Monday, April 14, 2008

A note on 'Future Israel'

We have come across the following item in the internet: Here is the context. You will note that Vanderwaal is an orthodox Preterist, looking forward to the New heavens and the new earth, the New Jerusalem without denying the earthly city. Vanderwaal corrects:
1. The Platonic idea of the Final State that far too many modern Christians have (all credit to Barry Horner for saying the same thing).
2.The hyper-preterist who practically adopts an eternal dualism, with this world remaining full of sin for ever.
3. The dualistic dispensationalist, who says that Israel is God's earthly people, and the Church God's heavenly (Note: We are NOT calling all Dispensationalists dualists, only those who speak of two peoples of God, not one, and who make an eternal separation between Israel and the Church).

Says van der Waal: "The translations have the writer saying in Hebrews 11:13 that the patriarchs 'confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.' Now it is very questionable to me whether this translation 'on the earth' is justified. Instead of 'on the earth,' we would like to plead for the translation, 'in the land.' Compare the Hebrew word 'erets -- meaning 'land' or 'earth' or 'country.'

"So here, we should be thinking of the promised land. Then the meaning would be: 'Abraham confessed that he a stranger and a pilgrim in the land.' In verse 8, we read of a place which Abraham received as an inheritance. Canaan was no halfway-house. No! It was his inheritance, his place. Hebrews 11:9 speaks of this place -- as the land of promise!

"Woe unto Abraham -- if he thought that this 'land' was still not actually the true and the real thing! There would be no 'Platonic' land in the sweet by-and-by more real, which he would only one day inherit. It is true on account of Abraham's situation, that he lived in that land as a sojourning stranger. Yet he was still the legal heir of that land.

"Of course, Abraham also expected the city which has foundations. Here, however, we should think of both Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem. For both are lineal fulfilments of the promise. Hebrews 11:14 says that the patriarchs sought a city. Hebrews 11:16 declares they were not thinking of the fatherland which they had left. But now, they were longing for a better country, i.e. a heavenly one.

"Here, we do not read that they longed for heaven as a fatherland. Instead, we read that they longed for a heavenly fatherland -- namely a fatherland determined by, and given from, heaven: an earthly fatherland given from heaven; an earthly fatherland of heavenly character!

"In addition, the contrast is not between Ur the deserted fatherland plus Canaan as the lesser promised land -- versus heaven as a better fatherland. No! The contrast is rather between leaving Ur as a lesser fatherland deserving to be deserted, versus the promised land of Canaan here on earth. That latter in turn was of course a picture of the new heaven and the new earth of the then-messianic future -- the fulfilment of Canaan, when heaven comes down to earth and when the earthly Canaan and the heavenly Canaan will be one!

"Now we are only threatened by a horizontalisation of Canaan -- if it is described as a fatherland better than the one to come after death, or if one stops only at the earthly Canaan. Then, of course, there will [quite rightly] be an immediate reaction -- to refer to heaven as being a still better fatherland than the earthly Canaan.

"But we are also threatened by a pietistic distortion of the Gospel -- which practically denies God as Creator, and denies the goodness of the earthly Canaan. As a result of this kind of distorted pietistic spiritualisation -- which ignores the history of salvation -- the Old Testament is obscured. People then know no better than to use terms like 'external' and 'earthly' and 'national' to characterise the underestimated gift of the earthly Canaan.

We only say that we basically agree with Vanderwaal here.

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