PRI Articles

The Restoration of Israel: The Ten Lost Tribes

THE RESTORATION OF THE 10 LOST TRIBES

DON K. PRESTON

A while back, the A and E television channel aired a program “In Search of the Lost Tribes” that presents a modern day search of the so called 10 Lost Tribes of Israel. In our first article we showed how the 10 northern tribes of Israel were never truly lost, certainly to God! The tribes were never promised total restoration (Amos 5), but a remnant, and that is what returned from Babylonian captivity (Ezra / Nehemiah).

However, the Old Testament also foretold the time when the Messiah would restore Israel. Ezekiel 37 foretold the time when both houses of Israel would become one under the Messiah. He would establish His covenant of peace and build God’s tabernacle among men. Jeremiah 31 also foretold the time when God would make His new covenant with Judah and Israel.

In 2 Corinthians 3-6, the apostle discusses the Old Covenant and the New. He contrasts the glory of the Old with the glory of the New. Now, God never promised two new covenants. He promised to make one new covenant with Israel and Judah! Thus, when Paul, who preached only the hope of Israel (Acts 26:22), discussed the Old Covenant and the New, he was focused on the promises of Ezekiel and Jeremiah! And he says that the Old Covenant was even then in the process of passing away (compare Hebrews 8:13), and they were being transformed into the greater glory of Christ’s New Covenant. The promised New Covenant was being delivered, and since it was to be made with both houses of Israel, it can hardly be argued that the 10 tribes were lost!

Further, in 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul calls on the church to live in righteousness because “you are the temple of the living God.” Now this quote is most often isolated from its historical and prophetic context. Paul does not just tell the Corinthians to live holy lives because they are the Temple of God. He tells them they are the Temple of God foretold by Ezekiel! He says, “you are the temple of God, as it is written...” and then directly quotes from Ezekiel 37:26! The Corinthian Christians, (the church), were the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy!

Ezekiel said that God would unite Israel in one body when He built His New Tabernacle. Paul said that the Corinthian church, not exclusively them, but with the church as the body/temple, was the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s promise! Therefore, the church was/is the fulfillment of God’s promise to reunite and save Israel!

It must not be forgotten that when the church was established, it was comprised of Jews from every nation under heaven (Acts 2). Thus, Jews of every tribe and family were truly reunited in Christ when they obeyed the gospel. As they joined the Gentiles in obedience to Christ they came to be the New Temple of God (Ephesians 2:19-22) just as Ezekiel foretold.

The thing is, in Christ, there is no Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:26-29). Christians are to give no heed to genealogies for religious purposes. Establishing “blood lines” is meaningless and fruitless. God found and restored Israel when He brought Christ to them and offered them the kingdom. His work of saving Israel, bringing her hopes to fulfillment was to be, and was completed in the first century (Romans 9:28). Any modern day search for the so-called 10 Lost Tribes in hopes of a nationalistic restoration is futile, and is tantamount to a rejection of the work of Christ.

How "Lost" Were the Ten Tribes of Israel?

SEARCHING FOR THE LOST TRIBES

Don K. Preston

 

A while back, the A and E channel aired a program entitled Searching for the Lost Tribes. The premise of the show was that attempts are being made to find the lost 10 tribes of Israel that were deported in the Assyrian invasion of Israel in BC 721. The reason they, the Jewish makers of the program, are looking for the lost tribes, is because they believe that the time of the end has arrived and the restoration of the lost tribes is, per their view, necessary to “bring in Armageddon.” Many of the people interviewed spoke with zeal about their hope of the restoration of the tribes so that the Messiah could come.
Throughout the show, “evidence” was presented to ostensibly prove that descendants of the lost tribes have been found in Asia, Africa, and other regions of the world.
What about the “lost tribes”? Is the search for these ancient tribes legitimate? What about the motives behind this search?
First of all, it is clear that those involved in the search reject the true Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth! As Peter, faithful Jew that he was, declared, “Ye men of Israel Hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God by many miracles, wonders and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know.” (Acts 2:22). Peter proclaimed that God had vindicated Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah! God raised Him from the dead! What greater proof could anyone desire? Any modern attempt to find the “lost tribes” in anticipation of the coming of another Messiah, is misguided and doomed to failure. It is based on a false foundation.
Further, the 10 tribes were never intended to be fully restored as a nation! Read Amos 5:1f: “The virgin daughter of Israel is fallen, and will never rise again!” The Lord predicted the Assyrian invasion and deportation of Israel and said that He would destroy Israel to such an extent that she could never be restored again. See Hosea 1:3-5 also. Only a remnant would return.
The fact is that the 10 northern tribes were not truly lost. They certainly were not lost to the Lord, if He wanted to restore them. The point is that Jehovah said Israel would “rise no more,” and that only a remnant would return. The book of Nehemiah records the return from captivity (chapters 6-9)  and Ezra records that sacrifice was offered for all twelve tribes that had returned!
You see, the Assyrians conquered the 10 northern tribes. However, the Babylonians then conquered the Assyrians and therefore, the 10 “lost tribes” were now in Babylonian captivity along with the 2 southern tribes. Thus, when the Persians then destroyed Babylon (Daniel 5) all twelve tribes were then in Persian captivity.
However, Cyrus, the Persian king gave the captives of Israel, any and all who desired, permission to return to Israel (Ezra 1). That is why Ezra and Nehemiah recorded the return of a remnant of all twelve tribes! The 10 tribes were not lost. They literally returned from captivity as a remnant just as predicted.
Programs like that aired by A and E are sensationalistic and appealing to a lot of people. However, the very premise of the show is a rejection of the only hope of Israel, Jesus. Any attempt to circumvent the salvation that is to be found in Him and Him alone is misguided and doomed to failure. We will take a look next at the Messianic gathering of Israel.


Guest Article: William Bell: Zionism and Anti-Semitism

We are always honored and glad to carry articles by William Bell. His article below is causing quite a stir in some circles, and I asked for permission to publish it. This is an important, extremely relevant issue that William has addressed! 

2009-08-20 

What is Zionism and Who is Anti-Semitic? A Third Side of the Coin
William Bell, Jr.
 

Acclaimed reporter and former Vietnam correspondent, Alan Hart, is the author of "Zionism The Real Enemy of the Jews, Volume One: The False Messiah,.   In the prologue  titled "Waiting for the Apocalypse, p. 26, he cites staff writer Jane Lampman’s report in (Monitorworld, March 6-12, 2004).

Her report headlined: THE END OF THE WORLD: THE DEBATE HEATS UP.  She wrote that "the interest in end-times prophecy has spread beyond their circles and is not only shaping people's lives, but even influencing United States foreign policy. She referred to the minority of fundamentalist American Christians.

(CUFI) Christians United for Israel, lobbyist John Hagee's video "Countdown to the Final End" lists seven of his reasons for believing that our generation will see the end of the world, even if it means a nuclear holocaust between the state of Israel and the Arab world. According to the back cover of his book, Jerusalem Countdown, such a catastrophe “will affect every person on planet earth.”

Many Christians fear being labeled “anti-Semitic” for speaking out against the Zionist movement, even while knowing clearly that ethical and moral Judaism is worlds apart from the political agenda of "Zionism.

A most peculiar anomaly is the marriage styled “Christian Zionism” as advocated by Hagee.  Now, everyone who understands and accepts the Bible is a Zionist in some fashion, including this writer. The issue is we all mean something different by that word.

There are religious Judaic Zionists who practice the Zionism of the Old Testament. There are “Christian Zionists” who support the modern political state of Israel which opposes religious Judaism (See Jews United Against Zionism), as a non-political state.  The Zionists’ agenda is focused on a future world dominated and ruled by their movement.

"Christian Zionists," as the term is popularly used today are those who see the end times prophecies of both Old and New Testaments as imminent in bringing about this world-ending change.  They are mainly preoccupied with geographical territory, political power and nuclear holocausts of the Arab world.

This is not a new issue, but the same national (now international) blindness that existed in the time of Christ. This debate was settled long before it ever got to its earth threatening stage we see it as today.

On the other hand, there are Christ-centered Zionists,* who understand that true Zionism has nothing whatsoever to do with territorial land borders, national politics and nuclear warheads

Jesus told the Samaritan woman that the time would come that neither in Mt. Gerizim (in Samaria or Northern Israel), nor in Jerusalem (Judea) would men worship the Father. (John 4:20-24).

However, the political agenda of those who rejected Christ's teaching ignored his message that God's mountain no longer resided in Palestine, but in the Father himself, and is spiritual. This message so aggravated the Jews (political and national Zionists of Jesus' day) that they labeled him "anti-Semitic," and crucified the one whom Pilate named “KING OF THE JEWS!"

Why this Anti-Semitic charge against Christ?  He refused to be the "Prime Minister" of their political machine. They wanted a "king like all the nations" to rule in the land as had David in the past. (This in spite of the fact that God Himself said from the very beginning that such a king was a sign of rebellion against Him, 1 Samuel 8:3f; 10: 19; 12: 17f). They even held a convention and attempted to take him by force to create a new political Zionist state.  Christ refused that offer just as he had earlier rejected Satan’s offer of political world domination (John 6:15, Matthew 4:8-11).

Disappointed and desperate that their attempts failed, the congress of political Zionists held a secret council meeting.  At that meeting,* they labeled Christ as an insurrectionist,* and enemy of the Jewish state,* (Luke 23:1-4), maintaining the charge despite his sworn testimony under oath before Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world,* (John 18:36), i.e. not located in Palestine, as he affirmed to the Samaritan woman per above. 

He then became a condemned political prisoner, and suffered the humiliation of an illegal mock trial in which he received a death sentence. Following this, the (High Priest, or president of the council) declared a war on terror, seeking to ethnically cleanse the nation of his disciples,* and chased them out of the land, (Acts 4-8:1). That's quite a charge against a man who taught his disciples to "turn the other cheek" and refused to let them carry swords (hi-tech artillery of his day).

Christ was an advocate of true Zionism. It was neither Judaic (as noted above), like those who crucified him nor political and non-Judaic as that today.* But,* a Zionist He was and is. He would rule in Zion,* (Psalm. 110:2). To this very day his throne sits upon the top of Mt. Zion, God's holy hill, (Psalm 2:6)

Again in his prologue, Hart writes the following in an attempt to define true Zionism. "For those readers who are not intimately familiar with the terminology of the conflict I should point out that the Zion of spiritual Zionism is Mount Zion in Jerusalem." (Zionism The Real Enemy of the Jews, The False Messiah, p.  28). He contrasted current political Zionism from Judaic Zionism.

It should be clear from Christ's words and actions noted above, that he did not advocate a Zionism rooted in the mountain or territory of Israel in any form or fashion. Yet, he rules in Zion.

Three books of the New Testament clearly delineate between true Zionism and political or Judaic Zionism. The first is Galatians.

In chapter 4:24-27, Paul speaks of two women, Hagar and Sarah, two covenants, the Old and the New, two spiritual conditions, bondage and freedom, which represent two Zionist movements. One, the political national state of Jerusalem was spiritually enslaved with her children as represented by Hagar the Egyptian. The next he described as the heavenly Jerusalem (i.e. not of this world), represented by Sarah,* the freewoman and her children of the promise.

Note that the bondwoman symbolically representing national Israel, was “cast out” (v. 30), that she and her son might not inherit with the freewoman. This means the Zionism of Old Covenant Judaism is not a part of true spiritual, heavenly Zionism.

The next example is found in Hebrews 12:18-23, where the writer contrasts the Mountain in Sinai where the Old Covenant was given (to be compared with Galatians 4:25), and Mt. Zion, the heavenly city of Jerusalem, where Christ is king.  Note that Zion in the text is called the city of the living God and the church,* (ekklesia), of Christ, in contrast to the political state of Israel situated in Palestine.

The last example in Revelation where the old city of Jerusalem which convicted Christ of "anti-Semitism” and crucified him on a cross outside the gates is called the "great city" (Revelation 11:8), and is once again spiritually styled as Egypt, implying bondage. 

The descriptive phrase, “where also our Lord was crucified” identifies the city as Jerusalem. It could not be that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem, (Luke 13:33).  That same “great city” is burned by the Romans,* (Revelation 17:16-17; Luke 21:20-22), the very ally they feigned a treaty with ("we have no king but Caesar") to wage their "war on terror" against the true Zionists, i.e. Christ and the church.

As the book closes,* we see the heavenly Jerusalem (compare with the Jerusalem above of Galatians 4:26), coming down out of heaven (not Palestine) as a bride adorned for her husband.  To see this woman, John was taken to the top of a very high mountain, to see this new holy city coming down out of heaven from God. It is the true Jerusalem from heaven which has now come down to be with men.

So, now, who is “anti-Semitic?” Is it the religious Jewish Zionists who oppose political Zionism? The latter would say yes. Is it political Zionists who oppose religious Judaic Zionism? The latter would say yes. Or is it either or both who opposes Christ-centered Zionism (not to be confused with the right-wing political Zionist supporters) who see and understand that true Zionism is neither a political national state on earth nor part of Jewish religion?

It was a very sad day in Israel, when "ethnic cleansing" came home to roost. The Roman invasion of Judea which destroyed the temple and political state of Israel in A.D. 70,* was Christ's final answer to the High Priest (Matthew 26:64). He had no desire to reign in literal Jerusalem over a political regime. He was to sit upon the throne and reign from Mount Zion in the heavens at the right hand of God. His scepter is a scepter of righteousness. His kingdom is neither anti-Semitic, anti-Arab, nor anti-Christian welcoming all who follow righteousness to dwell with him on true Zion's holy hill.

  

Prophecy Fulfilled: The Re-Gathering of Israel

So That Israel Is Gathered to Him

Isaiah 49:5

The Re-Gathering of Israel: Prophecy Fulfilled!

The subject of the re-gathering of Israel is one that garners a great deal of interest and debate in evangelical circles. Zionists tell us that the re-gathering to the literal land of Israel began in 1948, and that event was in fact the "Super Sign of The End" (Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, Charting the End Times, Harvest House, Eugene, Ore., ). In fact, however, the events of 1948 and following have nothing to do with the fulfillment of prophecy. See my Israel 1948: Countdown to No Where, available on my websites, for a full discussion of this.

The purpose of this article is to examine just a few of the OT prophecies of the re-gathering in light of the New Testament interpretation of those prophecies. What becomes abundantly clear when we allow the New Testament, Spirit inspired writers, to speak, is we soon discover that they understood that those Old Covenant promises were being fulfilled spiritually in Christ.

 

Setting the Stage

It needs to be clearly understood that Jesus came to fulfill the OT promises of the gathering of Israel. Paul tells us that Jesus became the servant to the circumcision to confirm the promises made to the fathers (Romans 15:8). Jesus himself said repeatedly that he was sent "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24). Likewise, John tells us that Jesus’ ministry was "that he might gather together (sunagage) in one the children of God who were scattered abroad" (John 11:52). In one of Jesus’ last expressions of his ministry, Jesus lamented, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that stonest the prophets and kills those sent to you. How often I wanted to gather (episunagagein) your children together, as a hen gathers (episunagei) her chicks under her wings, but you would not" (Matthew 23:37).

Just from this small sampling of texts, it is undeniably true that Jesus came to re-gather the lost sheep of Israel. The nature of that re-gathering is of course the centerpiece of modern eschatological discussions and debates. But let’s allow the Bible to settle that debate by examining some key "re-gathering" prophecies.

Isaiah 11:12

"And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble (sunazei, LXX) the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."

This Messianic prophecy is highly significant for it focuses on Christ and his work to gather Israel "the second time" from the four winds. The gathering would result in the lamb and wolf laying down together (v. 6), and the earth being filled with the knowledge of the Lord (v. 9). The Gentiles would then seek the Lord (v. 10), when Ephraim and Judah were re-united (12-13). There are several constituent elements of this great prophecy that the New Testament writers comment upon, and what they have to say is important.

As Paul, apostle to the Gentiles, wrote to the church at Rome, he had been compelled to address the Gentiles who were arguing that Israel had already been cut off. Paul reminded them that their own salvation was dependent on the consummation of God’s promises to Israel, and those promises remained valid (Romans 11:15-28). The apostle concluded his discussion of the salvation of Israel by citing several Old Testament prophecies, not only of Israel’s re-gathering, but of the calling of the Gentiles that was dependent on that re-gathering.

Notice what Paul does in Romans 157f:

He calls for unity in the body because of the work of Christ, first of all to confirm the promises made to the Fathers (v. 7-8).

Not only did Jesus confirm those promises, but because of that, the Gentiles could now praise the Lord and call on His name (v. 9-11).

Notice now that Paul quotes Isaiah 11:11 verbatim in v. 12. Why does he do this?

Paul cites Isaiah because Isaiah foretold the raising of the ensign, when Israel would be re-gathered and the nations would likewise be called to serve and worship the God of Israel. To put it another way:

The ensign (Messiah) would be raised to re-gather Israel and call the Gentiles.

Christ as Messiah had been raised up and the Gentiles were calling on the Lord.

Therefore, Israel had been / was being re-gathered.

It is indisputably true that Paul is appealing to Isaiah’s prophecy for his Gentile mission. It is irrefutably true that Isaiah foretold the salvation of the Gentiles "in that day" when Israel would be re-gathered (Isaiah 11:10, 11), i.e. when Messiah was raised. These facts are undeniable.

Paul was not proclaiming a failed messiah or a postponed mission. Paul was citing one of the foundational re-gathering prophecies and saying that his ministry to the Gentiles was a proof positive that Isaiah was being fulfilled. This serves as prima facie demonstration that Isaiah’s prediction of the re-gathering of Israel was a spiritual re-gathering, not a geographical one.

Isaiah 40:10-11

"Behold, the Lord shall come with a strong hand and His arm shall rule for Him, Behold, His reward is with him and His work before Him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."

It will be noticed that in this "gathering" (sunazei) prophecy, judgment is inextricably linked with that motif. This passage cannot be speaking of the Incarnation of Jesus for it is patently a judgment / rewarding prophecy. Jesus’ Incarnate appearing was when he was revealed as the Suffering Servant, not the judge. Of course, that said, it does not negate the fact that Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd" (John 10). In other passages that anticipated the judgment, Jesus is spoken of as the Chief Shepherd (cf. Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:1-3). As the good shepherd, Jesus would lead Israel and the nations to living waters (Revelation 7:14f), and the living waters would be in the New Creation after judgment (Revelation 22).

The motif of judgment found in Isaiah 40 is reiterated by Jesus. Notice Matthew 16:27-28:

"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."

Here, Jesus all but quotes Isaiah 40 (and Isaiah 62:10f), and places that judgment appearing firmly within his generation. (It should likewise be noted that the gathering / salvation of Isaiah 62 would be the re-marriage of Israel (v. 2-5). Jesus emphatically posited this event in the context of the judgment of Judah (the harlot) in Matthew 22:1-7).

So, Isaiah foretold the re-gathering of Israel by the great Shepherd, at the judgment coming of Messiah, when he would reward his servants. Jesus’ in Matthew 16:27-28 posits that rewarding / gathering at the time of his parousia in the first century.

Isaiah 43:5f

"Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him."

This fascinating text is found in the context of YHVH’s promise to redeem Israel. Notice that He said He would gather Israel from the four corners of the earth. Jesus alludes directly to this prophecy in Matthew 8:11f: "And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Notice the seeming paradox of Jesus’ statement. On the one hand, the promised gathering of Isaiah would take place. The promised Messianic Banquet (cf. Isaiah 65:13f), would take place, which means resurrection. However, the blessed event would also occur when "the sons of the kingdom will be cast out." How can this be? How could God both re-gather and cast out at the same time?

A full discussion of these two seemingly contradictory themes is beyond the scope of this brief article. However, let me just briefly say that we have here the implicit concept of the salvation of the remnant, at the time of the casting out of the nation. This concept is found throughout the entirety of the Old Testament prophetic corpus. YHVH never promised to save the entire corporate body of Israel. It was ever and always the corporate body of the righteous remnant that would enter the kingdom (cf. Isaiah 65:8-19).

The one thing that is clear in all of this is that the gathering, the redemption, promised in Isaiah and cited by Jesus is that it would take place when the sons of the kingdom were cast out. In the parallel text of Luke 13, this is made even clearer than in Matthew: "But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. 29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God."

Paul also believed that the reception of the inheritance would be when the sons of the kingdom, Old Covenant Israel after the flesh, would be cast out. In Galatians 4 Paul discusses the two covenants and covenant people. He says that because Old Covenant Israel was persecuting the children of promise, i.e. the followers of Christ, they were to be cast out, and "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free." Very clearly, the reception of the inheritance of Galatians 4 is the Messianic Banquet in the kingdom of Matthew 8. Thus, again, we have the salvation of the righteous remnant, and the casting out of the corporate majority.

When one couples Isaiah 40:11 with this prophecy, it becomes very apparent that the gathering / salvation of Israel would occur at the coming of the Messiah in judgment, and this would be when Messiah came in judgment of Old Covenant Israel. That is when the sons of the kingdom were cast out.

 

Isaiah 49:5

"And now the LORD says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, So that Israel is gathered (sunagagein) to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, And My God shall be My strength), And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. 7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee. 8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages."

Volumes could be written on this one marvelous prophecy! Take note of some of the salient points, however:

The servant of YHVH would re-gather (sunagagein) Israel. The referent to the tribes of Jacob and the preserved of Israel lets us know that the re-gathering of the 12 tribes is in view here. This is not just the promise to restore / re-gather the ten tribes, or to restore Judah. This is the last days restoration of the twelve tribes under Messiah!

The re-gathering / restoration of Israel would be too small a work for him, however. Messiah would also shine on the Gentiles manifesting the glory of YHVH to them.

Messiah would make– he would be– God’s covenant for the people (v. 6).

This promised restoration / re-gathering of Israel, and the bringing in of the Gentiles, would be, "In an acceptable time, and in a day of salvation" (v. 8).

Notice that Israel’s restoration and the restoration of the "earth" (Hebrew- eretz), would be when the New Covenant was made for the people. Hebrews tells us that Jesus was, when Hebrews was written, "the surety (egguous, meaning guarantee) of a new covenant" (Hebrews 7:22). Now since Messiah was to make the New Covenant, when Israel was restored / re-gathered, and since Christ was, when Hebrews was written, revealing and guaranteeing the New Covenant, then it follows, inexorably, that the promised re-gathering / restoration was taking place! Let’s take a closer look now at Jesus’ ministry and the promise of Isaiah.

As we have seen, Isaiah foretold that the Servant of YHVH would gather (sunagago) the tribes of Jacob (49:5).

The NT bears witness that Jesus came to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15), and to "gather together (sunagage), the children of God scattered abroad" (John 11:52).

Jesus himself said that he came to gather (episunagagee) Israel (Matthew 23:37). Israel rejected that offer, however.

As a result of that rejection, the Old Temple, the old gathering place, would be left desolate (Matthew 23:38), and the gospel would then be preached into all the world (Matthew 24:14). At the end of the age– the end of the age represented by the Old Temple– Christ would come:

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together (episunagagee) his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Christ was going to gather the elect (the righteous remnant) in spite of the rejection by the many! And, just as Isaiah 40 depicts the gathering at the judgment coming of the Messiah, Jesus posits the gathering at the time of the judgment against the old "sunagagee" (assembly). And he said it would occur in his generation (Matthew 24:34).

Before we delve any deeper into Isaiah 49 and the NT commentary on it, let’s take a look at another key OT prophecy of the restoration of Israel. We will then tie Isaiah 49 and this prophecy together.

 

Ezekiel 37:25-27"And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

Just as Isaiah 49, Ezekiel foretold the restoration of the tribes of Israel, the restoration to the Land, the making of a New Covenant. He then adds the promise of the Messianic Tabernacle / Temple. Now, since Isaiah posited the restoration of Israel, the New Covenant and the Land promises in "the acceptable time, the day of salvation," it therefore follows that those identical constituent elements in Ezekiel 37 likewise belong to "the acceptable time, the day of salvation." To put it another way:

The restoration of Israel would be in "the acceptable time, the day of salvation" (Isaiah 49).

But, the Messianic Temple / Tabernacle would be established when Israel was restored (Ezekiel 37).

Therefore, the Messianic Temple / Tabernacle would be established in "the acceptable time, the day of salvation."

This is inescapably true. You cannot posit the identical subjects, elements, motifs and themes at different times. The passages are clearly parallel and foretold the salvation / restoration / re-gathering of Israel. Let’s take a look now at what Paul had to say about both Isaiah 49 and Ezekiel 37.

Remember that Paul preached and taught nothing but the hope of Israel found in Moses and the prophets. And in one remarkable context, Paul quotes both Isaiah and Ezekiel in such a way as to leave no doubt about how he viewed those prophecies. They were being fulfilled in the body of Christ. To help us with this, take note that in 2 Corinthians 3-6 Paul discusses Ezekiel 37 in-depth. In fact, it is my contention that 2 Corinthians 3-7 comprise Paul’s inspired Midrash– commentary– on Ezekiel 37 and the promised restoration.

Ezekiel 37 foretold the New Covenant; Paul discusses the New Covenant. Ezekiel promised the out-pouring of the Spirit. Paul discusses the work of the Spirit in delivering the New Covenant. Ezekiel spoke of the resurrection. Paul speaks of the transition from the ministration of death to the ministration of life. Ezekiel spoke of the Messianic Tabernacle, and Paul spoke of the Temple of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. And he then makes an astounding statement: "You are the temple of God, as it is written..." (2 Corinthians 6:16). Paul, writing to the church at Corinth said they were what Ezekiel 37 foretold!

It must not be forgotten that the church at Corinth was established in the synagogue. The ones who turned to Christ were not only children of God by faith in Christ (Galatians 3:26-27), but they were also of the bloodline of Abraham. They were the righteous remnant!

To put it another way, Peter said that the Jews that did not obey Jesus as Messiah and follow him, would be "utterly destroyed out from among the people" (Acts 3:23, my translation). This means that the blood line Jews that followed Jesus as Messiah were the true seed of Israel and were inheritors of the promises. They were the righteous remnant. This is why Paul could say: "Israel has not obtained that which he sought, but the elect has obtained it, and the rest were blinded" (Romans 11:7–See my six lesson series on Romans 11:7 available on this site). As promised in the Old Testament, the righteous remnant was receiving the promises. This is why Paul could say that the church in Corinth was the promised Messianic Tabernacle promised in Ezekiel.

There really is no escaping the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:16. Paul is unequivocal and emphatic: "You are the temple of God, as it is written" cannot be construed to mean that the church was not what was promised. And Paul had plenty of words at his disposal to say that the church was a foretaste of what was promised, but he did not use any of those words. And, since in the millennial scheme of things the church is nothing even closely resembling what was promised, it cannot be argued that Paul was saying, "you are something like what was promised."

So, Paul’s emphatic declaration, "you are the temple of God, as it is written" demands that the re-gathering / restoration / salvation of Israel was underway. You can’t have a temple without a "land." And in Jewish thought, you can’t have a temple without a city, the city of Jerusalem. This is why Paul taught that the church is also the "Heavenly Jerusalem" (Hebrews 12:21f), the "Jerusalem that is above" (Galatians 4), etc.. So, for Paul to assert the spiritual reality of the Messianic Temple and the New Jerusalem forces us to re-examine the idea of "the land." But that is beyond the scope of this article.

Paul is not through discussing the hope of Israel in 2 Corinthians 6. It should be noted at this time that in chapter 5:18f Paul discusses "the ministry of reconciliation" that had been given to him. Should we see Paul’s discussion of this topic simply within the generic context of reconciling all men to himself? Or should we see this within the framework of the restoration of Israel, that would lead to the reconciliation of man to God? It seems to me that the latter is by far the more accurate position.

We need to turn back to Isaiah 49 to properly grasp the power of Paul’s discussion in Corinthians. Remember that in that prophecy, (v. 5f), Messiah would not only save the twelve tribes of Israel, he would share that salvation with the nations! Would not the salvation of the twelve tribes be a ministry of reconciliation? And, would not the offering of salvation to the goyim (the Gentiles) on an equality with the tribes of Jacob not be an incredible ministry of reconciliation? To break down the barriers between Judah and Ephraim would itself be a remarkable reconciliation, and this is precisely what the prophets foretold: "The envy of Ephraim shall depart and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off. Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim" (Isaiah 11:13). Here is reconciliation! And how much more so is this true of the reconciliation of Gentiles to the twelve tribes?

With this in mind, consider once again the make-up of the church at Corinth. It was established in the synagogue, so, as noted, comprised the faithful remnant of Israel. But it also included the helenas, the Greeks (Acts 18:4; cf. John 7:35). These are not simply hellenized Jews (i.e. the hellenestes, cf. Acts 6, 9). They are in the truest sense Gentiles. So, in the church at Corinth we find the very kind of "reconciliation" foretold by Isaiah 49. The "Jews" of the diaspora were being reconciled to one another in Christ, and the Gentiles were likewise being reconciled. What a powerful, powerful picture of the grace of Christ!

But of course, all was not well in the church. The Judaizers were at work. Likewise, the Jewish attitudes toward eating of meats sacrificed to idols, practiced by the Gentile members, was causing strife and conflict. Many of the old animosities and prejudices were re-surfacing. That eclectic group needed to be reminded of the grace of Christ, the ministry of reconciliation that had brought them together. Read now Paul’s words:

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation). (2 Corinthians 5:18-6:1-2).

What an incredible text! Paul calls on them to not make light of the gospel of grace that had brought them together into one body. And how does he do this? He cites, verbatim, Isaiah 49:8!

Isaiah foretold that in the days of the Messiah, YHVH would reconcile the twelve tribes. He would reconcile the Gentiles. All of this would be in "the acceptable time, the day of salvation." And Paul is emphatic, "now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." There could hardly be a more powerful expression of prophecy fulfilled than this, and the implications are profound!

The time of Israel’s re-gathering and salvation would be in the acceptable time, the day of salvation (Isaiah 49).

But, Paul said, "now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. " The predicted time was present in his day and in his ministry (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

Therefore, the time of Israel’s re-gathering and salvation was present in Paul’s day and in his ministry.

(It is critical to note that the time of Israel’s salvation is also the time of the resurrection (Isaiah 25:8-9). Thus, for Paul to affirm that the day of salvation anticipated by Isaiah was present is a powerful statement that the time of the resurrection had arrived. See my We Shall Meet Him In The Air for a lengthy discussion of Isaiah 49. That book is available on this website).

So, there can be no doubt. Isaiah foretold the re-gathering of the twelve tribes and the salvation of the Gentiles in the acceptable time, the day of salvation. Paul affirmed, through inspiration of the Spirit, that the predicted time had come, and that ministry of reconciliation to bring Judah and Israel, along with the Gentiles, to YHVH was being fulfilled in the body of Christ! (See Ephesians 1:9f)).

 

 

Summary

In this brief excursus we have examined several of the key OT prophecies of the re-gathering of Israel. We have seen that the promised re-gathering would be when the ensign of Messiah would be raised, and the nations would come to him. Paul affirms that Christ was that ensign, and that Israel and the nations were being called to Christ as promised.

We have seen that the consummation of the in-gathering would be at the judgment coming of Messiah, and that Jesus said-- citing Isaiah-- that his coming was to be in his generation.

We have seen that the promised re-gathering of Israel from the four winds would also be when "the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out." We have shown that Jesus posited that re-gathering from the four winds was to be in his generation.

We have seen that two of the key re-gathering prophecies, Isaiah 49 and Ezekiel 37, are specifically quoted by Paul as being fulfilled in Christ and the church, as the righteous remnant of Israel joined with the goyim, the Gentiles, to form one new man in Messiah.

The only conclusion that one can draw from Paul’s citation of Ezekiel and Isaiah 49 is that the fulfillment of these prophecies was taking place in the first century. Paul gives not one single hint that he was citing those prophecies in any other sense than that of fulfillment. He does not say that what was happening in his day was the sign of what would one day, by and by, take place. He did not indicate that the church was typological of a yet future fulfillment of those prophecies. He most assuredly did not say that virtually nothing foretold by those prophecies was being fulfilled. Instead, he says "you are the temple of God, as it is written" and, "now is the accepted time; behold, today is the day of salvation."

Paul’s emphatic and undeniable statements force us to re-evaluate modern Zionistic concepts of the "re-gathering" of the so-called "lost tribes" of Israel. Paul had not, and never did abandon his "one hope" which was the hope of Israel (Ephesians 4:4f; Acts 28:20f). The gospel and the one hope that he taught, he taught from the Old Testament prophets (Romans 16:25f). This means that when Paul cited the OT prophecies of the re-gathering / restoration of Israel that was to take place in the last days, and he says that those promises were being fulfilled in the righteous remnant being called into Christ, that through the Spirit, Paul was revealing the true meaning of those Old Covenant promises. And for Paul, that fulfillment had nothing to do with being re-gathered into a geo-centric locale, into a physical city, focused on a pure blood line nation. 1948 therefore had nothing to do with the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The promises were being fulfilled spiritually in Christ and his church.

Romans 11:7: Israel Has Not Attained What He Sought, But the Elect Has

ISRAEL HAS NOT OBTAINED WHAT IT SEEKS;

BUT THE ELECT HAS OBTAINED IT

Romans 11:7

© 2009 Don K. Preston

 

With six simple words Paul turns much of modern evangelical theology on its head, and yet, far too few commentators seem to realize the power of his words.

While much of what I will offer here will have a specific application to the millennial school of thought, in reality, the implications of what Paul said are relevant and have implications for all theological thought for today.

 

A QUICK PRIMER ON THE DISPENSATIONAL PARADIGM

To help us understand why Paul’s words in Romans 11:7 are so powerful, we must understand the dispensational view a bit, especially in regard to what was happening in Paul’s ministry and post Pentecost. There are two interconnected tenets of dispensationalism that are relevant to this study.

THE POSTPONEMENT OF THE KINGDOM

One of the most fundamental doctrines of dispensationalism is the idea that Jesus came to establish the Davidic kingdom. He offered that kingdom to Israel (Mark 1:15f), but, Israel rejected that offer. Consequently, YHVH withdrew the kingdom offer, suspending the countdown of Daniel’s Seventy Week prophecy. As an interim, unforeseen measure, since He could not fulfill His promises to Israel, God established the church. The current Christian age will continue until the time of the rapture, when the Lord will take the church out of the world, and then resume His dealings with Israel.

Thomas Ice, in his written debate with Kenneth Gentry, said: "I believe the scriptures teach that Israel could have obtained her much sought after messianic kingdom by recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. We all know the sad reality, the Jews rejected Jesus. As a result the kingdom is no longer near but postponed, awaiting Jewish belief,1 which will occur at the end of the Tribulation."2 In 2003 Ice also said, "The Kingdom is contingent on Israel’s acceptance of its King. Because even after his resurrection, that nation refused Him, it became impossible to establish the kingdom (Acts 3:18-26). In fact, the tribulation period did not come; if it had, the promise of the soon coming of the Son of Man would have been a great comfort to the apostles."3

We could multiply these quotes from virtually all leading dispensationalists. The concept of the postponed kingdom is foundational to dispensationalism. The idea of the interrupted Seventy Week countdown (The Gap Theory4), is so crucial to dispensationalism, that Thomas Ice admits: "Without a futurized (i.e. postponed, DKP), seventieth week, the dispensational system falls apart. There can be no pre-tribulational rapture, great tribulation, or rebuilt temple without the gap."5

Keep this first tenet of dispensationalism firmly in mind as we proceed to the next element of millennialism.

THE CHURCH / KINGDOM DISTINCTION

Another critical tenet of dispensationalism is that the church, and thus the church age, was totally unforeseen and was not predicted anywhere in the O.T. Now, you must grasp the power of this point as we continue!

Noted dispensationalist John F. Walvoord wrote: "The present age (of the gathering of the church by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ) is a parenthesis or a time period not predicted by the Old Testament and therefore not fulfilling or advancing the program of events revealed in the Old Testament fore view. (my emphasis).6 Likewise, Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice claim, "The church was an unforeseen mystery in the Old Testament,"7 and, "The church began suddenly on Pentecost and will come to an abrupt end8 at the Rapture."9 Dwight Pentecost, in his encyclopedic work said: "Inasmuch as many passages in the NT such as Ephesians 3.1-6; Colossians 1.24-27 make it clear that the church is a mystery and its nature as a body composed of Jew and Gentile alike was unrevealed in the O.T., the church could not have been in view in this or any other O.T. prophecy."10 He adds that the church "was entirely unknown in the OT..."(p. 467).

Now, to help us come to focus on Romans 11:7, let me offer a few thoughts for consideration.

The Old Testament prophecies contain the "hope of Israel."

The church, the body of Christ, was not foretold anywhere in the Old Testament (dispensationalism).

Therefore, the church was not- and could not be– the hope of Israel.

Okay, now keep this second tenet of millennialism firmly in mind as we explore the question: What was the hope of Israel? What was it that Israel desired?

 

WHAT DID ISRAEL SEEK? WHAT WAS THE HOPE OF ISRAEL?

One could make a veritable catalog of elements that constituted the hope of Israel. As a matter of fact, it would be rewarding to do so. For brevity however, we will only list some of the more prominent tenets of the hope of Israel. We will also offer the New Testament texts that comment on that hope.

The Messiah, the seed of David, was the hope of Israel (Isaiah 11; Haggai 2:7, Acts 2:29).

New Testament Commentary: Peter said that Jesus had been– not one day would be– "made Lord and Christ (Messiah!, Acts 2:29-36f). According to the promises to David, God had raised up Jesus and made him Messiah!

The hope of Israel was her restoration in the acceptable time, the day of salvation (Isaiah 49:6f). New Testament Commentary: Note that in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, Paul, who preached nothing but the hope of Israel found in the prophets, said, "Now is the acceptable time, today is the day of salvation."

Peter agreed that the restoration of Israel was underway. Writing to the diaspora, he quotes verbatim from the promise of Hosea 1:9f, and says his audience was experiencing what was promised.

The hope of Israel was the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31; Isaiah 51; 55; Ezekiel 37; Hosea 2:18).

New Testament Commentary: Jesus died to confirm that promised New Covenant (Matthew 26:26f). Paul who preached nothing but the hope of Israel found in the prophets, said that the Old Covenant was passing away (2 Corinthians 3:10f; Hebrews 8:13), and that his ministry was for the transformation from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:16-4:1-2).

The hope of Israel was the Messianic Temple (Ezekiel 37; Zechariah 6:13).

New Testament Commentary: Paul, who preached nothing but the hope of Israel found in the prophets, said to the church at Corinth, "You are the temple of God, as it is written, I will dwell in them and walk among them, I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (2 Corinthians 6:16). Likewise, he said that the temple of God was, through the Spirit, under construction (Ephesians 2:20f). Peter concurred in this (1 Peter 2:4f).

The hope of Israel was to be remarried to her God (Hosea 2:19f).

New Testament Commentary: Paul, who preached nothing but the hope of Israel found in the prophets, said to the church at Corinth, "I have betrothed you to one husband, that I might present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:2). Of course, John agreed with this, and proclaimed that in the imminent destruction of the city of Babylon, the time of the presentation, the Wedding, would take place (Revelation 19:7).

The hope of Israel, believe it or not, was the calling of the Gentiles (Deuteronomy 32:21f; Isaiah 49:6f; 61:1f).

New Testament Commentary: Paul, who preached nothing but the hope of Israel found in the prophets, was the apostle to the Gentiles, and he said that his ministry was in direct fulfillment of the Old Covenant prophecies! (Romans 10:19-21).

The hope of Israel was the outpouring of the Spirit to raise her from the dead (Ezekiel 37:12f; Joel 2:28f).

New Testament Commentary: Peter affirmed in the most unambiguous language possible, "this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:15f), as he described the events of Pentecost.11 Likewise, Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:3f, that the work of the Spirit was transforming them from the ministry of death to the ministry of life. He likewise said that the promised result of the outpouring of the Spirit, righteousness and peace, (Isaiah 32), was already present in Christ (Galatians 5:22f).

The hope of Israel was the New Creation (Isaiah 65-66).

New Testament Commentary: Paul, who preached nothing but the hope of Israel found in the Old Testament prophets, taught that the New Creation was a reality–although awaiting perfection-- in Christ: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17, see Ephesians 4; Colossians 3, etc.).

John anticipated the promised New Creation and posited it as a direct result of the destruction of the city Babylon, the city "where the Lord was slain" (Revelation 18; 21:1f). He said those things were at hand and coming quickly.

Notice now that not only did Paul say that the remnant was receiving what Israel longed for but in 1 Corinthians 10:11, he said: The end of the ages has come upon us." This literally means that the goal (telos) of the previous ages had arrived. Clearly, the goal of the previous ages and the desire of Israel are the same.

All of the above is critical: Israel as a people, her land, her city, her temple, her cultus, were all anticipatory, types and shadows of better things to come (Colossians 2:14f; Hebrews 9:24; 10:1-3). The better things to come were the goal, they were the things that Israel longed for.

Israel had a noble and royal purpose as the chosen people of God, and that purpose was to point to the inclusive people, the heavenly land, city, temple and worship! YHVH would never leave Israel until He had fulfilled all of His purposes and promises to and through her (Genesis 28:15f). But, when Israel had served her purpose, and the goal of her existence had been reached, she would no longer hold that distinctive place. The arrival of the body, the substance of what she typified meant that the shadow was to pass. While unexpected and rejected by many in Israel (and today!), who wanted to hold onto the Old Covenant form, this was nonetheless God’s plan all along.

The goal of all the previous ages and God’s eternal purpose was that, "He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him" (Ephesians 1:10). This was to be accomplished in the "fullness of times," and as we know from Ephesians 2:11f, was being accomplished, not in a restoration of national Israel but in the body of Christ!12 Jesus appeared in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4). Therefore, the time for the goal of the ages to be realized had come with the advent of Christ.

The destination anticipated by the previous ages was, in a word, the kingdom.

Paul’s words belie the millennial paradigm. For Paul, the longed for goal of the previous ages– the desire of Israel-- was now upon them, and he was writing about the church.

For our present purposes, it is important to realize that the goal of the previous ages was the end of the old world, and the full arrival of the new. It was the time of the resurrection. Thus, for Paul to say that the end of the ages had come is the same as saying that the time of the resurrection had come! The end of 1 Corinthians 15:24 is not a different time of the end from that in 1 Corinthians 10:11.Nor is the resurrection of chapter 15 a totally different anticipated goal of the ages from that in chapter 10. This means, unequivocally, that the time of the resurrection had arrived.

 

AN OBJECTION NOTED

Millennialists sometimes seek to counter the above by arguing that what was happening in the first century was that the church was receiving the spiritual promises made to Abraham and Israel, but, that the nationalistic promises remain unfulfilled.

LaHaye and Ice say: "The church is unique in the plan of God and separate from His plan for Israel. While the church partakes of the spiritual promises of the Abrahamic Covenant as fulfilled in Christ, Israel, and not the church, will fulfill her national destiny as a separate entity after the Rapture and Tribulation during the millennium." (Charting, p. 48– my emphasis). Unfortunately, this does not help, and is actually destructive of the millennial view. Here is why: If it is claimed that the spiritual blessings in the church are the spiritual blessings promised to Abraham and Israel, this falsifies one of the foundational pillars of dispensationalism noted above, i.e. that the church was in any way foretold, or, was the hope of Israel. If spiritual blessings were made to Abraham and Israel in the Old Testament, and if the church is enjoying those promised spiritual blessings, then patently, the church was foretold in the Old Testament. So, this objection not only does not help the millennial position, it is self defeating.

Furthermore, the claim that the nationalistic, i.e. land promises to Israel have never been fulfilled is wrong. There can be no successful argument that Israel never received all– even more!– of the land promised to her by YHVH.13

A direct corollary to the objection above appeals to the context of Romans 9-11 and argues that Paul is discussing the calling of the Gentiles, and how they have achieved righteousness in Christ and his body through the gospel (Romans 9:23-33). This, we are told, proves that Paul is not discussing the Davidic kingdom. The calling of the Gentiles into the body of Christ during the church age constitutes the "times of the Gentiles," and only came about as a result of Israel’s disobedience and rejection of the kingdom offer. This argument is seriously flawed and overlooks several contextual facts.

Paul affirms that what was going on with the calling of the Gentiles was foretold by the Old Testament prophets. He specifically cites Deuteronomy 32:21 (Romans 10:19), and Isaiah 65:1-2 (Romans 10:20-21), as the source and justification for his ministry and the calling of the Gentiles! Now, if Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah 65 foretold the gathering of the Gentiles, i.e. Paul’s ministry, then it is prima facie false to say that the Old Testament did not predict the establishment of the church, and to claim that the Gentile ministry was an unforseen mystery! Remember, Paul said he preached nothing but the hope of Israel, and he cites Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah as the source of his message. Therefore, the calling of the Gentiles was, when properly understood, part of the hope of Israel. It was not a failure of God’s promises. It was not a postponement of God’s promises to Israel. It was the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. And this is proven by a closer look at the issue of the righteousness being achieved by the Gentiles.

What the objection noted above fails to honor is that righteousness was in one way the keynote word to describe the Messianic Kingdom.

When Isaiah described the rule of the coming Branch of the root of Jesse, he described that reign with one key word, righteousness (Isaiah 11:4-5). When that same prophet anticipated the establishment of the kingdom, he said the king would reign in righteousness (Isaiah 32:16-17). As YHVH promised the coming kingdom, He said that He would bring His righteousness to Zion when He placed salvation there. As the prophet anticipated the New Creation he described it in terms of the passing of the Old Creation and the establishment of everlasting righteousness (Isaiah 51:6f; This is probably part of the source of 2 Peter 3:13– "We look for a new heavens and earth where righteousness makes its home"). Likewise, Jeremiah said that the coming king, "shall be called the Lord our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:5f).

The point is that when Paul, who preached nothing but the hope of Israel found in the Law and prophets, wrote of the Gentiles obtaining righteousness in fulfillment of the Old Covenant prophets, he was not describing something unrelated to the Davidic kingdom promises. He was in fact describing that kingdom! Israel’s own prophecies foretold that when the kingdom was established, the Gentiles would come into that kingdom and find righteousness in the New Covenant! Paul’s discourse in Romans 9-11 then is not a discussion of the failure of Israel’s promises, the postponement of the kingdom, or the establishment of an unknown entity called the church. Paul was proclaiming the faithfulness of God to His kingdom promises.

While it may be true, and was, that Israel did not grasp or gladly accept this message, this does not detract from or negate this truth. Israel was blind to the nature of her kingdom promises, to the identity of her own Messiah, and the integral part that the Gentiles were ordained in that kingdom. In part two of this series, we will explore what Paul meant when he said "the rest were blinded."

For now, however, please do not overlook or ignore the power of Paul’s words: "Israel has not obtained that for which she sought, but the elect has obtained it..." Since we have established beyond any doubt that the hope of Israel was the Messianic, Davidic kingdom, Paul’s words ring down to us today in resounding refutation of the millennial "postponement" doctrine. Likewise, they ring forth the wonderful message of the faithfulness of God, and, the reality of salvation for all who would call on the name of the Lord.

 


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