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The Israel of God (1h)

Is Israel Not a Nation Forever? Part 1, #8

Here is the clearest passage on the perpetuity of Israel's nationhood: "If those ordinances [sun, moon and stars, etc] depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever. Thus saith the LORD: if heaven above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD" (Jer 31:36-37).

That seems clear: the state of Israel, as a political entity, is under the eternal blessing of God, and will always be a nation. But we should notice a few things.

First, what does the text mean by nation? The Hebrew word is goy, the plural of which, goyim, means the Gentiles. A nation would appear to be a distinct people with a head, or a people with a king.

Second, how did God keep this promise in a way to satisfy the most literalistic premillennial dispensationalist? Israel only became a nation at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19. God declared Israel to be a peculiar treasure (Hebrew: segulah; Greek: laos periousios) and a kingdom of priests and an holy nation (Hebrew: goy qadosh; Greek: ethnos hagion) (vv. 5-6). Was Israel a nation when the 10 tribes were carried away into captivity; was Israel a nation when the remaining 2 tribes were carried into Babylon for 70 years; was Israel a nation when she existed as a  plaything for the nations from the return to the time of the Roman empire, and when no Davidic king ever sat on the earthly throne in Jerusalem again; was Israel a nation when she was destroyed in AD 70; and was Israel a nation from AD 70 to AD 1948/1967; and is Israel today a nation?

Third, the promise of Jeremiah 31:36-37 is made explicitly to the seed of Israel, and not to the corporate entity known as Israel. The seed of Israel includes all those, whether ethnic Jew or ethnic Gentile, who believe in Jesus Christ, and excludes all ethnic Jews (and all ethnic Gentiles) who reject Jesus Christ. Since the Jews who returned to Israel in AD 1948 were unbelievers, Jeremiah 31 has nothing to do with them. 

But what of the nationhood of Israel? In which people is this promise fulfilled if not in the unbelieving Jewish state in the Middle East?   And is there a king to sit on David's throne? The New Testament tells us that Jesus is the son or seed of David and that He sits on David's throne: "the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32-33). Premillennial Dispensationalists are fond of asserting that this prophecy will be fulfilled in a future millennial reign. First, 1.000 years is not forever, and Luke 1 demands that Jesus rule forever over the house of Jacob. And, second, Acts 2 teaches that Jesus is already sitting on the throne of David in heaven (vv. 30, 33-36).                               

To be continued …


[1] From Pastor’s blog, http://www.limerickreformed.com/blog/item/588-the-israel-of-god-part-2

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McGeown, Martyn

Rev. Martyn McGeown

Ordained: 2010

Pastorates: Missionary-pastor in Limerick, Ireland for the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Northern Ireland - 2010.

Website: www.limerickreformed.com/

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