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Quote of the Week

In light of the recent Christians United for Israel Conference and some of the disturbing statements made, I have just one question.  Is Israel still God’s chosen people even though they hate and reject Messiah?  I think Paul answered that question.

For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost. (1 Thess 2:14-16)

Notice that Paul says whoever hates the gospel and persecutes God’s true people (the church); they are not pleasing to him, which even includes ethnic Jews.  A true Jew is one of the heart, not of the flesh (Rom 2:28-29).  How more plain does the Bible need to be!

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  1. John Meade
    July 30, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Chad,

    I was just reading this text the other day, though I did think of the application that you draw here. Excellent thought, and it is one that seems warranted.

    This thought connects with one that I have been meditating on recently. Ethnic Israel was not abandoned by God. They simply did not understand the climax of the Abrahamic promises, and, therefore, rejected Jesus. At this point, they abandoned the means by which God was dealing with them. They rejected God’s grand redemption story and by so doing removed themselves from God’s promise.

    When Paul talks about the re-inclusion of ethnic Jews, it is never apart from the promise given to Abraham (I understand the trunk of the tree in Rom 11 to be the promises given to the patriarchs). The key discontinuity to this conclusion is the appearance of the Messiah/Savior and now the Jews must confess that Jesus is the climax of this promise/story. Without this confession, they remain cut off from the promise altogether.

    Only by accepting this pinnacle stage of the redemption story will the Jews be placed back in the promise given to Abraham. 1 Thess. 2 seems to support this conclusion. The ethnic Jews have denied the gospel of the kingdom, which is the climactic event in the story thus they have become unpleasing to God. ONly by accpeting this event and Messiah will they become pleasing to the Lord again.

    Any thoughts?

    John

    PS We need to think about getting a list of all of the biblical theological themes together, which unites the canon. Themes such as sonship, Law, Sabbath, temple/dwelling, people of God, covenant etc. Could you start a list and post it?

  2. Chad
    July 30, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Hi John,

    I think you made some excellent observations. Let me make a few comments in response to your thoughts.

    1.) The Jews of Jesus’ day failed to see that pleasing God and seeing the kingdom was not about law-keeping, but trusting in Christ. Therefore, being pleasing to God has everything to do with being in Christ and nothing to do with Torah keeping. Paul rightly understood this idea when he lists his achievements with Judaism and considers it all dung for the sake of being in and knowing Christ (Phil 3). This is why Gentiles are pleasing to God because they trust in Jesus; something that infuriated the Jews, namely, that Gentiles were recipients of the promises and they weren’t.

    2.) I like your observation that God did not abandon Israel, but that they failed to properly recognize God’s purposes. God is still saving Jews today, which demonstrates his faithfulness to the covenant promises. Paul was living proof of this faithfulness and his desire was that all Jews would benefit from these blessing, even to the point that he wishes he was accursed for their sake (Rom 9-10). I think many people misunderstand Romans 9-11 because they fail to see that the point of the passage is not to establish a future for Israel, but to show that God has remained faithful to his promises to the fathers and that those promises also include Gentiles. Many people wrongly assume that if you deny a “future” for ethnic Israel in the dispensational sense then you deny God’s plan for Israel today. God has a plan for Israel–the same plan he had back in Paul’s day–to bring in the full elect Jews, just as he is doing with Gentiles.

    3.) Picking up off my previous point I think many people wrongly assume that teaching the church as the true Israel means you are replacing ethnic Israel with the church. The church is not replacing Israel, but the church becomes the true expression of what Israel was to be under the old covenant–a people full of the Spirit, from every nation, with one king over them. However, Israel failed at this mission, which required a supernatural work of God to accomplish this purpose (i.e., Christ). As you have pointed out, dispensationalists confuse the means of God with his purpose. Israel was a means to bring about his purpose of salvation to all peoples.

    Thanks for your insight.

    Chad

    P.S. I am working on a post concerning the prophets, but after that I’ll think of a way to include your idea about BT themes, which I think is a good one.

  3. July 30, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    John Piper has an interesting sermon on Romans 9: 6-12 back in 2002 that I think sheds some light on the whole “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,”.

  4. ken
    July 31, 2007 at 11:06 am

    “Picking up off my previous point I think many people wrong assume that teaching the church as the true Israel means you are replacing the church with ethnic Israel”

    Not to be a stickler, Chad, but just for info. sake…is this worded correctly, or am i confused? Shouldn’t it say…”that teaching the church as the true Israel means you are replacing ethnic Israel with the church”?

    I have found myself more impressed with the work of Christ (and more in love with Him) in coming to understand the view point represented here regarding Israel, than I ever have in being brought up with the classical disp. view from childhood.

  5. Chad
    July 31, 2007 at 11:43 am

    Ken,

    “Ethnic Israel replacing the church” That would be odd.

    You are correct. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I corrected it.

    Maybe my slip-up reveals my true colors. Just kidding.

    I agree that understanding Christ, and by extension the church, as the true Israel causes us to see a more glorious portrait of Jesus.

    Thanks again, Chad

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