Is there a future for Israel?
We shall now consider the teaching that there is no future for Israel, that the church is the "Israel of God", and that Israel as a nation is finished with, all the promises given to Israel having been abrogated. When the apostle speaks in Galatians 6.16 of "the Israel of God" he is not referring to the whole church as if to indicate that the church of today has taken the place of Israel and that forever. The verse in full says: "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, [company number one] and upon the Israel of God" [company number two]. "The Israel of God" refers to those believing Jews in the early church spoken of by Paul in Romans 11.5 as the "remnant according to the election of grace". Be sure of this, that each time the name "Israel" is used it has a Jewish setting. In Romans and Galatians these were Jewish converts.
The crucifixion of Jesus, Israels Messiah, did not cancel, annul or abrogate divine promise of a Messiah ultimately sitting on Davids throne. In his Pentecostal address Peter made this abundantly clear. In Acts 2.29-36 Peter tells the nation of Israel that when God swore to David that of the fruit of his loins He would raise up Christ to sit on His throne (see Psalm 132), David as a prophet was speaking of the resurrection of Christ. Thus, said Peter, the one who shall yet sit on Davids throne must be raised from the dead and in the meantime, by the right hand of God, be exalted. Was David wrong in Psalm 132? Was Peter wrong in his interpretation of the Psalm when he said that Christ risen from the dead shall yet sit on Davids throne? If they were not wrong then Christ crucified, risen, now exalted is destined to sit on Davids throne. If that is so then His crucifixion has not cancelled divine promise and Israels future under the reign of Christ is assured.
That Israels future is assured is argued conclusively by the apostle Paul in Romans 11. There he asks whether God has cast away His people. Their future is assured firstly on the ground of present revelation. "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" (v.25). What was the mystery revealed to Paul? That Israels present blindness, or hardness, is neither total nor permanent. It is not total for it is in part. This does not mean that they are only partially blind, for it is a complete blindness, but not all Jews share in this. Some Jews have had their eyes opened and have trusted Christ. As for the mass, they remain completely hardened or blind.
"Blindness in part" simply means that not all in the nation are judicially blinded, or hardened. However, this blindness is not permanent. it is "until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in". I trust that all accept the "until" of Israels blindness. It is not forever, but until God takes from the Gentiles the complement of those to be saved. Then He will turn to Israel again.
Israels future is further assured on the ground of past prophecy. Romans 11.26 says, "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written [in Isaiah 59], There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob". Our Lord has not yet come to Sion as Israels deliverer, but He will in a future day.
Again, Israels future is assured on the ground of Gods covenant of grace. Romans 11.27 says, "For this is my covenant unto them (from me to them, JND), when I shall take away their sins (when I shall have taken away their sins, JND)". The new covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31, assuring the taking away of their sins, is a covenant of grace. It is not a covenant that depends on their faithfulness, but on Gods grace alone. Notice the alternative reading of Romans 11.27. It is not so much Gods covenant with them, as if God entered into a two-sided contract. It is really His covenant unto them. In Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8 it is spoken of as a covenant not "with" the house of Israel and the house of Judah but "concerning" them or "consummated with them". It is a one sided covenant. God Himself has undertaken every responsibility as to its fulfilment. To deny Israels future is to charge God with unfaithfulness.
While in this present day we enjoy in a spiritual way the blessings of the new covenant in that we "know the Lord" and our sins are taken away, yet in its literality this covenant concerns Israel in a future day.
Fourthly, Israels future is assured on the ground of Gods electing grace. Romans 11.28 says, "But as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers sakes". There is, in fact, a two fold reference to election in Romans 11. The first, in v.5, says, "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace". This refers to individual Jews saved by grace at this present time, in this day of grace. The other, in v.28, is a national election and assures Israels future relationship with God. One might as well question ones own salvation as question the future of Israel on the ground of election.
Lastly, in this connection, Israels future is assured on the ground of Gods dealings in grace with that nation. Romans 11.29 states that, "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance". Keeping, as we must, to the context, we understand the apostle to be saying that God will never repent, or change His mind, in respect of the gifts He has given to the nation of Israel and its divine call. All of this and much more should put beyond any question the certainty of Israels future.
Will there be a Millennium?
We shall now consider the line of teaching that there is no future millennium. This says that the concept is not of a literal one thousand years reign of Christ but of a spiritual millennium in which we are now living. I simply ask, "Does the thought of a spiritual millennium appeal to you?" Snakes are still attacking missionaries, and dogs are still attacking tract distributors. Droughts and famines still take place, and there is worldwide war, anarchy, and unrest. These surely preclude any thought of a millennium now.
This future millennial kingdom is described in various ways. It is "the world to come" (Heb 2.5), "the regeneration" (Mt 19.28), and "the restitution of all things" (Acts 3.21). In Colossians 1 the apostle speaks of all things being reconciled, and in Ephesians 1 of all things being headed up in one, even in Him, in the dispensation of the fullness of times.
Creation, animate and inanimate, will be delivered from the curse and the bondage of corruption. In relation to the animate creation, peace and tranquillity shall reach the animal kingdom. "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid". Flesh eating animals shall eat straw - "the lion shall eat straw like the ox". Wild animals shall become tame - "and a little child shall lead them" (Is 11.6-9). Only the serpent shall not be freed from sins curse - "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpents meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord" (Is 65.25).
In relation to the inanimate creation, the curse will also be removed. Ezekiel 36.35 says that "This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden", and 34.27 indicates that "the earth shall yield her increase". The result is described in Amos 9.13 which promises that "The plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed". This will affect the desert which "shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing" (Is 35.1-2). The mountain too will be affected - "There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains" (Ps 72.16). Accordingly "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks" (Is 2.4; Mic 4.3).
To be continued.