Monday, April 21, 2008
Further Thoughts on 'Future Israel' III
Let us repeat, we are at one with DR. Horner regarding a future restoration of the Jews to the Land of Israel, and to faith in Messiah. Wherein we differ is that we see no reason to postpone this conversion to the time of Our Lord's Second Advent, thus divorcing their conversion from the preaching of the Gospel, and we see no reason to believe that a rebuilt temple will ever stand in Jerusalem.
Why do we speak of a future restoration of Israel to the Land? Are they not already there? Certainly the Jews are in Israel, and they possess Jerusalem. But they can scarcely be said to possess it in peace, and we see no reason to believe they shall ever possess it in peace so long as they refuse to recognise the Prince of Peace as their Messiah. As for the Temple, if the Book of Hebrews means anything, it means that the types and shadows of the ceremonial law have passed away for ever in the one sacrifice of Christ, once offered. A new temple and new sacrifices would be utterly alien to the book of Hebrews, unless the dualistic dispensationalists are right in saying that the book of Hebrews was for the Church Age only.
We know that Dr. Horner and others contend that the temple of Ezekiel must be a literal, physical edifice, and that terrible earthquakes will prepare the way for its construction (our readers must know that the Ezekiel Temple is far too large to fit onto the Temple Mount. We think this a good reason to doubt that it is a literal temple at all). Yet Horner has also said (on Iron Sharpens Iron) that the sacrifices of Ezekiel's Temple will be commemorative. This is no-where in the text, and if the temple is literal, so the sacrifices must be. We would rather forgo the physical Temple completely than start on the road that leads to Gordon's contention that the blood of bulls and of goats was able to put away sin.
This contention for a restored temple, and dualistic dispensationalism, are, in our opinion, responsible for the eclipse of the hope of the restoration of Israel among the Reformed in the present day (we contend that many Reformed Christians still think that the Scofield-Darby brand is the only form of dispensationalism). They believe that the restoration of Israel is bound up with a theology that separates the Church and Israel for ever (for it only affirms a new earth for Israel, and a new heavens for the Church), and that rob them of the New Testament. This is an unfortunate mistake, and one Barry Horner, thankfully, does not make.
We know that there are many Reformed and other exegetes who are willing to consider a restoration of Israel to faith without a restoration to the Land. Unlike Dr. Horner, we are unable to find it in our hearts to call such 'Anti-Jewish', but we think them highly inconsistent. The Land and the People cannot be separated in the Abrahamic covenant. Admit a continuing prophetic purpose for one, and it follows that such a purpose continues for the other. Abraham was promised a posterity who would possess the Land, and 'the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance." Which gifts and calling? While it is quite correct for a preacher to use these words to refer to the perseverance of God's elect, that is in realty an accommodation, not the intent of the Apostle. No, he speaks of the gifts and calling of Abraham, the choice of the people and the gift of the Land. The curse is that they be separated from the land, the blessing of the covenant is that they be restored to it, and we believe that just as the Jews have known for centuries the curses of the covenant, so the day is coming when they shall be fully restored to the blessings.
Let us ask this: How would The world know that Israel, as a nation, had been restored to the favour of Jehovah, unless by the restoration of the Land, not in the present precarious state, but fully?
In order to avoid confusion, let us say that we believe the present nation of Israel has a right to exist, and ought to be protected against her enemies. But the present state of Israel is, in our opinion, merely a foreshadowing of the restoration that is to come.
For those interested in the topic, our first choice would be Steve Schlissel's 1990 edition of David Brown's classic work on the Restoration of the Jews, re-titled Hal Lindsey and the Restoration of the Jews, available from Eden. Errol Hulse's excellent more modern work on the subject (Third edition, Worthing, Walter, 1982), is sadly out of print, but you may be able to find second-hand copies on the internet.
God willing, next time we shall conclude.
[Illustrated: The old Borough Synagogue, London, originally built for James Wells as the Surrey Tabernacle Baptist chapel]