Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Israel of God

As I become more and more entrenched in the Amillenial camp of eschatology, I am only further persuaded by O. Palmer Robertson's, The Israel of God. After finishing the first chapter which deals with the land of Israel in her experience under the Old Covenant, the Land in the Psalms and Prophets and the Land From a New Covenant Perspective, I am convinced Robertson establishes the best hermeneutical approach to view the land promises throughout the Old Testament.

Having been a Christian in churches which believe the dispensational view that one must take the Bible literally, I had been accustomed to seeing prophecies and the New Testament in general from a viewpoint that blinded one to the clear scope of Scripture. Yet, this assumption that Amilenarians were spiritualizing the Bible while Dispensationalists took it literally is simply untrue

Let me offer an example. I had often heard it said that Ezekiel 37 was referring to National Israel's return to the Land in 1948. This was somehow a literal interpretation. Notice the text:

Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'


Is the 1948 return to Israel a literal fulfillment as Dispensationalists have said? Allow me to cite Robertson to those who would say the resurrection in Ezek 37 takes place in 2 parts (physical then spiritual):

"But the obvious parallel between this account of the infusion of life in Ezekiel and the creation account in Genesis 2:7 makes it plain that Ezekiel's vision of a return to life refers to a single event. First, God formed man of the dust of the earth, and then He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Only after this second action of the Creator was man declared to be 'a living being.' In a similar fashion, the skeleton formed by the coming together of the bones in Ezekiel was a totally lifeless being, still lying at the foot of the valley. Only after the breath of life from God entered the skeleton did it come to life.

From this perspective, it would seem evident that the return of the Jews to Palestine in the twentieth century, leading to the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, should not be regarded as a fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophecy. Israel's twentieth-century rebirth as a nation did not involve any opening of graves, resurrection of the body, inpouring of the Spirit of God, or renewal of life. However the establishment of Israel may be viewed, it does not fulfill the expectation of Ezekiel as described in this vivid prophecy. Instead, this picture of a people brought to newness of life by the Spirit of God leads to a consideration of the role of the land in the context of the New Covenant."

In other words, Robertson is taking this resurrection literally, not spiritually as Dispensationalists do! The question about eschatology should include hermeneutics, but it should also included the broad scope of Scripture and our presuppositions among other considerations.

If the rest of the book is like the first chapter, I will be certain to mention again that this is a must own for your library and studies.

(Please note there are lectures on the link with the picture on Covenant Theology. Kuddos to monergism.com)

1 comment:

Jus' Visiting said...

Hi! I don't normally participate with Blogs nor read much of anything concerning Christian thinking these days on the Internet. Frankly, I am jus' plain weary of it all ... havin' tuh sift through all the bizarre an' stuff is such a tedious affair. But today I was GoogleSearching a term and I stumbled into your Blog here which stated your view concerning 'Spiritual Israel' and was very impressed with your very able explanation. I too have understood these same things for many years now and am refreshed at heart to read that others have a share in these things too.
May I recommend you a book freely available on the Internet? It is titled 'The Israel of God' and authored by J.E. van den Brink.

Toronto/Canada