The Olive Tree Anti-Semitism and Bible Prophecy

 

THE OLIVE TREE, ANTI-SEMITISM AND BIBLE PROPHECY

imagesDr. Thomas S. McCall

At a convention of the Pre-Trib Study Group in Dallas, Dr. John Walvoord presented a paper on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture and Premillennial teaching, including the history of doctrines throughout the Church age.  I was very much struck by something that Dr. Walvoord said as he analyzed the transition from widely held pre-millennial views of the early church in the first three centuries to the predominantly amillennial, postmillennial or anti-millennial views that developed afterwards, and it centered around Augustine.

Latent Anti-Semitism Caused Amillennialism

I appreciated especially what Dr. Walvoord said, as quoted from the audio tape of his message, in his analysis of what happened in the case of Augustine:

“Augustine arbitrarily made the millennium non-literal, while everything else was literal.  Now as far as I’ve been able to find out, there has never been a book on doctrine that explains this.  But there is possibly an explanation.  In the first two centuries the church was largely Jewish in its background.  They were the evangelists, and they were the apostles.  But as the gospel grew, the church became largely Gentile.  And, of course the millennium is a time when the Jews are prominent, and it could be that there is a latent anti-Semitism here that they were quite unconscious of, that made them question whether Israel is going to have a literal future like it says.  And that, of course, would lead to a non-literal millennial kingdom.   In any case, that’s what happened, and the Roman Catholic Church became amillennial, and the Protestant Reformers like Calvin, Luther and others went back to Augustine rather than to the Bible, and adopted amillennialism.  They brought in, though, a lot of other things that were important, like “every man a priest” and “interpret the Bible yourself,” and so on, very important doctrines that have been the bulwark of Protestantism.  But, it wasn’t until the 19th and 20th Centuries when the Bible Conference movement began, and people began to ask what does the Scripture actually say?  It was not until then that premillennialism became a prominent feature in the church–as it is today in some churches, at least.  And that’s the background.  So we have to understand there’s a long history of this, and we are a minority.  We believe the Bible is literally true and they don’t, and we believe we have the facts on our side.  That’s why we believe what we believe.”

Saint Augustine in His Study by Sandro Boticelli 1840

Saint Augustine in His Study by Sandro Boticelli 1840

 

Thus Dr. Walvoord said it was his impression that it was latent anti-Semitism that caused Augustine and those around him to have this transition in their thinking.  That’s a remarkable statement.   How in the world can latent anti-Semitism have anything to do with one’s eschatological viewpoint, and how can it impact the eschatological viewpoint of the whole church?  Well, I think that it does, and that’s one of the things we are going to be looking at in this article.

There is an inherent connection between one’s attitude toward the Jewish people and Israel and one’s attitude toward the Scriptures and eschatology.   How does that happen?   It’s an understanding of what the Scriptures teach about the nature of the church, the nature of Israel, and the nature of the Olive Tree.  As Dr. Walvoord brought out, at the time of the beginning of the Bible Conference movement, there was a rediscovery of Israel and the promises to Israel in the Scriptures.  Some of the early works published in this movement had to deal with the future of Israel, as scholars began to rediscover premillennialism and literal eschatology.  Of course many of the amillennialists, including Augustine, would have been shocked if someone were to say they were anti-Semitic, and they would deny it strenuously.  And they would say, why, there’s not an anti-Semitic bone in my body!  All we want to do (they might say) is to take away the promises that God has given to Israel and apply them to the church!  Well, that sounds pretty anti-Semitic to me.

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Introduction to Israelology

 

WHAT IS ISRAELOLOGY?

Ancient Map of the Temple Mount

This is a recently identified subject within systematic theology as taught in competent seminaries, which recognizes the election of the nation Israel by Yahweh Elohim. When the Hebrew Tanakh is coupled with the eyewitness accounts of the life of the man who claimed to be the Hebrew Messiah YESHUA HAMASHIACH which is called the New Testament it provides a complete picture of the nation Israel, past, present and future. Approximately four fifths of the entire Bible is devoted to the Jews and their story as told by God. In fact every writer of both testaments of the Bible who were chosen by God to give us His oracles was Jewish. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum was the initiator of this component of systematic theology.

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Messianic Prophecies and Jewish Unbelief

 

Messianic Prophecies and Jewish Unbelief                                      

Chart by Author

Chart by Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit [is there] of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.        Romans 3:1-2; Paul of Tarsus cir A.D. 57

God chose to bring His message to the world through the Jews. As the apostle Paul so aptly stated, “to them God entrusted His oracles.” These oracles are God’s infallible authority and guide for life and revelation of His program for all of creation.    Even though God gave it to them they took it for granted and turned aside from the Holy One who had chosen them for this special appointment. He gave the Jews all the information they would need to understand His entire program. (Amos 3:7) The covenants, which He gave to the Patriarchs, demonstrate His love for them. Who else did he reveal His plan to? Who else did He give laws for sanitary, social, spiritual, health and well being to? The Jews have been set apart from the rest of humanity for God’s special purposes.

The Abrahamic Covenant promised a seed, land, and blessings. The three major promises of this covenant were personal promises to Abraham, national promises to Israel and universal promises to all the people of the earth. This covenant is unconditional in that regardless of what Abraham did God would keep His word. God promised that He would bless him and make him a blessing to others, to make his name great, to give him many descendents, to make him the father of a multitude of nations, to give him the land of Canaan for always and to bless them that blessed Abraham and to curse them that cursed him. (Genesis 12; 13; 15 & 17)

God also made national promises concerning Israel. They are: to make a great nation of his descendents; to give land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates to his descendents forever; and to give the Abrahamic covenant to his descendents for ever. Finally, God made universal covenants to Abraham that would affect everybody on the earth; it would affect all families of the earth who would be blessed. This promise is intended to be applicable to Israel regarding the blessing and cursing effects. Parts of the covenant have already been fulfilled. For example God did bless him with wealth. His name is great and Israel is a great nation. The blessings to all have been given to all through the oracles of God they received and they brought forth the Messiah.  The promise of the land has not been fulfilled yet. His descendents are indeed in the land but in unbelief and do not yet enjoy the boundaries God set forth for them in Scripture. Why did God choose the Nation Israel to bring His oracles to the world?

Deuteronomy 7:7-9

The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye [were] the fewest of all people:

But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he [is] God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

 

The Bible makes it very clear the they were called out to be God’s elect people and did nothing on their own to receive this blessing. It is important to remember that God Loves the Jews and always keeps His promises. The God who originated all creation, which can be seen, and those things which are unseen is by His very nature unable to lie. (Titus 1:2)

The Mosaic Covenant is a conditional covenant. God said to Moses on Sinai; Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice and keep my covenant then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation. These are the words, which thou shall speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:5-6) This covenant was given to Israel in three sections, which are comprised of 613 individual laws. They are: 1) the commandments expressing the righteous will of God; 2) The judgments concerning the social life of Israel and 3) The ordinances governing the religious life of Israel. These three elements were essential to the others and together form the Mosaic Covenant. That is, there is unity in the Mosaic Covenant’s three parts. This is known as the Law in the New Testament. In other words the entire 613 individual commandments comprise one corpus of legal writ for Israel known as “the Law.” The ordinances gave a cover for sin in anticipation of the cross. The law was given to Israel not to the church.  The Law of Moses has been rendered inoperative because of the New Covenant. (Rom 10:4) The believer in Christ has freedom from the Law of Moses.

What happened to the Jews that they could fall so far from fearing and adoring God while they promised to do all that He said at the giving of the Law on Mt Sinai? (Exodus 19:8) On Mount Sinai they experienced their collective best behavior. They were never closer to God than at that point in time. Then they sinned and turned from Him. So under the conditional character of the Mosaic Covenant they were destined to suffer the consequences of their behavior. 

Deuteronomy 29:25-27  

Then men shall say, Because they forsook the covenant of Jehovah, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt,

and went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods that they knew not, and that he had not given unto them:

therefore the anger of Jehovah was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curse that is written in this book;

What must be remembered is that even though they turned from God and He punished them, He never forgot them or the unconditional covenant He gave Abraham.

Jeremiah 31:35-36 

Thus saith Jehovah, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who stirreth up the sea, so that the waves thereof roar; Jehovah of hosts is his name:

If these ordinances depart from before me, saith Jehovah, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.

David the king was given a covenant by God recorded in 1 Samuel 7:8-16. This covenant has promises to David, Israel and Solomon. When God promised, “Thy house shall be established forever before thee He was referring to his family line lasting forever”. God also said “Thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee.” This means that though it might not be apparent to exist at all times it would be restored some day. Also God promised David that Thy throne shall be established forever. Once again although it might not be operative with an ongoing kingdom it would never pass away permanently. We know that this is the earthly throne that the Messiah will occupy when He returns to earth.  This is an unconditional covenant and will be fulfilled regardless of the faithfulness of David’s descendents. Psalm 123:11 says that God will not turn back from what He as sworn to David.

The concept of the Coming of The Messiah moves through Jewish religious literature in leitmotiv fashion. It is pervasive and developed completely in all of its characteristics. Though they add much fanciful myth to their truth, there is one structural element regarding the truth in the Jewish Messianic literature that is missing. That is an organized and systematic chronology of exactly who this is and when He will appear free from the fanciful aspects presented in the Jewish writings.

We can look at all the facets of the Messiah as presented in the Jewish literature and find that they resemble a giant puzzle with all the pieces in disarray. The pieces are all present but they are out of order. It is only when we come to the New Testament (New Covenant) that God gives clarity, focus and proper chronology to all the events and aspects regarding the Messiah. This is because the Jews had the oracles first and then because of their sin He gave them to the Gentiles in order to make the Jews jealous. (Romans 11:11) In doing so God brought a spirit of slumber upon them so they could not see these things clearly. (Romans11:8) When their Messiah came the first time He was rejected from a collective national perspective. This was not true on an individual basis, for most members of the very early Church were Jews that recognized their Messiah. (John 1:41)

Ironically, the Messiah Himself delivered the coup de grâce to the Jews of this spirit of slumber, which Paul mentioned.  Jesus who claimed Messiahship wept over Jerusalem and the Jews. He held them accountable to know Him and the timing of His appearance. For their unwillingness to believe in Him on a national level He blinded them and therefore made it difficult for them to easily realize exactly who He is through their partially hardened hearts.

Luke 19:41-44

And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,

Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things [which belong] unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,

And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation

In blinding them He did not make it permanent that they could not understand and turn to Him. He still loves them and is keeping His promises to the Patriarchs. He has just partially blinded them until the last of the Gentiles are joined to the Church. (Romans 11:25) Some Jews do turn to Him in belief. The vast majority of them will not join the Church, which is comprised of both Jews and Gentiles until they have suffered through the Tribulation.

Messianic Jewish evangelistic groups such as Jews for Jesus do not claim significant numbers of converts. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, led by the dispensationalists many missionary groups to the Jews were founded to give the Jews the truth. Dispensationalism is presently suffering a lack of clarity in theology and mission as they muddy their realization of the truth of the theology with obscure differentiations of Dispensationalism. This is not due to those presently adhering to traditional Dispensationalism. The emphasis on so called “Progressive Dispensationalism” by previously sound seminaries only detracts them from better efforts they could put forth with the God given time they have. It seems Progressive Dispensationalism seeks to blur the distinction between the Church and Israel as the mainline denomination as well as Rome does. In which case evangelism to the Jews suffers and the Jews do too.

God gave the Jews His oracles, they turned away from Him, and He partially blinded them, which made it difficult for them to clearly see their Messiah. It is through this partial blindness or confusion that we see the subject of the Messiah scattered throughout all the Jewish literature. The puzzle is incomplete when just viewed within the Jewish writings. It must be systematically organized, codified and chronologicalized to realize the truth. This clarification is realized in the New Testament. Much like the book of Revelation, which systematically organizes all the yet unfulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament, the entire New Testament does the same for the Messianic prophecies.

The Holy Bible as it has been received in both Old and New Testaments is infallible truth. (I Kings 17:24; Psalm 119: 30, 160; John 17:17 etc.) Suffice it to say that many able minded men have written adequate apologetic material attesting to the verifiable truth of Scripture. It is not our purpose here to add to their work. That being said, by using standard evidentiary methodologies used in a court of law or forensic scientific process one can easily validate the authenticity and truth of the Bible. It simply must be noted that only Scripture out of all the religious writings are God’s Truth alone.  Other works may contain truth but they are not His chosen works to bring His message to this earth. So in future postings  we will reveal the truth the Jews received in their various non-biblical writings albeit in a scrambled manner and show how God organized these in Scripture. First, in the Old Testament in a more organized manner filtering out the fanciful and untrue aspects of the Jews writings. Then, finally in the New Testament God reveals a complete chronological, understandable, codification of Messianic advents. This is in keeping with the observable progression of revelation in Scripture.

 

Daniel E.  Woodhead

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Israelology and Theology of the Old Testament, Part Three

 Israelology and Theology of the Old Testament, Part Three

by Dr. Daniel E. Woodhead

The Abrahamic Covenant Slide by Randall Price

The Abrahamic Covenant Slide by Randall Price

Abraham:

Approximately 4500 years ago God initiated a covenant with mankind. In Genesis 12 we find God calling one man, Abram (whose name was changed later to Abraham), to relocate with his family from his home of Ur, in Mesopotamia (between the rivers) and to go to a land that He would show him. In Abraham’s day, Ur was a wealthy advanced city in Mesopotamia, with a complex system of government and a well-developed system of commerce. It had trade routes that joined Ur with other great towns to the north and the south. Ur is modern day Tell al-Muqayyar, which is located in southern Iraq, about 220 miles southeast of Baghdad, halfway to the Persian Gulf. The ruins of Ur were discovered and first excavated in 1854-55 by British consul J.E. Taylor. British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley directed extensive excavations at Ur from 1922 to 1934 for the University of Pennsylvania and the British Museum. He found that writing was in common use (e.g., issuing of receipts, and making contracts). Schools were found to have trained people for religious, commercial, and governmental work. The curriculum included mathematics, language, geography, botany, and drawing. The city had streets, a drain system, two-story houses, a great ziggurat (which is a temple tower), and other evidences which support the thesis that this was a highly developed civilization.

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Israelology and Theology of the Old Testament, Part Two

Israelology and Theology of the Old Testament, Part Two

by Dr. Daniel E. Woodhead

Deposition by Peter Paul Rubens 1612-14

Deposition by Peter Paul Rubens 1612-14

Dispensationalism:

In order to understand Dispensationalism one must have a working definition to begin a competent defense.

The term Dispensationalism is a system of theology, which seeks to unfold the absolute truth of Scripture. Several prominent theologians have provided us with concise definitions that can help us in reaching our definition. Theologians such as Arnold Fruchtenbaum, C.I. Scofield, Lewis Sperry Chafer and Charles Ryrie will be quoted. Fruchtenbaum provides us with a definition that closely parallels the Ryrie definition. Therefore one definition will suffice for both men. He says, “Dispensationalism is a system of theology which views the world as a household run by God. In this household-world God is dispensing or administering its affairs according to His own will and in various stage of revelation in the process of time. These various stages mark off the distinguishably different economies in the outworking of His total purpose, and these economies are the dispensations. In this system there are usually, but not always, seven such dispensations.”

Scofield simply defined a dispensation as a period of time during which man is tested in respect to his obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.

Chafer speaks of a dispensation “as a specific divine economy, a commitment from God to man of a responsibility to discharge that which God has appointed him.” Therefore, we can conclude with another classic definition from Clarence Mason a former dean of the Philadelphia College of the Bible. He states: “A dispensation is God’s distinctive method of governing mankind or a group of men during a period of human history, marked by a crucial event, test, failure and judgment. From the divine standpoint, it is a stewardship, a rule of life, or a responsibility for managing God’s affairs in His house. From the historical standpoint it is a stage in the progress of revelation.”

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