Retractare: Israel, the promise and problem

If you ask an amillennialist (or some historic premils) how he reconciles two truths from biblical eschatology that are in tension between the already/not yet.   That’s okay though the problem is getting them to affirm anything specific about eschatology.  I see the same thing with respect to Israel.  In many ways the New Testament shows Israel as an enemy to the people of God.  Paul even says as much (Romans 9-11).    Further, we need to be careful in advocating a parallel covenants in the New Testament.   So this is one anchor in our hermeneutics.

Another anchor is that Paul also says they are ” concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Romans 11:28).  He also says in Romans 9:3-4 that to them belong (present tense) the oracles and the covenants.

If an amillennialist can chant “already/not yet” every time a tension arises, then why can one not posit a tension when dealing with actual biblical truths?  When I dialogued with the Russian nationalists and True Orthodox for several years, there was a lot of angry Jew-bashing.   Jews were accused of promoting all kinds of international banking corporatism and immorality.  And in a large sense that is true.   And we can apply the “they are enemies” anchor in this sense.  But the True Orthodox stop there.  They should have read the rest of Romans 11.  God has a future for them.

This is a forward-looking eschatology.   Whatever else one may think about the millennium or the Davidic Throne, positing a future plan for Israel (on the Messiah’s terms) gears both ethics and eschatology.  It keeps theology from circling the wagons and getting static.  It lets one draw a firm line in the sand with respect to the Jews (e.g., the Messiah commands repentance and faith and we must reject your immorality [Hollywood]), but understanding that the biblical time-line is moving forward.

And without getting too conspiratorial, this makes happenings in the Middle East very relevant.

And for my fellow Reformed, everything I have said would have been endorsed by John Murray, Horatio Bonar, and Robert Murray M’Cheyne.


2 comments on “Retractare: Israel, the promise and problem

  1. Evan says:

    I seem to recall that the “already/not yet” slogan started with premills.

    • Kind of. George Ladd beat everyone to the punch, though in recent years the Riddlebarger camp has made the most use of it. Ladd even admitted that if it weren’t for the straightfoward exegesis of Revelation 20, he would be premil.

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