, the Law that has come into being four hundred and thirty years later does not invalidate it, so as to abolish the promise. For if the inheritance is due to law, it is no longer due to promise; whereas God has kindly given it to Abraham through a promise”

    (Gal. 3:17-18).

    GOD KEEPS FAITH WITH ISRAEL IRRESPECTIVE OF HER DISOBEDIENCE

    “In this manner God, when he purposed to demonstrate more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his counsel, stepped in with an oath, in order that, through two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to the refuge may have strong encouragement to lay hold on the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17, 18).

    Replacement Theology allowed the early church fathers to discount Israel and to blame her alone for the death of Jesus rather than the religious leaders and the Romans. This attitude continued through much of early church history accompanied by the many instances of anti-semitism, along with separation from and hatred of Jews generally. With Constantine’s declaring of the church as the official religion of the Roman Empire in A.D. 321 outright persecution of the Jews began and culminated in the 20th century holocaust.

    Finally, if one tries to replace the word Israel with the words Christian Congregation in many of the 77 references to Israel in the Christian Scriptures the thoughts become redundant and the passages becomes unreadable.
     
  2. pastorlesofm

    pastorlesofm Community Guide

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    True, I fully agree and support Israel with prayer and whatever I can do. When it comes to the relationship between God and Israel, God never mixed words and was quite deffinite, Israel is the apple of God's Eye, and Jesus will sit on the throne of David. I have no doubt. All the turmoil will come to an end when Jesus Christ returns.
     
  3. Elijah returns

    Elijah returns New Member

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    Absolutely friend, and here, I am beginning to see the end time scenario beginning to take shape.....what a time we live in, many saw Christ, but we will see Antichrist, the 7 year end time phase, and Christ's return
     
  4. veteran

    veteran New Member

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    Good post elijah returns. Yet there still exists valid reason for Christ's Body understanding their inheritance as Israel.

    Israel is the Salvation name God gave to Jacob, and it's linked with God's Birthright He first gave through Abraham. Per Scripture like 1 Chron.5 and Gen.49:10, God's Birthright involves the royal sceptre rule and care of God's law given to Judah, but the rest of the Birthright went to Joseph's two sons Ephraim and Manasseh. Understanding what's in God's Birthright and who it is to is very important. One must look to God's promises He gave to Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob (Israel), then about Joseph, and then to Joseph's two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, where God's Birthright has rested.

    Some of those promises are that the tribe of Judah would keep the royal sceptre and rule of law all the way unto Shiloh (Christ) returns; that they would rule the gate of their enemies, have blessing of great number of seed, as many as the stars of the sky and sands of the sea, plenty of corn and wine and the fat and dew of the earth (best lands and resources on earth). And specifically, that God's Promise of The Saviour would be to them first, and the Promise that as a people they would accept The Saviour.

    How much of that fulfillment can we see with the orthodox Jews? Not much, for even the kingline of Judah in Jerusalem has been no more since their Babylon captivity. Yet God promised David there would never fail a man of Israel to sit upon his throne, unto all generations (2 Sam.7). Genesis 49:10 also confirms that prophecy that Judah was to keep the sceptre rule unto Christ comes.

    Yet if one looks at the western Christian nations of history, fulfillment of God's Birthright to Israel can be seen, even with the sceptre royal rule of kings and queens, the best area of resources on earth, the strongest militaries ruling the coming and going of its enemies, and a great number of people that have accepted Christ Jesus as The Saviour, and missionaries sent from there to the nations to preach The Gospel.

    One of God's Birthright promises was that out of Jacob would come "a company of nations", and of Ephraim "a multitude of nations". If you'll notice, the name Israel involves prophecy about Jacob, Ephraim and Manasseh. So those nations means the stamp of the name Israel upon them. It's just not been in view of the rest of the world, but to God and those He's given to understand it. The pointer is that God scattered the majority of Israel to the West, and many of Israel along with Gentiles they were scattered among both believed on Christ Jesus. That's where His Blessings of His Birthright promises have appeared through history of the western nations. And that while the majority of the world think and declare only Jews are Israel.

    In Ephesians 2, Apostle Paul equated the phrase "commonwealth of Israel" with those who have accepted Christ Jesus as God's Promised Saviour, including Gentiles who have believed. That shows Christ's Church cannot be separated from God's Israel. Only those who refuse to believe on God's promised Saviour cannot be a part of that commonwealth of Israel. And that commonwealth will be the national Israel you've covered in your post, for that commonwealth has always included the remnant of the seed of Israel that believe which God has reserved, a remnant according to the election of grace. The unbelieving seed of Israel today must come to Christ and believe in order to be part of that commonwealth of Israel. Apostle Paul hinted in Rom.11 that all the seed of Israel will eventually convert to Christ Jesus. But until that time, God's Birthright has been removed from the holy land to somewhere else on earth. Where that Birthright is manifested, that's where God's true Israel is.

    This is why Scripture like Isaiah 49 declares saved Gentiles carrying the remnant of Israel in their arms and upon their shoulders back to the original lands of promise, and Isaiah 54 says the symbolic tents of Israel will be enlarged to include believing Gentiles.
     
  5. Job one

    Job one Member

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    Elijah returns has done a great job in his post on this subject, a post all should carefully consider and ponder.

    I would only comment that most people forget that the House of Judah at this time is only one of the houses of Israel that has returned to claim a portion of the land the Lord gave them as a promised inheritance. The seed of Joseph and eventually the seeds of the other ten houses or descendants of Israel will also return and receive the lands promised to them by the Lord. The Lord, ultimately will fulfill all His promises. On this wise no one should doubt.
     
  6. Martin W.

    Martin W. New Member

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    Yes he has and yes we should.
    I am glad this thread is renewed.

    "Elijah returns" has an excellent understanding of future events.

    I have not read every single word yet (in his long post) but plan to later.
    In the meantime it appears he has it right.

    More later.
    Martin W.
     
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