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;

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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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