Future For Israel and Covenant Theology

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David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
Ok, I am just going to put out a statement to spur discussion and see where it goes.

It is possible to believe there is a future for ethnic Israel, which is not replaced by the Church, and still hold to Covenant Theology.

The above does not necessarily reflect the view of the poster but is meant to stir discussion.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
Ok, I am just going to put out a statement to spur discussion and see where it goes.

It is possible to believe there is a future for ethnic Israel, which is not replaced by the Church, and still hold to Covenant Theology.

So long as that future centers on the recognition of Jesus as the Christ and his salvation being received by grace, through faith, apart from the works of the Law. If that is what you mean, then of course.
 
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arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Ok, I am just going to put out a statement to spur discussion and see where it goes.

It is possible to believe there is a future for ethnic Israel, which is not replaced by the Church, and still hold to Covenant Theology.

The above does not necessarily reflect the view of the poster but is meant to stir discussion.
Not being replaced by Israel assumes an idea that the Reformed haven't held.
I used to ask the same questions coming from dispensationalism. Israel was the biggest thing and to discard the necessity for the question was hard.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Many of the Reformed have believed in a revival of ethnic Israel at the end of time. See Ian Murray's book, The Puritan Hope:

https://www.amazon.com/Puritan-Hope...ritan+hope+iain+paisley&qid=1582177803&sr=8-1

From a review:


"This theological influence of the Puritans permeated the great missionary societies of the 18th and 19th centuries. That is, the Puritans believed in the success of their missionary efforts, which would cover the earth with the knowledge of the Lord. Thus their theology did not view the world as a place, which would become more dangerous and evil through time, but more Christlike, since the outpouring of the Spirit would lead sinners to Christ. Again, this outpouring of the Spirit would one day eventually include the nation of Israel, since the Jews would be included in the New Covenant when the fullness of the Gentiles was completed. Thus they understood Romans 11 in the most literal sense. At this time, the second advent of Christ would occur, and usher in the timeless eternal state. In a footnote at the end of the book, Murray refers to this view as Post-Millennialism, which word actually only occurs once in his book.

Thus the hope of the Puritans was full realization of the New Covenant on earth, when the Spirit of God would be poured on all mankind; when the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth "as the waters cover the sea"; and when the nation of Israel, which many believed would be restored to Palestine, would embrace Christ as their savior, and thereby become part of Christ's body. Their outlook on the world was not cynical, but hopeful."
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Ok, I am just going to put out a statement to spur discussion and see where it goes.

It is possible to believe there is a future for ethnic Israel, which is not replaced by the Church, and still hold to Covenant Theology.

The above does not necessarily reflect the view of the poster but is meant to stir discussion.

There is a future for ethnic Israel. Romans 11 demands this to be true: https://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?sortby=added&keyword=cpc-kc&SourceOnly=true&subsetcat=bible&subsetitem=Romans&subsetitem2=11&AudioOnly=false

And if you begin in v25 to come to an answer about this, you are starting in the wrong place. Start in Romans 1. This is Paul’s argument from the beginning of his letter.

It is possible to believe there is a future for elect Israel, and still hold to Covenant Theology.

What is your definition of "Israel"? You can't simply say "elect Israel" as that can mean at least two different things. It can mean the elect nation of Israel (ethnic) or all the elect who are called Israel like Gal. 6:16.
 
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alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
The statement assumes that Israel and the Church are mutually exclusive. The Church has existed since Adam but it has subsisted [is this a correct use of that term?] in various ways throughout history. For most of the OT it was located in the people and then nation of Israel. Since Christ, the Church has expanded beyond that geographical locality to encompass all persons throughout the world who either profess the true religion (visible church) or are united to Christ by faith (invisible church). All self-described Jews who turn to Christ will be saved just as all persons who turn to Christ will be saved.

As to a restoration of Israel of old in Palestine I see nothing in Scripture which prophecies this. Ezekiel 7 tells us that the nation of Israel (as located in Palestine) shall be destroyed and the heathen shall come in and possess the land. There are, of course, promises concerning the future of Israel but whatever meaning we attribute to them (temporal, spiritual, both) they do not promise a restoration of Israel in Palestine and the description of this future Israel does not even match the reality of the Israeli state today.
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
but whatever meaning we attribute to them (temporal, spiritual, both) they do not promise a restoration of Israel in Palestine

Some possible push back. Zechariah was written around 518 BC. In chapter 10:8 he talks about a future gathering of Israel. They are already back in the land, so it can't be about returning from Babylon.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Ok, I am just going to put out a statement to spur discussion and see where it goes.

It is possible to believe there is a future for ethnic Israel, which is not replaced by the Church, and still hold to Covenant Theology.

The above does not necessarily reflect the view of the poster but is meant to stir discussion.
Covenant theology doesn't teach that the church replaces Israel. It teaches that the church used to be more or less coextensive with ethnic Israel, and that now ethnic Israel (the Jews) have been cut off from the church. They will, however, be grafted back in.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Covenant theology doesn't teach that the church replaces Israel. It teaches that the church used to be more or less coextensive with ethnic Israel, and that now ethnic Israel (the Jews) have been cut off from the church. They will, however, be grafted back in.

Good point. Never use the term "replace" in a debate with a sharp dispensationalist. They live for that moment. It's best to say that we are grafted into the Hebrew vine and we shouldn't boast. Further, one day God will graft the Jews back in.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Covenant theology doesn't teach that the church replaces Israel. It teaches that the church used to be more or less coextensive with ethnic Israel, and that now ethnic Israel (the Jews) have been cut off from the church. They will, however, be grafted back in.

Good point. Never use the term "replace" in a debate with a sharp dispensationalist. They live for that moment. It's best to say that we are grafted into the Hebrew vine and we shouldn't boast. Further, one day God will graft the Jews back in.


Amen. Romans 11:16ff

Rom 11:16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
Rom 11:17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
Rom 11:18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
Rom 11:19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
Rom 11:20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
Rom 11:21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Rom 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Rom 11:23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
Rom 11:24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
Rom 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Covenant theology doesn't teach that the church replaces Israel. It teaches that the church used to be more or less coextensive with ethnic Israel, and that now ethnic Israel (the Jews) have been cut off from the church. They will, however, be grafted back in.

That assumes that "all Israel" refers to ethnic Jews. While that may be the majority view amongst the Reformed it is not the only position amongst the Reformed. And I don't know that it would have been the majority view for the bulk of church history.

It also assumes that modern Jewry is identical with the Jews at the time of Paul's writings of Romans.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
That assumes that "all Israel" refers to ethnic Jews. While that may be the majority view amongst the Reformed it is not the only position amongst the Reformed. And I don't know that it would have been the majority view for the bulk of church history.

It also assumes that modern Jewry is identical with the Jews at the time of Paul's writings of Romans.

1st paragraph - Absolutely, the passage doesn't make sense in context if it means anything other than ethnic Jews.

2nd paragraph - True. Acts 28:28, "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." A few times in Acts it says that God was turning to the Gentiles from the Jews, and Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles. Romans 11:13-14, Paul magnifying his ministry (to Gentiles) because he knows the way for ethnic Jews that he is so concerned about (9:1-5; 10:1; ch.11) to come back into the Kingdom (be grafted back in (11:23-25)) is through the Gentiles coming in (11:12, 15) thereby provoking the Jews to jealousy that they would be saved through faith in Christ.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
1st paragraph - Absolutely, the passage doesn't make sense in context if it means anything other than ethnic Jews.

2nd paragraph - True. Acts 28:28, "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." A few times in Acts it says that God was turning to the Gentiles from the Jews, and Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles. Romans 11:13-14, Paul magnifying his ministry (to Gentiles) because he knows the way for ethnic Jews that he is so concerned about (9:1-5; 10:1; ch.11) to come back into the Kingdom (be grafted back in (11:23-25)) is through the Gentiles coming in (11:12, 15) thereby provoking the Jews to jealousy that they would be saved through faith in Christ.

Well I reject that reading of the verse, as did Calvin.

But assuming it does refer to the ethnic Jews of Paul's time we still have the problem of who they are today. Are all who call themselves Jews today direct descendants of the Jews of Christ's time? I don't think so.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Well I reject that reading of the verse, as did Calvin.

But assuming it does refer to the ethnic Jews of Paul's time we still have the problem of who they are today. Are all who call themselves Jews today direct descendants of the Jews of Christ's time? I don't think so.

Same “problem” occurred after the Babylonian exile which is part of the rationale of the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1-9. None of that does away with the Lord’s covenant promises.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
That assumes that "all Israel" refers to ethnic Jews. While that may be the majority view amongst the Reformed it is not the only position amongst the Reformed. And I don't know that it would have been the majority view for the bulk of church history.

It also assumes that modern Jewry is identical with the Jews at the time of Paul's writings of Romans.
Alexander M Coppersmith, you have done me much evil. Just kidding.

I agree with Andrew that the verse doesn't make much sense read any other way. I don't have a major problem with someone disagreeing on that point; I just can't see it any other way.

As to the question of who the ethnic Jews are, God knows, and they are "beloved for the fathers' sakes," Romans 11:28.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
I'm not sure that's really the point of the discussion though. We are talking about actual ethnic Jews, of which there certainly must be some today.

It does have a bearing when talking about the Israeli state, however, and indeed any restoration of an ethnically Jewish state. From a Christian perspective, who decides who qualifies as the ethnic Jews to whom Paul is referring? If we, as Christians, are meant to look for a restoration of a Jewish state and support it then this matters a lot.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Same “problem” occurred after the Babylonian exile which is part of the rationale of the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1-9. None of that does away with the Lord’s covenant promises.

It has a bearing on how we would expect those promises to play out (if we accept the majority Reformed interpretation of the text). It is one thing to say that there will be a significant conversion of modern Jewry to Christianity at some point in the future. It is another to say that the modern Israeli state is not only a restoration of Israel of old but is in some way part of this future conversion. So it actually is a problem, just as it was back then which is why those who couldn't prove their lineage were excluded from the priesthood.

As to the question of who the ethnic Jews are, God knows, and they are "beloved for the fathers' sakes," Romans 11:28.

That's fine. But if you're going to ask me to believe that the Israeli state is some restoration of Israel of old and that we should support it because it is part of God's plan for the conversion of the Jews- which view is the dominant view in conservative Christianity today regardless of denomination- then that's something else altogether.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
It does have a bearing when talking about the Israeli state, however, and indeed any restoration of an ethnically Jewish state. From a Christian perspective, who decides who qualifies as the ethnic Jews to whom Paul is referring? If we, as Christians, are meant to look for a restoration of a Jewish state and support it then this matters a lot.
And this is precisely the difficulty: what is an ethnic Jew?

This is a harder question than one might think. Many of us who have Hispanic ancestry here likely have some Jewish ancestry, thanks to the genetic imprint left on most Spaniards from Jewish communities (I have some). Are we then ethnic Jews? Jews have left genetic markers in much of the world. How much does it take?

Counter this with the fact that some people in the modern nation state of Israel likely have no Jewish blood. And so on..
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
That's fine. But if you're going to ask me to believe that the Israeli state is some restoration of Israel of old and that we should support it because it is part of God's plan for the conversion of the Jews- which view is the dominant view in conservative Christianity today regardless of denomination- then that's something else altogether.
I agree 100%.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
That's fine. But if you're going to ask me to believe that the Israeli state is some restoration of Israel of old and that we should support it because it is part of God's plan for the conversion of the Jews- which view is the dominant view in conservative Christianity today regardless of denomination- then that's something else altogether.

I would suspect that the way you phrase this is not held by many proponents of the historic position of the restoration of Israel. Whether or not the establishment of the current Israeli state plays into the conversion of Israel, I do not know. Christians are under no obligation to support a nation that as "concerning the gospel" are presently enemies for our sakes. But proponents of this view would see Israel as some day being converted to Christ as a nation. I would think, when that takes place, Christians would love to give their support to such a nation. At such a time, I cannot imagine we will be concerned about questions of how pure the gene pool is. And you are right, this is very different than the modern, American, evangelical approach.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
I would suspect that the way you phrase this is not held by many proponents of the historic position of the restoration of Israel. Whether or not the establishment of the current Israeli state plays into the conversion of Israel, I do not know. Christians are under no obligation to support a nation that as "concerning the gospel" are presently enemies for our sakes. But proponents of this view would see Israel as some day being converted to Christ as a nation. I would think, when that takes place, Christians would love to give their support to such a nation. At such a time, I cannot imagine we will be concerned about questions of how pure the gene pool is. And you are right, this is very different than the modern, American, evangelical approach.

Well I would argue that the modern Israeli state plays a key role in evangelical Christianity's understanding of this whole issue. It is no longer a Dispensational distinctive that the founding of the Zionist state was part of eschatological outworkings. It seems to me that view- in a broad sense- has infiltrated all of conservative Christianity. This is shown, for example, by the many, many trips to the place by Christians today. They are drawn as much to the Israeli state as to anything else*. Whatever the particulars of our understanding of the Israeli state's place in prophetic history, the fact it has a place at all and that Christians should, broadly, support it and that it is indeed a restoration of ancient Israel is prevalent across the board.

As to being converted as a nation well what does that mean? If I say I am British that means something. It means, for one thing, that I am not Danish, or German, or Chinese &c. So if the Bible had said "all Britain shall be saved" what would that mean? All people living in the nation of Britain at some particular time? All British people (thus excluding all those who live here who are not British) or all those with British citizenship (which isn't the same thing)? A German couldn't move to Britain the day before this mass conversion and say "I'm British" and therefore be included, could he?

If we are to take what Paul says as referring to ethnic Jews then by definition the gene pool does matter. That's why I raise this point. Because the Israeli state is, today, by Christians identified as "the Jewish nation". So if you're going to tell me that the Jews will be converted as a nation I want to know what you mean by nation, how you're defining it, how Paul would have defined it and whether we can realistically look for that nation today. Because it seems to me that if all that is required to qualify is that someone calls himself a Jew then we have veered very far from Paul's understanding of Israel/ethnic Jewry at the time he was writing.

*I don't mean to suggest it is wrong for Christians to want to visit Palestine but rather that since 1948 and the establishment of the Israeli state a different, or an extra, impetus has been added to that desire. There is now a sense of visiting "Israel" and not just the land of Palestine which contains all the places of historical interest to Christians.
 
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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Well I would argue that the modern Israeli state plays a key role in evangelical Christianity's understanding of this whole issue. It is no longer a Dispensational distinctive that the founding of the Zionist state was part of eschatological outworkings. It seems to me that view- in a broad sense- has infiltrated all of conservative Christianity.
This is an interesting observation. I haven't seen the same trend in American Reformed circles. They tend to be very reserved when considering whether the modern Israeli state has any relation to Biblical prophecy.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
This is an interesting observation. I haven't seen the same trend in American Reformed circles. They tend to be very reserved when considering whether the modern Israeli state has any relation to Biblical prophecy.

Perhaps I'm not making myself clear. I really just mean that for many conservative Christians the modern Israeli state assumes an importance as more than just another country, or another ally. Its appearance is seen as a good development and a state to be defended because of what it is (or claims to be). I wouldn't want to ascribe eschatalogical beliefs to people which aren't their own but I would say there is a general belief that we should broadly support it because we are Christians. I don't know if that makes my position clearer, or not.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
Well I would argue that the modern Israeli state plays a key role in evangelical Christianity's understanding of this whole issue. It is no longer a Dispensational distinctive that the founding of the Zionist state was part of eschatological outworkings. It seems to me that view- in a broad sense- has infiltrated all of conservative Christianity. This is shown, for example, by the many, many trips to the place by Christians today. They are drawn as much to the Israeli state as to anything else. Whatever the particulars of our understanding of the Israeli state's place in prophetic history, the fact it has a place at all and that Christians should, broadly, support it and that it is indeed a restoration of ancient Israel is prevalent across the board.

I don't disagree with your observations. However, I don't think that is the more historic reformed view, as for example represented in WLC # 191 or the Westminster Directory of Public Worship.

As to being converted as a nation well what does that mean? If I say I am British that means something. It means, for one thing, that I am not Danish, or German, or Chinese &c. So if the Bible had said "all Britain shall be saved" what would that mean? All people living in the nation of Britain at some particular time? All British people (thus excluding all those who live here who are not British) or all those with British citizenship (which isn't the same thing)? A German couldn't move to Britain the day before this mass conversion and say "I'm British" and therefore be included, could he?

If we are to take what Paul says as referring to ethnic Jews then by definition the gene pool does matter. That's why I raise this point. Because the Israeli state is, today, by Christians identified as "the Jewish nation". So if you're going to tell me that the Jews will be converted as a nation I want to know what you mean by nation, how you're defining it, how Paul would have defined it and whether we can realistically look for that nation today. Because it seems to me that if all that is required to qualify is that someone calls himself a Jew then we have veered very far from Paul's understanding of Israel/ethnic Jewry at the time he was writing.

I am not sure how detailed our answers can really be at this point. Israel was historically identifiable as a nation. As a nation they were cut off from God's covenant. Some day they will be grafted back in to that covenant in a form that is identifiable as a nation of Israel. It seems to me that Romans 11 is not merely about ethnicity. In Paul's own day there was a remnant according to the election of grace. But that remnant represented a subset of the entity which by and large had been cut off (and will one day yet be grafted in again). As is the case so much with prophecy, I don't think we will fully be able to anticipate just what this will look like until it happens. But the idea that it will have a national, and not merely ethnical component seems to me strongly supported from Romans 11 as well as many Old Testament passages.
 
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