Recently I was asked a question on my other blog–The Christian View, by a friend of mine named Dave. He writes:
How will the end times impact not only the church, but the nation of Israel? Does God have a different plan for Israel than the church or is the plan the same but the road travelled to get there slightly different?
Let me say that this question (the question of Israel & the church) is THE question in terms of understanding the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan. As you know the Dispensational view says that God has a separate plan for Israel. The promise that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26) means that God will reclaim his old covenant promises during the millenium (without the church present.) This is also called Pre-millenial. In this view the plan for Israel and the church are entirely separate.
The Covenant view has at least two positions. One Covenant view is that God is done with Israel as a specific nation and only individuals Jews are a part of the plan as they accept the gospel. Covenant view #1 says that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26) means that since all who accept the gospel are the “Israel of God,” all who are part of the true Israel (the remnant) will believe. This position is also generally amillenial. In this view there is no specific future plan for Israel.
The other view in the Covenant camp is that God still has a plan for to include Israel as a nation–to wit that they will turn to God (generally) during salvation history/church age. This is my view. I believe that Romans 9-11 teaches that Israel will turn (generally–most, not all) to accept salvation through Jesus Christ as Messiah before his return. The promise that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26) is a promise that will be fulfilled of the descendents of Jacob (similar set of people as dispensational position) but not during a removed time of history (future millenium). The return of Israel will be “life from the dead” (Romans 11:15). In this view, the relationship between Israel and the church continues in a synergistic effect.
“Now if their trespass means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!” Romans 11:12
In other words, if their tresspass (the nation of Israel’s rejection of the gospel) means riches for the Gentiles (the gospel goes to other nations), what will their full inclusion mean (Israel’s believing the gospel of the kingdom “their” = “their”). In other words, if God can use Israel’s rebellion to bring grace to the world, just imagine what he will do with their belief.
“I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:13-15)
The Apostle Paul clearly believes this will happen in history. In fact, he believes it will happen (in part) through his ministry! Act 20-28 is the saga of St. Paul’s attempt to bring healing unity to the church (Jew/Gentile) through the love offering of the Gentile church for the beleaguered Jewish believers in Jerusalem. (He delivers the gift, gets arrested, and eventually gets shipped off to Caesar—but that’s another story.) That ministry continues today through the proclamation of the full gospel of the Kingdom.
This positive view of salvation history where Israel (on the whole) will accept their Messiah and his gospel before Christ’s return corresponds to the post-millenial position.
Here’s a chart of the basic positions if you want to keep the categories straight.
WHEN WILL THIS BE ACCOMPLISHED?
||In church age – Before the return of Christ
||During a future millenium –
Christ on earth
|God Redeems Israel, too – namely the descendents of Jacob
|God Redeems the church – those who have faith regardless of descent
For more on this issue, please visit my audio downloads of “Introduction to Eschatology” at: www.cornerstoneforlife.com. This is the page under “Ministries” – “Adult Education” – “Class Resources On Line” (just in case the link doesn’t go directly. There are 12 weeks of lessons posted. Week number 8 has the handout and lecture on Israel and the Church based on Romans 9-11. Audio is a free download.