Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Abrahamic Covenant, by Dr. George B. Fletcher, Ch. 11, Part 4

Chapter XI
Part 4
The Teaching of the New Testament
     Isaiah prophesied that "the Lord shall set his hand AGAIN THE SECOND TIME to recover the remnant of his people'' (Isa. 11:11), by which we understand the first time to be their return from captivity in Babylon, and the second time to refer to the days of the Messiah. We test Israel's return in the days of the Messiah by the New Testament, and ask the question, Is this return to be understood literally? Does Christ and the Holy Spirit through the apostles declare that Israel after the flesh shall return to Palestine, be re-established as a nation, rebuild their Temple, Jerusalem become the international religious and political capital of the world, and the Jews be established in a universal Jewish hegemony of the nations? In seeking the answer in the light of the New Testament, we apply two principles of interpretation.
     FIRST, the principle that the darkness of the Old Covenant is past (1 John 2:8), and the true light now shineth (John 8:12). In other words, did our Lord Jesus Christ teach the doctrine of a future Israelitish earthly kingdom during the time of His humiliation as recorded in the Gospels, or since His Exaltation in glory? We are persuaded that one searches in vain from Matthew through the gospel of John to find any passage that teaches the return 0£ Israel to the land, their re-establishment as a nation in covenant relationship with God, the re-institut­ion of the Mosaic system of worship, or that Christ will personally sit on a literal earthly throne of David in Jerusalem and exercise His Messianic reign over the earth through a universal Jewish hegemony of the nations. Quite to the contrary, our Lord taught that "the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, NOR YET AT JERUSALEM, worship the Father ... But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers, shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him" (John 4:21, 23). Our Lord since His exaltation to the right hand of the Majesty on High has spoken from the glory to His servant the apostle John and we have the inspired account of that message in the book of Revelation. But here again we search in vain for any confirmation from the risen Christ of the doctrine of a future Israelitish, earthly, world power kingdom of a thousand years' duration. Even in Revelation chapter 20 nothing is said about Israel, or the saints, Jews or Gentiles, reigning on the earth. The word "Israel" is only found three times in the book, namely, 2:14; 7:4; and 21:12. The first reference is irrelevant to the question at hand; the second reference is only declaring that God has an election of grace from among the Jews (7:1-8), as also from among the Gentiles (7:9-17) in these times of the Messiah: and the last reference has to do with the eternal state. The word "Judah" does not occur; while the word "Jews" is found only twice, and both references prove there is a true Israel and a false one, the synagogue of Satan (2:9; 3:9; compare Rom. 9:6-8). We conclude, therefore that our Lord did not teach the doctrine of a future Israelitish political kingdom on earth.
     SECOND, the principle of complete and final revelation by the Holy Spirit through the apostles. John 16:12, 13 -­"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." The Holy Spirit thus completed the final objective revelation of God through the writings of the apostles. Consequently, we cannot go first hand to the prophecies in the Old Testa­ment in order to explain the New Testament by them, but rather enter the prophecies of the Old Testament with the New Testament key by which they are opened to us (2 Cor. 3:6). There are five writers whom the Holy Spirit used to complete the New Testament, namely, Paul, James, Peter, John and Jude. We read the apostle Paul's sermons as re­corded in the book of Acts, his church epistles, prison epistles, and pastoral epistles, and find no teaching on Israel's return in unbelief to the land, their national conversion en masse, or their national restoration to the glory of the times of David and Solomon. Even in Romans chapters 9 to 11, where the apostle Paul treats of the Jew question, he is wholly silent as to any restoration of the Jews to Palestine, or as to any future personal reign of Christ on David's throne in Jerusalem.
     "Nowhere," says De Wette (1 Thess. 4:17), "is there in Paul's
     writings a clear trace of an earthly kingdom of Christ."
To the contrary, the apostle Paul has much to say against it in his epistles to the Ephesians (2:11-3:6), Galatians (4:9-11; 21-31), and to the Hebrews (12:18-29}. James, the Lord's brother, likewise says nothing in his epistle about Mosaic restorationism. To the contrary, as head of the church in Jerusalem, he dealt a death blow to the theory of Jewish racial supremacy as being of God, in Acts 15:13-18. In this passage, James is quoting a prophecy of Amos 9:11, 12 given some 787 years before Christ's incarnation, and is citing WHAT AMOS SAID IN HIS DAY, and not giving his own prophecy of future events in relation to the Second Advent of Christ. James makes it clear that the "building up'' of the tabernacle of David was the conversion of the Gentiles, the ONE SUBJECT OF DISCUSSION before the Confer­ence or Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1, 5), and that this was the fulfillment of Amos' prophecy (Acts 15:22-29; compare 11:1-18). The apostle Peter is the third writer completing the New Testament revelation, and he likewise says nothing of the regathering to the land and reinstatement of Israel as a favored and chosen nation in covenant relationship to God. His sermons in the book of Acts lend no support to the future Israelitish supremacy theory, but rather declare Christ will remain in heaven until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21). He also makes it clear that when Christ does return from heaven it will be to judge the world of the ungodly in righteousness and usher in the eternal state (2 Peter 3:1- 18), and not a thousand years or Jewish racial hegemony over the Gentile peoples of earth. But our Lord was asked the question, "Wilt thou at this time restore again the king­dom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6), and it is asserted that this implies a future, national, earthly glory kingdom for Israel. In reply, we point out that never again in the New Testa­ment does one find a reference to a "kingdom of Israel". Christ knew that the Holy Spirit would correct their false notions by His subsequent teaching of the apostles (John 16:12, 13), and that the course of Divine Providence would show that His kingdom was spiritual and not of this world
(John 18:36; 2 Car. 10:3-5; Rom. 14:17). The apostle John in his three epistles, as also the apostle Jude, have nothing to say about a universal, Israelitish, earthly, political kingdom.
     Patrick Fairbairn wrote: "There is not the slightest reference to
     the rebuilding of the Old Jerusa­lem in all the New Testament,
     and if it is not in the New Testament we have no right to assume,
     or to teach it."
The New Testament contrasts the Jerusalem which is above (Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22) with the Jerusalem which now is (Gal. 4:25) and declares the latter to be in bondage with her children (Gal. 4:25) and spiritually is called "Sodom and Egypt" (Rev. 11:8). We conclude, therefore, that the doctrine of a future Israelitish, earthly kingdom in Pales­tine is one of the "divers and strange doctrines" of the last days. The New Testament lends no support to the theory, but rather overthrows it.
     Nevertheless some will say the Jews are going back to Palestine; they have been constituted a nation among the political commonwealths of the world; is not this a ful­fillment of Bible prophecy? In the light of the foregoing, we answer emphatically, No.
     Dr. T. T. Shields in his sermon entitled "WILL THE JEWS OF
     cannot find in all the New Testament one word anywhere that
     teaches that the Jews are to be gathered back to Palestine, and
     that it is to be the national home of the Jews because God has
     pledged Himself that it shall be so. I am sure that the theory is
     absolutely devoid of New Testa­ment authority."
     And to this agrees Dr. Loraine Boettner in his recent book "The Millennium" in the chapter on The Jews and Pales­tine where he writes:
      'It may be that in years to come the Jews will possess a larger
     part, or even all, of Palestine. We do not know. But if they do
     they will secure it as other nations secure property, through
     negotiation, or purchase, or conquest, not by virtue of any as
     yet unfulfilled prophecies or promises. There are no such
     prophecies or pro­mises."

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