My Question:God's covenant with Abraham

(Yeddu Prasad) #1

Hi everyone,

God made a promise to Abraham that he will bless all nations through Israel. I believe we are seeing God’s promise come true today as Israel has been blessing the world through so many things in science, agriculture, health care, security…

For 4 thousand years Israel had suffered persecution under several nations for disobedience and moving away from God’s commands. Since 1948 Israel has fought several of its foes in wars and diplomatic feuds and has always won and come out stronger.

My question : What is the reason for the change in this nations’s prosperity?

  1. Is it that they are keeping God’s commands and hence God is blessing them so much?
  2. If #1 is Yes what has made this nation align with God’ commands when for generations they always moved away from God.
  3. If #1 is No, Is it that God is honoring his promise to Abraham irrespective of what Israel is doing. This is happening as it is in line with his plan as revealed in so many places in the bible that God in the end will bless Israel. (Ezekial 37, Jeremiah 32:37, Nehemiah 1:10, Jeremiah 23:3…)

Please excuse me if such questions are not allowed in this forum.

(SeanO) #2

@yeddu Thank you for your question - it is a good one. Your question assumes that Israel is being blessed by God - even that is debatable. Some Christians believe that ethnic Israel is still God’s chosen people and that when Israel became a nation again in the 1948 it was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. As a result of this belief, they say that we should support the nation of Israel because God is fulfilling His end time promises through them during our generation. Others, like myself, believe that the Church is the new Israel and all are one, both Jew and Greek, in Christ. The old covenant is ended - the new has come.

Regardless of your belief on that topic, however, I think that we can all agree Israel has behaved in ways that are not in keeping with God’s commandments on occasion. Here is a podcast from Phil Vischer where he interviews a scholar Gary Burge who discusses the topic of Israel and Palestine.

I also recommend listening to Steve Gregg’s teaching on “What are we to make of Israel?” While he does hold one particular view strongly, I believe he does a good job of summarizing the Biblical passages relevant to understanding this topic well.

What are your personal beliefs regarding the modern nation of Israel? Have you ever heard of these particular teachings before? Christ grant you wisdom.

(Daren L McClellan) #3

SeanO, interested in your thoughts on this apparent blessing of Israel be a preparation for Christ’s return. Thank you.

(SeanO) #4

@Daren I’ll preface this by saying I think Steve Gregg’s lectures I linked above are a terrific overview. This topic is one that is meaningful to me because I was only taught one view - that Israel’s geopolitical status is a sign that Christ is returning soon. I was never taught the alternative views. It seems to me one ought to be taught each possible view and allowed to decide for one’s self.

This is actually a very complex topic to study - it took me years to confidently state my opinion. For example, here are some of the things that must be taken into account:

  • were the promises that Abraham would inherit the land fulfilled prior to Christ? If we look at the boundaries of David’s Kingdom it certainly looks like they were… Or is the land promise spiritually fulfilled in the Church?
  • does God still have a covenant with ethnic Israel - is the old covenant still in effect? Or are we living entirely in the New Covenant in which God deals primarily with His Church which is composed of all nations? I think the Church is the new Israel - this view is sometimes disparagingly called replacement theology - but I think fulfillment theology would be more accurate.
  • what does Revelation mean when it talks about the 1000 year reign of the saints?
  • what is the rapture? N. T. Wright points out the word used refers to when the people of a city go out to greet a victorious king and then return to the city with him, so it does not necessarily mean disappearing into the sky…

I could keep on going, but I think a brief history lesson is helpful to understand the origin of the belief that Israel’s restoration precedes Christ’s return.

The craze began with Hal Lindsey’s book “The Late, Great Planet Earth” in the 1970. A guy in Bible study at work said that he read that book as a kid and prayed harder than he ever had because he was convinced Jesus was coming back. Every night he was just waiting for Jesus to return. Lindsey predicted that there would be a Soviet invasion of Israel and said it would be the War of Gog and Magog from Ezekiel. He also predicted a revived Roman Empire that would be the beast of Revelation. He strongly hinted this would all come to pass in the 1980s - hence my friend’s trepidation. Needless to say, we are all still here… After that craze you had the “Left Behind” novels, which really popularized the view that the rapture would come soon and there would be a new world empire. This view that was popularized is called premilliennial dispensationalism.

The millennium is a 1000 year period discussed in Revelation where the saints reign with God. Some people think that this 1000 years refers to a period after the return of Christ when we will all reign with Him - others, like myself, think that it refers to the saints reigning with Christ from Heaven during the Church age - which we are in right now.

Revelation 20:6 - Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Here is a diagram of the 4 views of the millennium:

Here are a few books I recommend reading to gain a deeper understanding of this topic:

Did you find that helpful? Many books could be written on this subject - many very long books. I hope that at least gave you some of the context surrounding the question. My personal view is that the Church is the Israel of God and that Israel’s restoration is not indicative of Christ returning soon.

Eisegesis vs Exegesis

As a brief aside, there are two really helpful terms when studying difficult topics like this one - eisegesis and exegesis. Eisegesis means reading your own view into the Biblical text - exegesis means letting the text speak for itself within its historical and literary context. Naturally everyone claims to be doing exegesis, but on this issue I think we must be very careful to avoid eisegesis. It is very tempting to want to see the daily news in your Bible - like Russia invading Israel in the 1970s/80s - you can see how that might get people interested.

I think for topics like this one - we must respect one another’s views and study really carefully to attempt to avoid eisegesis. We must each question our own assumptions, listen to all viewpoints and always being willing to revisit the Biblical text.

My Question is about Amos 7:1
(Daren L McClellan) #5

Thank you for your answer.

(SeanO) #6

@Daren Indeed - feel free to ask additional questions. I hope it was helpful :slight_smile: It is a difficult topic to study thoroughly. The Lord Jesus grant you wisdom.

(Rodney Neufeld) #7

I am no expert on the subject however it appears to me Israel is doing well as a result of their God given abilities and attributes. Historically many of the worlds great advancements in multiple scientific disciplines have been made by Jewish scientists and researchers, they are a truly blessed and gifted people. That being said when I look at the nation of Israel I see a secular nation that still as a whole rejects the gospel and even the authority of scripture. It is no different now than it was when the apostles attempted to share the Gospel. It is in fact frowned upon and the fact that you will not find Isaiah 53 in a jewish bible in that nation makes it clear that more than ever they need their Messiah as they still try to do all things under their own steam. I see even so-called “Christian” organizations refuse to evangelize for fear of being ejected… Paul went to prison for that message, what makes them think we know better than he did? My 2 cents

(SeanO) #8

@12unlikely I think that is a fair assessment if I understand correctly - Israel is a secular nation with many gifted and talented people. Where did you hear that they have removed Isaiah 53 from their Scriptures? I know that Jewish sects teach it does not refer to Christ but to Israel the nation, but I do not think they have removed it.

(Rodney Neufeld) #9

Many friends that travel to Israel regularily and do volunteer work and mission work. One for Israel also has had wonderful success with the sharing of the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. David Hawking has also mentioned if various times when I saw him speak at the Prophecy conference in Winnipeg, there are many groups sharing that chapter and its true meaning.

(SeanO) #10

Thank you for sharing your experience. I am glad people are sharing Jesus - hopefully in a culturally sensitive and winsome manner.

(Rodney Neufeld) #11

Fair enough. After all if there is to be any offence it should be the gospel not the messanger.