Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What About Israel?

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for a light
by day,
The ordinances of the moon
and the stars for a light by night,
Who disturbs the sea,
And its waves roar
(The Lord of hosts is His name):

If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the Lord, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.”

If heaven above can be measured,
and the foundation of the
earth searched out beneath,
I will also cast off all the seed
of Israel
for all that they have done,
says the Lord.

Jeremiah 31:33-37

These verses were given to Israel by the prophet Jeremiah shortly before the Chaldean's overthrew Jerusalem, capturing king Zedekiah and his sons, and utterly pillaging the city.

Scripture makes it abundantly clear that God has not forsaken His people Israel forever, but through all their judgment and scattering, they would still one day be brought back to their land.

Many Christian theologians over the past centuries have tried to teach a doctrine whereby God was finished with Israel forever and had instead replaced them with the Church. In doing so they have tried to make the prophecies towards Israel fit with the Kingdom of heaven and the Church age of today. No doubt this has been responsible for much of Christendom's anti-semitic attitude. Jews have been labeled Christ killers, and slurred with other horrific epithets.

God is saving for Himself a remnant of national Israel who will one day be fully restored to Him and thereby fulfill the prophecies of Jeremiah and others who have spoken of Israel's future to come. How then should we as Christians respond to the Jewish race? I believe they are in as much need of a Saviour today as we the gentiles are and therefore we must be willing to pray for them and preach the gospel of Christ to them. In the kingdom of heaven there is only one category of constituent; those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and are walking in the robes of Christ's righteousness.


Freder1ck said...

Balthasar and Ratzinger both call the division between Israel and Christianity the first schism.

Jim said...

Freder1ck, can you please explain this a bit more?

How do you think this "schism" could have been prevented?

Freder1ck said...

I'm sorry to be so terse, but my time is limited during the week. The split between Judaism and Christianity was brought about by Christ. This weekend perhaps, I'll try to dig up something and see what I can make of the points made. As I recall, this line of thought depends on a very close reading of Paul.

Jim said...

Freder1ck, now I am even more intrigued. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Freder1ck said...

OK. I found something in Hans Urs von Balthasar's Explorations in Theology II: The Spouse of the Word, "The Church and Israel" (p 289-300). It's a bit much to put in the combox, but I'll put up so meaty bits this weekend at Deep Furrows. Also, parts of this article can be seen at google book search:,M1

Heh. You may be curious to see Balthasar's article "Casta Meretrix" in this same volume, on the patristic theme of the Church as redeemed prostitute. 193-288.


jazzycat said...

In the kingdom of heaven there is only one category of constituent; those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and are walking in the robes of Christ's righteousness.

Exactly! I would not say the church replaced Israel, but that the "all Israel" of Romans 11:26 includes both jew and gentile and both OT and NT saints.....

Freder1ck said...

Yes, Balthasar has a very close reading of Romans 9-11. The obduracy of the Jews now mirrors the obduracy of the Gentiles before Christ so all have a share in election and reprobation. The drama of election is not simply between synagogue and church, but already existed in Israel as shown by Paul (Jacob and Esau, etc). Also, we tend to think that the spiritual Israel succeeded the fleshly Israel, but Paul points out that Isaac was generated by the spirit, being the fruit of God's mercy on a barren couple. So, the spiritual Israel existed all along.

Finally, since Christians are all one body in Jesus Christ, we are all Jews in the flesh...

Jim said...

Jazzy and Fred, it seems you both agree regarding the nature of the Church and Israel.

I am curious though, if this is the official Catholic position, what exactly do you see as the major difference between you Fred as a Catholic, and you Wayne as a Reformer?

Freder1ck said...

Good question, but if Jesus can reconcile Jews and Christians, he should be able to reconcile Catholics and reformed. May Jesus fulfill His prayer that all might be one as he is with the Father!

jazzycat said...

There are no such classifications! Each individual either dies in Christ by faith alone and are saved or they die not in Christ and are not saved. If anyone is depending on his works in any way to be saved, he is not saved. Ethnic origins and denominations have nothing to do with it as I see it.