Should New Testament Christians Support Israel?

Part 2

The main reason behind the support of the modern-day nation of Israel is the belief in the doctrine of premillennialism. This false teaching claims God has yet to fulfill the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The promises to them included the nation, seed, and land promises. The main focus by premillennialists is on the land promise which they believe has not yet been fulfilled.

There are four witnesses in the Old Testament that prove the land promise has been fulfilled. First, during the days of Joshua – “So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass” (Josh. 21:43-45).

The next proof of the land promise’s fulfillment is found during the reign of King Solomon. “So Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life” (1 Kings 4:21).

After the return from Babylonian captivity, Nehemiah as Governor superintended the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. He affirms that God had fulfilled the land promise. “You are the Lord God, Who chose Abram, And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, And gave him the name Abraham; You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him To give the land of the Canaanites, The Hittites, the Amorites, The Perizzites, the Jebusites, And the Girgashites— To give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, For You are righteous. ‘You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, And heard their cry by the Red Sea’” (Neh. 9:7-9).

Finally the Psalmist wrote, “For He remembered His holy promise, And Abraham His servant. He brought out His people with joy, His chosen ones with gladness. 44 He gave them the lands of the Gentiles, And they inherited the labor of the nations” (Ps. 105:42-44).

The promise was not fulfilled during the lifetime of Abraham (Acts 7:5). Just when was the land promise fulfilled? There are passages which serve as time markers. “But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt” (Acts 7:17). God Himself gave Abraham the time period when He made the promise. “Then He said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age’” (Gen. 15:13-15). After 400 years God begins to free the children of Abraham from Egyptian bondage “So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites” (Ex. 3:8).

“Everlasting” Promises?

In rebuttal, Premillennialist claim that the promises were permanent or everlasting. They base this belief on God’s Promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:7-8: “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” They explain the importance of this passage: “The crucial issues in relation to premillennialism are two-fold. (1) Does the Abrahamic covenant promise Israel a permanent existence as a nation? If it does, then the church is not fulfilling Israel’s promises and (2) Does the Abrahamic covenant promise Israel permanent possession of the promised land if it does, then Israel must yet come into possession of the promised land, for she has never fully possess it in her history” (Ryrie 53-56).

Yet “everlasting” does not mean forever. Circumcision was said to be an “everlasting covenant.” “He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:13). Circumcision is not binding (Gal. 5:6). The Passover was to be “everlasting”. ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance” (Ex. 12:14). The feast days of the Old Law has ceased (Col. 2:14-17). The earth is said to abide “forever” (Eccl. 1:4) but it will not (2 Pet. 3:10-13). According to premillennialist the earth will end at the conclusion of the thousand-year reign of Christ in Jerusalem. How could this be if the earth is to last forever?

What needs to be remembered is that many of the promises of the Bible are conditioned upon obedience. The reception of the land was unconditional by way of God’s promise. However, the retention of the land was conditional based upon continued obedience. God warned that by their obedience they would prosper in the land, but by their failure to keep the Word of God the land would be forfeited (Deut. 30:15-20).

This warning was repeated in Joshua 23:14-16: “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed. Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all the good things have come upon you which the Lord your God promised you, so the Lord will bring upon you all harmful things, until He has destroyed you from this good land which the Lord your God has given you. When you have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you.”

Remnant Prophecies

The prophecies concerning a remnant returning after captivity was prophesied in Deuteronomy 28:15ff; 30:1-10. In 722 BC the ten tribes of the nation of Israel went into Assyrian Captivity. Judah went into seventy years of Babylonian captivity in 586 BC.
There is a dual fulfillment of the returning from captivity. Physically the remnant returned to the land under Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest in 536 BC and Ezra the scribe in 458 BC.

But, according to Isaiah there is a second remnant. “It shall come to pass in that day That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the remnant of His people who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea” (Is. 11:11). This return of a spiritual remnant was fulfilled in Christ. “Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5). “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth” (Is. 9:27-28).

The Law Fulfilled

To garner scriptural support for the special place for Jews in God’s plans, others try to build a case that the Jews remained under the Law while only Gentiles were called to Christ. But the Old Law has been fulfilled as part of the mission of the Messiah. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). Christ has fulfilled the purpose of the physical tabernacle which serves as the “copy” and the “shadow” of things to come (Heb. 8:5). Christ has fulfilled the purposes of all of those sacrifices in His one sacrifice (Heb.10;10). Christ becoming the perfect High Priest (Heb. 7:26-28). The Law has been done away for both Jew and Gentile when it was nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14). Both Jew and Gentile are both one in Christ (Rom. 1:16,17; Eph. 2:14; Gal. 3:26-29). Paul warned them against attempting to be justified by the Old Law. “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).

If the Jews are not saved by the Gospel, then how are they saved apart from the salvation offered to the Gentiles? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Rom. 1:16-17). The only thing left for the Jews today is in Christ and the Gospel. Peter said, “but we [Jews] believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they [Gentiles]” (Acts 15:11).

– Daniel R. Vess

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