No comments yet

The Mystery of Israel Pt. 1

By Bill Scofield
  Recently, a presidential candidate visited Israel and drew some serious criticism for defying the standard position of the U.S. government (as well as the international community) regarding the city of Jerusalem.  Going back as far as the Six-Day War in ’67, the Johnson administration’s refusal to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would become the standard assertion of every other administration. 
  Mitt Romney’s affirmation of the Israeli capital stands at the center of a massive global debate.  The debate is not only a heated one amongst various heads of state, but even within the church.  Most of the church – following the tradition of Origin and Augustine – affirms that Israel ‘missed it’ and that the global Church has now replaced them as the people of God.  Of course, this requires Jerusalem to be allegorized into a ‘spiritual’ reality.  Thus, Israel has no real claim to the land since their promises have been spiritualized to be about us.
  In the other corner you have the group made up mostly of evangelicals – lead by the dispensationalist movement – who view Israel’s return to the land and occupation of Jerusalem in 1967 as God keeping His word to them to give them this land forever.  I would suggest that both views fall very short. 
  Paul called the way in which God was conducting Himself with Israel a great ‘mystery’.  In fact, Paul viewed this mystery to be the center of his motivation in taking the Gospel to the Gentiles (cf. Rom. 11:13-14).  The fact is that the descendants of Abraham are on a collision course with their risen Messiah face to face.  However, the course upon which their hardness of heart would lead them was written about long ago.  This course has Jerusalem as the setting for the climax of the story of the Scripture. 
  Later in Romans 11 Paul warned that the Gentile believer’s ignorance or misunderstanding of God’s hardening of Israel resulted in great pride.  Historically, this has been proven over and over again.  Gentile leadership of the church for the last 1,700 years has generally misinterpreted – and thus disregarded – God’s dealings (primarily His discipline!) with Israel.

  The interpretation of God’s dealings with the nation of Israel in 70 AD (when the city of Jerusalem was completely destroyed by Roman armies) as His rejection/replacement of them as His people has so many implications.  The primary result (besides anti-Semitism) has been a reinterpretation of the Scripture to a more relevant message to Gentiles.  Thus, the straightforward events and promises of Scripture were reinterpreted to be spiritual and applicable to my life.  In the next part I’m going to go into some of the promises and how they were interpreted before change.